Jennifer York, center, and Kimberly Southern-Weber dine at Roots in Broomfield on Friday, Aug. 14. Roots opened this summer and is owned by Madhoo and Vipul Seth. The Seths have converted their event and catering business into a full-service restaurant. (Rachel Woolf, Special for the Denver Post)
Believe it or not, now is the best time (this year? Again and again?) To try out a truly promising crop of new Denver restaurants. For starters, it’s August and the produce from farms in the area is at its peak, from flavorful tomatoes to juicy melons. And those who venture into the grocery store these days put everything on the table in many ways.
In Roots, a converted event space in Broomfield, for example, Madhoo Seth harvests vegetables and berries from her garden every day. She adds these local ingredients to dishes from around the world and serves them to guests seated in a hidden garden. My favorite part: Your traditional Indian menu is served with chai for the weekend breakfast.
And one evening last week I had an oddly perfect dinner at Brasserie Brixton, a humble new French place in a 136 year old building in the Cole neighborhood. Until late in the evening we dipped warm gougères in leftover olive oil and tomato juice in a cozy dining room, which we had mostly to ourselves, and spooned buttery little snails over salt crackers.
These new “restaurants” can be so creative, from lovingly reconstructed bricks and mortar to online activities. I came across Aura Langdon’s Instagram page for their eponymous virtual bakery and couldn’t help but place an order for the fried and filled Venezuelan pastries known as tequeños. When Aura personally brought them to my home with some frozen and other freshly baked varieties for me to try right away, they were wrapped in blue ribbon and she told me this was just the beginning of her business. It shone.
So not only is it the best time of year to go out to eat, but there may never have been a better time to catch a scene on the fringes, as some of these chefs and entrepreneurs think. Perhaps it was the hand delivery, the face-to-face (masked) personal exchange of hearty food, or the Nutella I later found on the inside of those scaly fried crescents. I was just so happy to be eating in Denver again. I recently discovered the following:
Co-owners Madhoo Seth, the cook, and Vipul Seth in the back yard of their Broomfield restaurant Roots on Friday August 14th. (Rachel Woolf, Denver Post Special)
The suburban garden oasis: Roots, Broomfield
Head to this former Elks Lodge, now a function room restaurant, for eclectic meals sourced from Madhoo Seth’s longtime Denver catering business, The Gourmet Kitchen. Dinner options range from flavored chicken satay ($ 10) to mac and cheese chips ($ 9). The weekend brunch offers an international menu with four traditional Indian breakfast dishes. Try the fried poori with chana masala, coconut, and halva with cardamom ($ 15).
1200 Miramonte St., 720-279-0570, open Wednesday through Sunday for happy hour, dinner, and weekend brunch. Check the website for opening hours each day. Rootscolorado.com
The city’s French surprise: Brasserie Brixton, Cole
If this place in the Cole neighborhood is any clue as to the direction of new restaurants in Denver in 2020 and beyond, I’ll be happy to take it. Chef Nick Dalton (formerly Mercantile) perfects a compact menu of pies ($ 8), panis ($ 9), steak fries ($ 27), and some more traditional and seasonal items. At the bar you can try a house cocktail (Pastis Spritz, Republique) or order from the mostly French wine list. Also, get ready for an unusual series with stormtroopers on the brick walls and international hip-hop in the background.
3701 N. Williams St., 720-617-7911, 5 p.m. through Tuesday through Saturday, brasseriebrixton.com
Venezuelan tequeños from Aura’s Bakery, a new Instagram-based food company in Denver. (Provided by Aura Langdon)
The pastry you didn’t know you needed: Aura’s Bakery, secluded
Aura Langdon has lived in Colorado for seven years, but she’s just starting her bakery business, which she hopes will introduce Americans to a popular Venezuelan pastry called tequeño.
“Every party in Venezuela must have tequeños,” Langdon said. “If not, it’s not a party.”
Her own dough recipe has been adapted and readjusted for frying or baking in Denver. Fillings including the traditional white cheese or paisa; Nutella; Apple Cake; and ricotta with crispy bacon and leek ($ 14- $ 40 for packages of 12-36).
