Developer Ken Wolfe has lived in the RiNo neighborhood for years — since long before the area was given that monicker by the River North Art District. As condos and apartments sprang up and hip restaurants and galleries moved in, Wolfe realized that the neighborhood was missing the kind of community-oriented businesses that cater to residents and not just destination diners and seekers of nightlife. To that end, he teamed up with chef/restaurateur Jeff Osaka — whose Osaka Ramen and Sushi-Rama are part of the RiNo restaurant roster — to scheme up the Denver Central Market, which will throw open its doors to the public on Sunday, September 25.
More than just another restaurant opening, the market's debut marks a historic occasion: the return of a permanent, indoor marketplace to downtown for the first time in decades. Eleven vendors will share space under one roof and will a wide variety of take-home products as well as plenty of great grub that can be eaten at individual counters or in the market's central seating area.
Those vendors are:
Culture Meat & Cheese Shop
Chef/restaurateur Justin Brunson (Old Major, Masterpiece Deli and Masterpiece Kitchen) is peddling an array of charcuterie made by the Old Major crew, along with products from top artisans from the U.S and abroad. Expect sandwiches, bulk items by the pound and a sushi-style counter where customers can construct their own boards from a bountiful display. Oh, and you can strut your carnivorous stuff as you peruse the market with a hand-held meat cone made from thin-shaved salumi layered into a paper holder.
This is the sequel to Crema Coffee House just a couple of blocks up Larimer Street. Unlike the all-day hangout that the original Crema has become, this version gives more shelf space to retail goods, including non-alcoholic beverages, men's grooming supplies, whole-bean coffee and various other convenience items that the word "bodega" implies.
Jesus Silva, Osaka's wing man and head chef at Sushi-Rama, is in charge of this fishmonger's stall, which specializes in whole fish with an eye toward restaurants as customers. But there will be something for the average seafood fan, too, including house-prepared ceviches, raw oysters and tostadas that can be eaten on the spot.
Chef-restaurateur Sean Kelly (Desmond Bar & Grill) brings his decades of experience to the market with rotisserie-cooked beast and bird, which can be enjoyed at the SK counter or taken home in family-sized prepared food packages.
If you love the Italian fare at Il Posto, you'll be drawn to chef-owner Andrea Frizzi's more casual take, which creates its own pasta and bakes wood-fired pizza in an imported Italian oven. Along with traditional margarita pizzas and others topped with cured meats and vibrant veggies, there's also a cheeseless pie crowned with top-quality Mediterranean tuna preserved in olive oil.
High Point Creamery
Chad Stutz and Erika Thomas have turned their Hilltop ice cream business into a double scoop with this second location. Along with offering ice cream, sorbet and vegan frozen dessert, this spot will also have a soda fountain with egg creams, sodas made from custom syrups, and a few modern concoctions. Don't miss the "ice kouign" sandwich, a sweet treat made with High Point ice cream and kouign-amann (a flaky French pastry) from Izzio Bakery.
Maurizio Negrini brings three generations of Bolognese baking knowledge to the Denver area as head of Izzio Bakery (formerly Udi's) in Louisville. The bakery itself now bears Negrini's nickname; this new location is Izzio’s first-year round retail-bakery outlet. While bread production will remain in Louisville, the entire pastry arm of Izzio moved overnight from the original building to the Central Market earlier this week so that not a day of production would be missed. Izzio will also offer plated breakfast and lunch options (like the egg-and-tomato stew called shakshuka, an Israeli specialty) and desserts during the dinner hour.
Cure All Bitters owners Katsumi Ruiz and Stephen Julia head up the bar at the Central Market, with beer, wine and cocktails served from a long counter located front and center of the spacious market. Curio's liquor license extends throughout the marketplace, so customers can grab an adult beverage and head to the other shops.
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This fruit and vegetable specialist offers fresh juices, veggie bowls, a full salad bar and morning snacks. There's also heaps of fresh, seasonal produce from Colorado and beyond.
The Local Butcher
This full-service butcher shop showcases beef, pork, poultry, lamb, bison and housemade sausages, along with Italian meatball and pulled beef sandwiches, daily soup specials and, on occasion, sliced prime rib.
Temper Chocolate and Confections
John Robbins, chef/owner of Bistro Barbes and Souk Shawarma, adds handmade chocolates and other sweets to the market. Temper also carries a wide range of artisan confections from American and European makers.
For more photos, see our complete sneak-peek into the Denver Central Market, which initially be open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.