After months of eating and arguing, earlier this month we published "Eat Here: 100 Denver Restaurants We Can't Live Without." With this project, we skipped the eye-catching fads and went with our hearts and bellies, thinking about restaurants we’d miss if they disappeared and remembering what wakes us up in the middle of the night with undeniable cravings. And we had a few ground rules: The restaurant had to be open before 2017; if the eatery was part of a chain, it had to be a Denver-based chain. (We're looking at you, original Chipotle location; yes, history counted, too.)
And while there have been few quibbles about what's on the list, we've heard plenty about places that didn't make the cut. Where was The Fort? Sam's #3? The Avenue Grill? 240 Union? Sassafras? U.S. Thai? And then there's this from Bob:
How about Esther's, Lechuga's, North County, Odyssey, Vesper Lounge, Angelo's Taverna, Sushi Katsu, Locanda del Borgo, Cafe Mercado, College Inn, Solera, Sam's #3, Summit Steakhouse/Salvage Restaurant, The Bull & Bush, the Cork, ACE-Eat/Serve, Nonna's, Shells & Sauce, the Broker, Lucile's, Hamburger Mary's, Avenue Grille...
Of course, all such recommendations are subjective — a matter of personal opinion or specific style and taste. For instance, we are not fans of reclaimed, industrial-looking spaces that are excessively loud, don't take reservations, and feature tapas or small plates that are meant to be shared (but they can't assure in which order they'll be served). These restaurants tend to be overly "trendy" — as is the case with most that have opened in RiNo. Acorn, for example. Rather than incorporate industry standards that have attracted diners to go out for brunch, lunch or dinner for many years, they focus their attention on trying to compete with each other on some new fad, whether it be atmosphere or culinary artistry.
We used to love Twelve and were regular patrons, but don't enjoy the revised presentation of 12@Madison. ChoLon, Euclid Hall, Linger and Root Down have also tended to "throw the baby out with the bathwater," so to speak. Our favorite Denver restaurant that has stood the test of time and appropriately evolved over the last twenty-plus years is one that you featured: Vesta. It always blends the old with the new, the trendy with the traditional — and it remains a success because of it.
What do you think of Bob's list? Is Acorn too trendy? Has ChoLon thrown that baby out with the bathwater? And has Vesta truly withstood the test of time?
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What are the Denver restaurants you can't live without? Share your favorites in a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org; we're already working on updating the list.