This noisy, nautically-themed shrine to the brine set sail in LoDo over eighteen years ago, but even now, it’s packed to the gills with hipster crowds that suck down oysters at the convivial bar that stretches from the front door to the exhibition kitchen and showcases a gleaming ice display of fresh seafood. The partially-open kitchen cranks out pan-roasted Steelhead trout, seared sea scallops tangling with curried carrots and a Maine lobster roll bolstered by the addition of bacon lardons, while the crew that mans the long counter is responsible for turning out gumbos and chowders, caviar and tuna poke, peel-and-eat shrimp and steamed mussels. The cocktails are some of Denver’s best liquid assets, and the bar team even makes its own alcohol-free root beer and ginger beer. Sit in the sun-filled space for a quick bite, or linger over seafood delights not often found in Denver.
With nods from USA Today, CBS News, and The Washington Post, Rodizio Grill has made a name for itself as an authentic Brazilian charrascuria?a South American?style rotisserie. Founded by S?o Paolo?born Ivan Utrera, the cuisine comprises of select cuts of meat, which are slow-roasted on a spit and then skewered. It also features fish, grilled pineapple, and unlimited trips to an award-winning salad bar with over 40 items. Gauchos?also known as Brazilian cowboys?bustle about the restaurant, bringing unlimited slices of tender meat to diners who can also grab fresh vegetables and homemade salads at the gourmet salad bar, as well as enjoy Brazilian appetizers served directly to the table.
When pressed for his motivations behind HBurgerCo, managing partner Pete Pflum told a reporter from Dining Out, "It's my favorite meal from childhood," before adding that the burger is "accepted as a meal unto itself—especially when you're using the best meat, baked goods, and fixings." Housed in a sleek but familiar space designed by Robin Smith Designs, the head chef conjures inventive burgers, while soda jerks also harness the combined power of local spirits and liquid nitrogen to craft inventive cocktails and milk shakes. Patties hand-formed from locally-sourced Angus beef, lamb, turkey, veggies, and buffalo arrive at tables crowned with eclectic toppings including fried eggs and asian slaw, complimented by a create-your-own-salad menu. Draft brews pour into glasses cooled with liquid nitrogen, which prevents libations from getting warm and snowmen from getting bartending gigs.
When to Go: For a more casual, slightly less expensive meal, swing by for happy hour (2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday–Saturday), when select appetizers, wines, and cocktails are served at a discount.
In the Press
Inside Tip: Do not ask for ketchup. Beyond the fact that it's a faux pas at upscale restaurants, Chef Lon Symensma just can't stand the stuff. As he told an interviewer for Westworld, one of his first apartments was next door to a Heinz factory, which permeated the air with the smell of tomatoes and vinegar. This experience left the chef with a strong aversion to the popular condiment.
Cholon: literally translates to "big market," and it's also the name of the largest Chinese market in Saigon, Vietnam.
Pandan: a fragrant, almost-floral herb used in Southeast Asian cooking. At ChoLon, Chef Symensma tosses it into his Singapore-style chicken and rice.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Whet your appetite with a trip to EVOO Marketplace (1338 15th Street), where you can sample gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
After: Sip a nightcap at Mario's Double Daugher's Salotto (1632 Market Street), a dimly lit lounge with a Grimm's fairy tale kind of feel.
Hip urbanites, downtown denizens and multi-cultural culinary fiends all flock to Margs Taco Bistro, a trendy downtown Mexican joint known for its fresh fruit margaritas and globetrotting tacos. The urbanized interior is a mash up of exposed brick, shelves of tequila, chartreuse banquettes and eclectic light fixtures, all of which set the scene for a party vibe that extends to the streetside patio. Tacos arrive in multiple guises: pork with pickled cucumbers, scallions, sriracha and hoisin sauce; tempura-battered shrimp topped with ropes of cabbage and avocado; and lamb crowned with lettuce, cucumber-tomato relish and tzatziki sauce scented with mint. The sampler platter comes with a half-dozen different tacos, served with rice and beans. The daily happy hour, which runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., features $5 house margaritas and $2 cans of PBR, Tecate and Modelo Especial, making it way too easy to sneak away from your cubicle.
At Fogo de Chao, a behemoth Brazilian churrascaria in the heart of LoDo, skewer-wielding, Gaucho-costumed servers in puffy black pants saunter from table to table, tempting carnivores with more than a dozen different meats – think filet mignon, top sirloin, sausage, salted ribeye and mint-marinated lamb – that are carved tableside and plucked off the skewers with tiny tongs. And the meat just keeps on coming and coming until you flip your coaster to red, which indicates that your belly needs a break from the gluttony. Luckily, there’s an impressive salad bar, too – but like the meat parade, it’s hardly pedestrian: imported cheeses, breads, hearts of palm and marinated vegetables, including artichokes, stock the display, which is replenished long before anything has vanished. With its comfortable seating and elegant touches, Fogo de Chao is perfect for a special occasion, or just a meat-frenzied evening with friends.