The Ten Most Anticipated Restaurant and Bar Openings, 2022

A rendering gives a glimpse at what to expect when Chez Maggy opens.
A rendering gives a glimpse at what to expect when Chez Maggy opens. Wagstaff
Another year has ended that many of us would rather forget, and now it's time to look forward. While we all learned over the past two years that making accurate New Year's predictions is just about impossible, there's one point of which we're certain: New restaurants and bars are coming, and some old friends are finally returning.

Even at the height of pandemic uncertainty, the hospitality industry persevered. Although the scene slowed in 2020, nearly 300 new spots debuted in metro Denver in 2021 — a number that was near pre-pandemic totals and makes us more than hopeful for the next twelve months.

Here are ten upcoming bar and restaurant openings (and reopenings) that should make you hungry to get on with the new year:
click to enlarge Get ready for pastries aplenty at Bakery Four. - MOLLY MARTIN
Get ready for pastries aplenty at Bakery Four.
Molly Martin
Bakery Four
4150 Tennyson Street
Opening: Early 2022
If you spotted a long line snaking through Highland in the early-morning hours this past summer, it was probably leading to Bakery Four. What started as a cottage-foods bakery business began selling out of a small space on West 32nd Avenue in 2020. But demand for owner Shawn Bergin's pastries just kept growing, and soon it was clear that Bakery Four had outgrown its space. In late August, the Highland bakery shut down altogether so that Bergin could focus on opening a new, much larger outpost in a 3,000-square-foot space on Tennyson Street. Initially, Bakery Four was aiming for a fall 2021 debut, but delays with the hood system and other snags — many tied to pandemic-era supply-chain issues causing long lead times for equipment — have pushed that date back. Fortunately, these baked goods are more than worth the wait.

Casa Bonita
6715 West Colfax Avenue
Opening: Summer/fall 2022
In what may be the most anticipated comeback ever for Denver, Casa Bonita 2.0 is actually becoming a reality. Closed since the March 2020 indoor dining shutdown, this iconic destination was never about the food. But that's about to change...sort of. After buying the place, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone made their first big announcement in November about their plans for the pink eatertainment palace: Chef and restaurateur Dana Rodriguez is taking over as executive chef. In 1998, shortly after she came here from Mexico, Rodriguez applied to work at Casa Bonita — and was told she didn't have enough experience. "It's like a movie," she says of the redemption she felt when she got a call from the Casa Bonita team about taking over. Her idea for the menu overhaul is simple: Keep the names of the dishes largely the same, but make everything from scratch. "It's going to be real shit from Mexico," Rodriguez adds. Getting excited? Whet your appetite with a taste of Rodriguez's talent at her first solo-owned spot, Cantina Loca, opening January 12 at 2880 Zuni Street.

Chez Maggy
1616 Market Street
Opening: Early February
Ludo Lefebvre is a familiar name and face in the culinary world. The French chef, who moved to Los Angeles in 1996, is known for his pop-ups, television appearances and omelets — specifically, the custardy, perfectly yellow-hued French-style omelet he serves at Petit Trois, his bistro in Los Angeles. And we won't have to wait long to get our own taste of his take on the Denver omelet, along with such other traditional French brasserie staples as beef bourguignon made with bison (an ingredient Lefebvre says he's "obsessed" with), steak frites, and a burger the chef says will be so juicy, you'll need to eat it with a fork and knife. Lefebvre's decision to choose Denver as the location for his first restaurant outside of L.A. is personal: His wife, Krissy, is from the Mile High, and the name Chez Maggy is an homage to Krissy's stepmother, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2019. While Lefebvre plans to spend more time in Denver with the opening of this restaurant inside the new Thompson Hotel, Colorado chef Chase Wilbanks will head up the kitchen.

