A fast-casual Italian joint serving fine-dining-worthy fare. A penthouse dazzler. A first-time offering in Aurora from a New York transplant. As this year’s list of best restaurants reflects, the metro area’s dining scene is changing in exciting ways: defying neighborhood boundaries, expanding the definition of a top-tier experience, and even challenging the idea of what a restaurant is and can be. Seven of the spots below have opened in the past 12 months, and they’re here because, like the stalwarts, each delivers delicious food, thoughtful hospitality, and comfortable surroundings, day in and day out. Whether old guard or new, helmed by a local chef or an import, white-tablecloth or counter-service, these 25 eateries are rising to the challenge of meeting—and exceeding—the evolving expectations of hungry Coloradans.