Menu and more information only available on Instagram, instagram.com/auras.bakery, 970-415-5483
The traditional Colombian family town: Los Parceros, East Colfax
That summer, husband and wife Andrés Chaparro and Martina Will took over 7-year-old Los Parceros on East Colfax Avenue, bringing the restaurant back to its Colombian roots after a period of Venezuelan menu. They redecorated the interior of the room so that it feels like a pueblito paisa or a traditional village outside of Medellín. And they serve home-style cooking like plantains stuffed with cheese. Plates of rice, beans and meat with a fried egg (Bandeja Paisa); and sancocho, a hearty soup made from beef, chicken, yuca, and plantains.
5922 E. Colfax Ave., 720-379-3808, 11 am-7pm Wednesday to Sunday, facebook.com/losparcerosrestaurante/
A birthday cake milkshake (right) and a Cookies & Cream milkshake from Slater’s 50/50. (Josie Sexton, The Denver Post)
The TikTok crowd puller: Slaters 50/50, RiNo
I took my only 30-year-old, who uses the popular TikTok social media platform, to Slaters 50/50 for their viral milkshakes ($ 12), as well as some bacon and patty burgers ($ 13.50-18 Dollar), “vampire”, to try out. Dip ($ 13) and a range of healthy menu options too. Turns out the kids and my friend from TikTok love Slaters milkshakes, and honestly I was dizzy when my “Happy Happy Birthday” shake arrived with a twinkie on top and a side of pyrotechnics. It’s worth going here just for the shakes: after all, they’re made on a $ 27,000 machine. But the burgers and the garlicky artichoke vampire dip were solid too.
3600 Blake St., 720-387-7177, daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., slaters5050.com/locations/denver/
Ben & Jerry’s rival: Right Cream, afar
This was certainly one of my most exciting experiences with a new grocery store. It all started on a Monday when owner David Right posted the flavors of the week in his company’s Instagram profile history. (If you don’t know what this means, I’m warning you to keep going with me.) But I message Right asking for two pints ($ 20). He agreed and said they would be ready by Saturday. Easy enough.
Come on Saturday, Right asked for my address, at what point I was running errands. When we still couldn’t overlap by Sunday (that’s my fault) I drove to his house to pick up the goods. Their names and ingredients have already been removed from the internet. So all I know is that one is kettle corn and “almost too salty” caramel, while another has a label with a permanent marker attached and then crossed out. Below that only the letters “CPL” remain. Mysterious. The pieces in this ice cream are impressive. The combos are hand made and packaged by Right, who was just the nicest when we finally met at his house on Sunday. instagram.com/rightcream
MORE: Scratch ice is harder to find than you think. Meet Two Denver Companies Bringing It Back
Turnips of two types from The Fifth String in Highland. The new restaurant in the former home of Old Major is run by longtime Denver boss Amos Watts. (Josie Sexton, The Denver Post)
The neighborhood’s new staple: The Fifth String, Highland
Denver certainly lost a popular restaurant when Old Major closed down on Tejon Street as a staple animal slaughtering staple in June after seven years. But the building will reopen earlier this month as The Fifth String promises a new era of meaty family-style dinners and seasonal small plates. Former head chef Amos Watts bought the business from longtime friend and colleague Justin Brunson. And Watts owns the space with homemade noodles ($ 18-28), summer salads ($ 14-16), and short rib platters with bones ($ 98, sleeps 3-4).
3316 Tejon St., 720-420-0622, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, opentable.com/r/the-fifth-string-denver
The glamorous night destination: Toro, Cherry Creek
The Marriott Hotel on Cherry Creek is the setting for the newest Richard Sandoval restaurant in Denver. It is a Latin Asian merger concept with previous locations in Tokyo, Mexico City, Cabo San Lucas, Belgrade, Serbia, Scottsdale and Snowmass Village. That is, Toro dialed everything. Have a big morning and bottomless brunch ($ 30-49) or an evening of plenty of tequila, ceviche, and lobster quesadilla ($ 18).
150 Clayton Lane, 303-253-3000, open daily for lunch, dinner and happy hour on weekdays. Information on opening times can be found on the website at torodenver.com
The patio at Toro Denver, a new Richard Sandoval restaurant in Cherry Creek. (Provided by Toro)
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