The salads Beach Burrata and Strawberry Fields in the sweet green. (Provided by Sweetgreen)
Summer flies by, and in a city that loves al fresco dining, local ingredients, and seasonal menus, there are plenty of new restaurants to try before the season ends.
Whether you’re sticking to a takeout or ready to go to a restaurant (while keeping your social distance, of course), it’s an important time to eat locally, and these places strive to welcome guests. Restaurant owners and chefs across the board spoke about the challenges of opening a new restaurant as part of the coronavirus pandemic. However, they have double- and triple-checked security protocols, and they strive to bring something new to Denver residents.
Four of the most recent restaurants to open are Knockabout Burgers, the newest addition to Avanti. Sweetgreen, a popular national chain for salads and other healthy options; Sullivan Scrap Kitchen, a casual restaurant that focuses on reducing food waste; and Local Jones, a contemporary bar and restaurant in Cherry Creek.
Here’s what you can expect in each of these new places:
The grain bowl at Local Jones. (Provided by Local Jones)
Located in Cherry Creek in the Halcyon Hotel, Local Jones focuses on modern American cuisine using sustainable ingredients, what Justin Fields calls “heightened simplicity.” Fields is senior vice president of restaurants, bars, and retail for Makeready, the parent company of Local Jones.
The restaurant opened for breakfast, dinner and weekend brunch on July 7th. Fields told the Denver Post that he wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant with comfortable space, a dedicated team, and a consistent menu that would keep diners returning.
Chef Josh Sutcliff has spent the last seven years in Dallas, where he was widely recognized at the posh Mirador restaurant. One of his favorite dishes on the menu is the trout schnitzel, which is served with a yoghurt potato gribiche and a cucumber and herb salad. Sutcliff comes from the south, which is why he loves fried fish as home-style cooking, but was also inspired by German cuisine for the “Schnitzel”.
It sources its greens from Rebel Farms in Denver; The trout comes from Colorado, of course.
“The food is familiar to people, but when they try it we want it to pop,” Sutcliff told the Denver Post last week. “We want the food to be fresh, lively, and exciting. I come from agriculture, so we want to put as many local products on the menu as possible. “
Local Jones, 249 Columbine St., 720-772-5022; Breakfast, dinner and weekend brunch. (There are plans to expand the lunch service later this summer.) Localjones.com
The vegetarian sandwich in the Sullivan Scrap Kitchen with mushrooms and aubergines on homemade focaccia. (Provided by Sullivan Scrap Kitchen)
Sullivan’s junk kitchen
Sullivan Scrap Kitchen is owner Terence Rogers’ second Denver grocery store, an offshoot of his catering company TBD Foods. The casual restaurant focuses on reusing leftovers from the catering company to reduce waste and promote sustainability.
The restaurant started serving lunch only on July 7th. Rogers said he plans to welcome customers for dinner on the patio later this summer and hopes to expand the breakfast and dinner options.
“The whole idea behind the junk is to eliminate food waste, but also to extract cool flavors into each dish before it finally ends up in the compost,” Rogers said in an interview.
It was a wild ride for Rogers, who was about to open the restaurant in March but was waiting for summer. And when the catering gigs were canceled, he was in a nerve-wracking position. But he is back on track with his new restaurant.
Rogers said the menu will change more often than other casual eateries, with an emphasis on using fresh ingredients from his catering business. But customers can expect a seasonal lamb dish, burger, salad, grilled cheese on homemade sourdough, and a vegetarian option. Currently, the vegetarian sandwich is served on homemade focaccia with grilled palisade peaches, local goat cheese, and a tahini-style spread made from grinding the remains of beets, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar.
Sullivan Scrap Kitchen, 1740 E. 17th Ave., 720-242-6292. Open for lunch Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. sullivanscrapkitchen.com
Knockabout Burger is Avanti’s newest takeout stand. (Provided by Knockabout Burger)
Knockabout Burgers opened at Avanti Food and Beverage in LoHi on July 2nd. Co-owners Brandon Spain and Kaitlyn Peot said they couldn’t have opened the restaurant without Avantis support and space.
“I’m looking forward to entering this new scene,” said Peot. “(We get) to learn from the chefs around us, and we learn a lot from Avanti too.”
Spain and Peot moved from Fort Collins, where Spain jointly owned the popular food truck The Tramp About. Peot had worked for New Belgium Brewing.
For the menu, Chef Spain decided to focus on what he does best: burgers and fries. Given the coronavirus pandemic, he and Peot initially paired the offerings, but they plan to add salads and other sides as they take off. Spain said his personal favorite is the “messy and tasty” chorizo queso burger. He added some of his TexMex cooking experience as well as Asian influences from his Chinese mother.
“We have our classic burger and this is where some people go to play it safe and then we have some riskier burgers that are fun,” said Spain.
They source their meat locally, both from Lasater Grasslands Beef in Madison and from River Bear Meats in Denver. For sweet treats, they serve Mary’s Mountain Cookies, a Fort Collins favorite.
Knockabout Burgers is located at Avanti Food and Beverage, 3200 Pecos St., 720-269-4778; avantifandb.com
The beaches Burrata and Strawberry Field Salads at Sweetgreen. (Provided by Sweetgreen)
The popular chain, with more than 100 locations across the country, opened its second Denver restaurant in LoDo on June 26th after Cherry Creek, which opened on June 11th. To celebrate, she donated 14,001 meals for every purchase to health care workers on both opening days.
Sweetgreen is known for its focus on fresh, healthy options with lots of salads, seed bowls, and plates of chicken, tofu, and fish. Co-founder Nic Jammet said in an email that the Denver site sources ingredients like honey and cheese from local farms. The company also decided to get a liquor license to sell local beers and ciders in Colorado.
“We had considered Denver our next market for a while,” Jammet wrote. “The Denver community has such a strong connection to real food, sourcing, and sustainability. These are all aspects that are important to Sweetgreen and are consistent with our food ethos.”
Sweetgreen LoDo, 1750 Wewatta St., 720-730-7650; Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sweetgreen Cherry Creek, 275 St. Paul St., 720-730-7750; Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Check the website for changes in opening times. sweetgreen.com
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