5280 Dines, a shindig celebrating our annual Top 25 Restaurants story, is less than a month away. But we can’t wait to share some of the finalists with you. So in the next two weeks, we’ll slowly reveal the names of six restaurants who made the list. Keep checking back to see who made the cut–even before the October issue hits newsstands.

HINT: Which Denver restaurant is chefed by an Iowan whose first job was at a diner?

Answer: ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro

Chef: Lon Symensma

Since ChoLon opened in October 2010, 5280 has named this eatery a Best New Restaurant, chatted with the chef, and stopped by for Cha Ca La tacos, tamarind-glazed lamb shank, and sweet onion and Gruyère soup dumplings. See what we think now in the October issue (on stands soon).

HINT: Which 10-year-old restaurant still has mac and cheese on the menu?

Answer: Mizuna

Chef: Frank Bonanno

It’s hard to imagine Denver’s dining scene without Frank Bonanno’s influence, something Amanda M. Faison chronicled in “Roll the Bones.” He helms Bones, Osteria Marco, Luca D’Italia, Green Russell, Wednesday’s Pie, and Lou’s Food Bar, which Shari Caudron reviews this month. But his very first restaurant, the 10-year-old Mizuna, has earned the most accolades from 5280.

HINT: Which restaurant’s chef hails from England, and has worked in kitchens as far away as Berlin and Singapore?

Answer: Edge Restaurant and Bar

Chef: Simon Purvis

The Mile High City knows beef—and demands a lot from a steakhouse. Fortunately, the Four Seasons’ Edge Restaurant and Bar takes beef seriously. So much so, that the newbie won this year’s Top of the Town Editor’s Choice for steak. With a chef who has worked all over the world, we were especially pleased to find that he put together a menu with special attention to Rocky Mountain fare, including bison, Colorado lamb, venison sausage, and prime beef. But Edge is not just about meat; we’ve raved about the porcini gnocchi, too.

HINT: Which venerable neighborhood spot took Yelpers to task?

Answer: Table 6

Chef: Scott Parker

Table 6 is known—and loved—for its cozy environment (we even put it on the March 2010 cover) and neighborhood feel. But don’t let the warm atmosphere fool you; this chef takes food seriously. So much so, that he put Yelp reviewers on notice last year. But that doesn’t distract him from cranking out legendary chocolate beignets, one of the city’s best brunches, and a menu that toes the line between playful and serious.

HINT: The grapevines are gone, unless you count the trip.

Answer: Barolo Grill

Chef: Darrel Truett

While Barolo’s staff took off for its annual two-week Italian vacation this summer, the restaurant underwent a massive makeover. We’re happy to report that earth tones and contemporary lighting have replaced kitschy details, like faux grape vines. Stop in to see the new look and don’t miss Truett’s five-course tasting menu.

HINT: Which restaurant’s chef spent more than a decade in the securities brokerage biz before trading that profession for one in the kitchen?

Answer: Colt & Gray

Chef: Nelson Perkins

Our restaurant critic, Shari Caudron, called this spot a blend of rustic farmhouse and modern chic last year. If that seems like a difficult mix to achieve, you’re right. But from the décor to the cocktails to the dishes, Perkins finds an excellent balance.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.