5) The Post Brewing Co.
105 West Emma Street, Lafayette
One of the first new eateries to hang its shingle in 2014, the Post got off to a fast start thanks to guidance from Big Red F, the restaurant group behind Lola
and the growing stable of Jax Fish Houses along the Front Range, among others. Drawing families and beer lovers alike from bucolic Lafayette and further afield with picnic-worthy delights like fried chicken, deviled eggs and pimento spread, chef Brett Smith and his crew aren't content to settle for ordinary renditions of Midwestern standbys. That chicken wallows in buttermilk before getting an herb-flecked coating of gluten-free flour for a serious crunch; the deviled eggs come topped with crispy shreds of pork cheek; and the pimento spread, served warm, features goat cheese instead of the scary orange stuff. Beers, like a malty-if-style-boggling session barleywine by former Dogfish Head whiz Bryan Selders, add to the fun. Daily blue-plate specials, like Saturday's thin-pounded chicken-fried steak, mean you can work your way through the regular menu or come back each week for your favorite.
2900 West 25th Avenue
Fans of Barolo Grill
will remember Brian Laird for his upscale interpretations of Italian classics. Now he finally has his own place at Sarto's, where he's delving into regional Italian specialties as well as a few Italian-American favorites. Sarto's cicchetti bar sets the restaurant apart with small plates tailor-made to guests' preferences. Those might include pizza with salt cod and shrimp, skewered sweetbread with caramelized pear, or a delicate fritto misto of calimari and scallops. For heartier fare, Sarto's excels at house-made pastas, like little agnolotti al plin stuffed with veal and kale, broad pappardelle with slow-cooked ragu, or even a wedge of lasagna that would make mama proud. There's nothing homey about the dining room, though; cool whites and soothing grays with splashes of orange make for an elegant but relaxing ambiance.
Keep reading for three more of the best new restaurants in Denver in 2014