It’s actually happening. People are emerging from their home cocoons, life is (kind of) returning to normal, and new restaurants are once again firing up their burners and opening their doors. From Denver’s first pozole-focused eatery to a French bistro in Westminster to a little New York City gyro spot with a huge following, the restaurants debuting in and around Denver are diverse in their offerings and ready to serve. Here, 12 new restaurants to get on your dining radar.
It’s about time pozole got its turn in the spotlight. The traditional Mexican soup of hominy, pork, and chiles, so often a supporting character on Mexican restaurant menus, is the star at the new La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal. Chef Jose Avila created Denver’s first pozole-centric eatery as an ode to the pozolerias he ate at growing up in Mexico City. At La Diabla, Avila simmers the red pozole with which we’re most familiar, as well as white and green versions of the soup. Chase it with a pour of a mezcal or tequila from the restaurant’s well-curated list. 2233 Larimer St.
Neapolitan pies, handmade pastas, and other Italian-inspired fare is on the menu at Benzina, a spot housed in a refurbished muffler shop (“benzina” means gasoline in Italian) on East Colfax. The venture, equipped with a mid-century modern ambiance and a sprawling patio, is the first solo project from Brad Anderson, who is also behind Chopper’s Sports Grill and other concepts. Our picks from the current menu include the asparagus with potato salad, truffle, and shaved miso egg; saffron risotto arancini; and fluffy crusted clam pizza with Calabrian chile oil. 4839 E. Colfax Ave.
Five Points just gained a slick new hangout, thanks to the arrival of Mood. Beats. Potions. (MBP). The restaurant, which opened June 11 in the former Dunbar Kitchen & Taphouse Space, is the newest concept from Pure Hospitality—the culinary sector of the FlyFisher Group behind Coffee at the Point, Spangalang, and Mimosas. There, chef Corey Smith, who also helms the kitchen at Mimosas, serves upscale twists on Creole- and French-inspired cuisine in a space equipped with a cocktail lounge and expansive patio. Pair cocktails such as the cognac-and-gin-infused Welton 75 with the likes of shrimp and andouille gumbo, blacked red snapper, and sweet-tea-brined fried chicken. 2944 Welton St.
For more than 25 years, Carmine’s on Penn has been a favorite for family-style Italian. Now, the Ballpark neighborhood is getting in on the noodly action with Carmine’s sequel location opening in McGregor Square. The 3,500-square-foot restaurant has plenty of room for pasta lovers both inside and on its 40-person patio. And because physical menus are so pre-pandemic, Carmine’s on McGregor Square will have servers coaching diners on their dinner options, from portion size to whether they should go chicken or veal on the parmigiana. 1951 Wazee St.
The Halal Guys is a New York City institution. What started as a simple food cart run by three men from Egypt looking to feed hungry Muslim cab drivers, has grown into an international phenomenon, with more than 80 locations across five countries. Finally, Colorado gets a taste of the gyros, falafel, and chicken that put the Halal Guys on the map. 14535 E. Alameda Ave., Aurora
You pretty much get the gist of Mississippi Boy Catfish & Ribs by the descriptive name. But besides the namesake proteins, Mississippi Boy also smokes oxtail, burgers, brisket, turkey, and hot links. And there’s non-meat too, like the sides of mac and cheese, your momma’s potato salad, and wet sweet coleslaw. But Mississippi Boy’s Catfish, Ribs, Oxtail, Burgers, Brisket, Turkey, Hot Links, Mac & Cheese, Potato Salad, & Coleslaw is a mouthful, and you need that mouth for all the barbecue eating. 5544 33rd Ave.
With Mono Mono Korean Fried Chicken, owner JW Lee (Menya Noodle Bar, Seoul Korean BBQ and Hot Pot and Seoul Mandoo in Aurora, and others) hopes to introduce Denverites to Korean drinking culture. At Mono Mono, patrons can nibble on shareable dishes traditionally enjoyed with beer, soju, and other alcoholic beverages: soy-garlic Korean fried chicken wings, gochujang-glazed rice cakes, cheese-pull-worthy buttered corn with mozzarella served in a sizzling skillet, and other flavor-packed goodness. Bonus: During happy hour (3–5 p.m., Monday–Friday), the restaurant offers $5 sake bombs. 1550 Blake St.
Denver has fallen hard for Detroit-style pizza—for proof just check out the wait at Blue Pan on a weekend night—so it makes sense that Detroit-style pizza chain Jet’s is tripling down on Colorado. A Littleton and Lakewood Jet’s recently opened, and Denver will be getting its own on Colorado Boulevard later this summer. Besides the rectangular deep dish Motor City pie, Jet’s makes New York–style, hand-tossed, and thin-crust versions, so it’s pretty much a one-stop shop for all your pizza needs. 98 Wadsworth Blvd., Lakewood; 7735 W. Long Dr., Littleton; 2306 S. Colorado Blvd. (coming soon)
A day-to-night French bistro has landed in Westminster. Famille inside the Origin Hotel became the first restaurant to open in the city’s developing downtown area in March, says Clancy Noailles, the spot’s food and beverage manager. The restaurant serves breakfast and brunch daily, a rare find in the ’burbs, and offers a menu of Colorado-inspired bistro classics come suppertime. We’re big fans of the pain perdu and Centennial State beef steak frites, but don’t pass up a drink from the roving bar cart stocked with Champagne, ingredients for martinis, and more—the only one of its kind in the Denver metro. 8875 Westminster Blvd., Westminster
Bubu at Granite Tower
Bubu, Troy Guard’s build-your-own-bowl lunch-centric fast-casual, just opened its third location, this one in the lobby of downtown’s Granite Tower. The concept is all about mixing up healthy, fresh ingredients like local greens, seasonal veggies, organic tofu, and sushi-grade fish—the kind of lunches Guard grew up eating in Hawaii. If creating your own combo is too much pressure, there’s a menu of signature bowls, like the OG Colorado with roasted carrots, quinoa, green chili, avocado, and pumpkin seeds, to provide inspiration. 1099 18th St.
Denver has oodles of places to grab top-notch banh mi sandwiches, and Little Bakery House is no exception. At the joint near University of Denver, owner and Vietnam native Tom Xu—who worked at his family’s business, the now-closed King’s Land Seafood Restaurant for nearly 20 years—is slinging crusty house-baked French baguettes stuffed with a variety of fillings. Try the fried chicken cutlet iteration or the classic cold cut version (ham and steamed pork roll)—both of which come with the perfect ratio of pickled radish and carrots, cilantro, jalapeño, and crunchy cucumber. 2439 South University Blvd.
Lil’ Coffea Shop
Little India is branching out into the caffeine business. The restaurant and bar took over a former Starbucks adjacent to its location on 6th Avenue and Grant Street for a new venture: Lil’ Coffea Shop. The spot, which launches in early July, will offer coffee sourced from Denver’s Huckleberry Roasters and teas from the Darjeeling region of Indian (including Little India’s famous chai) along with pastries and sandwiches from Olive and Finch. Owner Simeran Baidwan says Little India also plans to open a fourth location in the Central Park Town Center in mid-August or early September—a move he hopes will allow his employees, many of whom are immigrants, to secure more shifts. Lil’ Coffea Shop, 330 E. 6th Ave. (coming soon)
Bonus: Grüvi, the maker of nonalcoholic craft beer and wine opened its first alcohol-free tasting lounge on South Pearl Street, where you can sip the brand’s Blood Orange IPA, Bubbly Rosé, mimosas, and other 0 percent libations in a bohemian-inspired lounge. 1455 S. Pearl St.