westword.com – There was a time when restaurants were simply places where people went to eat. There was no fanfare, no celebration of celebrity chefs, and no hot new dishes. But these days, food is news, whether it’s the next big restaurant opening, a TV appearance from one of our favorite cooks, or a search for the best ramen, pizza or tacos.
The people behind the restaurants are as interesting as the food itself; their personalities flow through established Denver institutions and pop up in new places, too. Which bright new chef will change the scene with bold new dishes? Who will take over our favorite dive bar when the owner retires? We’ve looked for the answers to these questions and more throughout the year. Here are the ten biggest food stories in Denver listed in chronological order, from the sale of a downtown bar that’s part of the city’s history to the evolution of the still-young craft-brewing scene.
1. My Brother’s Bar has new owners.
My Brother’s had operated continuously (other than during Prohibition) under different names since 1873 before it was taken over by Jim and Angelo Karagas in 1970. Danny Newman and his mother, Paula, who has worked at My Brother’s Bar for more than thirty years, bought the place in January and have changed very little since. You can still enjoy your JCB or Johnny Burger along with classical music in a cozy bar with no TVs and plenty of familiar faces.
2. Top Chef films season fifteen in Colorado.
In March, Bravo announced that it would be filming the fifteenth season of Top Chef in Colorado, highlighting the restaurants, chefs and cuisine of Denver, Boulder and Telluride, among other locales. Filming began in June, and the first episode aired on December 7. And Colorado can claim two of the chef-testants as our own: Carrie Baird of Bar Dough, and Brother Luck of Four by Brother Luck in Colorado Springs. The nationwide popularity of the reality show is sure to draw more attention and visitors to our beautiful state.
3. Stapleton and Aurora experience a restaurant surge.
In April, Cattivella became the first restaurant to open in the new Eastbridge shopping center on the eastern frontier of the Stapleton neighborhood. The Italian eatery from chef Elise Wiggins was soon followed by Concourse Restaurant Moderne, Next Door American Eatery, Los Chingones and HashTAG. Meanwhile, Stanley Marketplace, a mall-ish development less than a mile from Eastbridge (on the Aurora side of the line), began filling up. Stanley Beer Hall, Comida, Denver Biscuit Co., Annette, Rosenberg’s Bagels & Deli, Sazza and Yellowbelly Chicken are among a multitude of full-service restaurants, fast-casual counters, bars and retail outlets that have added an unprecedented number of options for the neighborhood. Three of these east-side additions — Annette, Concourse and Cattivella — made it onto our list of the best new restaurants of 2017.
Going to start a new segment on the podcast where we just quiz Denver contributor MK on going on in her city, because I can almost guarantee she has no idea about the majority of this list besides maybe the Chipotle one.