Three new Korean eateries, two bustling cafe-bar venues, and one purveyor of uniquely kaleidoscopic xiaolongbao are just a few of the fresh concepts that have made Denver more delicious in the past few months. Three years since COVID-19 hit Colorado’s restaurant industry hard, things are looking up: The state is fifth in the nation in restaurant employment recovery since February 2020, and trends like food trucks expanding into non-mobile locations indicate that locals are raring to dine in. (If you’re reading this, you likely are, too.) With so many recent openings, we’ve surveyed the scene’s newcomers to bring the best of the brand new. Here, 16 spots you should pop by this season and beyond.

Editor’s note: This is a snapshot of the best new restaurants in Denver, updated quarterly. See the best new restaurants of 2021 here. Not seeing one of your new favorites? Let us know at [email protected].

Coark Collective

Various takeout dishes on a wooden table at Coark Collective.
Seafood ramen, beef sub, and Korean street toast from Coark Collective. Photo by Ethan Pan

The Denver metro’s first Asian food hall, Coark Collective has been delivering delectable bibimbap, crispy croffles, and other largely Korean-centric fare since January of this year. With nine food and drink vendors (and even a small ceramics studio where you can take pottery classes), you can satisfy whatever you’re craving—light bites and bubble tea or a full dinner of tteokbokki, seafood ramen, and Korean fried chicken. Regardless, you place your order for all of the stalls at the front of the Centennial food hall, meaning there’s no need to wait in separate lines (TVs near the dining area will display your order number when it’s ready). A rare-in-Colorado highlight is the griddled Korean street toast, which packs a veggie-filled omelet, a slice of ham, melted cheese, and a gochujang-based sauce between two slices of sandwich bread; the surprisingly sweet sammie can be prepared from “baby” to “mad” spicy. Fun fact: Coark Collective operates out of the shell of an old Golden Corral, which customers familiar with the chain will immediately recognize by its storefront. 15775 E. Arapahoe Rd., Centennial —Ethan Pan

Hey Kiddo

One plate with assorted meats and a box of tossed rice at best new Denver restaurant Hey Kiddo.
A dinner spread at Hey Kiddo. Photo by Ethan Pan

Founded in January by the team behind current 5280 25 Best restaurant the Wolf’s Tailor and Brutø—whose executive chef Michael Diaz de Leon just became a James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Mountain—Hey Kiddo is Berkeley’s newest spot for elevated, Asian-inspired eats. (Literally, the restaurant is on the third floor of its Tennyson Street building.) Instead of assembled entrée plates, the menu is structured around shareables, central proteins, and sides. Try the Korean fried popcorn chicken to start, then pair the Wagyu beef short rib and/or char siu duck breast (depending on how hungry you are) with the chef’s rice shaken tableside and the must-try grilled mushrooms seasoned with bitter melon ponzu. To drink, we recommend the brandy-based, raspberry-forward Peacewalker, but if you can hold off until after dinner, head to Okay Yeah, a separate bar concept tucked away in the back of Hey Kiddo, which slings bespoke drinks tailored to your tastes. 4337 Tennyson St., Suite 300 —EP


The roller skate wall at Postino Boulder. Photo courtesy of Postino Boulder

Coloradans can’t get enough of Postino. Case in point: The Arizona-based wine bar and restaurant just debuted a fifth Front Range location on Boulder’s Pearl Street. Every Postino sports nods to the history of its building or neighborhood—think: the Broadway location’s wall of concert playbills—and this outpost is no exception. At the Boulder spot, patrons can dine below a display of vintage roller skates honoring Mork and Mindy, a sitcom with scenes filmed in the college town. The menu has everything that Postino is known for, including hearty bruschetta and charcuterie boards and an impressive selection of wines by the glass. Snag a sunny table on the patio for daily happy hour, when you can take advantage of $6 glasses of wine and pitchers of beer until 5 p.m. 1468 Pearl St., Suite 110, Boulder —PK

