The Fourteen Most Promising New Restaurants of 2016 — So Far
Meat and vegetables are treated with equal respect at Masterpiece Kitchen.
8. Masterpiece Kitchen
84 Rampart Road
Like Lucky Cat just next door, Masterpiece Kitchen specializes in taking nostalgic food and making it better than what we remembered. Chef/restaurateur Justin Brunson expanded his Masterpiece Delicatessen concept with a full-service eatery in March that starts with sandwiches but tacks on chef-y touches like fried Brussels sprouts doused in Vietnamese fish sauce and Rocky Mountain trout bedazzled with colorful baby carrots. For a groan-inducing treat, opt for the housemade-pastrami sandwich — a true masterpiece from this Lowry kitchen.
Sushi chefs prep for the evening's service at Matsuhisa.
98 Steele Street
The new Matsuhisa Denver in Cherry Creek is everything we expected from seasoned international chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The space is opulent and stunning, the reservation list tight, and the plates executed with an artist's skill and mastery of color and form. This is no Friday-night hangout, but rather a destination event for the most special of occasions. We're saving our pennies.
Pop's Place welcomes neighbors in the Ballpark area.
10. Pop's Place
2020 Lawrence Street
Longtime Denver chef Stephen Kleinman and sausage impresario Jim Pittenger, founder of Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, teamed up to open an all-day eatery in the Ballpark neighborhood on April 1 — a decision that Pittenger said would allow him to say "April Fool's!" if things didn't work out. But no foolin', the duo is turning out some clever and delicious breakfast and dinner fare — everything from Hawaiian loco moco, made more mouth-watering with a substitution of braised short rib for standard burger patties, to dead-on San Francisco-style cioppino chock-full of seafood. Pop's Place feels like a diner but gives guests a surprise with every choice.
Wagyu braised short rib at the Preservery.
11. The Preservery
3040 Blake Street
Whitney and Obe Ariss unveiled their airy restaurant and market at the end of March, letting spring breezes spread the aromas of fresh-baked breads and chef Brendan Russell's cooking around the RiNo neighborhood. The service is quick-casual, but the menu is anything but, with the likes of braised rabbit, halibut in saffron broth and Wagyu short ribs highlighting the dinner menu. But you needn't reserve the Preservery for a date-night occasion; a New Orleans-style muffuletta sandwich for lunch will also win a would-be lover's heart.
Ramen at Sera's.
12. Sera's Ramen Enclave
3472 West 32nd Avenue
The closure of Bang! last summer left a hole in the hearts of West Highland residents, one that could only be filled with something soulful and sincere. Enter Sera Nguyen, who adds Vietnamese and Korean influences to her menu of bold Japanese noodle soups. An oxtail-based bowl so packed with umami it's called "flavorsome ramen" is only one of the highlights; steamed buns and quail skewers also beckon from the roster of small plates. The smells wafting from the street-facing kitchen may be a little more exotic than those of the previous tenant, but Sera's rises to the challenge of giving comfort to the neighborhood.
Chef Corey Baker displays his tuna knife at Sushi Ronin.
13. Sushi Ronin
2930 Umatilla Street
Among the many sushi bars opening recently, Sushi Ronin distinguishes itself with uncommon dishes from traditional Japanese cuisine along with a tantalizing omakase (chef's choice) menu. The combination of sleek, modern design with Pacific Rim elements transports diners to Tokyo's Ginza district while remaining firmly rooted in LoHi hipness. Choose from "cool" or "warm" menus, with "Southern Barbarian" pickled fish giving a sharp bite, only to be tamed by miso-marinated black cod. For a more casual night, settle in at the bar in the back for small plates and sake or Japanese single-malt whisky.
Old-fashioned diner style meets modern service at Steuben's in Arvada.
14. Steuben's Arvada
7355 Ralston Road, Arvada
The new Arvada Steuben's doubles the fun of the Uptown original, with a spacious dining room done up in mid-century decor and plenty of extra seating at the swanky bar and diner-style counter, where the chrome gleams and the housemade ice cream cannot be ignored. While regulars will be perfectly at home with the familiar slate of regional American cooking, this outpost also offers drinks, brunch and weekday specials unique to the west-side Steuben's. That alone earns this restaurant a spot on our list — but like the original, this one scores big on flavor, too.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.