2022 is off to an energetic start across Denver’s restaurant scene. Longtime chefs and restaurateurs expand their imprints on the city, and Denver also welcomes some promising newcomers. Thanks to seasonal fare in a revamped art museum, a cocktail bar with live entertainment, and two expanding seafood concepts, now is the time to make a reservation and take a hearty bite of the Mile High City.
Blue Island Oyster Bar Lone Tree (Lone Tree)
Fresh oysters have finally landed in Lone Tree thanks to Shucking Good Hospitality, who owns a second location of this seafood spot in Cherry Creek. The newly opened Lone Tree outpost is steered by chef Sean Huggard, and just like he does at the sibling spot, Huggard sources the bivalves from Blue Island Shellfish Farms in his hometown on Long Island, New York. The theme here is coastal, and the light blues and gray tones of the new restaurant give diners the sense that they are surrounded by the ocean.
Aside from oysters, the menu features a raw bar full of king crab legs, sushi rolls and ahi tuna poke laced with mango and sweet-lime sauce. Book a seat now — this vibrant neighborhood spot is expected to fill up daily.
Five Nines (Cherry Creek)
This swanky cocktail bar opens on February 9 inside Cherry Creek’s Clayton Members Club & Hotel. There’s plenty of hype already, and it’s not just because of the well-crafted, three-part cocktail menu—expect twists on classics such as the house-made ginger syrup in a Pimm’s Cup, and wild mixes like the mezcal-fueled Forged in Fire—and inventive small bites (think lobster corn dogs, grilled mushrooms with chimichurri, and disco tots with shaved prime rib, gravy, and cheese curds). What also makes Five Nines stand out is the pop-up entertainment program, hosted by Denver-based aerial troupe and dance ensemble Hard Candy Dancers. As diners enjoy their drinks and food, every 45 minutes or so there will be various stage acts including contortionism and burlesque. Five Nines is already taking reservations, and spots for this Wednesday-through-Saturday nighttime venue are booking up fast.
Three Saints Revival (Downtown)
With whimsical decor, influenced by bohemian, turn-of-the-century Paris—psychedelic wallpaper and globe lights—non-traditional Mediterranean eats, and a vibe that’s more party than restaurant, Three Saints Revival is located inside the Hotel Indigo. Since opening in November 2021, this large, energetic restaurant has garnered a bit of a cult following. Go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and late-night bites.
The menu features an array of small plates from a mint-flecked babaganoush to lamb meatballs to kale and cabbage salad. At dinner, choose from a selection of European cheeses and charcuterie, as well as even more tapas options. The drinks menu is just as fun, and the craft cocktails showcase a similar Spanish-American fusion to the small bites. Book a reservation now (a visit at the hotel is optional).
The Ponti at the Denver Art Museum (Downtown)
Chef Jennifer Jasinski settles into a new home craft with this intimate spot in the newly renovated Denver Art Museum. The Ponti kitchen is led by executive chef Ben Love, who handles the day-to-day creations of locally sourced bites such as trout ravigote, a vegan tempeh reuben sandwich, roasted half chicken with lemon-thyme jus, chocolate banana bread, and more. Named after the Italian architect Gio Ponti, who designed the original Denver Art Museum, this well-trafficked restaurant is one diners will want to book ahead for, especially on the weekends.
Since its opening in October 2021, art lovers and locals have flocked to the 90-seat dining room, eager to delve into a comforting gourmet grilled cheese or cozy mezze plate. Sit at a stand-alone table in the front of the restaurant, one of the plush, rose-colored chairs at the long, marble-topped bar, or reserve a table on the other side of the slender space.
The seasoned owners of this Littleton restaurant now bring their Nepalese-and Indian-influenced food to a new spot in the Denver suburbs. The menu here features gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free entrees, including gobi manchurian (cauliflower in a soy-tomato-garlic sauce), minced lamb kebab, and sweet potato masala. Another house specialty is the power salad, which comes with sprouted black and mung beans, paneer, mango, cucumber, onions, cilantro, and your choice of grilled protein (chicken, shrimp, lamb, or salmon). Sukoon, the fourth restaurant owned by the team that runs Zaika Indian Cuisine, Mehak India’s Aroma, and Nirvana Culinary Paradise, opened its doors in September 2021.
Water Grill (LoDo)
Opening in the first week of February, this is the first Denver location of the popular mini-chain owned and operated by the Southern California-based, family-owned King’s Seafood Company. Diners can expect the latest seasonal catches of finfish, shellfish, lobster, crab, and oysters. There’s a large raw menu to choose from, as well as sushi rolls, whole crustaceans, whole roasted fish, and even some steaks. The drinks menu, though small, is no less tantalizing, mixing classic cocktails with innovative options, local beers, and a large selection of sparkling wine.
Take a seat at the copper-topped bar or reserve a table along the curved banquet. Much of the decor is crafted from reclaimed wood, which lends the space a cozy, nautical feel, like you’re dining in a yacht’s cabin.