Every year, we foodies Charger 303 seek out the crème de la crème and become regulars at many illustrious locations. From the chef’s creations that shocked our taste buds to an atmosphere that made us feel right at home, each location deserves the utmost recognition. 2022 has given treasures new and old time to shine.
A special thank you to all the culinary masterminds and mixologists who rock our food and alcohol scene in Denver. Finally, here’s our curated list of personal favorites that we think have improved this year (in no particular order).
Where: 233 Clayton Street, Denver
Hours: Sunday to Monday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The truth : Kini’s is a new Greek concept, skillfully creating and serving transcendent dishes inside the Clayton. From the entrance, its intimate and warm atmosphere evokes coastal Greece. The light blues reflect beautifully on the mirrored walls, allowing patrons to witness the bustle around them as dish after dish leaves the pass. The service is admirable and the drinks delicious, but its brilliance lies in the food. Whether you stop for a light bite or a full meal, you’ll leave with a grateful stomach. His Flambéed Kasseri cheese ($18) is a star in its own right – a smart, smoky, melt-in-your-mouth starter. Try her Moroccan Fried Chicken ($72) for a date night, finished with harissa honey and lemon yogurt. Its sides include crispy Lemon Grass Cottage Fries ($10) and buttered Cacio and Pepe Orzo ($10), a melting experience that will leave you craving more than one taste. Enrich your experience with a cocktail or food and wine pairing from its generous menu and I promise you will leave satisfied.
Where: 227 Clayton Street, Denver
Hours: Monday to Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., Friday to Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., Sunday from 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
The truth : Although Forget Me Not opened its inviting doors in 2021, it still holds a special place in the heart of this young cocktail lover. Its thoughtful name is not only an ode to the florist who once lived on the premises, but also mimics the purpose of those who enter – a wish to create lasting memories. Its atmosphere is cozy yet elegant, with pleasant colors contrasted by leafy greens that bring an uplifting and lively sensibility. Its dignified interiors complement its masterful, relatively delicately crafted cocktails. A favorite is his 82 moons ($14) which starts with a vodka base and is then beautifully built with vanilla, passion fruit, ginger and Campari. However, any choice on its playful menu is worth trying. This choice walks the line between wild and luxury – in the best possible way.
Where: 233 Clayton Street, Denver
Hours: Sunday to Monday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight
The truth : One of the newest concepts from the Quality Branded group of restaurants, Cretans is a Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant located in Cherry Creek North. Although the space is a scene straight out of a 1970s cocktail bar, the menu offers a modern take on more traditional Mediterranean-inspired small plates. Some of the more notable bites include a smoked king salmon with creme fraiche ($16) and Prosciutto Tanara 24 months with black truffle chips ($21). Although the wine list is long and extensive, it is the martinis to pour ($16) that get the most attention. With three brine options ranging from spicy pepperoncini and caper gibson to feta-stuffed olives, these dirty vodka martinis are deviously good. If you are a salty, salty eater like me, Cretans will not disappoint.
Where: 4001 Tejon Street, Denver
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The truth : OtherAlthough Necio is a superb Mexican restaurant with out-of-this-world Latin dishes, the bar menu is eye-catching and takes traditional margaritas to another level. When you’re out for drinks with friends, an overpriced cocktail list can be overwhelming. Instead, try ordering her tamarind margarita ($13) topped with strings of tamarindo and lined with Mexican candies or the famous frozen Don Julio 70 margaritas which have recorded more than 6.5 million views on TikTok.
Where: 2100 S University Suite B, Denver
Hours: Open 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
The truth : While Saucy’s has graced Denver with the signal since 2018, this year marked the debut of its magnificent brick-and-mortar University of Denver area. The owners Khristian Matthews and Ki’erre Dawkins serve their version of Mississippi-style meats — think charcoal-grilled wings and finger-lickin’ ribs. What was once a cart with a warranty the after-lunch sale is now a Chipotle-style counter with screaming funk, hip-hop and a seemingly endless supply of know-your-name-and-order-style hospitality. He was a favorite, and he just keeps getting better.
READ: Saucy’s Southern Barbecue and Cuisine finally launches its brick and mortar
Where: 1616 Market Street, Denver.
Hours: Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The truth : In February, celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre opened his first restaurant outside of Los Angeles. The Michelin-starred chef has developed a loyal fan base for Trois Mec and Petit Trois, who have helped many Angelenos understand the very real mystique of classic French cuisine. Chez Maggy — a large dining room at the foot of the Thompson Hotel — continues in the same vein, though Colorado-born and raised chef Jeff Schwing takes care of the bulk of the local cuisine. Dishes like his Foie Gras Toast ($32), French Burger ($28) and Filet of tenderloin ($55) with Sauce Aux Poivres are just a few pillars of what is currently one of the most splendid dining experiences in the city.
Where: 3258 Larimer Street, Denver
Hours: Monday to Friday: 5pm to 10pm, Saturday: 4pm to 10pm, Sunday: 5pm to 9pm (please note that the menu is smaller on Sunday evenings)
The truth : If I could use one word to describe dining at Greenwich, it would be “soul”. From the gorgeous murals that line the alley entrance to the photographs adorning the teal walls, The Greenwich exudes the spirit of New York City. Each menu item incorporates something unique to put an interesting spin on classic dishes that give dinner a whole new experience, and it really is the best roast chicken I have ever eaten. Go there the next time you have friends or family over, they will surely not be disappointed.
READ: Delores Tronco brings village soul to RiNo with new restaurant The Greenwich
Where: 5713 Olde Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight and closed on Sunday and Monday.
The truth : If you live in Arvada, you know that good cocktail bars are hard to find. Olde Town has improved a lot over the years and until recently The Arvada Tavern was one of the only legit cocktail bars in the area. That changed in 2021 with The Stockroom. Jhe owners of Spirits Wine Provisions – a wine shop and liquor store in Olde Town – turned their old stash into a speakeasy where customers could ask to “help pack boxes in the stash” to be escorted to the interior. After several months and a bit more seating, they made the venue more well-known through signage outside the liquor store. It always seems like a secret, and their cocktails are superb. The menu consists of classic cocktails followed by the bartenders riff on this cocktail. Think of a classic margarita and riff like a marg mezcal with a seasonal, herbal twist. Worth a visit to try their riffs for yourself.
Do you have a personal favorite of ’22? Let us know in the comments!