By Pat Miller, the Gabby Gourmet
2230 Oneida St., Denver
Desmond is an amazing neighborhood spot. Located in Park Hill, step into this casual spot and see a huge bar, open kitchen, and one huge room for dining. The décor is simple with wood, concrete, a big fireplace, and simple settings on the tables. Owner/chef Sean Kelly has amazed Denver diners for years and comes out of semi-retirement to create a small plate menu that brings new meaning to great food. Start with antipasto, Moroccan orange and date salad, hummus with grilled flatbread, and mascarpone polenta with mushroom. The pork pâté with fried peppers, baba ghanoush, and fennel stewed mussels are outrageous. So is the French onion and chevre tart, the cheeseburger, potted salmon, and falafel salad with tahini. Each dish is full of delicious flavors and taste with beautiful presentations. Dessert brings decadent desserts that include mascarpone-stuffed dates, gateau chocolate cake, fruit cobblers, and occasionally Sean’s famous chocolate pudding. Simply said, Desmond is everything a restaurant should be, and the perfect place for wonderful food and fun. Welcome to the hood, welcome back Sean, and Denver welcomes a real winner.
1644 Platte St., Denver
The team behind RiNo’s Acorn and Boulder’s OAK at Fourteenth, Steve Redzikowski and Bryan Dayton, bring a new concept, Brider (pronounced bree-day). A rotisserie-centric fast casual restaurant, Brider serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the Nichols Building, also home to a second location of Galvanize, the space is contemporary with a décor that includes lots of wood including table tops, community seating, several tables for dining, and colors of gray and green. The main attraction is an awesome rotisserie oven imported from France where the meats are prepared. Soups, salads, and sandwiches are the lunch features. Rotisserie chicken with thick tortilla soup, several salads such as sweet potato and avocado, beet, shaved Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and kale bring many choices. Cajun spiced shrimp sandwich, falafel sandwich, rotisserie chicken banh mi, a divine French dip, porchetta sandwich, lamb, and an awesome meatball sandwich round out the list. At dinner add rotisserie half chicken with four selections of sides and toppings. The same options are offered with the porchetta, and rotisserie lamb leg entrees. Don’t miss the fired meatballs with polenta. The wine and beer list is short and sweet, and servers are delightful. Brider brings a new and exciting concept under these amazing operators.
3316 Tejon St., Denver
In the bar area of Old Major, one of Denver’s popular spots, Justin Brunson brings Royal Rooster where you will find lunch served weekdays. The space is the bar area with additional seating along the walls. It’s open and bright with huge windows and a great selection of whiskeys on the wall to create the background. The menu is really simple, but really good. It’s deboned, breaded chicken thighs, crisply fried, and piled on a delicious squishy bun. You can get your chicken—classic, spicy, French, Korean, or as a topping on the Caesar salad. Sides are fries or Caesar, and there are some drinks, beer, and wine offered. That’s it. The different fillings are great with spicy mayonnaise, kimchi, or with ham and Swiss. Guess if you don’t like yummy fun fried chicken for lunch, maybe choose another spot, but for some great food, adventure and fun, head over to Royal Rooster.
100 St. Paul, #140, Denver
The latest rage in Cherry Creek is Del Frisco’s Grille, a stunning space in in the area. Huge windows, dark gray, stone, wooden floors, great lighting, and walls of wine set the contemporary scene. The space is huge with a large bar area, mobbed with folks that make for perfect people watching. There are two dining rooms with booths and comfortable table seating. The food is American and much simpler than big brother, Del Frisco’s Steakhouse. Start with cheesesteak eggrolls, ahi tacos, an artichoke, deviled eggs, and lollipop chicken wings. Corn bisque, flatbreads and a divine crab cake are more options. There are several salads, both as a course or entrée. Sandwiches bring burgers, a veggie burger, lamb burger, and shaved steak sandwich. Entrees range from parmesan-lemon sole, ahi tuna and salmon to meatloaf, steak, short rib stroganoff, chicken, and pork chop. Delicious desserts include a signature lemon cake, butterscotch pudding, gateau, and more. Lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch make this a happening spot every day. Del Frisco’s Grille is a big hit in the Cherry Creek restaurant scene.
