Eating Adventures

The Westword Watch List: What to Eat and Drink in Denver This Week

At 12@MADISON, you won't need mom to tell you to eat your carrots.
At [email protected], you won't need mom to tell you to eat your carrots. Danielle Lirette
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.
click to enlarge Get your claws off my burger! - MARK ANTONATION
Get your claws off my burger!
Mark Antonation
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.

click to enlarge 12@MADISON coaxes magic out of the humble carrot. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
[email protected] coaxes magic out of the humble carrot.
Danielle Lirette
[email protected]
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 [email protected], 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.

click to enlarge Stake out Beast + Bottle for steak frites. - COURTESY OF BEAST + BOTTLE
Stake out Beast + Bottle for steak frites.
Courtesy of Beast + Bottle
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.

click to enlarge The Cricket burger is back. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
The Cricket burger is back.
Danielle Lirette
Cherry Cricket
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...

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation