A critic's voice is always an important factor in a mature restaurant scene. And restaurant critics are a hungry bunch, so Gretchen Kurtz, who reviewed nearly 200 restaurants between September 2012 and December 2015, has returned to Westword after an eight-month sabbatical that she initially thought would be a permanent retirement. Her first assignment back: the Preservery on Blake Street in the RiNo neighborhood. "No other restaurant seems to capture the direction of Denver’s food scene as well as this five-month-old newcomer," she says.
While Kurtz is the critical voice of Westword Food & Drink, we still have plenty of room to explore the vast variety of Denver's restaurant news, tastemakers and compelling food. Former critic Laura Shunk left Denver for New York City and then China, and is now back and chatting with Denver's chefs and restaurateurs; this week she talked to Juan Padro, who just opened Sloan's Lake Tap & Burger in a new development in the neighborhood from which the eatery takes its name. And Mark Antonation continues his dive into the city's robust international food landscape with a look at the high end of the scale of Thai spice, with dishes from U.S. Thai, Thailicious and Thai Monkey Club.
A fire-engine-red bowl at U.S. Thai is a good place to start when looking for "Thai hot."
Stories in Westword's other sections often have a food element, like an interview with musician Gregory Alan Isakov, who also runs a small farm in Boulder County, and Karl Christian Krumpholz's illustrated "Denver Bootleg" series, which this week looks into the history behind the Denver Bicycle Cafe. In other news:
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RESTAURANTS/BARS OPENING THIS WEEK*
715 Club, 715 East 26th Avenue
Angelo's Taverna, 6885 South Santa Fe Drive
Avelina, 1550 17th Street
Jozi's Kitchen & Shebeen, 10971 South Parker Road, Parker
The Monkey Barrel, 4401 Tejon Street
River & Woods, 2328 Pearl Street, Boulder
Sloan's Lake Tap & Burger, 1565 Raleigh Street
Swine Emporium at the Bar Car, 819 Colorado Boulevard
Thai Curry, 990 West Sixth Avenue
RESTAURANTS/BARS CLOSING THIS WEEK*
The Good Son, 2550 East Colfax Avenue
Green Island Asian Grill, 990 West Sixth Avenue
Hot Cakes, 1400 East 18th Avenue
Pop's Place, 2020 Lawrence Street
*Or earlier, and not reported in a previous Second Helping.