The Denver dining scene saw only one opening this week, but it was an out-of-the-park home run — and it's far more than a single restaurant. Already a busy man with eight full-fledged eateries, a pie shop and a cocktail lounge, Frank Bonanno loaded the bases at downtown's Dairy Block and then swung for the fences. His new market hall, Denver Milk Market, opened to the public on Friday, June 1, boasting three bars and twelve distinct food counters, with a thirteenth on the way just down the Alley later this summer.
Here's what you'll find (in alphabetical order):
Albina by the Sea: This fresh-fish counter and seafood eatery is named after Bonanno's grandmother. Enjoy the catch of the day or take something home to cook for yourself.
Bao Chica Bao: This counter takes its cue from Bonanno's Governor's Park restaurant, Bones, with Asian bao buns stuffed with pork, chicken and other savory delights, noodle bowls and Thai "jelly beer," which is really just a super-cooled beer slushie with a gelid texture.
Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria: The chef/restaurateur already does wood-fired pizza at two of his other restaurants, Luca and Osteria Marco, so extending the concept to Milk Market is a natural.
Cellar: This is the market's wine bar, where customers can order by the glass, quartino, carafe or bottle.
Cornicello Gelato: Ice cream's more flavorful Italian cousin, gelato, is the name of the game here, but boozy milkshakes, soft-serve ice cream and other frozen treats are also served.
FEM: What can you make with flour, eggs and milk? Crepes, for one. They're served sweet or savory here.
Green Huntsman: A point-and-order salad bar is the main feature here, but you can also get housemade drinking vinegars.
Lou's Hot | Naked: This is a redux of Bonanno's restaurant on West 38th Avenue that specialized in fried chicken (including Nashville-style hot bird) and American comfort food.
Mano Pastaria: Purchase handmade pasta to take home, or grab a seat at the counter and slurp noodles to your heart's content.
Moo Bar: A cocktail bar in the round, serving house specialties as well as the greatest hits from Bonanno's other restaurants.
MoPoke: Denver is poke crazy. Here's Milk Market's take on the Hawaiian-style tuna dish served over rice.
Morning Jones: Grab coffee and baked goods here; use the walk-up window in the Alley if you don't have time to stop inside. Other specialties include nitro oat milk and almond-milk lattes.
Ruth's Butchery: If you're a home griller, you can stock up on dry-aged steaks cut to order, fresh ground beef and other cuts of pork, lamb and chicken. The house burger is simple and juicy in classic butcher-counter style.
S & G Salumeria: Bonanno's excellent cured meats are served here, along with fresh mozzarella and deli sandwiches. You can also shop for a world of meats and cheeses to go.
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The Stranded Pilgrim: This surprisingly spot-on pub serves Colorado beers on tap, with other great beers from around the country set to debut soon.
Each station has its own style and theme, courtesy of Jacqueline Bonanno, co-owner and creative director of Bonanno Concepts along with Davis Partnership Architects. Art, more tile than you can imagine, neon lights and jam-packed display shelves make the 18,000-square-foot space feel like you're wandering through a miniature village. In addition to coffee, you can also buy gelato and bao buns from windows opening onto the Alley, and soon Engine Room, just a few doors down in the Alley, will also open, serving New York-style pizza by the slice until 3 a.m. on weekends.
Denver Milk Market is now open at 18th and Wazee streets from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Visit the Milk Market website for more information. See our complete Denver Milk Market opening slideshow for more photos of the food and sights.