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1. Early Day Eats
Ivy on 7th | Capitol Hill
It’s time to kill the fatted calf. After more than a decade spent cooking in New York City and the Hudson Valley, Chopped winner Rebecca Weitzman—who launched her career at Mizuna, Luca d’Italia, and the now-shuttered Cafe Star—has returned to Denver to lead the kitchen at Ivy on 7th. The three-month-old breakfast/brunch/lunch spot, owned by the team behind Carboy Winery and Angelo’s Taverna, is a bright daytime destination anchored by Weitzman’s from-scratch menu. Espresso drinks, salads, pastries, sandwiches, toasts, and brunch plates feature local ingredients, and many items are gluten-free. Try the house-made pork sausage paired with runny poached eggs and soft polenta. Add a Pablo’s cold brew, a glass of Carboy wine, or even an Earl Grey whiskey sour, and it’s a brunchy repast that’s almost as satisfying as, say, coming home.
2. Au Naturel Wine Bar
Noble Riot | RiNo
Whether you’re new to the world of “natural” (minimal intervention) wine or you’ve been swigging bottles of Pét-Nat for years, there’s a lot to toast to at three-month-old Noble Riot. The tiny bar, tucked in the alley behind Denver Central Market, serves exclusively natural wines, which means its list is a trove of interesting sips from small producers. Depending on the season, you may find funky orange wines from Chile or a fruity rosé made with Gamay grapes from Beaujolais. Since Noble Riot is partly owned by the couple who run nearby Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, you can complement your vino with snacky bites from Nocturne’s kitchen, including charcuterie and cheese, elk tartare, and gougères. Be sure to chat up your bartender as you raise a glass; the stories behind the bottles are part of the allure.
3. Next Stop: Paris
Le French | Southmoor Park
When two French-Senegalese sisters with more than 30 years of cooking experience between them—including helming a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris—open a bistro in Belleview Station, you catch the next light-rail car to get there. Those women, Aminata and Rougui Dia, and that restaurant, Le French, have brought beaucoup gifts to the Mile High City. The chic eatery is open all day, so you can pop in for a croissant and café au lait in the morning or for a ham, butter, and Gruyère sandwich for lunch. At dinnertime, the high-end, African-influenced French dishes Rougui honed during her Michelin years are on display: Puff pastry parcels stuffed with foie gras, mushrooms, rabbit, and beef feet are just one delicious example. Exquisite pastries, such as the “baba fondant au chocolat” (a rum-soaked chocolate sponge cake), might have you investing in a monthly RTD pass.