Yelp released its second annual list of the Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. last week, compiling user data of the most popular and well-reviewed eateries of 2014. And according to Yelp users, the one place in all of Colorado worthy of national attention is the Kitchen Table Cafe, a comfort-food eatery near City Park that opened at the end of 2013. Owner Dave Kilroy's cozy lunch and dinner eatery landed at number 37 on the list, maintaining a five-star average with nearly 200 reviews posted.
"It's kind of shocking," says Kilroy, although he's been following his restaurant's popularity with Yelpers and notes that the Kitchen Table has been topping the ratings of Denver restaurants for about the past six months.
"We had been getting about ten new customers a day from Yelp," Kilroy continues. "There's been a huge tourism boom." When the list came out last week, the numbers jumped to fifteen-to-twenty a day and he had to turn away thirty to forty people on Saturday because the kitchen was running out of food.
The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but often closes early when dishes sell out. Because the kitchen is so small and business has been so good, Kilroy says it's difficult to keep up with demand for home-style dishes that take time to cook, but he's working on methods for meeting the demand without sacrificing quality. "It's a good problem to have," he concludes. "It beats looking at an empty dining room, wondering where everyone is."
While there are many Denver restaurants worthy of more recognition nationally, we can't begrudge Kilroy and the Kitchen Table Cafe for earning a devout following with simple and heartfelt Southern-style dishes that appeal to those seeking to fill their bellies and warm their souls. Yelp's list for 2015 leans heavily toward smaller, independently owned restaurants with regional food. There's hardly a big-name, celebrity chef's kitchen on the list, but rather a multitude of barbecues, taco joints, Asian eateries and pizzerias.
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Unlike last year's list, which used ratings for restaurants going back to Yelp's inception, the 2015 list weighs recent reviews more heavily, so newer restaurants with a building reputation among Yelpers can easily eclipse older, more established eateries.