While it was indeed a long and strange year, 2021 has also brought us many moments of hope and positive attitude. We saw the much-anticipated revival of the Red Rocks concerts, the rescue of the Colorado institution, Casa Bonita, a slew of cool new restaurants that opened against the odds, and the introduction of unique experiences like Meow Wolf put us in the Lots to do, see and eat over the past 365 days. And while there’s no way to fully say what will bring in 2022, we have a pretty bright future ahead of us. New restaurants to try, art exhibits to think about, and shopping are just a few of the things we look forward to in Denver this year.
At the top of the radar for exciting things to come to Denver this year is country star Dierks Bentley’s new music venue-slash-bar-slash-restaurant, which will settle down conveniently in LoDo. In 1946, Whiskey Row Denver opens on Market Street, the newest location of the popular venue, which has homes in both Arizona and Tennessee. Expect live music from local artists and rotating weekend DJs five days a week, good old Southern-inspired cuisine and cocktails, and a large deck with lawn games (denver, well).
Do you need more places to spend money in 2022? You are covered! The northeastern Denver neighborhood of Gateway will soon be home to the 223,000 square foot Flyway Retail Center, offering clothing, general merchandise, groceries and restaurants to suit every need. The space will have a city center square with outdoor seating and public art, and all storefronts, restaurants and services will be easily accessible.
Crazy cantina | Photo courtesy Hi Rez Photography
Brand new restaurants …
Getting into the local food scene is… a whole series of mouth-watering concepts that make our hearts shine for the tenacity of Denver restaurants. Thompson Denver, an “urban chalet” that opens in LoDo this January, will also host Chez Maggy, a French brasserie by acclaimed French chef Ludo Lefebvre that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. And in addition to the refreshing Casa Bonita, chef Dana Rodriguez is also working on her own concept, the Cantina Loca, which will open this year in LoHis Espadín and offer Denverites Mexico City street food in the form of tacos and tequila, but mezcal. Enchiladas and a host of other goodnesses.
In 2022 a uniquely cool concept is coming to Sunnyside that will challenge your predisposed ideas of what the term “social club” really means. Birch Road is a women-run BYOB clubhouse where you can bring, store, and enjoy your favorite spirits without worrying about cork fees, bartender interactions, or evening bills. With a monthly membership you get exclusive fingerprint access to the Social Club of your Friday night dreams. Also on the social club wave are the long-awaited Five Nines, which will open this year at the Clayton Members Club & Hotel and offer colorful, classic, handcrafted cocktails in a sophisticated atmosphere. And last but not least (for the time being) an extension of the popular surf, turf and sushi restaurant Water Grill, which is coming to LoDo at the end of January.
Photo courtesy Cherry Cricket Littleton
… and favorites extensions
Despite all the odds, several popular restaurants have not only survived but thrived this year, meaning more locations will be added in 2022 to bring Denverites more of what we love. Cherry Cricket will open a third location in Littleton this year, following the success of both the original Cherry Creek and newer Ballpark locations. The newly opened Crack Shack (currently housed in the Grange Hall of Greenwood Village) will also be expanding not one, but two new locations this year – one near Park Meadows Mall and the other in RiNo.
Brand new breweries …
The ever-thriving Denver brewery scene will see a number of new additions this year, including Wisconsin brewery MobCraft Beer, which is moving to Curtis Park and bringing Dee Tacko’s Tacos, Taps and Tequila. The Danico Brewing Company, which recently broke ground for its 66th Avenue and Tower Road location, will also open. And Live Slow Brewing will join the Denver Breweries arsenal with its Wheat Ride post, replacing the Paramount bowling alley – though it will keep some of the alleys for an added entertainment bonus on a later visit. The brewery will also be part of a larger hub known as Gold’s Marketplace, where you can bowl, sip brew, watch live entertainment, and enjoy bowling-style snacks.
FlyteCo brewery | Photo courtesy Dustin Holstein
… and, you guessed it, more of those we love!
Mental note: could pandemics be good for craft beer sales? At least for some of our favorites. FlyteCo Brewing is expanding from its unique location on W 38th Ave to a new location in Central Park, replacing the Punch Bowl Social in the former control tower of Stapleton International Airport in Denver. The Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing team clearly knows the strategy as they park a second location right next to the Mission Ballroom for all of your pre and post concert beer needs. Are other second locations planned for this year? New Image Brewing, Cerebral Brewing and 4 Noses Brewing. It looks like 2022 will (thankfully) be the year of beer.
The art of Banksy
Known for its impressive curation of art in multiple museums and ever-changing exhibitions – with Views of You, Immersive Van Gogh, and the Denver Art Museum’s previous Monet exhibitions – Denver, known for its impressive curation of art – a new attraction awaits this year, with visitor records likely out of the water will blow up. The Art of Banksy opens this April in the Denver Sports Castle building, the grandeur of which seems aptly fitting. Check out iconic pieces like Girl and Balloon and Flower Thrower, as well as lesser-known works by the popular street artist, including smaller indoor pieces (as opposed to the famous outdoor works that can be seen around the world ). Tickets are on sale now, but are expected to sell out quickly.
If you haven’t followed the fate of Casa Bonita last year, do you even live here? Fortunately for everyone, this pillar of Denver’s society has been saved by none other than the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and perhaps even more lucky is that award-winning chef Dana Rodriguez will breathe new life into the kitchen. This includes a complete redesign of the kitchen space, a new menu (obviously) and will revitalize the entire Casa Bonita space without sacrificing any of our favorite parts of it. Fingers crossed for sopapillas while watching gorillas and divers dancing in 2022.
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Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more on Denver food and other Mile High gadgets.