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After four years of teaching Denverites how to make the creamiest risottos and perfectly sear steaks at Create Cooking School, co-owners Erasmo Casiano and Diego Coconati wanted to give diners a taste of their own culinary traditions. This past April, the duo expanded its offerings to include Lucina Eatery & Bar in Park Hill, where the menu is influenced by the flavors of Latin and South America, the Spanish coast, and the Caribbean islands. (Casiano’s parents are from Mexico and Bolivia, and Coconati’s are from Argentina and Puerto Rico.) The lineup—tangy ceviche scooped up with Tajín-dusted vegetarian chicharrones, braised-beef-stuffed pupusas, and saffron-kissed paella with mussels and shrimp—pairs well with cocktails such as the gin-forward What Would Lucina Drink? The refreshing sipper is a nod to Casiano’s mother, for whom the floral-wallpaper-accented eatery is named.
Jesse Jensen crafts his pizzas like contractors build houses: by starting with a good foundation. To produce one-year-old Barchetta’s stellar dough, he uses a blend of organic wheat from High Mountain Central Milling in Utah and local Dry Storage single-origin rye flour. After the pies are crowned with toppings, they are baked to blistery excellence in the fast-casual restaurant’s electric Italian oven. The result is a light, airy crust that’s sturdy enough to support masterpieces such as the Mama Teriyaki, a combination of mozzarella, pineapple, bacon, green onion, umami-rich Japanese barbecue sauce, and togarashi (a chile-flake-enriched spice blend). Enjoy your pizza with a selection from the 14-tap, self-pour beer, wine, and cocktail wall at a seat on the sun-drenched, Walnut Street–facing patio, which comes with a side of downtown Boulder’s best people-watching.
Suppawat Patton never cooked—until he moved from Bangkok to Denver in 2020. Here, he missed the comforts served at roadside stalls across his home country: meatballs bobbing in noodle soup, garlic-scented fried rice, and his favorite, pad thai. To soothe his homesickness, he re-created the dishes with the help of many text messages to his mother. Now, diners can savor Patton’s refined recipes at Hale’s 9 Thai, the casual, five-year-old restaurant he took over with his husband, Sidney, this past March. For his street pad thai, Patton wok-fries thin rice noodles with plump shrimp, scrambled egg, bean sprouts, and green onion but leaves out the sweet-tangy, orange-hued tamarind commonly used in most versions of the dish available in Denver. Another standout is the khao soi, a soup Patton infuses with a house-made paste of dried chiles, red curry, galangal, and other aromatics and serves with egg noodles and tender chicken thighs. He recommends ordering dishes with medium spice and adjusting the heat level on your own with the condiments available at your table, just like it’s done back in Thailand.