After countless lunches and dinners, tens of thousands of calories, and hours of careful deliberation and debate, our fourth annual ranking of the Denver area’s best restaurants is complete. Dig in for a comprehensive, of-the-moment snapshot of the local dining scene.
12 The Populist (new to the list)
The Populist is so effortlessly cool that it could have its own soundtrack. The first cut would be the ragged guitar riffs of “Pots and Pans” by indie rock band the Kills. The smoky lyrics are perfectly attuned for sidling up to the bar and ordering a cocktail—make that a variation on a classic, such as an Old Fashioned with Scotch instead of rye whiskey. From there (cue Beck) settle into one of the community tables and order a collection of chef Jonathan Power’s dishes to share. Glasses clink as the earthy beet agnolotti arrives with a paintbrush swatch of magenta stretched across the stark white plate. A roasted carrot dish follows suit with tangy cilantro-carrottop pesto and a tile of pepita brickle that you’ll fight over. Every dinner at the Populist unfolds in the same easy way: to the tune of the neighborhood vibe (song: “Ragtime” by Neko Case) that pulls in the artsy RiNo crowd. The only moments of discord come at the end of the meal—desserts aren’t as strong as Power’s savory dishes. The check more than makes up for it, though: The Populist’s prices are so reasonable, you’ll likely think there’s some mistake. 3163 Larimer St., 720-432-3163, thepopulistdenver.com