1. Seaside Snacks

Maine Shack | 1535 Central St, LoHi

Maine Shack isn’t the first restaurant in the Mile High City to serve New England–style lobster rolls, but five iterations of the iconic seafood sandwich on one menu is surely a milestone. The generously stuffed rolls, piled high with steamed claw and knuckle meat from crustaceans caught in Stonington, Maine, are luring patrons into the four-month-old fast-casual joint on Central Street. If the $36 Lobsterado—a ’grammable mayo-and-melted-butter masterpiece crowned with a four-ounce lobster tail—isn’t your style, check out the rest of the menu: fried whole belly clams, chowder, lobster pie, and a roast beef sandwich and a burger for landlubbers (no judgment). Whoopie pie and blueberry buckle are for dessert. The concept is a labor of nostalgic love for owner and Maine native Drew Ryan, who hauled most of the restaurant’s coastal-themed decor here from his home state.

2. Community Pub

Rita’s Law | 2209 Welton St., Five Points

What do you look for in a neighborhood watering hole? Cheerful bartenders with mad skills? Check. Colorado brews and spirits, not to mention local kombucha and coffee to fuel remote working sessions? Definitely. A comfortable patio where you can bring your pup? Yup. Fresh build-your-own grain and salad bowls served from a yellow school bus? Why not? As of June, Rita’s Law has brought all of the above and more (such as movies, live music, and yoga) to a burgeoning stretch of Welton Street. Owner and Denver native Rita Price wants her bar to serve as a community hub for the area. Price makes the rules (framed on one wall, they include things like “Make a friend, buy your neighbor a drink”), and Denverites come and go, eating, drinking, and connecting along the way. We couldn’t ask for more from a neighborhood tavern.

3. Taste Of Home

Sassafras American Eatery | 3927 W 32nd Ave, West Highland

In June, one of Denver’s best early day spots relocated from one lovely Victorian home in Jefferson Park to two adjoining—and doubly lovely—Victorian homes on West 32nd Avenue when Sassafras American Eatery moved its original location to the former Solitaire space. The tempting Southern menu is the same as ever, thank goodness, but now, as you waffle between ordering a Benedict, po’boy, jambalaya, or mac-and-cheese (to go with your specialty Bloody Mary, of course), you also have plenty to take in with your eyes. There’s not a bad seat in the houses, thanks to multiple brick-walled, window-lined dining areas—one sporting a fireplace, another located inside a second-floor library—a rooftop patio with yet another hearth, and two lush garden patios. Now more than ever, seven-year-old Sassafras is what’s for breakfast (and lunch).

This article was originally published in 5280 November 2019.
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.
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia joined the 5280 staff in July 2019 and is thrilled to oversee all of the magazine’s dining coverage. Follow her food reporting adventures on Instagram @whatispattyeating.