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Timid eaters, take heed: You will find no burgers or fried chicken at Sunnyside’s three-month-old eatery, the Wolf’s Tailor. Rather, chef-owner Kelly Whitaker (also of Basta in Boulder) has brought Denver a menu bearing the likes of elk tartare with buckwheat and plum, “chawanmushi” (a savory Japanese custard), and a salad that marries frisée and seaweed. But the Asia-meets-Italy fare isn’t all unfamiliar, thanks to house-extruded pastas made from freshly milled heritage grains—the frilly ribbons of mafalda with beef ragu are especially satisfying—and skewers threaded with delights like binchotan-grilled chicken thighs and tender bits from 7X Cattle Company in Hotchkiss. If noodles and meat on a stick aren’t enough to lure you there, the boutique wine list, fizzy Japanese whisky highballs, and elegant desserts from Michelin-starred pastry chef Jeb Breakell should help. You’ll be asking your date to pass the red miso panna cotta before you know it.
If you ever find yourself nostalgic for the compartmentalized cafeteria lunch trays of your youth, then you’ll love eating at Boulder’s six-year-old Curry ‘N’ Kebob. The dine-in special ($8.95 at lunch; $11.95 at dinner) at this counter-service joint doesn’t arrive on a plastic platter—nor does it involve soggy tater tots, thank goodness—but the multicomponent meal conjures the same sort of choose-your-own adventure. Pick a protein and curry; options rotate and range from spicy Sri Lankan to a korma-esque Bengali variety infused with pineapple. Soon, a server will bring you a silver tray laden with a tureen of piping hot curry, a small bowl of red lentil soup, tamarind chutney, an onion fritter (“bhaji”), rice, warm naan, and fresh fruit. Ask nicely and the kitchen will even swap the fruit for milky-sweet rice pudding. Because as every kid (at heart) knows, pudding is the tops.
Barbecue lovers are an opinionated bunch, but it’s difficult to find fault with the exceptional fare coming out of Smok, which chef Bill Espiricueta opened inside the Source Hotel & Market Hall in RiNo this past August. Espiricueta was born in Austin, Texas, and trained in Kansas City, Missouri, so naturally his menu spans those regional styles and more, treating Denverites to everything from classic KC brisket to Carolina-style pulled pork to Nashville hot chicken sandwiches. Smok’s pit-style service—order from the masters behind the counter and pay at the end of the line—means you can select the exact slices of brisket you desire or sample a piece of house-made jalapeño-cheddar sausage to gauge its fire factor. With fine-dining chops to spare after cooking at neighboring Acorn for six years, Espiricueta brings a refined palate to Smok—and a new ’cue favorite to town.