If you're looking for hot new restaurants or new offerings from familiar favorites, here are this week's picks. We know Coloradans are clamoring for Hawaiian poke, so we checked out a tuna-and-rice bowl at a well-known sandwich shop that recently got a menu makeover. For the newest pizza joint in town, we made a stop at an Uptown eatery specializing in New Haven-style pizza. For these and more, keep reading for the best bites this week, plus a complete list of all the bars and restaurants that opened and closed during the week of May 15-19.
1710 Sherman Street
See the word "Luncheonette" there? That's new for the east-side deli that chef/restaurateur Justin Brunson originally opened as a second outpost of Masterpiece Delicatessen. Brunson changed the name and updated the menu a little to cater to the needs of on-the-go downtowners who may have less time to linger over elaborate sandwich constructions than their LoHi counterparts. Sandwiches are still a big part of the offerings at the Luncheonette, but the roster skews toward cold sandwiches (easier for taking to-go), with only four hot sandwiches. Fortunately, one of those is the chef's now-famous fried chicken sandwich, made with chicken thighs and a squishy burger bun. Exclusive to this Masterpiece are three rice bowls with tofu, ginger chicken or tuna poke (pictured above). Between the bowls and six pre-made salads available from the grab-and-go case at the front of the shop, there are plenty of options for those looking for a lighter option to take on the run. Poke's big in Denver right now, and Brunson's version — loaded with edamame, peanuts, seaweed, sesame seeds and Sriracha aioli (among other goodies) — is a welcome dose of Hawaiian flavor for the neighborhood.
Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant
1422 Poplar Street
Ethiopian restaurants are a big draw on Colfax Avenue, but just a half-block off the main drag, Mesob has quietly been turning out some beautiful and flavorful dishes fit for groups who have the time to relax and enjoy a big spread with plenty of Ethiopian beers, wines and even a traditional coffee ceremony, where raw coffee beans are toasted, ground and brewed while you watch. There's occasional live music, too, so if you're interested in cultural performance, this would be a great chance to experience the music of the east African nation. Mesob's chef/owner, Letish Letebethan, is equally adept at meat and vegetable entrees, so a combination platter is the way to go to sample a variety of stews and grilled meats. Don't miss the shifinfin, a mix of tender ground beef boldly seasoned with berbere spices and herbed butter, and dried beef cooked with a tangy tomato-and-pepper sauce.
3200 Pecos Street
Chef Kevin Grossi unveiled his all-American lunch and dinner counter inside Avanti Food & Beverage last summer and has been tinkering with menu options in the intervening months. The current slate captures flavors from New England and the Deep South, with a hot chicken sandwich, a lobster roll and a hearty bowl of shrimp and grits. Oysters on the half shell can be had for a bargain during happy hour, and daily soups add more regional influence. In a food-hall atmosphere, the Regional stands out as one of the more upscale offererings among burgers, pizza and Venezuelan street eats. Case in point is the crab melt, a flat patty made almost entirely of lump crab (with just a little egg and breadcrumbs to hold everything together) fried and topped with mozzarella cheese on a slice of City Bakery bread. The sandwich walks the line between East Coast crab shack and downtown fish house, and makes for a satisfying lunch. We're also a fan of Grossi's coarse-grained grits, cooked to a creamy, cheesy consistency and served as a side, if you don't want the whole shrimp-and-grits entree.
1702 Humboldt Street
White Pie opened last night in the Uptown neighborhood offering something a little different for pizza lovers: New Haven-style pie. As exemplified by places like Sally's Apizza and Frank Pepe Pizzeria, the New Haven modus operandi is ultra-thin, crackly on the bottom and a little charred around the edges. Owners Kris and Jason Wallenta take a more staid approach to the oversized original from their childhood in Connecticut, opting instead for a personal-sized pie that goes light on the cheese and heavy on the garlic and herbs. While Denverites might be a little leery of the toasty edges, the hot-and-fast cooking method adds a wonderful rustic quality from the oak-fired oven. Give the Fuggedaboudit a go and see if you like the combo of red sauce, kalamata olives, Romano and Parmesan cheese, oregano and a double dose of garlic.
Here's our complete list of bar and restaurant openings and closings for the week of May 15-19, 2017:
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BARS/RESTAURANTS OPENING THIS WEEK:*
Alamo Drafthouse/BarFly, 4255 West Colfax Avenue
Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project, 925 West Eighth Avenue
Pink Tank (inside the Pub on Pearl), 1101 South Pearl Street
White Pie, 1702 Humboldt Street
Wine Beer Fat, 5350 West 25th Avenue, Edgewater
BARS/RESTAURANTS TEMPORARILY CLOSING THIS WEEK:*
Chipotle Mexican Grill, 1644 East Evans Avenue
BARS/RESTAURANTS CLOSING THIS WEEK:*
Dazzle Jazz (Sunday — moving to 1512 Curtis Street), 940 Lincoln Street
Pajama Baking Company, 1595 South Pearl Street
Turley's Kitchen (Sunday), 2805 Pearl Street, Boulder
*Or earlier, and not mentioned in a previous Westword Watch List.