We’ve started to notice a shift this holiday season: celebrations are back in vogue. We’re talking big steaks, bottles of champagne, and trendy evenings in town.
Maybe it speaks of your mood, or maybe not. But we’re here to provide options.
In recent months, many new restaurants, wine bars, pastry shops and other establishments have opened, offering a certain level of decadence. It could mean just a bow-wrapped box of pastries to be taken home in the morning, or it could mean an upscale dining room to spend the night sipping on oysters.
Choose your own adventure, or head into 2021 with one (or more) of these seven celebration-worthy locations – all approved by our culinary editors.
Its useful to note: The Steakhouse welcomes the Dinner Club and Cooking Area at the A5. This is the newest restaurant in the old Wazee Supper Club, but it’s actually a reimagining of Morin, a cool French establishment that didn’t last long before. Chef Max Makkissock and his team are taking their game to new heights with spicy French toast, wagyu beef burgers and an entire menu of steak sauces (see Beurre Blanc, XO, chimichurri).
Meals are served with martinis or tropical cocktails set against a backdrop of 70s-style ferns and classic 80s stereo. This is the place to come with a group and really take a dip. By the end of the night, you will dance in your seat to the restaurant’s soundtrack.
Price benchmark: Snacks $ 12 to $ 25; US $ 14-15 salads; $ 28-90 per steak; $ 17-48 for first courses; Sides from 6 to 19 dollars; and sauces from 3 to 9 dollars
When will you go: Start your meal with the richest item on the menu: a 4oz A5 strip, add a few oysters and a face-sized salad wedge, then more steak, if necessary, vegetable side dishes (or fries) and sauces. Call it a party.
1600 15th St., a5denver.com, book on exploretock.com/a5denver
Apple blossom (city center)
Its useful to note: Denver’s best new restaurant awaits in the Hyatt Centric lobby at 18th and Champa, and it’s a mystery of the place. Owners Paul Reilly, Eileen Reilly and JP Taylor have worked to recreate the magic of their hit hits Coperta and Beast + Bottle (the latter closed in the summer), but they are now in the heart of the city.
With the help of chefs Russ Fox and Jody Paulson, they brought back their customers’ favorite handmade pastas, Colorado meats and seasonal vegetables, as well as homemade breads and pastries. And even surrounded by skyscrapers, they have created an amazingly pleasant corner of hospitality.
Price benchmark: Snacks $ 10 to $ 21; USD 14-20 – meat and cheeses; $ 17-23 pasta; $ 22-68 for first courses; and $ 5-18 of side dishes and vegetables
When will you go: Sit in the bar or lounge for a casual Bolognese lamb dinner with TV screens and people-watching entertainment. Or book a dining room to sit out with burrata and a stellar bottle list.
822 18th St., appleblossomdenver.com, book on exploretock.com/appleblossom
La Bush (Uptown)
Its useful to note: The La Bouche premiere at the start of the season was like a scene from a cooler street, perhaps in Paris. Only it was 17th and Park Avenue in Denver, in the middle of the week, when the bistro tables spoke a mixture of French and English, and the clinking of glasses and opening bottles reflected on the shiny black tiles of the subway.
Owners of wife and husband Alexandra and Alexis Treton moved their family from France during the pandemic with the dream of opening a small bar in Colorado, where they have visited friends for decades. It’s their own cross-cultural homage: French and American wines match the mix of spoken languages.
Price benchmark: Flights from 15 to 19 dollars; Points from 7 to 23 dollars; Bottles $ 25 to $ 112; $ 7-11 French small plates and salads; Sandwiches from $ 11 to $ 15; Cheese and meat boards from $ 16 to $ 30; and desserts and coffee for $ 2-5
When will you go: We love this place for an early evening drink or a glass at night. Think French bubbles at the start of a party, or a combination of wine and cheese for dessert.
1100 E. 17th Ave., labouche.wine, no reservation required
Its useful to note: Chefs Lisa and Patrick Balcom and their team at Farow need a little introduction. The Balcoms traveled to Colorado via Charleston, South Carolina, where they worked together at the renowned Charleston Grill. Prior to opening Farow, they were pastry chef and sous chef at Blackbelly in Boulder, respectively.
