5280 Magazine's Best 25 Best Restaurants in Denver 2022

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5280 Magazine's Best 25 Best Restaurants in Denver 2022

The Greenwich is motivating us to eat more vegetables, one plate of Colorado-grown turnips, spinach, and potatoes at a time. Last summer, chef Justin Freeman moved to the Mile High City to helm the kitchen at the modern American bistro, the brainchild of fellow former New Yorker and friend Delores Tronco. Freeman brought to Denver his family and a devotion to local sourcing, which is reflected in the rotating menu. In the sleek dining room—furnished with Tronco’s collection of images by late street photographer Ricky Powell and other Big Apple memorabilia—build your feast with the likes of Altius Farms lettuce laced with shallot-Champagne vinaigrette and roasted carrots on a bed of lemon tahini. To satisfy your carnivorous side, turn your attention to the sized-for-sharing entrées: The 24-hour-cured roasted lemon chicken and littleneck clams in garlic-scape butter are worth saving room for. So are pastry chef Luke Miller’s contributions, particularly the Greenwich cheesecake, which is a creamy slice of heaven. $$$, 3258 Larimer St., 720-868-5006

This11-month-old LoDo steak house feels nothing like the stuffy carnivore lairs of old with its hipster-bovine decor, monstera-leaf-themed wallpaper, neon signage, and magenta and lime accents. The service is quippy, and the food is as fresh as the environs. Start with a tartare katsu sando, which stars rare beef zinged with a tangy aïoli and a soft-boiled quail egg between two pieces of Japanese milk bread, before moving on to the main affair: steak. Harder-to-find cuts like the Colorado-sourced tomahawk rib-eye and well-marbled bavette are grilled to perfection by executive chef and partner Max MacKissock. In fact, servers will encourage you to consider paying the extra $14 for a “Max-style” meal. They aren’t just upselling you: The addition of tender alliums and a shank of roasted bone marrow to the shareable plate is worth the charge. Veggie-forward sides—such as the rainbow-hued grilled Mokum carrots dressed with mole blanco and almonds—will further brighten your spread, as will any one of the well-crafted cocktails. $$$$, 1600 15th St., 303-623-0534

No matter the season, there’s something magical about sipping a gin tonic from Corrida’s rooftop patio overlooking the Flatirons. The view is one of the best in Boulder, but while visitors come for the vistas, locals gather for the food. Here, executive chef Samuel McCandless delivers a suite of tapas and shareable mains from land and sea, offering a culinary adventure through Spain. Start with a classic Mediterranean appetizer—such as the tinned sardines drizzled with brown butter or slices of dry-aged Iberian ham—before moving on to heartier fare. Corrida’s signature steaks are produced using regenerative practices that reduce the protein’s carbon impact, and the animals are butchered later in life, resulting in a richer taste that’s less common in conventionally sourced cows. Accoutrements like Manchego-dusted broccolini round out the meal and pair beautifully with a glass of Spanish wine. Through every bite, the nearby peaks are Colorado’s towering reminder that after this adventure ends, another always awaits. $$$$, 1023 Walnut St., Suite 400, Boulder, 303-444-1333

Caroline Glover brought national attention to the Aurora dining scene with her first James Beard Award win this past May. But before her five-year-old Stanley Marketplace spot earned the honor, she had already won over Denverites with her soulful service and simple yet elegant presentations of wood-fired eats. In the airy dining room—where a wall of windows, wooden pendant lamps, and plenty of houseplants facilitate a homey vibe—servers greet regulars by name and welcome newbies with warmth. Because everything that comes out of the kitchen looks like a must-order, you can often overhear other guests debating whether to get the dilly egg salad toast or the sweet-tomato-bejeweled house spaghetti or the juicy pork tenderloin with pan-seared squash. There’s no wrong answer—unless you decide to skip the Paris-Brest (a giant cream puff) or the pecan pie for a finale. The friendly service and unpretentious dishes are evidence that Glover hasn’t let any accolade spoil Annette’s humble appeal. $$$, Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-710-9975

