Can there be too much of a good thing? When it comes to the Kitchen Next Door, the answer appears to be no. The community pub, which functions as a casual, more affordable version of the Kitchen, expanded from Boulder to Glendale in February and to Fort Collins in June—and opened an outpost in Union Station last month. But while many restaurants lose focus through expansion, owners Kimbal Musk and Hugo Matheson’s mission remains laser sharp.

The seasonal, regularly changing menu is jammed with carefully sourced food at reasonable prices. A seven-ounce burger made from Colorado beef is $9.95, as are the terrifically fresh wild sockeye salmon salad sandwich and the Mediterranean-inspired lamb kofta salad. Organic, roasted cumin carrots cost $2.95, and the Kitchen’s legendary tomato soup is $3.25 a cup. As if that isn’t economical enough, stop by during community hour (3 to 6 p.m. daily) for a menu that starts at $1.95 for sides and snacks and tops out at $8.95 (for craft beer–steamed mussels).

Beyond the food, these restaurants—or perhaps more accurately, Musk and Matheson—have a conscience: The intent is not just to feed the community, but also to build it, strengthen it, and take care of it. Case in point: Order the Learning Garden salad (a tangle of kale, carrots, and almonds with a zingy apple vinaigrette), and $2 of your $7.95 goes to the Kitchen’s philanthropic arm to build and maintain local school gardens. Too much of a good thing? Definitely not. Multiple locations,

This article was originally published in 5280 August 2014.
Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.