LaTinto Café

After years of La Chiva customers bugging chef-owner Jorge Aguirre for Colombian breads and pastries, he finally heeded their calls this past February with LaTinto Café, a Latin American bakery and cafe located at the former La Chiva location in Overland (it relocated across the street two years ago). LaTinto’s bakery case is filled with traditional Colombian baked goods like the pastel gloria, a crispy puff pastry stuffed with dulce de leche and guava paste, and the pandebono, a yuca-based bread with a buttery, crispy crust and a chewy, cheesy interior. LaTinto also serves platters representative of hearty Colombian farmers’ breakfasts. The absolute favorite is the caldo de costilla soup—large chunks of beef ribs and potatoes floating in a clear broth sprinkled with cilantro. “Our purpose, as it’s always been with La Chiva, is to bring a little bit of our culture to the area,” Aguirre says. 1417 S. Broadway —Helen Xu

Side Pony

Side Pony
A charcuterie board at Side Pony. Photo by Ethan Pan

While you won’t find Pony Up’s crowd-pleasing French dips and karaage chicken tenders on the menu at month-old sister concept Side Pony, the all-day coffeeshop and bar has other draws. Owner Angela Neri partnered with Jen Sevcik—the owner of Original Glam (a medical spa) and Duality (a fitness studio), Side Pony’s neighbors—to bring the casual dining concept to life in the small business complex off West Colfax. Inside, grab a seat at the bar or in the small seating area—featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a colorful portrait of Sevcik’s dog by artist Patrick McGregor—to pair a charcuterie board with a Jenny from the Block marg (the drink lineup is curated by Pony Up head bartender Krista Orlebeck). Keeping it zero-proof? Go for a cortado made with Queen City Coffee Collective java. 4635. W. Colfax Ave. —PK

Reckless Noodles

Grilled beef in betel leaves at Reckless Noodles. Photo by Ethan Pan

Transplanted from Seattle this past December, Reckless Noodles in Capitol Hill has fast become a swanky, neon-lit fixture for creative cocktails and noodles influenced by various East and Southeast Asian cuisines, reflective of chef Kenny Lee’s Chinese Cambodian heritage and travels in Thailand. The food menu is especially driven by takes on Vietnamese classics like bò lá lốt, grilled chopped ribeye steak rolled in “betel” leaves (leaves from the lolot plant often called “betel” in English; the real betel plant is much stronger in flavor). Don’t miss the chả cá lã vọng—wok-seared turmeric rockfish with Vietnamese rice vermicelli, toasted-chile-and-lime fish sauce, coconut cream, and ample fresh herbs like dill, cilantro, mint, and Thai basil. It works well with an equally flavor-packed beverage, like the tequila-based Dirty Sanchez flavored with blood orange, tamarind, and a chile salt rim. 800 N. Sherman St. —EP

Little Finch

LoDo gained a fresh day-to-night dining destination, thanks to the arrival of two-month-old Little Finch. The concept is an offshoot of Olive & Finch, a cafe with locations in Uptown and Cherry Creek known for its expansive all-day breakfast menu, coffee, and baked goodies. Now devotees of chef-restaurateur Mary Nguyen’s house-made Pop-Tarts, mini cakes, and cookies can get them at Little Finch on Blake Street in addition to a lineup of sharable eats and daily specials. Get the simple yet delicious sardines and butter—a tin of fish accompanied by a crusty baguette, lemon, and olive-tapenade-zinged spread—or the brie en croûte, creamy cheese baked in a flaky pastry shell. And don’t leave without grabbing a sweet treat to-go, such as the creamy fresh-fruit-crowned cheesecake. 1490 16th St. Mall —PK


Rice dogs at Myungrang. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Korean rice dog lovers, rejoice. Myungrang, a California-based mega chain with more than 600 locations nationwide, turned the fryers on at its first Colorado location in Aurora in early 2023. At the no-frills fast-casual joint, you can order indulgences on a stick such as melty cheddar enshrined in a crispy dough and coated in crushed Hot Cheetos or a juicy frank snuggled in a crunchy potato coating. For a sweet-savory treat, try the version filled with mozzarella cheese and sausage; fried in a squid-ink-infused rice flour batter; and rolled in sugar. Note: There’s only one table for in-store dining, so be prepared to take your order to-go.  2623 S. Parker Rd., Aurora —PK

