Eight Upcoming Restaurants to Watch for in Early 2017

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The fast pace of Denver restaurant openings looks like it will continue at least through the beginning of 2107. Here are eight that will hit in January and February — including moves by old favorites, new offerings from established Denver chefs,  and newcomers to the Colorado culinary scene — in alphabetical order, along with their estimated openings.

American Grind (inside Avanti Food & Beverage)
3200 Pecos Street

As a restaurant incubator, Avanti F & B has seen a few of its startups come and go. The latest to leave is Mijo, which served udon noodle bowls and Japanese-inspired cuisine. American Grind, from the owners of the Way Back in West Highland, will move in to take its place, serving burgers and other Midwestern fare, like a pork tenderloin sandwich, as well as housemade ice cream. In fact, American Grind (which has seen a previous life as a food truck) will make everything from the buns to the ketchup from scratch, and also source beef and other ingredients from local, sustainable producers. Look for the burger bar on the first floor of Avanti toward the end of January.

Broken Rice
1390 South Colorado Boulevard

Fast-casual Vietnamese restaurants could be the next hot trend. Diners are already familiar with pho and rice bowls made popular by the many noodle shops around town, so the modernization of service and decor seem a logical step. Broken Rice will serve pho, stir-fried noodles, banh mi sandwiches and, yes, bowls made with the namesake broken rice. Offerings will include classics from China, Thailand and other Asian countries, as well as a full bar. Broken Rice will open for lunch and dinner at the end of January.
Devil's Food Bakery
1004 South Gaylord Street

This isn't so much a new eatery as it is a new space for an old favorite. For years, Devil's Food Bakery & Cookery has been a breakfast, brunch and dinner stop as well as a neighborhood coffeehouse and bakery based in a tiny space at 1020 South Gaylord Street. Now the business is dividing into two separate spaces; the new address will house the bakery and coffeehouse and will have its own dedicated kitchen so it can ramp up production of pastries, breads and other baked goods. The expansion should be complete this month.

Hearth & Dram
1801 Wewatta Street

The new warren of steel-and-glass edifices on equally new streets behind Union Station will be home to Hearth & Dram, a  new project from Hospitality Ventures Management Group, which expects to open the restaurant in late January as part of the Indigo Hotel. Hearth & Dram will be headed by executive Jeffrey Wall, who comes to Colorado from Atlanta's Kimball House. Wall is putting together a menu of rustic American food centered on a wood-fired grill. "It's really a masterpiece," Wall says of the striking new build. "Anything a chef can dream of is going to be in the kitchen."

Although Wall is coming from the South, don't expect Southern cooking. "I didn't want to come to Denver and say 'I'm a chef from Atlanta,'" he explains. "I'm here to cook food for Denver."

Instead of Southern, expect rustic. "What does rustic mean?" Wall continues. "Simple and unadorned, but not poorly executed...with more locality, more soul, more connections." His menu will highlight local ingredients when it makes sense, but he also says he's learned from his mentors (like chefs Joël Antunes and Ryan Smith) that you can't cut corners if you want to make great food, so the best products will come from wherever they are grown or made.

Hearth & Dram will also have a large whiskey collection, and bar service will include a tableside cart for reserve cocktails. The restaurant will seat 110, with patios facing Union Station.

Keep reading for more new restaurants opening in Denver.

Il Posto
2601 Larimer Street

Chef Andrea Frizzi's uptown Italian jewel will serve its last dinner this week before packing up and moving to a larger space on Larimer Street. In our recent Chef & Tell interview, Frizzi explained that the original Il Posto has been "a workaround restaurant. It was good for a while, but we needed an opportunity to display our food and wine and give our staff room to work."

The new Il Posto will seat more than twice as many guests as the original, with on indoor mezzanine level and a wrap-around patio outside. An exact date hasn't been set for the opening, but if you're craving Frizzi's cooking in the meantime, you can stop at Denver Central Market and visit Vero Italian, the chef's pizza and pasta counter that also stocks dry goods.

Olive & Finch Cherry Creek
3390 East First Avenue

Chef/restaurateur Mary Nguyen has plans to expand Olive & Finch from its cozy location on East 17th Avenue to several more outposts in the Denver area. The first will open in early 2017 in Cherry Creek, where it will have a slightly sleeker, more modern feel but serve the same great food that we've loved since the eatery first launched in late 2013. While that original is only 1,500 square feet (including the dining room, kitchen, office and bathrooms), Nguyen points out but the new space will have an additional 1,000 square feet, so up to 120 guests will be able to make themselves at home inside or on a spacious patio facing Cook Street.

"This is the model for all future Olive & Finches," she notes. Gleaming white tile and blond-wood accents —courtesy of Xan Creative — give a bright, airy and open feel to the restaurant, which will serve what Nguyen describes as "chef-driven yet affordable food," with nothing on the menu exceeding $15. New entrees, including steak, chicken, salmon and seasonal pasta and polenta dishes, will bolster the existing roster of breakfast skillets, sandwiches and bakery items, so fans needn't worry that they won't be able to find their current favorites.

With the additional square footage, the new Olive & Finch will also have a slightly expanded retail space, outdoor lounge areas and kids' zones with games and tot-sized furniture. A full liquor license with an expanded wine menu will add something for adults, too.

The Post Chicken & Beer
2200 South Broadway

Some of the most craveable chicken on the Front Range has only been available at Lafayette's Post Brewing Company and its Longmont offspring, the Post Chicken & Beer. But now the Big Red F restaurant group is ready to launch a second Post Chicken & Beer in Denver proper. "We'll have the same homey aspects of the other two locations," chef Brett Smith says of the new branch, expected to open on January 16 in the Rosedale neighborhood just south of West Evans Avenue. "We're a homey, down-to-earth space, so I think we'll fit in well."

You'll find the same fried chicken (with its original gluten-free formula), chickens sandwiches, Post Brewing Company beers in cans and on tap, and a full bar with specialty cocktails. Smith also promises the Post's take on a chicken noodle soup bowl, a hot roast beef sandwich and pantry/dessert station up front.

Stella's on 16th
1550 Wewatta Street

Stella's is a new project from husband-and-wife team Brian and Dawn “Stella” Cohen, who will open their market-style eatery in January in the Triangle building at 16th and Wewatta streets. Stella's will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in a counter-service format, so that customers will be able to purchase prepared takeaway meals or grab a table for a sit-down meal. Egg dishes, sandwiches, baked goods and other breakfast favorites will start out the day, phasing into light, seasonal lunch items along with a list of heartier Chicago classics. Dinner options will range from ribeye steaks to roast chicken to pasta plates. Stella's will open later this month with weekday hours from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekend hours beginning at 8 a.m., including brunch.

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