2434 W. 44th Ave., Denver
Bacon Social House opens in the popular Sunnyside area and brings a new twist with its concept. The space is great looking. Follow the path to enter the restaurant where great murals cover the walls. Lots of colors from orange to turquoise on the walls and booth fabric throughout, the area is accented by high ceilings that reach the balcony and add to the open feel. It’s brunch and dinner every day with the brunch menu featuring pancakes, egg dishes, fun omelets, and sandwiches that do or do not include bacon. There are even vegetarian and vegan options. Some fun dishes include waffles and chicken, stuffed dates, pumpkin crepes, and Benedict. The dinner menu does serve breakfast at night with fewer choices but there’s more. Appetizers of a bacon board, short rib ravioli, parsnip gnocchi, and hearts of palm chop salad, and beet carpaccio start the fun. Salads are BYO so choose everything from greens, veggies, and cheese, to dressing, fruits, and a protein. Entrees of BBQ ribs, striped bass, pork tenderloin, and carbonara start the many options. The wine and cocktail list is very nice, prices reasonable, and service friendly and efficient. With all the options that Bacon Social offers, this is a sure hit in this super hood.
3000 Zuni St., Denver
Mell’s Cheese brings new fun to an already wildly popular neighborhood. Enter the simple space, nicely done with big windows, lots of wood on floors and walls, and a great focal case with a huge selection of wonderful cheese and meats. The menu is simple, starting with mixed nuts, olives, hummus, baked brie, baked goat cheese and cheese plates to share. Salads bring quinoa kale, caprese, and house, and all contain cheese and delicious dressings. The sandwich list starts with chicken liver banh mi, the grinder, and caprese. A yummy ham and Swiss, a fun PB & J, and a fabulous “ultimate” grilled cheese round out the choices. When they arrive, they appear pretty elementary, but when you take a bite, the tastes and blending of the cheeses make for a great sandwich. All are nicely priced. The menu is all day/all night. Paula Dick is charming and delights the fans, and Mell’s Cheese is a perfect spot for a simple lunch or dinner.
193 Gore Creek Dr., Vail
Love at First Bite—the way to describe Mountain Standard in Vail. The sister restaurant of Sweet Basil (37 years young), Mountain Standard is on the creek level. The super looking space features a lovely patio and a fabulous bar where you can gather, dine, and just enjoy for starters. The focal kitchen is awesome and a tour is mandatory. The party starts with divine bread, coal roasted olives, flatbread, onion rings, carpaccio, bone marrow, three little pigs, shrimp and grits, and clam chowder. The best is the whiskey braised pork belly with soy molasses, jalapeno, grilled pineapple and cashew. It could be the best pork belly ever. The raw bar offers oysters, shooters, shrimp, snow crab, and tuna crudo while salads include a divine Caesar, mixed greens, tomato mozzarella, and rotisserie chicken salad. Bring on halibut, whole trout with snap pea amandine, awesome salmon with coal-roasted veggies, Korean chili paste, black sesame, and apple dressing. There’s more with the pork chop with Mexican corn, lamb shank, and steak. At lunch, the corned pork Reuben might be the best thing ever. Whatever you do—do not miss Mountain Standard. Chef Paul Anders is charming as is the front house staff, and after you visit, you just want to go back. Might just have to make it my ‘hood from Denver.
1518 S. Pearl St., Denver
Scott Parker, the amazingly talented chef formerly of Table 6, took a big step and joined the Wynkoop Group to head Session Kitchen. The design is great, seating 280, with 100 upstairs in the “Back Bowl” and seating with “Session Bar,” Park Bar” and “North Face” areas downstairs. “Sessioning” with globally inspired dishes to share is one menu you really have to try to see how it works. Dishes come at two prices so you decide. “Jam Session” (jarred, cured, preserved) offers persimmon vinegar pepper slaw, pork rilettes, fennel sausage with pretzel noodles, and fried Brussels sprouts with preserved lemon. Move on to “Herb Session” with roasted chicken, chopped Caesar and raw blackfin tuna or go for “Wealth” with waffles Cubano, Piadina, mushroom manwich, and brisket bacon burger. Finally the “Group Session” offers roast chicken, franks braised Brussels sprouts, smoked brisket, and lamb collar, salmon, and belly-on pork chop. With great food, drinks, and ambience, Session Kitchen rocks on South Pearl.
Multiple locations in Denver and Boulder
Modmarket is a terrific choice for great gourmet fast food. It is comparable to upscale restaurants with fresh, organic, farm-to-table ingredients at affordable prices. Order at the counter and pick up your food when called. Breakfast specials are available, but more focus is on lunch and dinner. The sandwiches are great; Thai basil chicken, turkey, vegetarian, spicy chicken, and more between the bread are awesome in taste with tempting sauces and spice. Salads start with a super salad with kale, quinoa, and more, or the sliced chicken over greens with grapes, almonds, corn, and feta with delicious dressing. The aroma from the pizza oven makes you want to order one no matter what you had in mind. The crispy, not-too-thick crust is topped with cheese and bacon, margarita, sausage or your choices. The staff is incredibly friendly, and prices are very affordable. You’ll be addicted after one visit to Modmarket.
10125 W. San Juan Way, Littleton
Bacco Trattoria is a dream of a neighborhood Italian restaurant, offering everything—and the right way. The place is small and friendly with one room and an open kitchen as a focal point. The charm is in the staff and the food. Start with fire-roasted artichoke, mussels, baked clams, eggplant caponata, and veal or salmon carpaccio. The arugula with preserved lemons, goat cheese and pancetta chips is worth the trip. The pastas are fabulous with risotto, lasagna, ravioli, Bologenese, fruitti de mare, and gnocchi. If you have room, enjoy decadent desserts. Bacco Ristorante is just what a neighborhood Italian restaurant should be.
620 E. 6th Ave., Denver
Angelo’s has been around Denver for years, but now there is new excitement as owners Eric Hyatt and Craig Jones designed a bar ambience with focus on oysters, pizza, and pasta. The décor brings big windows, the original old brick walls, the focal bar lined with liquor and wine, and the kitchen that peeks out into the room. The menu starts with calamari, arencini, garlic bread, and antipasti platters along with traditional apps. The pasta dishes bring bison or cheese ravioli in marinara or cream sauce, chicken or zucchini parmesan, meatballs, lasagna, and a terrific Bolognese. The pizza stars with so many different versions, or build your own. There is even gluten free for those in need. Leave room for delicious tiramisu, cheesecake, or fried zucchini ravioli sweetened and topped with ice cream. Angelo’s brings great fun and dining to the neighborhood and is perfect to relax and enjoy the crowd.
1700 Humboldt, Denver
Enter Humboldt and be ready for a delightful experience. We all remember Strings but the new space brings a new look and new life here. The ceilings are very high, wood floors, a great bar as you enter with super lighting, big community tables, and a huge open kitchen. Start with oysters, fresh, delicious crispy fried, charbroiled, and baked. Small plates of edamame, shrimp cocktail, calamari, mussels, crispy broccoli, steak skewers and tuna crudo are perfect for sharing. There are signature steaks including steak Diane for a traditional presentation, and several large plates that start with a terrific hamburger or fish sandwich. Add pork tenderloin, spiced tuna, whole crispy fish, chicken, and scallops to make decisions difficult. There are pastas and several salads too. The special page shows the fish selections daily that come with super sides of your choice. This is really special and the sauce choices make the flavors perfect for every taste. Dessert brings chocolate caramel cake, bread pudding, and key lime pie. The owners have done a super job to bring a new look and feel to a favorite neighborhood spot and with all the touches offered, Humboldt is a big favorite in the ‘hood that is ready to open the new guy with open arms.
Bio: Pat Miller, AKA The Gabby Gourmet, hosts The Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Show on KHOW, AM 630 on the dial, every Saturday afternoon from 1-3pm. On air for over 36 years, Pat also writes the very popular Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Guide. The new 29th edition, Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Guide 2016, is available throughout the Denver area now. Visit www.gabbygourmet.com for more information
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