Bryan’s Dumpling House

One-month-old Bryan’s Dumpling House in the Denver Tech Center is a family affair, run by duo Xiaolong Hao and Carina Wang and named after their 18-month-old son, Bryan. And when you sit down to dine in the small but airy restaurant accented with wood tables and pastel blue leather seats, you’ll feel like family too, due to the mouth-watering array of shareable dishes spanning China’s diverse culinary regions. Come for the signature (and Instagram-worthy) sampler of eight rainbow-colored xiaolongbao dumplings, each tinted with a color that represents a special ingredient within (green for spinach, black for mushrooms, red for Sichuan), but stay for the selection of traditional noodles, wok-fired dishes, and fresh accompaniments. Don’t miss the tangy, vinegar-dressed wood ear mushrooms—a meaty and crunchy fungi native to China—or the silky mapo tofu swimming in a tongue-tingling sauce made with Sichuan peppercorns and ground pork. 8000 E. Belleview Ave., Suite B45, Greenwood Village —Riane Menardi Morrison

Molotov Kitschen & Cocktails

Bo Porytko—who is known for his playful and inventive interpretations of classic American and global cuisines at Misfit Snack Bar inside Middleman—looked to his roots to hatch Molotov. His nearly three-month-old East Colfax restaurant serves elevated eastern European cuisine in an intimate space decorated with lace curtains, cuckoo clocks, and an eye-catching floral installation (inspired by the vinok, a traditional Ukrainian headdress). Jareb Parker, Porytko’s business partner and the owner of Middleman, designed the space, while beverage manager Jason Randall (formerly of Rebel Restaurant) crafted the cocktails. Build a feast of small plates from the roster of zakushy (bites) such as the dill-crème-fraîche rutabaga latke and pork-pâte-stuffed pelmeni (dumplings)—both of which play well with the fruity Pysanky, a drink infused with horika (a Ukrainian alcoholic beverage). Then share a family-style main like the sherry-braised rabbit in a clay pot shrouded with puff pastry. Seating is limited, so reservations are recommended. 3333 E. Colfax Ave. —PK

Gaucho Parilla

Oscar Padilla (second from the right) and his team at Gaucho Parilla. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

In December 2022, chef Oscar Padilla left his station as executive chef of Richard Sandoval’s Toro to start his own venture: Gaucho Parilla, an Argentinian-inspired food stall that opened in Arvada’s Freedom Street Social this past January slinging wood-fired proteins such as chorizo, skirt steak, and blood sausage alongside Latin-style tapas. Just weeks after the doors opened, he won Food Network’s Chopped competition, which aired in February. During the “pig candy”–themed show, he demonstrated his skill with a grill by treating judges to flame-kissed flavors found in Gaucho Parilla’s signature dishes. To eat like them, sample Padilla’s tender Churrasco a la Brasca—an eight-ounce skirt steak drizzled with vibrant chimichurri sauce and accompanied by thick-cut patatas bravas—or the crispy fried buñuelos, Latin street-style donuts laced with dulce de leche, cocoa-spiced sugar, and raspberry foam. Freedom Street Social, 15177 Candelas Parkway, Arvada —RMM

Tofu Story

Restaurateur J.W. Lee and the team at Seoul Hospitality Group have driven Denver’s Korean food scene for years, with a portfolio spanning concepts like Mono Mono Korean Fried ChickenSeoul Korean BBQ & Hot Pot, and Seoul ManDoo. Tofu Story in Aurora, their newest venture, opened in January and expands the empire with a unique trademark: housemade tofu. As Tofu Story’s second outpost (the first location is in Queens, New York), this stylish, airy restaurant specializes in spicy soondubu stews featuring silken tofu made daily in a dedicated open-view tofu kitchen. Round out your meal with the gamjajeon potato pancake (a chewier, plate-size version of a latke or hashbrown); the splurge-worthy, soy-sauce-marinated raw crab; and the pressure-cooked rice, which toasts in its cooking vessel while remaining soft on the palate. Pro tip: Pick up containers of firm, soft, or exceedingly rare black tofu to cook at home. 2060 S. Havana St., Aurora —EP

