Second Helpings

While Denver Goes Big and Beery, Critics Dish on Food Trends Around the Country

The Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery is more than a place to drink beer and play corn hole while watching the sun go down. As I write in this week’s review of the Farm House, it’s Exhibit A of a bigger movement afoot, that of brewery-based restaurants that are draws in and of themselves, not just afterthoughts to the beer. Curious if this trend is rippling out to other parts of the country, I asked colleagues at Westword’s sister publications to name what’s big in their hometowns. Here’s what they had to say.

Phoenix New Times, Robrt Pela
“Concept restaurants with super-clever one-word names, often preceded by the article 'The' …. Reimagined comfort food (because that's such a new idea). Bacon in everything. Food served in paper cones. Sriracha on and in everything. Slaws. Candied everything. RAMPANT ABBREVIATIONS IN MENUS! What the hell does 'red o & p' mean? Do I want to eat a myod? Market price. No salt on the table.”

OC Weekly, Gustavo Arellano
“Big in OC right now: Poke bowls (raw ahi tuna mixed with sesame-seed oil and other goodies), crazy desserts (ice cream in a donut! Taiwanese snow ice!), poutine (kind of) and, of course, MEXICAN FOOD HAHA!”

LA Weekly, Besha Rodell
“It seems like the LA Asian revolution is continuing...that is, young Asian-American chefs taking their formal chef training and the food of their cultures and combining them in ways that are awesome. Began with Roy Choi, but just never seems to quit. Right now the two most interesting restaurants around are Cassia, a giant, glitzy Vietnamese brasserie in Santa Monica, and Ricebar, a tiny Filipino rice bowl place downtown run by a chef who came from Patina, one of our fanciest restaurants. I'm also seeing a new wave of old school steak houses.”

Dallas Observer, Scott Reitz
“For a while the food truck used to be the way for new folks to get into the food biz, but now groups of four-plus are teaming up and opening real-deal restaurants. The results are interesting. In the past year we've seen Small Brewpub put out a quirky beer and food menu (peppercorn pilsner and chicken feet), Armoury's take on Hungarian cooking, and a chicken place called Brick & Bones. These restaurants have a lot of personality.”

Houston Press, Phaedra Cook
“We’re starting to see some true appreciation for single-cuisine restaurants without them having to artificially adjust for Houstonian palates. As Houstonians have grown in sophistication, we’re seeing authentic Greek, Spanish and Mexican (NOT Tex-Mex...coastal cuisine) restaurants get a whole lot of well-deserved acclaim for being true to their origins.”

Miami New Times and New Times Broward-Palm Beach, Rebecca McBane
“With South Florida's rapidly growing catalogue of craft breweries, burger and beer spots have quite logically swept the food scene. Other upscale, fast casual concepts like pizza and tacos are trending a close second. Most recently, in-house charcuterie has begun popping on menus through the area, giving diners selections of meats and cheeses to complement their local brews.”

Which of these trends do you want to make it our way? And which do you hope stay put?
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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz