From legendary and award-winning restaurants and entirely new, pioneering concepts to an abundance of local craft breweries, Denver’s ever-evolving culinary landscape will be on display over the next couple of months. Innovative, chef-driven restaurants and local breweries take the spotlight in Denver with two amazing events – the highly anticipated Denver Restaurant Week (DRW) and the exclusive, only-in-Denver Collaboration Fest – celebrating the city’s recent culinary and craft beverage momentum, which has positioned Denver at the forefront of the industry.
More than 300 restaurants opened in Denver over the past two years, and more than 50 are already on the horizon for the first part of 2016. The city is on the frontline of several national trends, ranging from chef-driven fast casual restaurants to food halls and marketplaces to upscale and creative ethnic fusions; and these restaurants demonstrate the city’s most cutting edge, rising talent as well as mainstay Denver chefs who have been on the scene for years.
Adding to the impressive culinary offerings in The Mile High City are its craft breweries. Denver produces more beer than any other urban region in America – an estimated 200 different craft beers are brewed in Denver every single day – and the city hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival, the largest beer competition in the world, featuring more than 6,700 beers.
Denver Restaurant Week, which takes place from February 26 through March 6, is an annual celebration of the city’s exceptional year-round culinary scene. Now in its 12th year, DRW is an opportunity to enjoy multi-course meals at some of the city’s top restaurants for the tasty price of $30 per person. Reservations throughout the city are highly coveted, and many Mile High hotspots – both iconic local restaurants and new eateries – become fully booked for the 10 days of DRW. Click here to view the menus!
These Denver restaurants show off the city’s most cutting-edge and up-and-coming culinary talent, not to mention the abundance of local products in the nearby area. Denver diners will be wowed by these upscale, epicurean eateries, and the city’s recently progressive food scene in general.
AVANTI FOOD & BEVERAGE, 3200 Pecos St.
A wholly original food concept is playing out at Avanti Food & Beverage in Denver’s Lower Highlands neighborhood, which opened in 2015. A huge two-story warehouse has been converted to shelter a collection of shipping containers, each one a self-contained mini-restaurant. Diners can choose from the variety of cuisines, including a noodle joint, shwarma shop and a torta counter, and enjoy their meal in the communal dining area – complete with stunning views of downtown Denver. A perfect incubator for new flavors and chefs, we fully expect Avanti to set some trends in the national restaurant landscape.
GUARD & GRACE, 1801 California St.
Guard & Grace is a modern, American-style steakhouse that prides itself on serving locally produced meats, cheeses and produce. Chef/owner Tory Guard emphasizes wood-fired dishes for that authentic taste.
THE KITCHEN DENVER, 1530 16th St.
The Kitchen Community is a Boulder-based community of restaurants that has now set up a sister to its world-class neighborhood bistros in downtown Denver. Like the other Kitchen locations, the restaurant on 16th Street boasts a menu that has been sourced from local farmers, ranchers, and purveyors. The Kitchen Denver boasts a seafood bar, a small plates menu, and a main menu with selections like wild char-grilled salmon, oven-roasted sirloin, tagliatelle, and bolognese. Every day from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Kitchen is community hour, with a menu designed to be shared. Don’t miss the quiche and the cocktail du jour.
TABLE 6, 609 Corona St.
This south Capitol Hill restaurant is a popular destination spot for visiting politicos, and for good reason. The 50-seat American eatery makes for a quiet working lunch, or an intimate dinner.Table 6 creates an ambience that is warm and elegant, without being overdone. And then there’s the food: Chef Carrie Shores has created a varied menu that includes everything from comfort food starters (like sloppy joe sliders and tater tots with chorizo and picked peppers) to thoughtful main plates (like duck confit with cherry sage vin and maple smoked pork loin with oat risotto), and Sunday brunch (which features the popular chèvre chantrelle bread pudding.)
RIOJA, 1431 Larimer St.
Rioja was the start of celebrity Chef Jennifer Jasinski’s transformation of Larimer Square with her award-winning restaurant concepts. The Mediterranean-themed eatery is well-known among Denverites for its fresh ingredients and regularly rotating specials, homemade pastas, extensive brunch menu, and thoughtful pastry program executed by chef Eric Dale. Eric’s house made doughnuts got the media spotlight this year, making several nation-wide, best-of dessert lists. Also in 2013, Jasinski received a James Beard award for Best Chef Southwest.
ACORN, 3350 Brighton Blvd., #150
A unique, eclectic, contemporary bar and grill in Denver’s River North District. Located within The Source, Acorn boasts Chef/Owner Steven Redzikowski’s eclectic, contemporary American cooking in an approachable, family-friendly format, alongside Beverage Director/Owner Bryan Dayton’s ingredient-driven cocktails.
TAG, 1441 Larimer St.
Another Larimer Square gem, Troy Guard’s TAG serves “continental social food,” The menu is inspired by his Hawaiian roots, includes a meddley of several different Asian cuisines, and focuses on local Colorado ingredients. Among the many sharable plates at TAG are wok charred edamame, goat enchiladas, and caramelized butterfish. Daring customers should order omakase, a chef-selected multi-course meal that demonstrates TAG’s eclectic menu.
Denver Restaurant Week is presented by Lexus. Other proud sponsors include Columbia Winery, Edna Valley Vineyard, Mirassou Winery, Louis M. Martini Winery, William Hill Estate Winery, US Foods, Open Table, Frontier Airlines, Johnson & Wales, zTrip, Colorado Proud, Open Table, the Colorado Restaurant Association and the Downtown Denver Partnership Business Improvement District.
More information, including a list of participating restaurants, as well as hotel deals can be found at DenverRestaurantWeek.com.
On March 19, 2016, Collaboration Fest will return for its third year. Last year’s Collaboration Fest marked the first time the event was hosted inside the Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Dubbed “America’s Most Creative Beer Event,” by Food & Wine Magazine, it pairs two or more independent breweries to create one limited edition, exclusive beer, available only at the festival. One brewery on each project must be based in Colorado – and many of this year’s 75 brews hail, at least in part, from Denver. The partner breweries represent some of the finest in other suds-rich states and even other countries.
What’s so good about collaboration, you may ask? Collaboration is all about sharing brewing experience and technique to join the perfect ingredients. Brewers come together to decide exactly what yeast to use with what fruit, what type of malt works best with what barrel, or what hops will contribute to the perfect aroma. When done right, the effort becomes truly legendary. Check out our blog for stories on previous collaborations, brew days, festival features and news about the beer and people that make the day so incredible.
For those who are unable to make it to Collaboration Fest, the Denver Beer Trail, created by VISIT DENVER, is an interactive guide to 20 of the newest and most iconic breweries and brewpubs throughout the city and offers beer enthusiasts and novices alike a list of ‘must-try’ beers to quaff during their visit.
“One of the most unique attributes of Denver’s landscape is its collaborative nature,” says Carolyn Livingston, communication director of the Colorado Restaurant Association. “Many of Denver’s up-and-coming chefs, brewers and distillers learned from the area’s more established leaders in those industries; and they are now translating those experiences into their own concepts, with the support of the restaurant and craft beverage communities. Unlike other food cities, in Denver competition is friendly and collaboration is second-nature.“
VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, recognizes the value of The Mile High City’s progressive culinary movements through the creation of programs like DRW and partnerships like Collaboration Fest, among others; and the organization has embraced the culinary scene as part of the destination’s identity.
“As travelers continue to seek out authentic experiences, and especially local culinary scenes, Denver’s chefs, restaurateurs, brewers and distillers never cease to impress,” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER. “The number of incredible restaurants and craft breweries that continue open and flourish in Denver’s neighborhoods is a testament to the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that drives our nationally renowned culinary scene.”
Celebrating 107 years of promoting The Mile High City, VISIT DENVER is a nonprofit trade association that contracts with the City of Denver to market Denver as a convention and leisure destination, increasing economic development in the city, creating jobs and generating taxes. A record 15.4 million visitors stayed overnight in Denver in 2014, generating $4.6 billion in spending, while supporting nearly 54,000 jobs and making tourism among the top industries in Denver. For information on all of VISIT DENVER’s programs and The Mile High City’s exceptional culinary scene, go to www.VISITDENVER.com, TOURISMPAYSDENVER or by phone at 800 2 Denver.