It’s that time of year again where resolutions are made and round ups are written. Secret Denver’s editor (that’s me) has decided to take over for this article so we could get the scoop on our staff writer, Jessica’s, favorite restaurant openings of 2021 and why they made such an impact on her. We appreciate all of our readers over the past year as Secret Denver has grown, and we hope this list gives you a little spark of inspiration for spots to enjoy as we transition into 2022. Read on for Jessica’s favorites!
While Prost Brewing itself didn’t open this year, they did open a brand new Highlands location, and thus, are a great way to kick off the list. Take the short drive over to Highands and prost with a delicious German-style pilsner or hefeweizen.
“The Highland location is really something else! I love the heated outdoor patio (great for this time of year) plus it offers really nice views of the mountains. I love coming here with my friends on the weekends when the weather is clear.” -Jessica
YumCha had their grand opening this fall, and we couldn’t be more excited to see them. From the minds of chef Michelle Xiao and Lon Symnesma, the two combined their talent, experience, and passion for Asian cuisine into chewy soup dumplings and hot bowls of noodly broth.
“Asian food is my favorite cuisine of all time so I was really intrigued to see how YumCha would incorporate different Asian flavor profiles into Chinese dumplings. My favorites are definitely the Vietnamese Pho Soup Dumplings.” -Jessica
La Diabla is Denver’s first eatery dedicated to Pozole, and it’s about time. The menu changes frequently to reflect their local and sustainable approach, and they import their corn from Masienda, a company that takes care to import the ingredient from Mexico.
“I’m Latin American, so my family didn’t grow up eating pozole, but I used to eat it with my friends when I’d go to their houses. So I was excited to see an authentic and modern take on the pozoleria. I’m really into their Tuesday chorizo taco deal though, where from 12-6pm on Tuesdays you can get their Tres Chorizo tacos for only $3.” -Jessica
The Juicy Lucy is a Minneapolis-native recipe that’s, essentially, two beef patties surrounding a ball of American cheese that’s, once sealed, creates an oooey-gooey pocket of cheese inside a burger patty. The owner, Michelle McGlone’s partner, Nate Collis, was even the man behind the grill at the original Minneapolis spot that created the Juicy Lucy, Matt’s Bar & Grill.
“Cheese. Stuffed. Burgers. Do I need to say anymore? Welcome to Denver, Lucy’s!” -Jessica
Three Saints Revival celebrates their “holy trinity” which boils down to wine, tapas, and spirits.
“I love the concept of tapas because I really like to have a lot of options to try on the table. Plus, I can’t resist a good, full menu of wine. I’d highly recommend trying the Albariño if you like whites. It’s a slightly sweet Spanish wine. Or go for the berry-flavored, full bodies Syrah from Sonoma California.”
Denver’s newest all-day listening bar, Esp Hi-Fi, offers a lounge to explore different types of vinyl records, ranging between multiple different genres and even languages, alongside craft coffee, cocktails, and natural wine. They opened this fall and will require vaccination cards to enter starting in 2022.
“I’m a sucker for natural wine and chill lounges, so this is a cool spot to go to with my friends on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon. Definitely a unique spot, and I’m excited to see another vinyl spot open in town.”
Awake is Denver’s very first sober bar, which could come as a shock considering the city’s swimming in classy cocktail bars and breweries in every neighborhood. For those who are leading sober lives, enjoy coffee and mocktails, or need to be up early tomorrow morning, Awake is the answer.
“The concept was so cool that I had to try it! It’s nice to be able to enjoy that bar atmosphere without the grogginess the next morning, plus the drinks are so good I don’t even miss the liquor.” -Jessica
The Electric Cure arrived in Edgewater with a splash, serving up craft tiki cocktails in an eccentric lounge that features velvet paintings and neon, and has continued to be in the limelight since its opening.
“I love how much they’ve collaborated with the local community, plus, they base a lot of their events on popular culture. From their Festivus event this season from the Iconic Seinfeld series to their Grinch and Krampus photo opps. They’re fun and kooky and the type of place you want to keep up with all year round to see what they get into.” -Jessica
What do you get when you mixed craft drinks, dive bars, and horror? You get Slashers, the horror dive bar that took over the other horror-themed spot that hit Denver this year, but is in no way affiliated with the previous owners. They came to Denver during the summer time to provide a spot for good drinks, good vibes, and weekly horror screenings.
“I’m a huge fan of horror films and craft booze so it’s a no-brainer that Slashers made its way onto this list. Plus, I love that Slashers is run by two women, since we don’t see a lot of women leading horror bars.” -Jessica
10. Grange Hall
Ghost and concept kitchens still held strong this year in 2021, and now Denver’s got a hall dedicated to eight new, innovative kitchens from Chef Troy Guard. Grange Hall opened in September and has given Denver a great new location for beers, bites, and brunch!
“I’m obsessed with food halls and so I was really excited to give Grange Hall a try. I love good coffee so of course, Eiskaffee is one of my favorite stops here. Then I’ll grab a hearty bite at RadoBurger for lunch. I always go for their classic Rado Burger, double, with an extra pickle on the side.”
A new concept from Juan Padró’s collective, Culinary Creative, comes this modern-meets-retro steakhouse, A5, as sleek as it is tasty. Denver has been lacking on some good steakhouses, and A5 saw the gap and prepared to fill it with locally sourced steaks and fresh seafood.
“There’s no question, you have to order the rich four-ounce Japanese Wagyu striploin and an oyster. Then you can die happy.” -Jessica
12. Tí Cafe
Tí Cafe opened by three sisters, Sashaline, Shominic, an Shasitie Nguyen was Denver’s first Vietnamese coffee shop to hit the scene and was a welcome addition to Denver.
“I love that this cafe is run by three Vietnamese sisters who are creating a product that represents their heritage while also just making good, stand out coffee. I love the toasty flavor of green Hojicha tea with oat milk, so I usually will opt for that since it’s not something that’s available everywhere. When it’s warmer out, I’ll definitely be back for a good strong, Vietnamese Iced Coffee.”