Popcorn has come a long way since Jiffy Pop.
Popcorn used to be reserved for movie night, but the high-fiber treat has found its way into the professional kitchen. I first saw this trend emerge two summers ago at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, but now it has hit Denver in a big way. At some local restaurants, bowls of popped kernels replace the bread basket; at others, it’s a garnish for dishes both savory and sweet. Here’s where to find the snack.
At Linger (2030 W. 30th Ave., 303-993-3120, lingerdenver.com) freshly popped kernels arrive spiced with an ever-changing combination of surprising flavors, including Oaxacan mole; habanero and maple; and Madras curry and dill.
Oak at Fourteenth
Popcorn shows up on the dessert menu at Oak at Fourteenth (1400 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-3622, oakatfourteenth.com). The cremoso—a decadent chocolate pudding—arrives garnished with Boulder Popcorn in a style reminiscent of Cracker Jack.
Tag Raw Bar
Diners at TAG Raw Bar (1423 Larimer St., #010, 303-996-2685, tagrawbar.com) are greeted with “poppycock”—a complimentary dish of Asian-esque caramel corn dusted with Japanese seven spice. The starter shares space with salty-sweet, totally addictive roasted kombu chips.
At the Bitter Bar (835 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-442-3050, thebitterbar.com) caramel-bacon popcorn dresses up steamed gingerbread. It’s addictive enough that the treat can be ordered (off the menu) by the bag.
During the 4:30–6:30 p.m. happy hour at Venue Bistro (3609 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-0477, venuebistro.com) a large bowl of savory popcorn in flavors like barbecue bacon or smoky cheddar goes for just $1—and includes a free refill.
Come summer, look for green chile-fajita popcorn—made with Rocky Mountain Popcorn Company’s white cheddar flavor—to adorn the gazpacho at Blue Bonnet (457 S. Broadway, 303-778-0147, bluebonnetrestaurant.com).