If there’s a buzzword these days, it’s “house-made.” With so many from-scratch items to choose from, it’s difficult to know which are worth seeking out. Here, our staples—which can be found on the shelf and on restaurant menus.
Spicy Pickle Relish
It’s the Slotted Spoon’s spicy pickle relish that lures us to University Hills—well, that and the spot-on meatballs. Chef and co-owner Jensen Cummings, who was inspired by hot dog relish and onions, created a multipurpose condiment from pickles, onions, garlic, rice wine vinegar, and Saso roasted red pepper chipotle sauce. It’s tangy, it’s crunchy. Bonus: It’s not neon.
Taste it: 2730 S. Colorado Blvd., Suite 19, 303-756-3072, slotted-spoon.com
Someone who does ketchup better than Heinz? You read that right. Denver real estate agent Aaron Wagner makes Elevation Ketchup with a simple blend of organic ingredients and—get this—it actually tastes like tomatoes. Wagner says the family recipe for the slightly sweet, acidic sauce can be traced to 1893. Wagner and his brother were used to the condiment showing up on the dinner table, and eventually they began making it themselves. But when Linger chef Daniel Asher had a taste and placed an order, Wagner decided to go big. Now Elevation Ketchup is served at Linger, Root Down, Punch Bowl Social, Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, Fuel Cafe, and Biker Jim’s.
Buy it: elevationgourmet.com
Barrel-Aged Hot Sauce
At Russell’s Smokehouse, chefs Frank Bonanno and Taylor Drew recently debuted a barrel-aged honey-habañero hot sauce. Aged 60 days in medium-char white oak, the sauce is sweet with a hit of heat at the end. Use it in the same way you would use Tabasco.
Taste it: 1422 Larimer St., 720-524-8050, russellssmokehouse.com
At Vesta Dipping Grill, chef Brandon Foster makes three mustards—bourbon, apricot, and cherry. The bourbon and apricot, which pair with the venison kielbasa, are made by pickling mustard seeds in white wine vinegar and then adding bourbon simple syrup and dried apricot purée, respectively. The cherry (which is served with the meat and cheese platter) begins with a reduction of grenadine and dried cherries that’s added to egg yolks cooked with mustard powder, Worcestershire, and brown sugar.
Taste it: 1822 Blake St., 303-296-1970, vestagrill.com
This savory, add-it-to-everything condiment is practically guaranteed to incite addiction. Susie Hojel, who was born and raised in Mexico City before moving to the States, began making this mixture of dried roasted chiles, garlic, onions, spices, and oil four years ago. “In Mexico, you always have a sauce on the table. I missed it,” she says. Hojel started playing around, and when she gave jars to friends and they came back for more—again and again—she knew she was on to something. Hojel hopes to land the sauce on the shelves of local gourmet shops. Until then, order Chile Crunch online.
Buy it: chilecrunch.com
Maureen (Mo) Maznio’s recipe for Molicious Mustard isn’t her own: It belongs to a friend’s father, who is a former B-24 bomber pilot with an affinity for English mustard. Maznio, however, is the one who turned the condiment into a business. After making the sweet, vinegary blend for more than 25 years, Maznio now sells the liquid gold. Get a jar and stir the mustard into deviled eggs.
Buy it: moliciousmustard.com