2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
Chef Caroline Glover's enchanting eatery at the Stanley Marketplace has been drawing attention for making the difficult seem effortless: turning elaborate creations with esoteric ingredients into heartwarming comfort food. On both the lunch and dinner rosters, intimidating offerings like lamb neck, whole fish and bagna cauda become the stuff of cravings, much of it scented with smoke from Glover's wood-burning grill. That goes for the charred octopus "sammy" on the daytime menu, which, despite its grilled-gastropod contents, comes across as a classic deli sandwich with a twist. The char on the octopus is light, so the sandwich isn't overwhelmed with ashy flavor. Instead, the mild, meaty arms, sliced thin and layered with dry-cured chorizo from New York's Salumeria Biellese, bracing mustard greens, caper aioli and tangy romesco sauce give a firm but tender texture to the construction that almost mimics a chicken-parm sandwich. Once you wrap your head around the idea of an octopus sandwich, you'll want to get your tentacles on this one again and again.
Atelier by Radex
2011 East 17th Avenue
Long years have passed since chef/restaurateur Radek Cerny's Denver days, when eateries like Radex and Papillon wowed guests with gastronomic wonders well before the current restaurant boom. Since then, we've had to content ourselves with occasional drives to Boulder for creative French and fusion fare at L'Atelier. But there's good news for both Denver and Boulder: Cerny is keeping the original L'Atelier (which he was planning to close) in Boulder while bringing in a new version of the restaurant to East 17th Avenue, in the former home of Il Posto. Francophiles and modernists alike will find something to love in the new menu, and Cerny's wine lists are always worth perusing. For something fun, check out the Homard "TV Dinner," butter-poached lobster tail served with sides on a compartmentalized platter. But, really, anything French, French-ish, French-fusion and French-American is what we're looking forward to sampling over the coming months; Cerny has been doing this for decades, ensuring nary a misstep on the menu.
Black Shirt Brewing
3719 Walnut Street
What was once a brewery and taproom can be called a full-on brewpub, now that Black Shirt has unveiled its new kitchen. Pizza's the main offering here, along with a handful of salads and a few appetizers. So now you can sip at your seat without having to stand in line at a food truck or head somewhere else when hunger hits. Since beer is the draw, it makes sense that there's beer in the food, too. We're in love with the Johnny (named after Johnny Cash), which comes topped with Fontina cheese, roasted fennel and garlic, and — most important — housemade Berkshire pork sausage dosed with BSB red ale. The sausage bursts with tangy, savory flavor perfect for washing down with, you guessed it, one of the house ales. We recommend the new dry-hopped Stringbender Saison, aged in enormous oak foeders — Belgian-style vessels that hold nearly 1,000 gallons of the liquid gold. Cheers — and bon appétit!
Available in multiple locations
There are big names behind this new wholesale bakery: Keegan Gerhard and Lisa Bailey from D Bar Denver, and Alex Seidel and Matt Vawter from Fruition and Mercantile. Their combined experience and passion means that Füdmill's breakfast pastries rise above standard grocery-store options. Doughs are naturally fermented using the pain au levain method, which results in complex, old-world flavors. Start with a croissant to experience Füdmill in its purest form, then sample your way through scones, muffins, morning buns and kouign-amann, the croissant's savory-sweet cousin coated in crackly caramel. Pick them up at D Bar or Mercantile or at one of several Denver Whole Foods stores.
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