Denver's dining scene is making a big comeback — and we're hungering to go out. With so many new ventures and old favorites to visit after more than a year of restaurant shutdowns and restrictions, the choices can be overwhelming. So we're serving up Short Stop, with recommendations for things that should definitely be on your culinary short list. This week, hit up three spots in one night: YumCha, LeRoux and ChoLon.
A three-in-one ChoLon Concepts restaurant hop
16th Street Mall and Blake Street
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LeRoux is one of Denver's sexiest restaurants.
ChoLon Restaurant Concepts
After years of working in New York City restaurants and traveling in Asia, restaurateur Lon Symensma moved to Denver and debuted ChoLon Modern Asian
at 1555 Blake Street in 2010. It's been considered one of Denver's top restaurants ever since — don't miss the French onion soup dumplings — while the chef's ChoLon Restaurants Concept Group has continued to evolve.
Along with a second ChoLon in the Central Park neighborhood, Symensma currently operates LeRoux
and new addition YumCha
, which are located next door to each other on 16th Street, directly around the corner from the original ChoLon, making this trio a prime restaurant-hopping target.
With a sleek, elegant design and dinner served by candlelight, LeRoux opened in 2018 at 1510 16th Street as a traditional French eatery, but recently got a refresh
. After being closed for over five months, it reopened December 17, 2021, with a new lounge area and some menu updates that include a selection of bar snacks and dishes that reflect European influences beyond France.
Over at 1520 16th Street, the dumpling-and-noodle-focused YumCha opened
on November 17, 2021, replacing Symensma's previous concept there, Cho77. The lively space is smaller and more packed with tables than its sister restaurants, and it has a more casual vibe — one that's spot-on for happy hour, which is offered from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and 2 to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
What you're eating and drinking:
ChoLon's French onion soup dumplings are the ideal finale to a night out.
Kick off your night of restaurant-hopping with that YumCha happy hour, which not only includes a lineup of snacks and dumplings, but also deals on drinks: Specialty cocktails (normally $13) are $9, select wines by the glass and well cocktails are $6, select sakes are $7 and draft beers are $5.
While there are ten food items to choose from, the one can't-miss selection on the list is the scallion flatbread ($9, normally $11), a take on the traditional scallion pancake topped with tender, savory Peking duck and crispy slices of cucumber. It's sliced to share, but so good that you may not want to. While the barbecue bacon cheeseburger shumai (four pieces for $10, normally $12) sound like a tempting good time, the barbecue sauce on top can overpower. If you're not into that, opt for the crab rangoon purses (four pieces for $11, normally $13) or the pom pom shrimp (two pieces for $6, normally $8), a shrimp ball tucked inside a tangle of fried pho noodles that's served with a creamy nuoc cham dip.
Next up: LeRoux, for an upscale pit stop on this dining adventure. Grab a seat at the bar for an ideal vantage point from which to admire the design details in this sexy spot, like the the eye-catching chandeliers. Opt for a glass of wine — the bartenders can talk you through the options to find your perfect sipper — or one of the specialty cocktails ($15), including the Roses Are Red, a blend of brut rosé, blood orange and Lo-Fi amaro.
With both shareable small plates and larger entrees on the menu, LeRoux is an ideal destination for a special date night, but if you're going for the trifecta, stick to the snacks, like pomme frites with oak-aged vinegar aioli ($6) and a light, refreshing medley of radish crudité ($8).
Final stop: ChoLon. Snag a table in the bar area if you can, and settle in for the main event: the French onion soup dumplings ($14) that have become one of Denver's essential dishes. ChoLon also recently added a second soup dumpling, inspired by Chinese- American favorite General Tso's chicken (also $14). Round out your order with the kaya toast, brioche bread topped with a sweet kaya jam (basically a coconut custard), served with a savory "egg cloud" for dunking ($11).
After all of that, a shot of Fernet is in order to cap off your evening as you head back out into the night: full, happy and primed for your next Mile High dining adventure.