The revolving door of up-and-coming eateries at Avanti Food & Beverage is a boon to customers as well as chefs. Guests at the two-story LoHi food hall almost always have something new to look forward to, and budding chefs get to test out concepts before spending big money on a full-sized restaurant.
This month, burgers are back for the first time since American Grind departed just over a year ago. Knockabout Burgers comes from Brandon Spain, founder of the Tramp About food truck in Fort Collins, and his partner, Kaitlyn Peot. Grass-fed Colorado beef makes these burgers special, and combos like the goat cheese and prosciutto burger or the kimchi burger add a little oomph beyond the basics. But if the classics are your thing, the straightforward Knockabout burger, with American cheese, dill pickles, onions, lettuce and tomato, will satisfy. A little chive aioli is the only thing separating it from drive-thru favorites.
Fries come skinny and crisp; the lime-salt fries with a dipping sauce of Texas-style queso swirled with chipotle aioli are a good bet. Spain and Peot also spent weeks with a soft-serve machine in their home kitchen making ice cream by the gallon for friends and family. One of the results is the Scotcheroo, offering all the flavors of the Midwestern dessert. Insider tip: Peot is also a miniature-food artist and has won one of the country's most prestigious tiny cooking competitions, Small Foods Party, held every year in Baltimore. You may notice her handmade jewelry in the shape of mini fruits and veggies.
Knockabout Burgers debuts this Thursday, July 2, on the second floor of Avanti (3200 Pecos Street). Current coronavirus restrictions limit seating inside the food hall to fifty guests (reservations are highly recommended; call 720-269-4778 or reserve online), but there's plenty of outdoor seating on Avanti's many decks. Service has also been updated to meet safe-distancing criteria, so you'll be seated by a host, and your food will be brought to you once you order at your table.
Avanti's second location, at 1401 Pearl Street in Boulder, is expected to open in August, and the complete lineup of vendors has been nailed down. Along with former Vesta chef Nicholas Kayser's Rooted Craft American Kitchen, Oak at Fourteenth chef/owner Steve Redzikowski's New Yorkese pizzeria and a second location for Denver's Rye Society deli (which were all announced in March), three more eateries have been added to round out the offerings.
Quiero Arepas, a big seller at the original Avanti, will add Venezuelan street food to the mix. Charles Troup (who has worked at Safta, Departure and Oak at Fourteenth) and Chase Devitt (of Brider and Mr. Miner's Meat & Cheese) are launching Boychik, a Middle Eastern-inspired eatery. And chefs Darren Chang and Travis Masar will debut Pig & Tiger, serving modern Taiwanese cuisine.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.