If the foods we fell on in Denver last year are any indication of that, we have quite a bit of common healthy eating to do in 2021. From donuts to morning rolls, ice cream and fried chicken, it is clear we looked to every comfort species during the pandemic.
The following nine local examples have gone viral – that is, they have gained a loyal following, sold out in hours or minutes, and expanded their business for some.
Gabrielle Henning and Michael Milton started making these yeast donuts – with holes on top – back in April. Now they are so successful that they are delivering half a dozen, a dozen and gluten-free boxes to your home while also selling the Queen City Collective Coffee in Five Points every day. Start with your classic Maple Glaze before moving on to PB + J, Honey Pistachio, Rootbeer Float, and Red Velvet.
Oh golly dumplings
Ryan Van Splinter and Sara Timmer founded Oh Golly to challenge their homemade cooking skills and deliver comforting food to friends during the pandemic. Now they take their dumplings with them on the streets, driving from Denver to the mountains and even to Chicago. Their original filling is Wagyu beef with cabbage and carrots. Also see specialties like chicken, spring onions, and cabbage with a peanut-garlic-Sichuan sauce or tofu with mushrooms and cabbage.
Bucket and Bubbs of Roast Chicken
Local French restaurant Morin turned to sporadic fried chicken pop-ups during the pandemic and was consistently sold out. For their latest Super Bowl special, these classically trained chefs prepared soft pretzel bites with warm Gruyere, buffalo chicken dip with crispy tortilla chips and, of course, crispy roast chicken with a bottle of champagne. Check their website before major events or holidays and you will likely find a sale.
Sugar Bakeshop owner Natalie Slevin is no stranger to food trends. For more than a decade, her bakery in Denver has been producing cult favorites such as the vegan Popster, a pastry filled with fresh jam and icing. But as 2020 went on, Sugar’s purpose became something completely different. Creations have carried great messages to remember everything from the Black Lives Matter movement to the 2020 presidential election. Our latest favorites are just cute and silly: Valentine’s Day “Anti-Conversation Heart” cookies with messages like “Get Out” thereon.
Chef Dave Hadley is a regular on the Food Network, where he was a chopped champion back in 2016 and was a recurring competitor just this month. In Denver you can find it in local restaurants and at events with creative samosas filled with sausage and peppers or chicken pot pie, to name a few. Hadley’s Chutneys are freshly made in flavors such as coriander mint and tamarind date. And you can even enjoy them with a damp chai to sip on.
Denver’s newest New York pizza sells out before it even opens. A handful of pop-up events in January and February go through reservations for this 18-inch cake in three minutes or less. Chefs Alex Figura and Spencer White were already known in town for their handmade pasta shop, Dio Mio, but when they open a brick-and-mortar pizza parlor this spring, we imagine the company will be just as popular.
Soap & Sounds Sandwiches
Another pandemic focus was the short but popular activity of the Italian restaurant Bar Dough as a sub (or hoagie or simply sandwich) shop. In the summer, customers often had to call up to 50 times to order these Jabronis in combinations such as American Wit with Angus Ribeye, fried onions and American cheese; or the Sanducci with mortadella, gabagool, chili peppers, provolone, shrettuce, giardiniera and garlic aioli. While Jabroni is currently out of operation, the owners say Denver can expect a more permanent comeback.
Bakery Four Loaves
This iconic Highland bakery is doing so well that its owners expand to a larger location in Berkeley. For now, the lines along 32nd Avenue are a good indication of the popularity of baker Shawn Bergin’s freshly baked croissants, morning rolls, and country breads.
Real ice cream
And finally, one more reason to look forward to Monday morning: Then the local ice cream manufacturer David Right will put its latest batches online for weekly collection. This week, the Earn Your Badges with Do-si-dos, Trefoils and Tagalongs were sold out until noon; and Year of the Ox with Fortune Cookies, Lemongrass, Ginger and Five Spice. Right is a trained chef and his ice cream is for everyone who doesn’t shy away from a good piece of cake or a biscuit.
Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and drink updates delivered to your inbox.