Denver's five best restaurants that are hidden in other businesses

Tres Jolie, a cafe-boutique combo.
Tres Jolie, a cafe-boutique combo.
Mark Manger

There's a school of thought that argues location is everything when it comes to the restaurant business, and for those types, picking a prominent address in a good part of town is paramount. The opposite? Hiding your restaurant within the confines of another business. And that's exactly what a handful of crafty Denver restaurateurs have done by opening their restaurants inside other spots that are sometimes completely unrelated to serving food.

Here are Denver's five best quirky restaurant-business combos:

Denver's five best restaurants that are hidden in other businesses
Retro Room

5. The Retro Room There are a few bar-meets-salon concepts in town, and the Retro Room has long offered beer and cocktails alongside haircuts. But the place recently upped the ante, adding a full-blown menu of appetizers, salads and sandwiches, which it serves up from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily. So now you can get stuffed spuds with your new style, or a French dip with your highlights. And that kind of gives new meaning to a power lunch.

Denver's five best restaurants that are hidden in other businesses
Lori Midson

4. Pho Bowl Hanh Nguyen already owned the South Denver Conoco near Broadway and Hampden, but when she opened a Subway that went bust, she decided to offer a taste of her home country instead of trying to do another fast-food outlet. So she built a forty seat homage to pho in a corner of the convenience store, where she dishes out Vietnamese soup alongside noodle and rice dishes.

Denver's five best restaurants that are hidden in other businesses
Amber Taufen

3. Atomic Tamale Vegetarians and vegans looking for Mexican food should head immediately to Atomic Tamale. There, you'll encounter a kitchen that makes meat-and-cheese free tamales and taquitos on a daily basis and vegan menudo (which, yes, seems improbable) every Sunday. But you'll have to find it first, and that's no easy feat, because Atomic Tamale is tucked inside La Muerte Apparel, a Day of the Dead-themed clothing boutique on Santa Fe.  

Denver's five best restaurants that are hidden in other businesses
Mark Manger

2. Sachi Sushi Tsukasa Hibini had worked in some of the best sushi spots in Boulder for years, but when he opened his own restaurant, he buried it in a corner of the Niwot Market that's easy to miss even if you're inside the store. There, he cuts excellent fish daily and slings Kyushu-style ramen every Sunday. And that ramen is no joke -- it landed our Best Ramen award in Best of Denver 2011.

Denver's five best restaurants that are hidden in other businesses
Mark Manger

1. Tres Jolie "I didn't know what I wanted it to be," Holly Smith says of Tres Jolie, which she opened in a Littleton storefront six years ago (and I review this week). "So this is what I ended up with." "This" is a boutique that vends linens, imported candies, cookbooks, aprons, lacy lingerie, lotion, scented candles and dozens of other pretty things. But it's also a cafe that serves up sandwiches, salads and excellent house-baked goods for lunch and tea service, paired with over 150 varieties of tea and a list of Champagne cocktails. It's an ideal spot for a ladies' lunch -- and the food is good enough that dudes should get over their aversion to all things pink, purple and sparkly, to eat there, too.

Know of other strange restaurant-business combos? Tell us about them below.

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