Any conversation about whole-animal sourcing at restaurants along the Front Range must start with Blackbelly. When chef-owner Hosea Rosenberg found a home for his business in east Boulder eight years ago, he became the first in the city to introduce an in-house butchery program centered on sustainably reared livestock. We still can’t get enough of the menu’s mainstays—boards loaded with house-cured meats and provisions curated by head butcher Kelly Kawachi, grated-horseradish-tinged steak tartare, and bone-in pork chops atop ancient grains—but we’re equally stoked about the next chapter. In mid-November, Blackbelly’s restaurant and its adjacent meat market, deli, and daytime cafe will debut a new space, expanding its current offerings into the neighboring storefront. Don’t worry: The burrito filled with house-made chorizo and the bacon burger on the current breakfast and lunch menu aren’t going anywhere. But expect to peruse a bigger retail space, stocked with more breads and pastries, and a larger selection of humanely raised fresh proteins and charcuterie platter builders, which you can watch pros prepare behind the glass of the butcher shop. $$$, 1606 Conestoga St., Boulder, 303-247-1000

In 2014, Sam and Tricia Maher left their hometown of Melbourne, Australia, and set out on a road trip across the United States to find the ideal city to open a restaurant. The couple—both longtime hospitality pros—eventually fell in love with Denver’s energetic food scene and in 2019 opened Somebody People, an eatery embodying some of their favorite things: sustainability, plant-forward fare, and uplifting party vibes (as evidenced by the space’s David Bowie–inspired artwork and regular DJ sets). Although meat- and dairy-free, nothing feels absent from the vegan menu, especially when ordering the Feed Me experience: a hearty parade of local, seasonal veggies transformed into Mediterranean-style tapas, salads, and pastas by head chef Art Burnayev and chef de cuisine Kevin Clay. Past highlights have included earthy roasted turnips with salsa verde and skordalia (mashed potato dip) as well as sweet and savory meatballs made with eggplant, cabbage, dates, and almonds. Guests are encouraged to bring their own Tupperware for takeaway (or pay $1 per compostable container), and on Sundays, the team empties the fridge to craft a $35-per-person, family-style meal using leftover ingredients—practices that show being easy on the Earth can also be delicious. $$$, 1165 S. Broadway, Unit 104, 720-502-5681

TOCABE, An American Indian Eatery
Sunnyside and Greenwood Village
Fourteen-year-old Tocabe, co-owned by Ben Jacobs and Matthew Chandra, a member of Oklahoma’s Osage Nation, is the only brick-and-mortar restaurant in Denver where aficionados can feast on American Indian fare. We’ve long been fans of the fast-casual eatery’s traditional plates, such as the puffy fry bread piled high with Colorado-raised bison meat, pinto beans, hominy salsa, and roasted green chiles, but a pandemic-born pivot gave us even more to love. In June 2021, Jacobs and Chandra launched an online marketplace selling meat and pantry staples sourced from Indigenous producers, including blue, white, and yellow cornmeal from Bow & Arrow, a farm owned and operated by members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in southwestern Colorado. For every two items sold, one item is donated to Native community organizations, and Tocabe matches bulk purchases with a 50 percent, in-kind donation to make nutritious, traditional foods accessible to those in need. Many of these ingredients are the same ones that grace Tocabe’s menu, so each time you dine, you’re supporting Native farmers and ranchers around the country. Whatever you order, add a cup of Iko green chile (named after Jacobs’ grandmother), a refreshing take on the beloved stew that’s simmered with tender potatoes, sweet corn kernels, and ground beef. $, 3536 W. 44th Ave., 720-524-8282; 8181 E. Arapahoe Road, Unit C, Greenwood Village, 720-485-6738

Since 2020, wife-and-husband duo Cindhura Reddy and Elliot Strathmann have leaned into eight-year-old Spuntino’s greatest charms: comforting Italian fare, expertly curated beverages, and welcoming hospitality, all delivered in a brick building replete with copper lighting, weathered wood, and a tented, string-light-adorned patio. The menu often has whispers of South Indian influences—a nod to Reddy’s roots—and shifts regularly, but a few crowd pleasers always make an appearance. The hand-rolled capellini is entangled with olive oil, jammy egg yolk, and Indian-spice-kissed preserved garlic; arancini (fried rice balls) are accented with seasonal goodness like spring onion prepared two ways; and tomato-braised pork cheeks are accompanied by creamy blue corn polenta. The charisma doesn’t end there, though. The gummy-bear-adorned Negronis and house-churned gelato sandwiches couldn’t be more delightful—in totally different ways, of course. $$$, 2639 W. 32nd Ave., 303-433-0949

The five-year-old Bindery, surrounded by drink dens that beckon party-ready millennials and Gen Zers on LoHi’s Central Street, is a reliable morning-to-night retreat with a menu that’s as varied as the day is long. In the early hours, neighborhood dwellers line up in the streamlined, industrial-chic space to grab Queen City Collective Coffee sippers and croissants, Portuguese tarts, and other house pastries. During the lunch rush, tables are occupied by groups of friends and colleagues connecting over Denver-based River Bear American Meats’ smoked turkey sandwiches with herbaceous chimichurri and tahini-turmeric-dressed quinoa salad. When dinnertime rolls around, chef-owner Linda Hampsten Fox’s expansive bar and exhibition kitchen come alive. Bartenders pour Spanish wines and martinis garnished with edible flowers, while cooks compose plates of mustard-gelato-crested smoked rabbit pecan pie, cacao-nib-sprinkled crispy pork belly and melon salad, and flaky halibut cradled by piquillo pepper broth. Whatever time it is, the Bindery delivers delectably interesting sustenance you’ll want to eat every day. $$$, 1817 Central St., 303-993-2364

Unifying a variety of palate-awakening, fresh ingredients, from fragrant herbs and acidic lime to piquant chiles and sweet tamarind, is a cornerstone of Thailand’s cuisine. The team at three-year-old Daughter Thai in Highland—led by chef-owner Ounjit Hardacre, a native of the country’s Kanchanaburi province—excels at this feat, with an added touch of elegance. Many of the velvet-booth-lined bar and restaurant’s offerings are punctuated with a rainbow of garnishes and larger-format proteins rarely found at other local Thai restaurants, which often incorporate smaller chunks of meat. Consider the chicken satay: slices of charcoal-grilled breast presented on a wooden board with a vinegar-marinated cucumber salad and golden peanut sauce. Or look to the larb, a mound of fried soft-shell crab set on a pillow of butter lettuce and showered with mint, red onion, tomato, and fried shallots and a citrusy, roasted-rice-seasoned sauce. Also don’t miss the specials, which could include anything from moo ping (skewered nuggets of juicy pork shoulder) with sticky rice to whole lobster, prawns, and calamari nestled in a lemony curry sauce. $$$, 1700 Platte St., Suite 140, 720-667-4652

Los Angeles–based celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre has always been a fan of Colorado. He skied and hunted here and often visited his wife’s mother, Margaret, who lived in Littleton. Tragedy struck in 2019 when Margaret was killed by a drunk driver; more than two years later, Lefebvre honored her memory with Chez Maggy, which opened this past February inside the Thompson Denver hotel. Here, in a high-ceilinged lobby dotted with marble-topped tables and globe-light chandeliers, Lefebvre not only serves his mother-in-law’s favorite tagliatelle Bolognese but also displays his prowess as a Michelin-starred French toque via thoughtful treatments of regional ingredients. Colorado lamb chops are doused with smoked bagna cauda (butter and anchovy sauce) and studded with local purslane. Also look for bison—one of Lefebvre’s favorite proteins—in the form of a tender tartare served on a crispy potato chip, and don’t leave without a bite of his mind-blowing, gluten-free crab cake, bound with shrimp mousse in lieu of breadcrumbs. Whatever your indulgence, pair it with a selection of French wine or bubbles, and don’t forget to raise a glass to Maggy. $$$, 1616 Market St., 720-794-9544

City Park
Since Misfit Snackbar debuted in late 2019, the kitchen inside Middleman bar has become a cult-favorite venue for pub grub and street food elevated with unusual touches (think: nori-wrapped compressed melon). While chef-owner Bo Porytko expected to move on to other projects after his one-year lease ended at the East Colfax watering hole, the pandemic upset his plans—which led him to dive deeper into his passion for producing nostalgia-steeped cuisine with inventive techniques. Now, with the help of chef Dillon Rigolini, who joined the Misfit team last year, the menu is funkier than ever—in the best way possible. Taste the team’s creativity in achievements like the blooming onion okonomiyaki, a riff on the Outback Steakhouse classic with dried-apricot-infused tonkatsu sauce, fish-sauce-laced aïoli, smoky bonito flakes, and a homemade furikake seasoning composed of crushed seaweed and sesame seeds. Or dig into the Buffalo terrine nuggets, braised-then-fried chicken presented with spicy sauce, pickled celery and carrot ribbons, and blue cheese fundido. Coupled with Middleman’s esteemed cocktail list, every visit is a palate-pleasing experience. $$, 3401 E. Colfax Ave., 303-353-4207

Every evening, more than a dozen culinary pros bustle in perfect harmony to execute four-year-old Uchi’s 80-plus-item menu. At least six chefs, some of whom wield knives, blowtorches, and tweezers, work behind the sushi counter at any given time. They sculpt rectangles of nigiri, brush snow crab with brown butter, and slice tuna loin, yellowtail, and salmon belly (flown in from markets in Japan six days a week). Meanwhile, servers carry vessels of oak-grilled walu walu in citrusy ponzu sauce and crispy rice cakes atop smoky salsa matcha from the kitchen to packed tables. Chef-owner Tyson Cole, who also has an Austin, Texas, restaurant of the same name, is the conductor behind the well-oiled production. The attention to detail extends to excellent service and divine palate pleasers. The small plates—of which you’ll easily want to order five to seven for two people—will set you back between $5 and $29 each (more than your average neighborhood sushi joint). The experience, however, is one you won’t regret. $$$$, 2500 Lawrence St., 303-444-1922

Highland and Speer
Soft-shell crab snuggled between pillowy steamed buns. Bonito-flake-sprinkled fried chicken katsu. Gochujang-slathered pork ribs. These are just a few reasons Uncle is no ordinary ramen house, thanks to chef-proprietor Tommy Lee’s refusal to be known exclusively for brothy specialties. The contemporary Japanese spot, which opened in Highland in 2012 and added a larger Wash Park outpost in 2019, has Pan-Asian entrées that are as enticing as its popular slurpable offerings. Look beyond the traditional chicken, shoyu, or duck ramen styles (though those are excellent, too) for soup-free or curry variations. The miso mazemen’s bundle of thick, chewy strands mixed with spicy miso pork, napa cabbage, and corn is a fiery, umami-packed pick, as is the veggie khao soi with hearty king trumpet mushrooms, pickled mustard greens, and red onion in a broth inspired by the famous Northern Thai curry. The rotating menus vary, which is just another part of the appeal of this uncommonly great eatery. $$, 2215 W. 32nd Ave., 303-433-3263; 95 S. Pennsylvania St., 720-638-1859

