New Denver eating places to strive proper now, from meals halls to oyster bars

A private seating area at number 38. The new concert, beer and food hall will offer indoor and outdoor seating for up to 175 customers during the pandemic. (Provided by number 38)

While Denver restaurateurs ponder how to lock their decks, Spencer Fronk and Andrew Palmquist in their twenties are busy opening their decks.

At number 38, which debuted over the weekend in the expanses of the River North Art District, Fronk and Palmquist can welcome up to 175 guests, drinkers and music fans at the same time in their 30,000 square meter indoor-outdoor eatery.

It consists of an outdoor stage connected to a restaurant with four changing menus and a beer hall with mini taprooms from up to 24 Colorado breweries at the same time.

Fronk says that 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 community.”

And luckily, since the time the friends and their investors first began planning this expansion of an old neon sign factory three years ago, the business model has seemed to have built in COVID-19 precautions.

For starters, customers at Number 38 don’t pay an entrance fee, but they reserve seats and tables online in advance.

At the door you get bracelets that allow contactless payment for food at the counter and drinks at the bar (a credit card is registered and a tip of 17.5% is automatically added at the end, so you don’t have to rule out).

But mostly, number 38 is made for the Colorado outdoors. Its 18,000-square-foot terrace extends from garage doors that stay open year-round. There is seating at picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, and perch bars, all of which face the central stage.

“Every time you are here there is music or shows,” said Fronk.

He always imagines musicians, comedians, drag queens and other actors on stage; volleyballs floating in the air (because yes, there are two legal clay courts that are rented by local leagues); Friends sit around with their tacos and bao buns; and snow falls on the ground.

“Being a Coloradan means just putting on a parka and going outside,” said Fronk.

But if live music, snowstorms, and local beers aren’t your thing, there are other new restaurants to explore. Here are four more with equally creative options in town.

Inside Junction Food & Drink, a new grocery hall with a dozen food and beverage vendors on South Colorado Boulevard and I-25. (Josie Küster, The Denver Post)

Junction food & drink

Junction is a real treat for guests in South Denver. When fully operational, it will have 12 stalls, including a bar and a café. But 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 under $ 10 but are halfway away during happy hour – like the Bolo Thai with gin, aperol, and lemon Orgeat. Then choose from tacos, ramen, sushi, sandwiches, kebab, pizza and ice cream served by a mix of Denver-based and national vendors.

You might recognize Troy Guard’s fish tacos at Big Wave or Chase Devitt’s Italian sandwiches at Mr. Miner’s, but there’s more to discover. (Try Soon Chois Tonkotsu Black Garlic Ramen at Ebisu.) Once the capacity constraints 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 Highland. The new store combines health and wellness practices with breakfast, lunch, coffee, and even happy hour. (Josie Küster, The Denver Post)

Nest at Nurture

If you’re looking for a new all-time option, or maybe a remote workspace, coffee and cake shop, or even 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 Wellcare Marketplace is, don’t worry, the food and drink here stand on their own.

However, in case you want to know, Nurture is home to a number of wellness-focused businesses – from counseling to beauty services. And his cafe serves healthy food and drinks that largely follow suit. There are menu items like reishi mushroom coffee cake, elixirs and broths and kale chips. Then there are the “Detox” cocktails, a few 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 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 is solid, but the pho is really where it belongs. You have three broth options: traditional, house (a spicy riff on traditional), and vegan (all $ 10.50), along with protein options like tofu, rare fillet, brisket, and grilled shrimp. If the epic mural by Jon Pucci in the dining room worried you, this place is all lightning and no substance, this pho broth will change your mind forever. The fragrant traditional variant 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 healing tonic because it just might be like that.

There’s a small drinks menu with options like a fun lemongrass and a Thai basil-filled reef on a mojito ($ 10.50), as well as 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 had fun with the easy-going bartender by making my new favorite off-menu cocktail: coconut water with rum, lemongrass, and fresh Thai basil. – Beth Rankin

1600 E. 17th Avenue, 720-535-7274, phoandbar.com

The new Temaki Den is located in the Source Market Hall and offers sushi bar seating with plexiglass between the chefs and guests. (Josie Küster, The Denver Post)

Temaki Den

Here’s the kind of sushi bar Denver didn’t know was absolutely necessary. Temaki Den is named for its signature sushi style and specializes in hand rolls made only from fish (or vegetables) and rice, all wrapped in crispy nori (seaweed) for a casual sushi snack that is great for lunch and dinner Dinner that fits late into the night or happy hour.

Chefs Toshi Kizaki (Sushi Den, Izakaya Den) and Kenta Kamo (OTOTO Den) and their team have mastered this fish-rice-algae combination in their mini-sushi empire in Denver’s South Pearl Street. 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 rice-wrapped sushi, nigiri, sashimi, starters, and desserts.

The entire menu is actually small enough to be eaten over the course of a few sessions, but you’ll likely want to keep coming back for this rare type of no-frills sushi place. Don’t forget to combine the fish with sake or whiskey as well.

3350 Brighton Boulevard. (located in Source Market Hall), 720-465-9263, temakiden.com

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