This week's Westword Watch List lets you know where to eat your veggies, which bar is smokin' it up in RiNo, and how you can get your claws on some great lobster deals. After digesting the hottest places to eat and drink from April 14 through April 20, keep reading for our list of restaurant openings and closings over the past week.
Blue Island Oyster Bar & Seafood
2625 East Second Avenue
Oysters? Absolutely, at least when you've secured a bar stool at Blue Island, which flies in fresh bivalves so frequently you might get hit with a blast of sand on your way in the door. The restaurant does a good job with other seafood, too, including Maine lobster. For a surf-and-turf special with a working-class bent, the Wednesday Lobster Riot offers a grilled half-lobster and a cheeseburger for $20, along with fries and a small salad. Or get a whole, one-pound lobster for the same price. If those are too messy, let the kitchen do the work for you with a meaty lobster roll, also twenty bucks — perfect for date night, if you're in a pinch.
1160 Madison Street
The overworked carrot: diced into soups and stews, steamed to the point of no return or whittled into flavorless nubs and sold as "baby carrots." But at 12@MADISON, our Best New Restaurant of 2016, chef/owner Jeff Osaka's Congress Park culinary chapel, every ingredient is treated with love and kindness. In her review of 12, restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz writes that the restaurant "does for rainbow carrots what the fryer did for Brussels sprouts, turning this oft-overlooked vegetable into a star." Egyptian spices combine with pistachios, almonds and tangy labneh cheese on a dish that celebrates a rainbow array of roasted carrot spears.
Beast + Bottle
719 East 17th Avenue
Until recently, the beast at Beast + Bottle has seldom been cow. Chef Paul Reilly's kitchen focuses on whole animal butchery, and the quarters are just a little too tight to bring in sides of steer. But Reilly recently partnered with Carter Country, a ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyoming (population 304, not including cattle), to bring in beef that meets the restaurant's standards of excellence. "We can be proud of who they are and pass on that knowledge to our guests," Reilly says. "We found it hard in the past to find this kind of relationship with local beef.
"With Carter Country, we are promoting a practice that I have termed 'whole farmer' as opposed to whole product or whole animal," he adds. "When a rancher brings in an animal to process, they have no problem selling the sexy cuts (rib eye, NY strip, tenderloin, etc.). By purchasing and serving off-cuts, we are contributing to the purchase of this animal as a community. The rancher needs to sell these to remain sustainable — essentially giving the rancher a chance to not turn everything into burger meat. Some of these cuts include San Antonio, Tucson, chuck eye roll and Delmonico."
Beast + Bottle now offers a steak frites night every Sunday, where you can tuck into some of this exceptional beef with a side of fries for $23. There are a limited number of steaks available each Sunday, so the kitchen may run out during the course of dinner service. Fortunately, the rest of the menu is just as good — and just as dedicated to transparent, sustainable ingredients — as the beef itself.
2641 East Second Avenue
There are plenty of good burgers in town, but not many as pined-for as the Cricket burger, especially during the four-month absence after the Cherry Creek burger bar closed because of a November fire. But the venerable joint reopened on Tuesday, and Denverites lined up like they'd never eaten a burger before. If you couldn't stop thinking about the comforting combination of green chiles, flame-broiled beef and pepper Jack cheese, the Cricket is the hot ticket right now.
Keep reading for more great places to eat right now...
Low Country Kitchen
1575 Boulder Street
Low Country Kitchen made its way down from the mountains at the end of February, bringing Southern staples from its first home in Steamboat Springs to a hot new LoHi address. You'll find familiar — and well-executed — classics like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and flaky biscuits, along with creative adaptations of coastal cuisine. But among burgeoning platters of catfish and smoked shoulder, something a little shy and subtle caught our attention: a tiny, cast-iron pot of stewed collard greens. Smoky bacon is the secret behind the rich, earthy flavor of these slow-cooked greens, which rise above their small-town roots as one of the best bites in a neighborhood overflowing with trendy eats.
Millers & Rossi
3542 Walnut Street
No, you can't smoke inside of the brand-new speakeasy, Millers & Rossi, at the far end of Walnut Street. But the bartenders can. They're torching rounds of cedar wood to create smoke for a couple of cocktails that add a rustic, campfire touch to sophisticated blends of whiskey and bitters. Where there's smoke, there's fire — and we're guessing this place will soon heat up as one of the top places to be seen in RiNo. Go now before the smoke clears.
2160 South Broadway
Everyone within a pancake's flip of this new South Broadway breakfast joint is stopping in to check out the stuffed pancakes and French toast, but some folks don't like their breakfast sweet and sticky or big and bountiful. High-energy types get through the day with smaller, more frequent meals, so Morning Collective offers Second Breakfast, a combination of two healthy dishes — one for here and one to go — for $10. So it's really first and second breakfast; start with ancient grains porridge, an egg-white omelet or a single pancake or French toast serving, then grab a brown bag with a seasonal fruit salad, Noosa yogurt with fruit, or housemade granola to enjoy later. Or you can eat them both in-house or have them both packaged for takeout. And here's an insider tip: The ancient grains porridge (oats, quinoa and other good stuff) goes great with a shot of Morning Collective's horchata poured on top — but you'll have to ask, since it's not on the menu.
3299 South Broadway
With so many newcomers moving to Denver from all over the United States, there must surely be a good contingent of Cincinnati transplants. And if you're one of them, you're probably missing your Cincinnati chili, since the regional dish is hard to come by out here in the Rocky Mountain West. The crew at Englewood's new Whiskey Biscuit have you covered, although this version of Cincinnati chili may not be quite what you're longing for. Instead of the traditional base of spaghetti, this chili is served on a fluffy biscuit and comes topped with cheddar cheese, diced onions and a shower of Fritos. How does the dish stack up to the Ohio original? We've never been to Cincinnati, and we have to admit that the addition of chili is a little weird for our Western tastes, but for those with a craving, Cincinnati chili on a biscuit is better than no Cincinnati chili at all. Dig in — and drown your homesickness in a round or two from the Biscuit's excellent selection of brown spirits.
Restaurant and Bar Openings and Closings This Week:
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RESTAURANTS/BARS OPENING THIS WEEK:*
Bufa Mexican Grill, 2950 South Broadway
Jack's Uptown Grille, 1600 East 17th Avenue
Millers & Rossi, 3542 Walnut Street
Woodgrain Bagels, 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder
RESTAURANTS/BARS REOPENING THIS WEEK:*
The Cherry Cricket, 2641 East Second Avenue
Los Parceros Colombian Restaurant, 5922 East Colfax Avenue
RESTAURANTS/BARS CLOSING THIS WEEK:*
Authentic Greek Cuisine, 8 South Broadway
*Or earlier, and not reported in a previous Westword Watch List