Con Safos
1416 Market Street
Opening: February 2022
Josh Schmitz had a busy 2021 between the opening (followed by a rebrand and reopening) of the horror-themed bar Slashers, Telephone Pub in Lakewood and two holiday-themed pop-up bars. And he's not slowing down in 2022. Along with establishing the RiNo Country Club at 3763 Wynkoop Street — which is slated to have an indoor country club bar, nine-hole putt-putt course and outdoor beer garden — Handsome Boys Hospitality plans to bring the party to Market Street. Con Safos will be a "Mexican party bar," according to Schmitz, located in the space that once held 24K nightclub — where he once worked. And the Handsome lineup could soon have a pretty new addition, a partnership that would really step up its food game.
click to enlarge Two new Crack Shack locations are coming to Denver in 2022. - CRACK SHACK
Two new Crack Shack locations are coming to Denver in 2022.
Crack Shack
Crack Shack
Park Meadows and RiNo
Opening: Late 2022

Crack Shack, a Southern California-born fried chicken hit, made its Colorado debut in September, when it opened a stall at restaurateur Troy Guard's Grange Hall in Greenwood Village. But in 2022, the chain will truly swoop into the state with two more locations. Unlike the Grange Hall outpost, these fast-casual spots will offer the brand's full menu, which includes bone-in fried chicken along with sandwiches and sides. While there are already a lot of fried chicken options in town, Crack Shack's proven appeal is hard to deny. With these new additions, the company is also planning to partner with local businesses including breweries that will have beer on tap; Little Man Ice Cream, which will provide ingredients for milkshakes; and City Bakery, which will supply custom artisan rolls.

Freedom Street Social
15177 Candelas Parkway, Arvada
Opening: Spring 2022
A 12,000-square-foot food hall, an additional 3,500 square feet of outdoor space and eight food vendors — that's the breakdown of what you can expect from Freedom Street Social, which has a goal of becoming a community gathering place. Nick and Amie Costanzo, along with partners Cameron Cummins, Jeff Kaplan and Jon Morgan, are poised to bring a food hall with new energy to Arvada, which sustained some losses in 2021, including the shuttering of a Steuben's location. Vendors will include the Budlong Hot Chicken and Hamburger Stan from restaurateur Jared Leonard, Giordano's Pizza and Pressed Coffee & Vinyl. Freedom Street Social will also be home to the Chef Kitchen, a new program from Tajahi Cooke that will feature a different resident chef every month.

La Loma
Parker and DTC
Opening: TBD
After nearly fifty years in business, a local Mexican staple is set to expand — which means more people in Denver's suburbs can get some of the best green chile in town. La Loma first opened in Jefferson Park in 1973 and has since moved twice. Along with its current location at 1801 Broadway, it added a second outpost in Castle Rock in 2020. The 2022 additions will be in the Denver Tech Center's Belleview Promenade, 8000 East Belleview Avenue, and at 9355 Crown Crest Boulevard in Parker (the former home of the 33-year-old Armando’s Ristorante).

Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
1215 20th Street
Opening: February 2022

One of the sexiest places in town for dinner and a show is finally ready to make a comeback. Ophelia's, from restaurateur Justin Cucci's Edible Beats group (Root Down, Linger, Vital Root and El Five) first opened in 2015 in the Airedale building, which has over 100 years of history — including a stint as a brothel. Ophelia's original design was sultry, with nods to the space's past. But after the venue/restaurant/bar closed in March 2020, Cucci decided not to reopen until he'd done a renovation. Now Ophelia's is gearing up for its return, and we're excited to see the makeover reveal.

2813 Blake Street
Opening: Fall 2022
Two trends combine at Puttshack: the current obsession with all things golf and out-of-state brands moving into Denver. Founded by the teams behind TopGolf as well as All Star Lanes, AceBounce and Flight Club, Puttshack got its start in London, then opened U.S. locations in Atlanta and Chicago in 2021. But the company has really big plans for 2022, including a giant Denver outpost at Lot 28, a new development in RiNo. The 24,500-square-foot space will have four custom-made mini-golf courses that use the latest in technology, including automated scoring and bonus-point opportunities. Puttshack will also have a full cocktail bar and a menu of street food-inspired eats.

Water Grill
1691 Market Street
Opening: Early 2022

Another out-of-state concept moving into the Mile High, Water Grill was founded by the family-owned, Southern California-based King's Seafood Company, and now has four locations in California and one in Las Vegas. A sixth is set to debut in downtown Denver. Since Water Grill is known for its upscale seafood platters, raw bar with a large variety of oysters, and whole crustaceans, seafood lovers should start saving now for a splurge night out.  
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin