We admit it: We still get a little giddy each time a Denver restaurant earns national recognition and awards. Last year's James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest for chef Alex Seidel, owner of Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision, was validation that the city's food scene has been on an upward trend since at least 2007, when Fruition opened. And then Bon Appétit named Call, Craig Lieberman's tiny RiNo cafe, one of the ten best new restaurants in the U.S. in 2018.
But Call will close for several months beginning September 29 to reconfigure its interior space, since currently it only seats about a dozen. Fortunately, Lieberman also owns Beckon next door — and Bon Appétit has taken notice. The magazine just came out with its list of fifty nominees for best new restaurants, and Beckon is on it, along with two other Denver establishments.
Chef Duncan Holmes runs Beckon as an eighteen-seat chef's counter specializing in multi-course tasting menus that change with the seasons. The layout and service come across as casual and intimate — almost as if you're at a neighbor's dinner party — despite Holmes's lofty culinary goals.
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Similar in ambience and eclectic tendencies is the Wolf's Tailor, which also landed on Bon Appétit's list. Chef/restaurateur Kelly Whitaker opened his Sunnyside restaurant a year ago to showcase heritage grains, ancient pickling and fermenting techniques, and the breads, noodles and traditional ingredients of Italy and Japan. If that sounds a little daunting, Bon Appétit sums it up simply as "house-made pasta and robata, so well executed that it works." The Wolf's Tailor also gained attention this year as a James Beard Award nominee.
Bon Appétit cast its net wide this year, also naming counter-service bakery Reunion Bread Co. among its top fifty, specifically calling out owner Ismael de Sousa's churro croissants. Reunion, located inside the Source, is so small that it lacks its own seating, but de Sousa has been turning out some of the city's best bread and pastries — influenced by France, Portugal and Venezuela — since opening at the beginning of this year.
Congratulations to all three businesses for earning this recognition — and for helping make Denver a great place to eat.