Tucked into a booth at Benny's Restaurante y Tequila Bar, we were a couple of beers into our late brunch Saturday when we spotted Benny Armas, whose namesake restaurant has become such an integral part of Denver's dining scene.
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Benny's recently opened a new patio on the Grant Street side of the building at 301 East Seventh Avenue, but that's just the most recent chapter in Benny's restaurant story (and, in fact, Benny isn't quite done with the patio; he's thinking of adding some kind of roof to fight off the late-day sun).
His business got its start, Benny told us, at Whiskey Bill's on South Broadway, where he worked as a cook three decades ago. Then he got a job in the kitchen of the Oak Alley Inn on South Pearl Street, in the current home of Hanson's. When that watering hole was sold, Benny moved on to the Lancer Lounge, and when the Zenobia's space next door at 225 East Seventh Avenue came open, he worked out a deal with the landlord to open a restaurant of his own. That worked out so well that when the Chef Henry space on the corner opened up a dozen years ago, Benny moved his restaurant to its current location. (Mizuna is now in Benny's first home..and Zenobia's, which had moved to a much bigger space on 13th, is long gone.)
Today, Benny's remains one of the town's most amazing success stories, a restaurant where generations of regulars go for their sirloin burritos, their green chile, their pitchers of margaritas.
And now they can enjoy their old favorites on the new patio. -- Patricia Calhoun