Although it was born in June 2021, La Diabla still doesn’t have an identifying sign. But chef-owner Jose Avila likes it that way. The pozoleria reminds him of the nameless taco and torta stalls his family used to operate in their hometown of Mexico City, where word would circulate through the community about which were best: “If you know, you know,” Avila says. In fact, the chef, who came to Denver in 2001, earned a James Beard nomination this year for El Borrego Negro, his Sundays-only pop-up in Westwood that serves whole-roasted sheep meat mostly via word of mouth and an Instagram page. While the takeout-only concept sells out quickly every weekend, it’s the humble, dimly lit Ballpark restaurant where Avila’s heritage and skill truly shine. Visit on Thursday for two-for-one bowls of pozole and opt for a rojo, blanco, or verde caldo (broth) laden with slow-roasted pork or chicken, house-nixtamalized Mexican maize, and optional avocado and chicharrones. The guisados (stews) of proteins such as pollo pibil, beef birria, and even chapulines (grasshoppers) delivered via tacos or pambazos (sandwiches made with guajillo-pepper-sauce-dipped bread) are equally as tantalizing. $, 2233 Larimer St., 720-519-1060

For six years, Comal has welcomed immigrant and refugee women into its kitchen, teaching them the skills needed to become chefs and even run catering businesses, food trucks, and brick-and-mortar restaurants. More than 40 women have gone through the two- to three-year-long program, and alumni like Silvia Hernandez (now the chef-owner of Silvia at Lost City, a business and social collective in Globeville) and Erika Rojas (of Prieto’s Catering) have made Denver decidedly more palatable since graduating from the incubator in 2021 and 2019, respectively. This past January, Comal welcomed five new trainees from Mexico and Venezuela, who prepare a rotating menu of popular items from their respective cultures. Expect juicy plates such as the cochinita pibil—chile-marinated pork served with soft corn tortillas, black beans, and pickled onion—or steamy tamales de rajas con queso, stuffed with Muenster, green chiles, and tomatoes. In 2023, Comal will invite five or six more trainees into the program—some from Indonesia and Africa—fostering a new batch of talent and bringing even more goodness to Denver’s communal table. $, 3455 Ringsby Court, Suite 105, 720-500-3455

Lone Tree
Park Meadows Mall was the last place we expected to find outstanding Indian cuisine. That is, until last October, when chef Charles Mani reincarnated his Urban Village concept, the Lone Tree restaurant that closed in 2021. His new eatery—flanked by a Crate & Barrel and a Nordstrom—invites patrons to sop up generously portioned plates of roasted-butternut-squash-studded coconut curry and slow-simmered lentils with garlicky naan in a space sparsely accented with orange and wicker. Those familiar with Mani’s refined, contemporary culinary stylings know, however, to skip the usual suspects in favor of lesser-known specialties, such as kale moong dal chaat, a symphony of aromas and textures featuring battered and fried kale, sprouted lentils, fresh mint, and roasted cumin yogurt, or the Urban chicken, whose hunks of crispy bird are tossed in a tomato-chile sauce. You can also grill your own marinated meats and vegetables on the year-round, heated patio or purchase a beautiful cake from the bakery case—fresh reasons to venture to the southern suburbs. $$, 8505 Park Meadows Center Drive, Unit 2184, Lone Tree, 720-536-8565

Wines are like people, says Sunday Vinyl sommelier Clara Klein, so it’s nice to know what you’re getting into before meeting them. Klein’s philosophy—supported by a civil engineering background that gave her the know-how to distill complex topics into digestible material—is why the two-and-a-half-year-old wine bar and restaurant has one of most renowned and approachable bottle and glass programs in Denver. In addition to introducing guests to new sips by explaining their origins, Klein describes essences and mouthfeels with light-hearted phrases and adjectives such as “highly chuggable, yet smart, like a great beach read” and “snappy, refreshing, gets to the point.” The conversational style brings crisp energy to age-old wine-tasting practices only true oenophiles could appreciate. Klein’s crowd-pleasing ensemble of more than 350 Champagne-rosé blends, Pinot Noirs, and other varieties is backed by a chorus of fancy-but-friendly bites from chef de cuisine Charlie Brooks and vinyl-only beats that both grape geeks and novices can enjoy. $$$$, 1803 16th Street Mall., 720-738-1803

