Organic. Farm to table. Sustainably sourced. These buzzwords pop up on at least half the menus in Denver’s exploding dining scene—but how do you really know if the dish you’re digging is good for the environment, the plants and animals it came from, or the workers who harvested it?

The answer comes down to transparency, says Sara Brito, co-founder and president of Good Food Media Network. The Denver-based organization launched a national survey (called the Good Food 100 Restaurants) in 2017 to look at the self-reported purchasing habits of more than 90 eateries in 25 states. The idea is to reveal industry benchmarks for food’s origins so restaurants can set self-improvement goals. “We truly believe ‘good food’ has to be good for every link in the food chain,” Brito says. “We want people to think about more than just taste. What about the people in the restaurants making the food? And the farmers? We ask these questions all the way back to the environment, land, and sea.”

Sixteen of the 30 Colorado eateries that participated in they survey in 2017 received the highest ranking. The 2018 survey opens in January. “There’s a real hunger on chefs’ parts to be recognized for what they’re doing here in Denver,” Brito says. “There’s a real sense of optimism and potential.”

Participating Colorado eateries with the highest 2017 Good Food 100 rating:
  • Basta
  • Beast & Bottle
  • Boulder Valley School District
  • Colterra Food and Wine
  • Fooducopia
  • Frasca Food and Wine
  • Fresh Thymes Eatery
  • Fruition Restaurant
  • Julia’s Kitchen
  • The Kitchen American Bistro
  • Mercantile Dining & Provision
  • Next Door American Eatery
  • The Regional
  • Sazza
  • Wild Standard