Now that they are having their own sweet surprise at a restaurant in Nivot, the couple have brought on board friends such as Chef Michael Shorn (formerly Butcher & Bee in Charleston and Safta in Denver) and sommelier Carmen Haywood (formerly in Denver’s Tavernett). So the entire team’s resumes begin to tell the story of this shared platter restaurant. But when you try the dishes – like winter zucchini stuffed with saag, or pork belly with carrots and risotto with wheat berries – you really get it.
Price benchmark: Plates of $ 5–30 “Shared”, ranging from bread to salads, vegetables, pasta and meats; Desserts for $ 10; and a six-course tasting menu for $ 75 with additional drinks for $ 55.
When will you go: Leave room for dessert. The season was for Liza Balkom’s spicy cake with thick cream cheese frosting, sugar and spice pecans, orange curd and candied citrus; or her cast iron pumpkin clafoutis, bourbon and caramel crème fraîche, pumpkin seed slices and candied cranberries.
7916 Niwot Road, farowrestaurant.com, reservations at exploretock.com/farow
Its useful to note: Delores Tronco co-founded Work & Class in Denver before she moved to New York for other adventures (she has since been canceled by The Banty Rooster’s Southwest ad). Now the restaurateur is back in the old neighborhoods with this new location flipping a switch, bringing a portion of the Lower West End to Denver’s RiNo art district.
With Chef Justin Freeman in charge of the kitchen, The Greenwich is the pro in this culinary scene. His current menu includes chicory salads, mortadella pies, grilled whole fish, and fried and charred root vegetables, all with the best service and hospitality I’ve experienced at a new Denver restaurant since the pandemic began.
Price benchmark: Starting $ 7-18; $ 14-19 for pizza; $ 29 to $ 36 for first courses; Sides from $ 8 to $ 9; 4-12 USD desserts
When will you go: Take in the artwork, starting with Austin Zucchini-Fowler’s mural at the entrance. Inside, Tronko paid a loving tribute to her late friend and New York photographer Ricky Powell, who died during the pandemic. His photographs and others tell as much a story here as the menu. Oh, and whatever you order, don’t miss the New York Basque cheesecake.
3258 Larimer St., thegreenwichdenver.com, book now at exploretock.com/thegreenwichdenver
Ponty (Golden Triangle)
Its useful to note: Along with the opening this season of the refurbished Martin Building of the Denver Art Museum (designed by Joe Ponty in 1971), this restaurant of great culinary talent offers city views. James Beard laureate Jennifer Yasinski consults on Ponti’s menu of parsnips and smoked apple soup, roasted king salmon and lamb cavatelli, to name just a few.
This is the kind of meal that you should schedule an hour or more for after visiting the Museum of North American Indigenous Collections, Asia Pacific, Western Art and Latin American Collections, and the current Whistler Cassatt: American Artists in France exhibit. When the patio is open, you will find yourself in the heart of the Golden Triangle Museum District for lunch or a drink. But the bar and the dining room inside are no less picturesque.
Price benchmark: Salads and snacks from $ 9 to $ 18; $ 15-24 per network; and desserts for $ 9
When will you go: Please note that you can also visit Cafe Gio for quick service and bites in a more casual setting, right across the lobby from the main restaurant.
100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, thepontidenver.com, bookings on opentable.com
Poulette Bakeshop (Parker)
Its useful to note: Decorated pastry chefs Carolyn Nugent and Alain Ramos opened this bakery in their home kitchen during the peak of the pandemic, when they used their front veranda in south Denver as a showcase for new (but devoted) followers hungry for Berlin donuts, apple pancakes and sticky buns. The couple have now opened their authentic Poulette pastry shop in Parker while maintaining a lively pop-up vibe.
Customers can order half a dozen baking boxes with beautiful creations like spander (stuffed with Danish custard), brioche in sucre, and pumpkin tea cakes. They’re prepared fresh for pickup on the weekend, which means you can gift the box to your loved ones this season and enjoy some special treats from the comfort of your home.
Price benchmark: Pastry boxes for $ 30 with an assortment of six pastries, from croissants to cakes; also individual baked goods; and whole holiday breads, pies and cakes for between $ 15 and $ 50.
When will you go: If you don’t want to order in advance, you can always stop by to admire the pastries from 8 am to noon (or until all tickets are sold out) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
19585 Hess Road, Parker, poulettebakeshop.com; “Reservation” is only required for pre-ordered boxes or pies.
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