At the Art Institute of Colorado, culinary students don’t just learn kitchen techniques in the classroom—they put their skills to work at Assignments Restaurant, a student-operated eatery located in the Denver Design District. Except for the eager young faces, you’d never suspect this was a spot managed by amateurs. The food, prepared with care from seasonal, local ingredients, is creative, delicious, and very affordable.

On a recent Friday evening, I enjoyed a Caesar salad prepared tableside by a student who confessed it was his first salad performance. His lack of experience didn’t show, however. The dressing was light and citrusy, and the croutons and cool romaine had just the right amount of crunch. For the main dish, I opted for the crispy, skin-on Colorado farm-raised striped bass served with bright green asparagus, young soybeans, chewy shiitakes, and a sweet-hot Chinese sausage vinaigrette.

For dessert, my friend and I split the mango flambé—a buttery, sugar-rum-and-fruit mixture prepared tableside by the same student—and served over vanilla ice cream. All three dishes, plus a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir, came to just $31.

Tip: Because the restaurant is only open for dinner Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., reservations are recommended.

675 S. Broadway, 303-778-6625