You may feel stuck in limbo without access to the Way Back’s fantastic roast chicken and easy-drinking cocktails (as it prepares to move to new digs on Tennyson St.). But worry not: Wayward opens today, put together by the Way Back and American Grind team of Chad Michael George, Kade Gianinetti, and Jared Schwartz. Chef Patrick Kelly left Panzano to lead the kitchen; his menu is inviting with a few curveballs thrown in to keep things exciting.

Take the squash salad Kelly serves as an ode to high summer: roasted and raw zucchini and yellow squash come tangled with cucumber ribbons, Korean chile flakes, and house-made labneh cheese. The crostini, served on the Rolling Pin Bakeshop’s grilled sourdough, is more of a toast than a crisp crostini, but it’s delightful with local Native Horns Dairy chèvre, sprouted legumes, and salty fish roe on top. Lamb comes two ways on a single large plate—roasted shoulder, rich braised neck—with Swiss chard leaves from the GrowHaus left pleasingly crunchy and pickled stems adding punch.

A smart little dessert list includes a creamy ginger panna cotta with fresh plums and peaches and almond crunchies. Beverage director Alex Flower (formerly of Acorn) writes a strong drink list, too; the Where’s the Beach cocktail is a tiki joy that mixes rum, manzanilla sherry, Palisade apricot purée, and lemon.

Wayward is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, and for happy hour Tuesday through Friday. That happy hour includes bottomless wine and beer as well as a package deal of six house cocktails for $20, so you and your friends can consider yourselves warned (take a rideshare home, please).

The brightly lit space will be fun to unwind in whether you’re imbibing in the front lounge area, at the spacious bar, or in the modern yet warm dining room. Tastefully adorned open bookshelves and an old beer can collection from the father of a friend of Gianinetti’s keep things light; the team lopped off the can tops to plant succulents inside. Wayward is a transformation, too, from the fusion hot spot that was once Zengo to a welcoming neighborhood joint that’ll makes you feel right at home.

1610 Little Raven Street, 720-429-8300

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.