Austrian and German restaurants haven't experienced the same rising tide that has lifted the entire dining scene in Denver over the past few years. Perhaps that's because the style of cuisine, popularized in beer halls and Midwestern eateries here in the U.S., suffers from a reputation for rich, heavy, old-fashioned dishes. But Chinook Tavern was fighting that reputation even 25 years ago, when it began serving fresh, creative cooking with a distinct infusion of the American West, in the decor as well as on the menu.
Founded by Manfred and Lieselotte Georg, with sons Markus and Clemens as executive chef and general manager, respectively, Chinook Tavern called 265 Detroit Street in Cherry Creek home from 1995 to 2008. Then the family closed up shop with a plan to reopen in the Landmark development in Greenwood Village. Three years elapsed before Chinook Tavern eventually reemerged, only at 6380 South Fiddlers Green Circle in Englewood.
The sunny, modern new space served Denver Tech Center residents and workers for the remainder of the decade, but that all came to an end when the restaurant was recently seized by the State of Colorado for nonpayment of taxes. The restaurant and bar equipment are now scheduled to be auctioned off on March 3.
Upscale German cuisine, with its smattering of international influences, never really caught on in Denver outside of Chinook Tavern. Beer halls and housemade sausages have fared better at popular destinations, such as Euclid Hall taking a modern approach and Rhein Haus going full oompah, but Denver supports only a handful of traditional German eateries, including Golden Europe, Helga's German Restaurant & Deli, and Gabys German Eatery — where sauerbraten, schnitzel and spätzle still rule.
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