In early May, I wrote that 8 Rivers, a Caribbean restaurant, would soon be taking over the space once occupied by Poggio’s Italian Coffee Bar Café & Gelateria in Highland Square. On June 1, executive chef and owner Scott Durrah officially opened the doors, welcoming diners into the space emblazoned with Bob Marley’s quote “Positive vibrations man. That’s what make this work.” The saying sets the tone—even with a liquor license still pending, the place buzzes with energy on a balmy summer night. Over the weekend, I claimed a table on the patio (perhaps the square’s best for people watching) and found two dishes worth coming back for: the supertender, smoked jerk chicken and the rich rum-raisin ice cream. Next time I’ll try the jerk steak (per Durrah’s recommendation), and if all goes well with the liquor license, I’ll cool the flames with a Red Stripe. 3609 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-1126,

For a while there the tired 5-year-old Tamayo slipped off our dining radar screen, but no more. Chef-owner Richard Sandoval‘s modern Mexican restaurant just got a facelift with a new color scheme, a rejiggered space, and best of all, a lively menu. How to make the most of the “new” Tamayo: Grab a seat upstairs on the patio and sip on a mojito de pina—a dangerously delicious cocktail made with pineapple rum, fresh pineapple chunks, and muddled mint. Linger over the halibut ceviche that sings with citrus, sweet mango, and crunchy jicama before ordering the alambre de rib-eye—skewers packed with chorizo, bacon, rib-eye, and red pepper surrounded by gouda and tomatillo-chile morita salsa. Finish the evening with the decadent tres leches bread pudding doused in vanilla-cinnamon sauce and blueberry compote. 1400 Larimer St., 720-946-1433,

Twelve chefs. Two hundred hungry diners. Sixty minutes. One 235-pound yellowfin tuna…At last Thursday’s Flatiron Chef Competition at the Omni Interlocken Resort, Denver and Boulder chefs battled it out for the title of best in the land. Frank Bonnano of Mizuna and Luca d’Italia led the Denver team made up of Elise Wiggins (Panzano), Rebecca Weitzman (Café Star), Timothy Opiel (Rialto Cafe), Troy Guard (Nine75 and Ocean), and Tyler Wiard (Elway’s). While Hosea Rosenberg, chef of Jax Fish House in Boulder, captain of the Boulder team, and five-time Flatiron champion capitalized on his experience, deftly organizing his team: Will Chenworth (Meritage), Corey Buck (John’s), Matt Jansen (Mateo), Daniel Cofrades (Trattoria on Pearl), and Cameron Grant (Laudisio).
At the end of the 60 minutes, 200 diners (myself included) got to taste both dishes made with the secret ingredient and vote on the final creations. Denver went clean and simple: Grilled yellowfin tuna with butter-braised organic fingerling potatoes, wild mushroom demi, and heirloom tomato and peach salsa. Boulder went “bolder” and captured the title with sesame seared yellowfin tuna with purple Thai rice, baby fennel, bok choy, and a sweet soy blood orange beurre blanc. There have been rumblings that in August Boulder will take on the best chefs from a mountain town (think Aspen or Vail). The events are always a blast and the money raised goes to a good cause (this time to the Art Institute of Denver and Johnson & Wales University.) Call for more information. 303-464-3207.

—Amanda M. Faison

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.