With food photos this tempting, we know you'll want to run out and eat these five dishes right now — but you'll have to wait a few days for all but one. You can eat your fill when three new restaurants open next Tuesday and Wednesday, or you can buy the good-looking pizza above any time in May and support a good cause in the process. If you can't wait until Monday, keep reading to find out which delicious dish is on a Denver menu today. After you've had your fill, find our complete list of restaurant openings and closings for April 23-28, 2017, at the bottom.
Southern shakshuka benefits from a helping of goat-cheese grits.
1650 Wewatta Street
The first in the trio of big openings next week is this Asheville, North Carolina, transplant, which comes toting traditional and modernized takes on Southern cuisine. Eggs are big on the menu, since the original Tupelo Honey, now seventeen years old, was founded on a breakfast-for-dinner concept. The menu now stretches beyond those confines, but when it comes to trying out new restaurants, go with what got them here in the first place. If that means fried chicken and pumpkin pancakes (you thought we were going to say waffles), be our guest. But our pick is the Southern shakshuka, a dish that starts with the Mediterranean classic of eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce, and quickly heads South, twice. First, there are the goat-cheese grits that seem a natural addition to the typically starch-free shakshuka. Then there's the creole sauce, which gets the flame-red hue right, but ups the ante with crumbled andouille sausage. A fan of cooling avocado keeps the heat at bay for a well-balanced breakfast, even at night. Tupelo Honey kicks off service at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 2.
These octopus-and-bacon risotto balls could be chef Lon Symensma's next big hit.
Concourse Restaurant Moderne
10195 East 29th Drive
Concourse is chef Lon Symensma's third restaurant, and he's teamed up with an old friend from culinary school, Luke Bergman, to usher in a concise roster of small plates to an eagerly awaiting Stapleton neighborhood. The menu defies easy categorization, but Symensma has a couple of words he hopes will stick: "sexy" and "craveable." Both apply to a dish at his original restaurant, ChoLon; there, the French onion soup dumplings have been a draw as not only a signature dish, but as one of Denver's most iconic culinary creations. Bergman notes that dishes will change frequently at Concourse, but he and Symensma could have a hit that will stick around with the bacon-and-octopus risotto balls, a trio of cornmeal-crusted delicacies bathed in smoked-tomato butter. Spanish octopus and Tender Belly bacon give a surf-and-turf solidity to the creamy rice centers, while the sauce gets a deep, almost caramelized sweetness from tomatoes roasted until nearly candied, then touched with a whisper of smoke. The new restaurant opens on Wednesday, May 3, for breakfast and dinner; grab a housemade pastry and some Coda coffee beginning at 7 a.m. or come ’round for dinner starting at 5 p.m. Lunch will be added as of May 22.
Matzah soup dumplings — a Jewish/Chinese mashup.
2930 Umatilla Street
Also opening on May 3, Justin Cucci's new homage to the number five (his fifth restaurant, on the fifth floor, with menu items clustered in groups of five). Inside, El Five resembles a cross between the club level of an Egyptian Hotel circa 1960 (read: lots of mirrored surfaces, geometric patterns and gold trim) and the closeout sale at a vintage movie-poster warehouse (also located somewhere in the Arabic world). Build a dinner of newfangled tapas, many of which stray far from Spanish shores into Morocco, Turkey, Israel — and even China, in the case of the matzah soup dumplings. These aren't dumplings you'd find in a Jewish grandmother's soup; they're xiaolongbao-style dumplings filled with soup. Pop one in your mouth for an explosion of savory chicken broth brightened with lemon-infused olive oil and dill. Get happy with your dumplings at happy hour, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m.
Keep reading for more of the Westword watch list.
Fruition and Mercantile chef/owner Alex Seidel tops a Pizzeria Locale pie with an egg yolk before it goes in the oven.
550 Broadway, 720-508-8828
3484 West 32nd Avenue, 303-302-2451
Over the past few months, Pizzeria Locale owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have been running occasional monthly pizza specials with a portion of sales going to benefit food-based organizations. Next week, the beneficiary will be Culinary Quick Start, a free training program offered by the Emily Griffith Technical College in conjunction with EatDenver and Sage Restaurant Group. May's pizza was created by Fruition and Mercantile chef/owner Alex Seidel; it's a carbonara pie topped with smoked mozzarella, crème fraîche, prosciutto, Fruition Farms sheep-milk ricotta, peas, red onion and an egg yolk. While the pizza will be available at both Denver locations of Pizzeria Locale for all of May, if you want your pizza dollars to go toward Culinary Quick Start, you'll have to head over to the Broadway location on Wednesday, May 3, when 50 percent of pizza sales that day will be donated to the program. You can order the carbonara pizza or pick from the regular menu; just be sure and mention at the counter that you're there for the Culinary Quick Start fundraiser. If you can't wait until Wednesday to try the carbonara pie, go ahead and get one on Monday, then return on Wednesday for your good-deed pizza. (And maybe slip one in on Tuesday as well.)
The croque-madame at Olive & Finch is available right now.
Olive & Finch Cherry Creek
3390 East First Avenue
Those who hang out at chef/restaurateur Mary Nguyen's original Olive & Finch on East 17th Avenue know how hard it is to choose from the wonderful sandwiches and skillets. That's even more the situation at the new Cherry Creek outpost, because the menu is bigger and the pastry case is loaded with tempting treats. Do you go with an Italian-style sub, a weighty roast-beef sandwich, or a bowl of creamy polenta enriched with poached eggs and cheese? If you're like us, you may need to wave waiting customers ahead of you in line while you make up your mind. But eventually a decision must be made, and right now our favorite is the collision of breakfast and lunch known worldwide as a croque-madame. Nguyen doesn't stray far from tradition with her version of the French sandwich, except possibly by making it bigger. Ham and Gruyère are tucked between two sliced of housemade brioche. Grilled, blanketed in bechamel and topped with two glistening eggs, the construction is comforting and filling — and it's available all day, from when the doors open at 7 a.m. to when the kitchen winds down at 10 p.m.
In other news:
RESTAURANTS/BARS REOPENING THIS WEEK:*
The Park Tavern & Restaurant, 931 East 11th Avenue
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RESTAURANTS/BARS TEMPORARILY CLOSING THIS WEEK:*
Colt & Gray (reopening May 2), 1553 Platte Street
RESTAURANTS/BARS CLOSING THIS WEEK:*
Sushi Tora, 2014 10th Street, Boulder
*Or earlier, and not reported in a previous Westword Watch List.