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Recent years have seen a shift in dining trends. White tablecloths and fine stemware are no longer defining characteristics of a great restaurant. Some Denver eateries have also traded plain white plates for more creative, thoughtful serving pieces that add character to the dining experience. Here, six local spots straying from tradition.
Work & Class
In keeping with Work & Class’ casual and unconventional air, the RiNo restaurant’s signature roasted and braised meats come on metal pie plates. The unfussy, Latin-inspired comfort food lends itself to a carefree, family-dinner feel—exactly how owners Delores Tronco, Tony Maciag, and chef-owner Dana Rodriguez intended. (Bonus: Last week Rodriguez was named a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest!) 2500 Larimer St., 303-292-0700, workandclassdenver.com
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The bold and bright Latin-inspired creations at Leña call for unique and rustic serving dishes. An order of morcilla (blood sausage with roasted tomato and chimichurri) arrives on a wooden cutting board, while twice-baked plantains land on an oblong, rough-around-the-edges plate, and chilaquiles come in a personal-size cast-iron skillet. 24 Broadway, 720-550-7267, lenadenver.com
The sleek design of ChoLon’s interior makes for a special experience in itself, and the food presentation gets the same treatment. Each modern Asian menu item is artfully plated on either black or white dishes. However, the wild mushroom spring rolls (pictured) are brought to the table in a wooden serving piece custom designed and handmade by chef and co-owner Lon Symensma’s father. (Bonus: Keep an eye out for Symensma’s forthcoming noodle and dim sum restaurant, Cho77. In October, Symensma and chef de cuisine Ryan Gorby took a trip to Southeast Asia to collect glassware, dishes, and other items for the eatery. The South Broadway spot will also feature hand-carved serving pieces made for bites like steamed buns.) 1555 Blake St., Suite 101, 303-353-5223, cholon.com
Mario Nocifera and chef Alex Figura’s Ballpark restaurant serves food on aesthetically pleasing dishes designed to complement each item. Some orders arrive on bold blue or red circular pieces while others—like selections from the “Each” section of the menu—appear on black oblong plates with sloped sides. Regardless of the vessel, the beauty of dining at Lower48 Kitchen is a sum of the parts. 2020 Lawrence St., 303-942-0262, lower48kitchen.com
Most dishes at this Lowry taco joint show up on white plates of various shapes, but order the aguachile for a more unique, shareable meal. The chile-spiked ceviche dish is served in a large molcajete (a stone bowl traditionally used as a mortar and pestle) along with a small teapot filled with warm fish stock. Fill a shot glass with the broth and take a sip after a bite of the cold seafood soup. The communal experience—and the juxtaposition of hot and cold—is one of the highlights of North County’s Baja-style menu. 94 Rampart Way, 720-532-0108, northcountydenver.com
Order one of the BSide’s TV Dinners and your meal arrives old school on a compartmentalized tray. The cafeteria-style serving piece keeps your creamed corn separate from the hot fried chicken, while simultaneously drumming up some lunchroom memories. 1336 E. 17th Ave., 303-474-4960, thebsidedenver.com