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Even before it opened its doors today, Sunday, September 25, the Denver Central Market has captured the attention of every food-obsessed citizen in the Mile High City, and with good reason. Restaurateur Jeff Osaka and developer Ken Wolf’s long-awaited RiNo marketplace offers an energy and excitement that you won’t find anywhere else in Denver right now.
The smartly designed space features 11 vendors, none of which are separated by walls. The openness allows one to catch glimpses, sounds, and smells of many things at once: the pizzaiolos tossing rounds of dough high into the air; the satisfying crack of oysters being shucked; the beguiling aroma of fresh waffle cones crisping.
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While the market itself is new, many of its tenants are familiar names in the Denver dining scene: Noah Price of Crema Coffee House brings Crema Bodega; Justin Brunson is behind Culture Meat & Cheese; Andrea Frizzi of Il Posto has opened Vero Italian; Sean Kelly brings SK Provisions; Jon Robbins of Bistro Barbès is behind Temper Chocolates; Erika Thomas chose Central for the second location of High Point Creamery; and Osaka and his Sushi-Rama chef Jesus Silva are behind Silva’s Fish Market.
Still, there are a couple projects from lesser known folks. The Local Butcher, which offers a case full of mostly Colorado-sourced meats (and a darn tasty meatball sub) comes from newcomer Justin Herd. Curio (the anchor bar) and Green Seed (a fresh produce marketplace and juice bar) are both the brainchild of married couple Katsumi Yuso Ruiz and Stephen Julia (of Cure All Bitters).
But perhaps the biggest surprise of all is Izzio Artisan Bakery. Yes, this is a bakery from the family behind the massively successful wholesale Udi’s breads. And you will find freshly baked loaves of bread and a selection of pastries (such as the flaky kouign-amann which serves as the base for High Point’s ice cream sandwiches). But it’s the Israel-inspired menu (what Udi Baron calls “bread-inspired cuisine”) that’s the hidden gem. Gorgeous dishes like toast topped with labneh, dukkah, and parsley; hearty shakshuka served with bread, a scramble of pork belly, egg, and challah, a hot and cold hummus (a traditional Israeli specialty) and carrot-tahini dip served with rounds of pillowy pita. These items not only showcase the family’s culinary roots, they introduce a different side of a bakery Denver has long loved. “This is what we wanted to do from the very beginning,” Baron says. “We’ve been around so long but people haven’t really gotten to know us.”
So, go, browse, eat, and get to know the both the old and new players in Denver’s ever-evolving dining scene.
The market is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
2669 Larimer St., denvercentralmarket.com
—All photography by Rachel Adams