Established August 2017
There’s a fascinating experiment taking place at the corner of Pearl and 16th streets in Boulder: Emmerson is attempting to be all things to all Boulderites, with coffee drinks and cafe offerings via counter service early in the day and innovative cocktails and Michelin-star-worthy dishes at night. And it’s working. Emmerson’s pastries, breads, and desserts are exquisite at any hour; the bar program is exciting; and the dinner menu delivers elaborate, ambitious fare such as sweet potato gnocchi with sea urchin and blue cheese. It’s a crazy-delicious combo that underscores Emmerson’s aim to push the limits of what a Boulder—heck, a Colorado—restaurant can be. 1600 Pearl St., Suite 100, Boulder, 303-953-9852

Bangs Island mussels (Top) and tamarind-glazed pig tails (Bottom) at Señor Bear. Photo by Aaron Colussi

Señor Bear

Established June 2017
The restaurant dream team of Blake Edmunds, Juan Padro, Katie O’Shea, and Max Mackissock (also behind Bar Dough and the Tap & Burger minichain) has created Señor Bear, a Pan-Latin restaurant in LoHi that we adore. The vibe is party-riffic; servers are dialed in; bartenders craft potent elixirs using rum, tequila, and pisco; and the kitchen, led by Edmunds, turns out rustic, boldly flavored dishes you won’t find anywhere else in Denver. On recent visits, plump mussels in a chile-and-soy-butter-spiked tomato broth wowed, as did the smoky-juicy charcoal-grilled El Pollo Bronco, a house specialty. We plan to try every dish on the menu this year, and so should you. 3301 Tejon St., 720-572-5997

A gin and tonic and the artichoke shared plate at Tavernetta. Photo by Aaron Colussi


Established September 2017
Denver diners received a gift in 2017 when the team behind Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine opened a sister concept, Tavernetta, behind Union Station. Smart design work by local architecture firm Semple Brown means you can dine in your choice of unique settings, from the sleek fireplace lounge to the open kitchen to a tucked-away dining room off 16th Street. And the food and wine, inspired by every region of Italy and perhaps more soulful than Frasca’s elevated offerings, translate to fresh pastas and salads, exquisite fritto misto, and the best focaccia in Colorado. Bonus: From 3 to 6 p.m. daily in the lounge, you can partake of a generous $10-and-under menu as you watch the trains come and go. 1889 16th St., 720-605-1889

Bamboo Sushi’s Yakumi-style nigiri. Photo by Aaron Colussi

Bamboo Sushi

Established November 2017
The mission of this three-month-old restaurant is as noble as its food is delicious: sourcing sustainably caught and humanely raised seafood with the help of partners such as the Marine Stewardship Council and the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. But the Portland-born concept doesn’t stop there. Pristine, precisely seasoned nigiri, sashimi, maki, and more come from the sushi bar, while umami-laden plates such as char-grilled shishito peppers with miso butter and bacon come from the kitchen. Moreover, thanks to the buying power and decade-long supply chain relationships of Bamboo’s parent company, the Sustainable Restaurant Group, Bamboo’s prices are lower than you might expect for fish as fresh and eco-friendly. 2715 17th St., 303-284-6600

Tapas, pintxos, and sherry at Ultreia. Photo by Aaron Colussi


Established December 2017
Jennifer Jasinski is Denver’s only James Beard Award–winning chef, so the pressure was on when she and her partners opened their fifth restaurant, Ultreia, in Union Station. Happily, their ode to all things Iberian lives up to the hype. Custom ironwork and a 17th-century-style landscape mural (see “Grown-Up Getaway” on page 37) create an evocative backdrop for smart cocktails and executive chef Adam Branz’s satisfying Spanish- and Portugese-inspired snacks. Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop St., 303-534-1970

The Secret Garden shared plate at the Bindery. Photo by Aaron Colussi

The Bindery

Established October 2017
With dishes like rabbit Welsh rarebit and wild boar pappardelle on the menu, it’s safe to say that dinner at the Bindery is a wild ride. But chef-owner Linda Hampsten Fox has the chops to pull it off, having worked as a private chef and culinary instructor the world over. Her eclectic fare, which includes breakfast (try the porchetta-egg-mozzarella sandwich) and lunch options (go for the beet tartine with chickpeas and Little Gem salad), may be difficult to categorize, but the inviting space and creative plates are easy to love. 1817 Central St., 303-993-2364

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.