After being furloughed from 10-year stints as corporate chefs at the same hotel chain at the onset of the pandemic, Andrew Salazar and Ray Silvia found a new home at Littleton’s Rocker Spirits. In August 2020, the duo founded Cholorado, a food truck parked Wednesday through Saturday at the distillery that serves scratch-made comfort food with a Latin twist. Pulling from their families’ Latin American culinary traditions and the rib-sticking pizza, burritos, and burgers they love to eat post-shift, they dreamed up elevated renditions of fried papas and cheese, griddle-fried tacos, and the Juju dog (Salazar’s nickname). The hot dog is a masterpiece crowned with roasted salsa, Oaxaca cheese, and a spread made with bacon, green chile, and onion. Cholorado also serves green-chile-infused burgers; pizza studded with chorizo, roasted tomatillo salsa, and cilantro cream; and crispy fried chicken bites with honey butter. All are reasons to be grateful for the chefs’ pandemic pivot. 5587 S. Hill St., Littleton
With the opening of Lucy’s Burger Bar in August, Denverites now have access to one of Minneapolis’ most iconic eats: the Juicy Lucy, a burger featuring two beef patties enveloping an oozing cheese core that’s well worth the burn it leaves on the roof of your mouth. Owner Michelle “Meesh” McGlone, previously a professional aerial acrobatic performer, and business partner Nate Collis, formerly a guitarist with Minnesota-based hip-hop group Atmosphere, grew up eating the specialty in the Twin Cities as kids and reunited in Colorado in 2021. With help from Collis in the kitchen, McGlone is fulfilling her longtime dream of running a restaurant via Lucy’s, where other standouts include a just-as-juicy chicken sandwich, a meatless chipotle black bean burger with house-made vegan mayonnaise, and a grilled cheese on whipped-butter-slicked Texas toast. Pair your meal with a selection from the drink menu, which highlights mission-driven and minority- and women-owned makers, from Patagonia Provisions to Montanya Distillers. 4018 Tennyson St.
Proximity is the key to sustainability at Farow, a contemporary American restaurant in the tiny community of Niwot, tucked between Longmont and Boulder. Chef-owners Lisa and Patrick Balcom source about 90 percent of their ingredients from producers—Buckner Family Ranch, MetaCarbon Organic Farm, and others—located within 10 miles of the eatery. Their partnerships and culinary prowess (both are alums of Boulder’s Blackbelly) yield an ever-changing mélange of small plates that showcase the vibrancy of Colorado’s seasons, from cheese beignets with pepper jam to seared pork belly with stewed okra and tangy chow chow. Share an assortment of dishes in the cozy, local-art-bedecked dining room (a six-course tasting menu is available), and don’t skip Lisa’s to-die-for cakes, galettes, and tarts. 7916 Niwot Road, Niwot