Evenings, weekends, holidays—when everyone else is clocking out, the restaurant industry’s clocking in, making quality time with the family a catch-as-catch-can affair. We asked eight dads on the Denver-Boulder dining scene what they’d do if they actually managed to catch some on Father’s Day. What gifts would they like to receive? Where would they go? And most important, what would they eat? Here’s what they had to say:
Chef and founder of Bonanno Concepts, father of two sons, ages 16 and 14 (“too stinking old,” per wife-partner Jacqueline Bonanno)
I’ve been working my ass off opening these businesses [see: Milk Market], and right now my sons are in the mountains in yurts. I miss the hell out of them. The best Father’s Day gift would be a full day off with the two of them here. The day would be made if we could hit some golf balls and grab a scoop at Little Man.
For Father’s Day, I would love any type of grill accessory and a subscription to the Rosé of the Month Club. I’d use both to cook everybody dinner that night.
Executive chef at Comal Heritage Food Incubator, dad to a daughter, age 3 “going on 30,” and a son, 18 months
My ideal Father’s Day would start with a super-early tee time, around 6 a.m. I’d play a leisurely nine holes, then pick up the kids to go fishing at the lake by my house—hopefully catch a 10-pound rainbow trout to cook on the grill with some tangy chimichurri. After hanging out with my family, I’d head up to Black Hawk and catch a couple of poker tournaments. That would be an awesome day!
Executive chef at Zolo Grill, father to two boys, ages 6 and 4, and one girl, age 2
If we get away with no broken limbs—and minimal whining—that’s a huge win in my book. Chilaquiles for breakfast: green, please, with serranos, tomatillos, Mexican crema, a fried egg sunny side up, and if we have some arrachera lying around, fantastic. A beer, maybe a cocktail: It all sounds great. Forget lunch and give me something really time-consuming and unctuous to prepare for dinner—some roasted chicken mole or goat barbacoa with soup on the side. (Who cares if it’s 90 degrees out? That’s what the beer is for!) Kiddos in the pool and a couple of Nerf guns gets me from meal to meal with a smile on my face. That sounds pretty perfect to me.
Chef and founder of TAG Restaurant Group, dad to a daughter, age 9, and a son, age 3
An ideal Father’s Day at the Guard house: Wake up with Grace and Jagger crawling in bed with [wife] Nikki and me, laughing, playing silly games, and just chilling. Head downstairs where the kids help make breakfast—cheese omelettes, buttermilk pancakes with Hawaiian lilikoi syrup, and bacon with some banana bread that Nikki makes every week—and sit outside if it’s not too hot. Then probably go for a bike ride around the Stapleton neighborhood and hit the Stapleton pool to see our friends and neighbors. For dinner we’d grill some ahi and ribeye and dine on the patio again with fresh corn and green beans before hitting Freddy’s Custard for dessert—it’s Jagger’s favorite. And we’d finish off the night putting the kids to bed, reading stories, and talking about what the best part of our day was. I’m very blessed.
Executive chef of Arcana, father of two boys, ages 13 and 8
For a chef, probably the most important thing is time with the family just to hang out. My oldest just turned 13, so that’s exciting—he’s a teenager now—and the youngest is almost nine, which reminds me I’m not getting any younger either. So when I get time off, there’s usually a doughnut run in the morning. Then it’s always fun to get up for a hike in the mountains—we love looking for mushrooms—and also do some relaxing on the couch, playing some video games together. We try to get that balance between the great outdoors and time in front of a screen. And the boys are finally old enough that we can enjoy both endeavors.
Bartender at La Cour Art Bistro & Cabaret, dad to a 14-month-old daughter
My perfect Father’s Day would consist of having extended family, multiple generations, all together surrounded by a fresh body of water, smoking grills, picnic tables covered in food, and laughter. Working in the industry is all about relationships, building them and maintaining them—quite similar to a family. Facilitating the enjoyment and development of others is my main role in both capacities!
The dream Father’s Day seems so far away right now as I’m in the thick of opening Chimera. But I’ll indulge for a moment. It’s 7 a.m. and Panni (my daughter) and Shofon (my son) wake me up. They excitedly ask me to go down to the beach with them—we’re steps away from the beautiful white-sand Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Exhausted from working three months straight with only Memorial Day off, I say that daddy would like to sleep in for a bit. My wonderfully supportive and beautiful wife, Beatrix, tells our children to let me rest for a bit and she’ll take them down to the beach. I sleep until 9 a.m. What an indulgence! I put myself together and go down to the beach. The day is starting to warm up but still holds a sliver of morning cool.
Upon arriving on the beach, my mind wanders to its usual place: what and where to eat? Mango Cafe, of course! It’s a small, local restaurant that’s Beatrix’s favorite on the island. So I gather the flock, get on the rented golf cart (that’s how most visitors get around), and we are off for fresh juices and the panko-crusted, fried poblano stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese.
After breakfast, we head back to Playa Norte for a front-row view of the azure Caribbean Sea. Panni and Shofon are making sand castles and I join them periodically, but I’m mostly a komodo dragon, lounging with a couple of cervezas served by very friendly staff. Come lunchtime, we stay put and order some of the best fish tacos anywhere! They’re made with grilled grouper caught around the island, onion, bell pepper, and a little salsa. Nothing fancy—just delicious.
After lunch, I go back to the routine of playing with the kids, lounging, and looking with joy and appreciation at our beautiful family. By mid-afternoon, it’s time for my massage appointment with Marie just a few yards away.
Soon, the sun starts to set. It’s a beautiful sight as we ready ourselves for dinner. A few blocks away is Hildago Street. Think of it as the Pearl Street of Isla Mujeres—pedestrian-lined with small restaurants and local shops. Lola Valentina is a good choice for alfresco dining with very fresh and well-prepared dishes.
After dinner, we take a stroll to get ice cream for Panni and Shofon, then we return to the hotel. I hug and kiss everyone good night, then fall fast asleep to the sound of the gentle ocean waves. Yeah, today was a good day.