When a beloved restaurant vacates its original home for a new space, fans are right to worry: Will the new place feel the same? Will the drinks and food be as good? In the case of the Way Back, which moved into new digs on Tennyson Street in February after a little over a year on 38th Avenue, the answers are “no” and “absolutely.” The Way Back 2.0 doesn’t feel the same—it’s way (get it?) better. The new restaurant sports a comfortable bar and wooden booths up front; there’s an elegant dining room and low-lit lounge area in the rear. Chef Jon Lavelle also balances his menu between the familiar and the upscale: His spinach and white bean dip and superb fried chicken are classic-with-a-twist comfort foods, while, for example, a springtime dish of seared sous vide pork belly with ramps, apple jus, and chile-infused rice crackers is refined, modern fare. In other words, change isn’t always a bad thing. 3963 Tennyson St., 970-682-6888
With its dramatic dining room—white tablecloths, studded cream leather walls, glass-encased wine cellar—and spectacular Flatirons views, Boulder’s four-month-old Corrida checks all the boxes of a special-occasion restaurant. Owner and beverage man Bryan Dayton (Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn, Brider) sets a festive mood with a roving cart proffering tableside gin and tonics. But it’s chef Amos Watts’ (formerly of Old Major) opulent, carne-centric, Spanish-inspired menu that clinches it, with exquisite Japanese wagyu (at $40 an ounce) and a beautiful selection of Colorado beef, including cuts from Aspen Ridge Natural Beef, 7X Wagyu, and Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe. A selection of tapas rounds things out; even those smaller bites, enjoyed on the couch-adorned rooftop patio, make any evening feel like a celebration. 1023 Walnut St., Suite 400, Boulder, 303-444-1333
The Front Range finally has its first Egyptian restaurant, and it’s about, well, time. The spare, five-month-old fast-casual spot in Aurora offers just five food items (three of them desserts), but each is extraordinary. Better yet, you can try them all for less than $30. The namesake dish (sometimes spelled “kushary”) is a pasta-salad-esque hodgepodge of carbs and fiber—lentils, white rice, chickpeas, macaroni, and broken vermicelli noodles—beloved in Egypt. It’s all covered with owner Ahmed Abostate’s tangy tomato-garlic sauce and a bountiful sprinkle of fried sweet onions. Although the dish is traditionally served vegan, at Koshari Time you can add halal chicken or beef. There’s also a ground beef flatbread sandwich called “hawawshi” and the insanely delicious desserts. We’d cross the Sahara—or southeast Denver at rush hour—for the ultracreamy rice pudding. 1155 S. Havana St., Aurora, 720-787-4160
Fine-dining chefs embrace the humble frankfurter.
Wieners and brews may be typical Coors Field fare, but local chefs are emancipating hot dogs from the ballpark. For chef Christian Graves of Union Station’s Citizen Rail, the house hot dog (pictured) began as an off-the-menu vehicle for using scraps from the Citizen Rail butchery program’s dry-aged steaks. Eventually, Graves caved to his bartenders’ requests to put the dogs on the happy hour menu, where the $13 eight-inch specimens of sustainably sourced pork and beef are topped with the likes of house-fermented kimchi, spicy mayo and fresh cilantro, or even Caesar salad. “They’re high-end but not overly serious,” Graves says. Also in on the artisan hot dog crusade: Nate Singer at Boulder’s Blackbelly Butcher Shop crafts a version with Chicago-style garnishes (sport peppers, relish, mustard, onion, etc.), and Justin Brunson, chef at LoHi’s Old Major, is developing an uncured grass-fed beef iteration for Red Bear American Meats, which will begin selling its wares at local retailers this summer. Move over, mystery meat—the responsibly sourced, chef-approved fancy frank is here to stay. —Callie Sumlin