My Neighbor Felix

Earlier this month, the long-anticipated opening of the Centennial location of My Neighbor Felix gave south suburbanites something to rave about—evidenced by the up-to-two-hour wait lists that patrons have gladly endured. Red neon signs and a two-story wall of faux greenery anchor the sprawling Latin-inspired wonderland visible from I-25, while hanging lanterns, geometric fabrics, and a towering central bar provide eye candy throughout. The menu, developed and led by chef Johnny Curiel, features favorites from the LoHi and Boulder locations but adds new DTC-specific entrées such as a 10-ounce skirt steak set atop a bed of roasted corn and charred jalepeño, and tender Chilean sea bass served on a wooden plank with potatoes, cucumbers, corn, fresh salsas, and tortillas. Complete your trip down the rabbit hole with one of Felix’s signature margaritas. We like the white, social-media-ready elderflower marg garnished with a sprig of baby’s breath. 7209 S. Clinton St., Centennial —RMM

Mountain Thai Kitchen

A plate of noodles and a plate of sliced flatbread with sauce.
The prik pao noodles and roti appetizer at Mountain Thai Kitchen. Photo by Ethan Pan

Many food trucks aim to open brick-and-mortars, and Mountain Thai Kitchen has succeeded at just that. Sopit and Bruce Buckman opened their food truck at the beginning of the pandemic and, after cultivating a loyal fanbase, transitioned to operating a permanent Broomfield location last September. Standout dishes include the prik pao noodles stir-fried in a slightly sweet sauce perfumed with deep roasted red chiles, as well as the roti canai—a flakier version of Indian roti developed after British colonists brought large swathes of Indian immigrants to Southeast Asia. While Thai roti is often served with curries or made into a dessert with bananas and condensed milk, Mountain Thai offers it with a satay-like peanut sauce, making it an excellent vegetarian alternative for those craving the sweet-and-salty meat skewers. Check Mountain Thai’s Facebook for up-to-date changes to the business’s hours and menu (like quick-to-sell-out mango sticky rice). 1000 Depot Hill Road, Broomfield —EP

22 Provisions

Two half-cut hoagies on metal plates with fries and sauces from best new Denver restaurant 22 Provisions.
The Philly cheesesteak and roast pork sandwiches at 22 Provisions. Photo by Ethan Pan

Owners Quincy Cherrett and Kevin Channell have taken their 22 Provisions food truck to the next level with a one-month-old food stall in LoHi’s Avanti Food & Beverage. Go for creative versions of East Coast classics influenced by the owners’ fine dining backgrounds: the Philly cheesesteak features in-house Cheese Whiz made with American and cheddar cheeses melted into thyme-and-garlic-infused heavy cream. Cherrett, formerly the executive chef at Izakaya Den and Sushi Den, piles the roast pork sandwich (another iconic Philly hoagie) with meat he brines for two days, provolone, and charred broccolini inside a crispy City Bakery Italian roll. Even without a side of fries, the sandwiches at 22 Provisions are uber-filling, so don’t be afraid to ask for one half to-go. Avanti Food & Beverage, 3200 Pecos St. —EP

Bistro Vendôme

Bistro Vendome
Steak frites at Bistro Vendôme. Photo by Brittany Anas

In late February, Bistro Vendôme, the Crafted Concepts’ restaurant that dished out upscale French cuisine in Larimer Square for nearly two decades, settled into a new location off Kearney Street in Park Hill. Black-awning-shaded windows and a gated front patio beckon patrons inside the date-night-ready eatery, where the friendly waitstaff are ready to present you with bistro fare produced by executive chef Jeremy Wolgamott. Start with the escargot rôti, snails bathed in absinthe-spiked butter, then dig into the grilled hanger steak frites, which is accompanied by crunchy shoestring potatoes coated in a sweet-savory Champagne gastrique.  2267 Kearney St. —PK