I live in the belly of the beast, Denver's hottest restaurant neighborhood last year: Lower Highland, or LoHi, as developer Paul Tamburello dubbed it when he started work on the Olinger project. (In response, I refer to my particular block as SoLola -- south of Lola, which moved into the corner of the old Olinger facility almost seven years ago, the first of many restaurants to move to the neighborhood). Sunday's Denver Post story about property values on the rise in Highland was an eye-opener, but the stat that really startled some people was the number of restaurants/bars/coffee shops in the area: a whopping 55 in the hot-hot neighborhood bordered by Speer, I-25, Federal Boulevard and West 38th Avenue -- up from 22 just six years ago. See also: - Slide show: Last supper at Pagliacci's - Longo's Subway Tavern reaches the end of the line - Tavern LoHi is coming to Highland, and hipsters panic over parking
They will join a list (thanks to Lu Stasko of the LoHi Merchants Group for the count) that already runs from A to Z: A Cote Bar a Absinthe, Ale House at Amato's, Black Eye Coffee, Cebiche, Cellar Wine Bar, Central Bistro & Bar, Chile Verde, Clyde's Sausage & Ground Beef, Duo, Forest Room 5, Gaetano's, Gallop Cafe, Highland Tap & Burger, Highland Tavern, Jay's Patio, Jezebel's, Juarez Restaurant y Panaderia, La Mexicana Taqueria, Laughing Latte, Lechuga's, Linger, Little Man Ice Cream, Living the Sweet Life, LoHi Steak Bar, Lola, Loncheria La Mexicana, Los Carboncitos, Lumber Baron, Mary Jane's Pizza, Masterpiece Delicatessen, Menchie's Highland, Panaderia Rosales Bakery, Park Burger, Pasquini's Highland, Patsy's Inn, Pig & Block Charcuterie, Prost Brewing, Root Down, Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe, Shangri-La, Spuntino, Stir Cooking School, Tamales by La Casita, Taqueria Patzcuaro, Tea Bar by Teatulia, 32nd Treat, Uncle, Vita, Williams & Graham, Wooden Spoon, Z Cuisine and Zio Romolo's Alley Bar.
And that's not counting the Highland restaurants that shut their doors in 2012, including Gramma Dor's (its space on West 32nd Avenue is now for lease); the legendary Pagliacci's, which closed in August after more than sixty years in the same location (a residential complex will be built on the spot); and Longo's Subway Tavern, another old-school Italian joint that was closed soon after Pagliacci's but will reopen as a restaurant -- as soon as Larimer Associates, which bought the place, decides what to do with it.
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A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly electronic newsletter on Denver's drinking and dining scene that appears in e-mail in-boxes. Find out how to subscribe here.