Tarbell's and The Oven both close at the Streets at SouthGlenn

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Earlier today, I made a phone call to what has become one of our favorite restaurants in the city -- and my stomach was in knots, because just moments before dialing the digits, I received a tip suggesting that the restaurant I was calling had gone dark.

Those of us at Cafe Society headquarters are now spilling tears of woe and reaching for boxes of Kleenex after learning that Tarbell's and The Oven Pizza e Vino both shuttered this morning at the Streets at SouthGlenn.

See that burger up top? We've extolled its virtues more times than we can count, giving it the Best Burger award in this year's Best of Denver; heaping praise on the faultless beast in our 100 Favorite Dishes series; and Laura Shunk, in her review of Tarbell's, wrote that it was quite possibly the "best burger" she'd ever had, "simultaneously familiar and new, a perfect execution of an American favorite." Hell, she even compared it to having "passionate sex in the car in the driveway."

But now, all we have are fond memories -- and hot tears splashing on our keyboard.

And to make matters worse, The SouthGlenn outpost of the Oven is gone, too, although the original Oven Pizza e Vino, Phoenix-based restaurateur and chef Mark Tarbell's first restaurant in Denver, is still churning out pies in Belmar, where he also owned Mark & Isabella, an Italian restaurant that opened in early 2009 -- and closed later that same year.

Tarbell has been sequestered in meetings all day, but he shot me an e-mail, in which he wrote, "This is a difficult situation for all of us here...We really put a lot into these two restaurants." The good news, he added, is that "Belmar is definitely staying open and we're really rocketing up."

Now if he could just find a way to put that Tarbell's burger on the board.

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