A private seating area at number 38. The new concert, beer and dining room offers indoor and outdoor seating for up to 175 customers during the pandemic. (Provided by number 38)
As Denver restaurateurs figure out how to lock their courtyards in, 20-year-old Spencer Fronk and Andrew Palmquist are busy opening theirs.
At number 38, which debuted over the weekend on the very edge of the River North Art District, Fronk and Palmquist can welcome up to 175 guests, drinkers, and music fans at the same time to their 30,000 square foot indoor and outdoor venue.
It consists of an outdoor stage that is connected to a restaurant with four changing menus and a beer hall with small “taprooms” of up to 24 breweries in Colorado at the same time.
Fronk says growing up and later going out in Denver, he noticed a “hole in the market” where there should be venues that combine good live music with good local food and drink.
“We’re solving this problem,” said Fronk, adding, “We’re 28 years old and we’re building this for our population group.”
And luckily, it already seemed to have precautionary measures built into the COVID-19 business model when the friends and their investors began a plan to build an old neon sign factory three years ago.
For starters, customers under number 38 do not pay an entry fee, but reserve seats and tables online in advance.
You will get wristbands on the door that allow you to pay for groceries at the counter and drinks at the bar without touching (a credit card is registered and a tip of 17.5% is automatically added at the end so you don’t have to exclude).
But mostly number 38 is made for the Colorado outdoors. The 18,000 square meter terrace extends over garage doors that stay open all year round. There is seating at picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, and bar rails, all of which face the central stage.
“Every time you are here there will be music or a show,” said Fronk.
He imagines musicians, comedians, drag queens and other artists who are always on stage. volleyball balls floating in the air (because there are two regulated clay courts that are rented from local leagues); Friends sit around with their tacos and bao buns; and snow falls on the ground.
“Part of being a Coloradan is putting on a parka and going outside,” Fronk said.
But if live music, snowstorms, and local beers aren’t your pocket, there are other new restaurants to be found. Here are four more with equally creative options in town.
In Junction Food & Drink, a new grocery hall with a dozen grocery and beverage outlets on South Colorado Boulevard and off I-25. (Josie Sexton, The Denver Post)
Junction food & drink
Junction is a real treat for South Denver guests. When it is in full operation, it is packaged in 12 stalls, including a bar and a café. Right now, eight of these options can be found in an open hall in the mixed-use Colorado Center.
If it’s late enough in the day, start your meal at the main bar with a house cocktail – most are less than $ 10 but are available at half price during happy hour – like the Bolo Thai with Gin, Aperol , Lemon and orgeat. Then choose from tacos, ramen, sushi, sandwiches, kebab, pizza, and ice cream served by a mix of Denver-based and national operators.
You can spot Troy Guard’s fish tacos at Big Wave or Chase Devitt’s Italian sandwiches at Mr. Miner’s, but there’s more to discover. (Check out Ebisu’s Chois Tonkotsu ramen with black garlic soon.) Once the capacity restrictions are lifted, expect empanadas, barbecues, burgers, and fried chicken too.
2000 S. Colorado Blvd., 720-400-7772, junctionfoodanddrink.com
A Chicken Tikka Masala Dosa in the Nest Cafe and Bar in Nurture, “a Wellcare Marketplace” in the highlands. The new store combines health and wellness practices with breakfast, lunch, coffee, and even happy hour. (Josie Sexton, The Denver Post)
Nest at Nurture
If you’re looking for a new all-day option, or a secluded work destination, coffee and cake shop, or even somewhere to have a drink after work, Nest has it all. This airy and trendy café serves as the central hub for Nurture, the new “Wellcare marketplace” in the Highland district. And if you don’t know what a toiletries market is, don’t worry, the food and drink here stands on its own.
In case you want to know, Nurture is home to a number of wellness companies – from advice to beauty services. The café serves healthy food and drinks that largely follow suit. There are menu items such as reishi mushroom coffee cake, elixirs and broths, and kale chips. Then there are the “Detox” cocktails, a couple of flavorful Dosas and a “Breakfast Banana Split”.
The diversity itself is worth seeing. It all works somehow.
2949 Federal Blvd., 303-390-1252, visitnurture.com/nest
The front patio with outdoor fireplace is in the new Pho and Bar on the 17th. (Beth Rankin, the Denver Post)
Pho & Bar
A new uptown pho spot looks trendy but has a serious pho pedigree. In the former Jack’s Uptown Grille area, Pho & Bar (from the owners of Pho Haus in East Alameda) serves dishes like banh mis, $ 7 salt and pepper wings, cocktails and sake, and of course the Vietnamese soup of the same name.
The $ 10 banh mis here are solid, but the photo is really where it is. You have three options for broth: traditional, house (a flavorful riff on traditional), and vegan (all $ 10.50), plus protein options like tofu, rare fillet, brisket, and grilled shrimp. If that epic Jon Pucci mural in the dining room worried you about this place being all flash and no substance, this pho broth will change your mind forever. The fragrant traditional option tastes like a magical elixir filled with notes of star anise and clove. If you’re smart, you’ll drink your leftover broth like a cure because maybe it is.
There’s a small drinks menu with options like a fun lemongrass and a Thai basil-filled reef on a mojito ($ 10.50), plus sake and beer options. It’s a small room but the tables are spread out and there are two small terraces, one with a cozy outdoor fireplace. I enjoyed the friendly bartender making my new favorite cocktail off the menu: coconut water with rum, lemongrass and fresh Thai basil. – Beth Rankin
1600 E. 17th Ave., 720-535-7274, phoandbar.com
The new Temaki Den is located in the Source Market Hall and offers seating in the sushi bar with plexiglass between the chefs and guests. (Josie Sexton, The Denver Post)
Here’s the kind of sushi bar Denver didn’t know was absolutely needed. Temaki Den is named for its signature sushi style and specializes in hand rolls made only from fish (or vegetables) and rice. All are wrapped in crispy nori (seaweed) for a casual sushi snack that’s great for lunch, dinner, late evening, or happy hour.
Chefs Toshi Kizaki (Sushi Den, Izakaya Den) and Kenta Kamo (OTOTO Den) and their team have mastered this combination of fish, rice and seaweed in their mini-sushi empire on South Pearl Street in Denver. Now they wrap around a dozen different types of hand rolls every day and serve them for $ 4 to $ 6 a pop, along with a very pared-down list of uramaki or sushi, nigiri, sashimi, starters, and dessert wrapped in rice.
The entire menu is actually small enough to have a bite to eat over the course of a few sessions, but you’ll likely want to return again and again to enjoy this rare type of no-frills sushi. Don’t forget to combine the fish with a sake or whiskey.
3350 Brighton Blvd. (located in Source Market Hall), 720-465-9263, temakiden.com
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