The Austin Invasion: Six Texas Restaurants That Have Landed in Denver

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Denver and Austin, Texas, share many things: a laid-back attitude, an independent streak and a fondness for great food and drink, for starters. They're both the capital cities of their respective states, and are islands of liberal politics in a sea of more conservative views. And lately there seems to be some sort of free-trade agreement between the two cities, at least when it comes to restaurants and booze. Colorado entrepreneurs have made forays into the Lone Star State, planting Oskar Blues Brewery, Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery, Punch Bowl Social and Snooze A.M. Eatery in Austin — but the trade route goes both ways. Here are six Austin originals that are now calling Denver home.

The Austin Invasion: Six Texas Restaurants That Have Landed in Denver
Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
4255 West Colfax Avenue, 720-577-4720
7301 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 720-588-4107

Alamo Drafthouse got its start in 1997 on Colorado Street in downtown Austin. That address turned out to be a foreshadowing of things to come, as the three-in-one bar/restaurant/movie house eventually came to Littleton in 2013 and then followed up with an urban location in the Sloan's Lake neighborhood last year. The company is also working on building in Westminster.

Combo plates are a big part of Tex-Mex dining.EXPAND
Combo plates are a big part of Tex-Mex dining.

6595 West 104th Avenue, Westminster 303-469-9441
499 South Vance Street, Lakewood, 720-460-9840
8121 East Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village, 720-699-7500

Elvis and enchiladas have proven an appealing combination to diners even outside the city that made being weird its calling card. Chuy's has been expanding across the country over the past three decades, and homesick Texans in Denver finally got what they were yearning for when the chain brought its Tex-Mex style to Westminster in 2017, followed quickly by a Belmar outpost and then Greenwood Village. If you're not from Austin, you'll probably still get a kick out of the queso and the Lay's-potato-chip-crusted fried chicken.

The Austin Invasion: Six Texas Restaurants That Have Landed in DenverEXPAND
Mark Antonation

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
1747 Wynkoop Street

Austin beef baron Hopdoddy moved alongside Union Station in 2014, serving meaty burgers on housemade buns, along with boozy milkshakes and other non-beef sandwiches, from salmon burgers to lamb burgers. In only eight years, Hopdoddy has gone from a single Austin burger bar to more than 25 locations in six states. A second Denver shop is expected to open at the Ninth and Colorado development next year.

The Austin Invasion: Six Texas Restaurants That Have Landed in Denver
Courtesy Lustre Pearl

Lustre Pearl
1315 26th Street

The original Lustre Pearl in Austin was not much more than a ramshackle cottage with a sprawling back patio when it opened in 2009. The entire building has since been loaded up and moved to a new neighborhood, while the company also opened a second Austin bar and then landed in Denver's RiNo neighborhood a year ago. Spiked lemonade and Lone Star are the calling cards, but there are plenty of other beers and cocktails to be had.

The Austin Invasion: Six Texas Restaurants That Have Landed in DenverEXPAND
Danielle Lirette

Torchy's Tacos
Four metro Denver locations

The Snowtacolypse hit downtown Denver in February 2016, the day Torchy's opened its first Denver taqueria and started handing out free tacos in the midst of a major blizzard. Undeterred, Texas transplants stood out in the snow to get their fill. Since then, the taco shop that started as a single trailer in Austin has opened three more outposts around the metro area, spreading good cheer and guacamole to the Lone Star diaspora.

Uchi Denver opens to the public on October 4, 2018.EXPAND
Uchi Denver opens to the public on October 4, 2018.
Mark Antonation

2500 Lawrence Street

The most upscale of the invading Austinites, Uchi opens on Thursday, October 4, at the corner of the new S*Park development in RiNo (just a stone's throw from Lustre Pearl). Expect intricate and exquisite platings of Japanese-inspired cuisine with an emphasis on sushi and small plates. Founding chef Tyson Cole launched Uchi in Austin in 2003 and has since expanded the concept to Houston and Dallas. The setting in the new Denver restaurant will be as visually stunning as the food itself.

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