At four-year-old Safta, each bite of silky hummus and pink-peppercorn-speckled labneh (strained yogurt) transports you to the vibrant culinary world of chef-owner Alon Shaya’s ancestors. His favorite salatim (an Israeli term for snacks and sides) is the lutenitsa, a bright roasted-pepper dip puréed with eggplant, tomato, and garlic. It reminds him of his Bulgarian-Israeli grandmother, who used to make the dish for Shaya before he moved to this country from Israel at age four. In fact, Safta means “grandmother” in Hebrew, and Shaya’s restaurant, a natural-light-flooded eatery inside the Source Hotel & Market Hall, is an enduring homage to the matriarch. The traditional Israeli dishes are influenced by her cooking but elevated at the hand of the James Beard Award–winning chef. While you can (and should) make a meal of the fresh veggies, puffy pita, and delightful dips, the entrées are equally as impressive, with family-style portions of honey- and dill-scented whole cabbage and fall-off-the-bone chicken coated in an umami-rich chile paste. Much like an embrace only a grandma can give, the generous spreads evoke joy we’re eager to experience again and again. $$$$, the Source Hotel & Market Hall, 3330 Brighton Blvd., 720-408-2444

We appreciate Dana Rodriguez’s contributions to the culinary world so much that we don’t even care that she still can’t reveal when exactly Casa Bonita will reopen. That’s because the celebrated Mexico City–born chef’s playful brand of Latin American cuisine is readily available at her three other Denver concepts: Work & Class, Cantina Loca, and Super Mega Bien, which celebrates its four-year anniversary this year. There, Rodriguez serves small plates—roasted beets glazed with tamarind vinaigrette and cumin yogurt and corn-and-cheese-stuffed arepas—on dim-sum-style carts as well as larger mains such as chicken confit drumsticks in fiery green chile and whole crispy-skinned Colorado striped bass with red curry sauce. Sit at the bustling bar, where you can sip the rose-petal-scented La Rosa, one of the restaurant’s signature gin and tonics, while peering into the open kitchen. Even when the pink palace finally turns on its fountains (sometime in 2023, Rodriguez says), Super Mega Bien will still have a place in our hearts. $$$, 1260 25th St., 720-269-4695

Behind every vessel of duck confit bathed in Thai-inspired coconut curry soup and burnt honey panna cotta at the Wolf’s Tailor is a mission to squeeze as much splendor out of Colorado’s bounty as possible. While the four-year-old fine-dining venue has always excelled at in-state sourcing and eliminating waste, it took things to the next level in late 2020 when executive chef Taylor Stark (an alum of now-closed Departure who has a love for spicy and acidic ingredients) and director of fermentation Mara King (a Hong Kong native schooled in Chinese fermentation practices) came into the picture. Stark’s and King’s respective expertises strengthen chef-owner Kelly Whitaker’s tasting menus of almost-too-pretty-to-eat bites. Go for pastas, breads, and pastries made with heirloom grains ground at Whitaker’s Boulder mill; bold condiments such as miso and koji inoculated with leftover bread; and surprising ingredient combinations such as charcoal-charred, tamarind-sweet-soy-lacquered lamb neck. At summer’s end, the team preserved all it could from the harvest to stock the pantry. Now, ingredients like miso-enriched carrot and cherry-infused gochujang (Korean pepper paste) will invigorate its fall and winter creations, allowing patrons to savor warm-weather joys year-round. $$$$, 4058 Tejon St., 720-456-6705

Summer 2020 was, by all accounts, a terrible time to open a restaurant. That didn’t stop chef-owner Amos Watts, who jumped at the chance to start the Fifth String when his friend and former colleague Justin Brunson closed LoHi’s Old Major and asked if he wanted the space. The farm-to-table restaurant celebrates local produce (some of which comes from Watts’ extensive home garden) and implements an in-house butcher program to break down whole sides of wagyu beef from Shavano Valley Ranch in Salida. The resulting menu not only includes impeccable roast beef sandwiches, hoisin-drizzled, slow-cooked beef belly, and wagyu steak carpaccio dressed with crunchy fried chiles, pine nuts, harissa aïoli, and pickled ramps, but also clever nose-to-tail creations such as the tallow bread service. For the latter’s photo-worthy presentation, the team molds rendered beef fat into an edible candle that melts into a dippable thyme- and rosemary-scented pool. If you, like Watts, have a penchant for capitalizing on great opportunities, we suggest visiting for happy hour, when many signature dishes are $12 or less—even on weekends. $$$$, 3316 Tejon St., Unit 102, 720-420-0622

The best seat in Tavernetta’s dining room is within gawking distance of the central open kitchen, where each night, chefs and waitstaff perform a well-choreographed dance of prepping, plating, and serving. In addition to scents of simmering ragu, brown butter, and garlicky lemon sauce, a quiet, focused energy radiates from the cook stations. When an order is up, servers throw hand signals to indicate the number of people needed to carry plates to the table, synchronizing their delivery with a polished flourish. The result is a masterful dinner with a show, which makes tucking into the culinary marvels of James Beard Award–nominated executive chef Cody Cheetham even more special. The grass-fed beef carpaccio is so delicate you can cut it with the tine of a fork. Each bite of generously portioned, handcrafted pasta is perfectly al dente and appropriately sauced. Protein dishes, such as the Maialino—a hay-roasted pork belly set atop sweet corn polenta accompanied by tangy green tomato, fennel, and pickled mustard seed—sing with seasonal ingredients. After your meal, you’re encouraged to linger over a wedge of silky tiramisù—an ending deserving of a standing ovation. $$$$, 1889 16th Street Mall, 720-605-1889

What one-year-old Redeemer lacks in size, it makes up for in fun and flavor. While the diminutive joint, tucked into the heart of RiNo, sports a concise 12-strong roster of appetizers, pies, and ice creams in a 28-seat dining room and bar, customers can find a little more space in which to enjoy their carb-loaded riches—ordered from an alleyway window—on the covered patio (open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday). Spencer White and Alex Figura of Dio Mio are behind Redeemer’s pies, which blend New York and Neapolitan styles, meaning the slices are somehow floppy and foldable yet also crispy and beautifully blistered. The crust is a brilliant showcase for specialty creations, such as the garlic-sauce-accented All the Mushrooms, the tomato pie with aged Gouda, and the Diavolo, which has sopressa, pepperoni, jalapeño, and yellow pepper enveloped by a stretchy cheese blend. Wash the yeasty goodness down with a glass of bubbles or with the Watermelon Sugar, a grown-up rendition of the vodka Red Bull that will ready you for bar-hopping shenanigans in the booze-happy neighborhood. $, 2705 Larimer St., 720-780-1379

When Manny Barella got a James Beard nomination for best emerging chef this past March, it changed his life—and his restaurant. Overnight, two-year-old Bellota got busier, and diners started coming with expectations rather than just appetites for fine Mexican fare, he says. To cope, Barella hired three more cooks and added more sophisticated plates. And while we loved Bellota 1.0, Bellota 2.0 is even more impressive now that the Monterrey-born chef is flexing his culinary muscles and leaning even harder into his heritage. While new dishes like the tantalizing carne asada steak with fiery pequin chile salsa exhibit his mastery of Mexican cuisine with their uses of traditional ingredients and cooking methods, Barella also knows not to mess too much with success. He’s kept some favorites on the menu, such as the heavenly shrimp taco (drizzled with butter infused with the shells), and the tender pork belly swimming in his mother’s mole verde sauce. Through all the recent changes, Barella hasn’t forgotten that with great success comes great responsibility: He’s paying it forward by mentoring members of Denver’s Hispanic Chef’s Association and guiding a new crop of talent toward its own victories. $$, the Source Hotel & Market Hall, 3350 Brighton Blvd., 720-542-3721