First Look: Troy Guard's Mister Tuna Lands in River North

Mister Tuna honors chef/owner Troy Guard's father with the name and his mother with a mural that takes up the dining room's south wall.EXPAND
Mister Tuna honors chef/owner Troy Guard's father with the name and his mother with a mural that takes up the dining room's south wall.
Mark Antonation

Tacos, burgers, Chinese food, steaks and desserts: Chef/restaurateur Troy Guard has covered a wide range of styles at his eateries over the past few years. But his newest venture, Mister Tuna, which opens this Friday, July 15, in the Industry building on Brighton Boulevard, is a little more difficult to categorize. A wood-fired rotisserie, a raw bar, handmade pasta and a station dedicated to all things pickled or preserved make for an eclectic menu that defies easy description. But Guard is happy to provide an overarching theme: "A neighborhood sanctuary is what I call it — a safe haven," he explains.

The inspiration for Mister Tuna comes from the chef's childhood on Oahu. So, yes, there's seafood, but that's just part of the program. "We cooked on a barbecue every single night," he recalls.

With that in mind, follow your nose from the entrance to the chef's counter at the far end of the long, narrow dining room, where a rotisserie — which could be turning pork, rabbit, lamb or beef — crackling with charcoal and oak fills the space with the aroma of burning wood. But once seated, your view of the open kitchen will tip you off to the variety lurking on the menu. Hand-rolled garganelli and gnocchi are prepped at the pasta station while raw fish is sliced — both thick and thin — for crudo, sushi or grilled fillets. Jars of pickled, fermented and preserved fruits and vegetables gleam from nearby shelves, promising salty, tangy tastes, like the subtle kimchi notes mixed into buttery wheat berries beneath a slab of corvina.

Mediterranean corvina with kimchee wheat berries and grilled snap peas.EXPAND
Mediterranean corvina with kimchee wheat berries and grilled snap peas.
Mark Antonation

Mostly, Mister Tuna is an homage to Guard's childhood. The name itself comes from his father's nickname, and the floor-to-ceiling mural painted by artist Lui Ferreyra on the south wall of the dining room was inspired by 1970s photo of his mom. In the hallway to the restrooms, you'll see family photos of Guard's father posing with trophy fish and of a young Troy with his parents enjoying the outdoors, a major part of his upbringing. There are even a couple of pictures (one hidden in the swirls of the enormous murals) of the other Mister Tuna: the family parrot, still alive and as old as Guard himself (the chef and his father both bear lifelong scars from Mister Tuna's sharp beak).

The restaurant, which Guard refers to as a "neighborhood hangout," features design from Boss Architecture, funky bathrooms tagged with black and gold graffiti, and a small mezzanine decked out with a comfy couch and other swank lounge furniture accessible from a spiral staircase.

A photo of Guard's mother from the early 1970s was the inspiration for the mural.EXPAND
A photo of Guard's mother from the early 1970s was the inspiration for the mural.
Mark Antonation

The long bar touts a cocktail program designed with simplicity and bright flavors by TAG beverage director Michael Cerretani and a wine list focused on European and California bottles — some seventy to eighty labels — selected by Nikki Guard.

Mister Tuna seats 115 guests, including forty on the patio out front. Beginning Friday, the space will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Beginning August 15, Guard will add breakfast and lunch, with breakfast available to-go only and featuring baked goods from Sugarmill as well as the flavors of whatever's on the grill from Mister Tuna's kitchen. That could mean charcoal-roasted lamb burritos with Los Chingones salsa, for example, or other creations inspired by what's on hand.

While there, check out the ghostly remains of the "Groceries" sign above the kitchen, a leftover from the building's long history as a distribution center; the wood panels beneath the bar that were once the building's garage doors; and the Japanese shou-sugi-ban wood (burned cedar) paneling in the hallway to the restrooms. And while gazing at the black-and-white mural, see if you can pick out the map of Hawaii hidden in the wave patterns. Keep reading for more photos of Mister Tuna.

Housemade garganelli pasta with pork ragu and pecorino Romano.EXPAND
Housemade garganelli pasta with pork ragu and pecorino Romano.
Mark Antonation
Mediterranean corvina gets prepped for the grill.EXPAND
Mediterranean corvina gets prepped for the grill.
Mark Antonation
King crab with Palisade peach and brown butter.EXPAND
King crab with Palisade peach and brown butter.
Mark Antonation
Black and gold predominate in the color scheme.EXPAND
Black and gold predominate in the color scheme.
Mark Antonation
Scraped albacore features the tenderest bits of the fish along with watermelon and watermelon-yuzu juice.EXPAND
Scraped albacore features the tenderest bits of the fish along with watermelon and watermelon-yuzu juice.
Mark Antonation
Outside Mister Tuna in the Industry building on Brighton Boulevard.EXPAND
Outside Mister Tuna in the Industry building on Brighton Boulevard.
Mark Antonation
Oak-grilled Pueblo yams with coriander yogurt and warn guajillo chile salsa.EXPAND
Oak-grilled Pueblo yams with coriander yogurt and warn guajillo chile salsa.
Mark Antonation
TAG beverage director Michael Cerretani mixes cocktails at Mister Tuna's bar.EXPAND
TAG beverage director Michael Cerretani mixes cocktails at Mister Tuna's bar.
Mark Antonation
Two bright cocktails from Mister Tuna's summer drinks list.EXPAND
Two bright cocktails from Mister Tuna's summer drinks list.
Mark Antonation
Mister Tuna's sunny patio.EXPAND
Mister Tuna's sunny patio.
Mark Antonation
Custom-made light fixtures above the bar.EXPAND
Custom-made light fixtures above the bar.
Mark Antonation
The kitchen's rotisserie and grill adds flavor to meats and vegetables with charcoal and oak.EXPAND
The kitchen's rotisserie and grill adds flavor to meats and vegetables with charcoal and oak.
Mark Antonation
Lounge seating accessible from a spiral staircase.EXPAND
Lounge seating accessible from a spiral staircase.
Mark Antonation
A view from the mezzanine lounge.EXPAND
A view from the mezzanine lounge.
Mark Antonation
First Look: Troy Guard's Mister Tuna Lands in River NorthEXPAND
Mark Antonation
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miles
Mister Tuna

3033 Brighton Blvd.
Denver, Colorado 80216

303-831-8862

www.mistertuna.com


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