Best of Denver

The Ten Best New Restaurants of 2019 So Far

Last year may have been dominated by flashy new concepts, big-money projects and lavish menus, but in the first six months of 2019, smaller shops with tight menus offering unique international eats and regional specialties have risen to the top. The best new food this year can be found in suburban strip malls and out-of-the-way Denver neighborhoods. Of course, a few heavy hitters have proven their home-run power, too. Here are the ten best restaurants of the first six months of 2019, in alphabetical order:

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Kenkey is lightly fermented and steamed cornmeal from West Africa, here served with braised oxtail.
Mark Antonation

African Grill & Bar

955 South Kipling Parkway, Lakewood

Sylvester and Theodora Osei-Fordwuo launched their second eatery at the beginning of 2019, bringing their unique, delicious cooking to Lakewood after the success of their Green Valley Ranch location. You'll find bold spices flavoring uncommon dishes representing Ghana, Nigeria and other African nations, as well as warm service from the owners and their family. Start with familiar samosas, meat pies, wings and fried plantains before exploring the wide range of porridge-style dishes that go by various names — fufu, sadza, kenkey, banku — depending on the main ingredient (cassava, cornmeal, plantain or yam, for example) and country of origin. Slow-cooked greens, braised meats and mouthwatering sauces round out plate after plate. African Grill & Bar is an unforgettable journey for vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

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Broadway Market opened on February 22, 2019.
Danielle Lirette

Broadway Market

950 Broadway

Denver's food-hall scene got a new player this spring with Broadway Market, where guests can eat their way through pizza, sandwiches, sushi, empanadas and curries, to name a few of the available choices. The rock-star lineup reads like a supergroup of culinary talent, including Biju Thomas (Biju's Little Curry Shop), Justin Brunson (Royal Rooster), Daniel Asher (Mother Tongue), Paul Reilly (Pizzeria Coperta), Lorena Cantarovici (Maria Empanada) and Jesus Silva (Misaki on Broadway), plus up-and-comers Mondo Mini, Miette e Chocolat and Wonder. Grab a beer at the self-serve wall of taps (where pint glasses magically fill from the bottom), then explore a world of lunch and dinner possibilities.

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Kao soi, uncommon in Denver, is a specialty of the house at Farmhouse Thai Eatery.
Mark Antonation

Farmhouse Thai Eatery

98 Wadsworth Boulevard, Lakewood

Freshness and balance are the keys to great Thai cuisine, and this new Lakewood kitchen serves up both, whether in seasonal salads like the Burmese Garden (tossed with whole tea leaves) or the Hello Summer (with watermelon, mint and lime leaf), rich curries and soups (don't miss the incendiary khao soi) and enlivened classics from the floating market noodle soup to the sublimely porky hang le curry. Everything is made from scratch and loaded with the Southeast Asian flavors of galangal, lemongrass, garlic, tamarind and chiles. The casual setting and reasonable prices encourage repeat visits to explore new flavors and seasonal specials.

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Brisket, pork spare ribs, beans and green beans at Hank's Texas Barbecue.
Mark Antonation

Hank's Texas Barbecue

5410 East Colfax Avenue
Chef Christopher Nicki has been turning out solid barbecue since he fired up the smokers at the former home of Solera in February. Nicki taps into his Texas upbringing to excel at brisket and tricky beef ribs, along with smoked turkey, hot links (made by River Bear American Meats) and slabs of pork ribs. But Hank's goes above and beyond with sandwiches, sides and daily specials, like weekend prime rib, brisket sloppy Joes, loaded baked sweet potatoes, and green beans in spicy chile oil. Load up on meats by the pound on your first visit, but be sure to make a second visit for something different.

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Su boregi and beef-filled borek at Istanbul Cafe & Bakery.
Mark Antonation

Istanbul Cafe & Bakery

850 South Monaco Parkway

Head east to find delectable Turkish pastries both savory and sweet at this little bakery in a shopping center off Monaco and Leetsdale. Skip your boring morning bagel and sink your teeth into some açma, with a texture somewhere between a croissant and a bagel, or simit, somewhat like a circular pretzel coated in sesame seeds. Or go for lunch and enjoy meat- or cheese-filled borek — coiled buns made of flaky pastry. And Istanbul Cafe can't be surpassed when it comes to baklava, since you can choose from seven varieties of the nut-and-honey-filled bites. Relax at a cafe table with a strong Turkish coffee or tea to wash it all down.