Welcome to EAT THIS CITY, your weekly tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by top chefs. This week we travel to Denver, Colorado, where we’ll discover that the Mile High City has so much more to offer than omelettes!
Meet Chef Brandon Foster. The Executive Chef of Vesta Dipping Grill, Chef Foster started his career first, in The Best Western at Frisco, and then The Fourth Story and Mel’s, two restaurants highly regarded and fondly remembered by the Denver culinary community. His passion for technique, ingredients, and the community served him well; in 2005, he joined Vesta as a line cook, and quickly worked his way up the ranks.
As Executive Chef, Foster works with seasonal produce, highlighting his dedication to sourcing fresh, high quality ingredients. It’s a commitment that is echoed in Vesta’s approach to sustainability as a whole; whether it’s procuring ingredients from local farms, participating in an intensive recycling campaign, composting waste, using clean wind power, or participating in charity events, Vesta and its people are dedicated to giving back. Indeed, Chef Foster counts his ability to participate in community driven charitable events as a career highlight.
Now let’s check out Chef Foster’s 15 culinary highlights in his beloved city of Denver!
Huge slices, great toppings, and very consistent. They seem to nail the sauce to cheese ratio every time.
Easily the best in the city. The chili relleno burrito smothered with an egg on top and a couple of cheek meat tacos and you could never complain. The menudo on the weekends will cure any ills you might have and the ladies who run the place have not changed in the ten plus years that I have been a patron.
I decided to go Korean on this as my favorite Asian restaurants fall into other categories on this list. Seoul BBQ is a Korean BBQ spot in Aurora that could never disappoint you. The more people in your party, the more food you can order, and their banshan is always changing. Don’t miss the spicy pork collar or the galbi beef.
The burrito cart at 17th and Blake. It is two blocks from Vesta and so good. A husband and wife run it; she takes the orders and he cooks everything. The mole, tacos, and carnitas are my favorites and the green chili is spicy and delicious. They are only there on weekdays until about four or so, but it’s the best five dollar burrito in the city.
LaMar’s is an old school donut shop in the Baker neighborhood. I lived blocks from it for years and when we used to walk our dog early in the morning, we could smell it. I love the traditional glazed donut and the cruller, but they have all of the cool old donuts we all grew up eating.
Fruition has been at the top of the dining scene since it opened eight years ago. Chef/Owner Alex Seidel and Chef de Cuisine Franco Ruiz quietly and confidently put out some of the most beautiful, balanced, and delicious food in the city. The pasta carbonara is a menu staple, and something I have every time I go. If they are doing octopus, scallops, or sweetbreads in any way, make sure they get to your table. The service is easily the most attentive in the city.
Steuben’s has to be the most popular and accessible restaurant in the city. Having been open for close to ten years, they have mastered regional American food. For my family and I, it is our go-to if we don’t know what we’re having for dinner…or lunch…or brunch. The green chili cheeseburger and mac n cheese are what I order most frequently, but really, there isn’t anything that you would be unhappy with. Gravy fries, meatloaf, fried chicken, and the wedge salad are among some other favorites.
I may be slightly biased here, but if you are looking for solid vegetarian food and a fun, unique atmosphere Ace is definitely the place. It’s a great place to go with a group and share some cool food, and will also accommodate any meat lover as well in your group. After eating some delicious snacks, head over to the pong room and take advantage of one of the eight indoor pong tables, or if it’s nice, hit one of the two outdoor tables!
There are lots of great brunch places in Denver, but Lola remains at the top of the list for me. The bloody mary with house pepper infused vodka is a must. Try anything that is on special from their raw bar, and don’t miss the chicken and waffles, chicken fried steak, or the Lola burger. They also have a really cool indoor/outdoor bar and some of the nicest bartenders in town.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
As funny as it sounds, I have never been anywhere that cherishes and critiques breakfast burritos with green chili more than folks from Denver. There are several shining examples all over the city, and it seems to be something people really enjoy no matter what.
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE
Mataam Fez is an old Mediterranean restaurant that has been around for a long time. My wife took me there and it was the first time I had ever been to a place where you sit on the floor, eat with your hands, and watch belly dancers while you eat. A true Colfax Ave experience.
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Ramen season is here 🍜 TOKIO, a delicious new age Japanese restaurant by Miki Hashimoto in the Prospect neighborhood just opened and boasts killer ramen, yakitori, shu mai, sushi, and more! Check out our review online now at #303Magazine.com, 📷: @lindse_y | #yum #ramen #noodlelife #japanese #cuisine #Denver #Colorado #foodie #foodporn #DenverRestaurants #Coloradogram #303 #Tokio #TOKIODenver
Tokio is a sushi restaurant that opened not too long ago right near Vesta. I like to go there after work and eat some sushi rolls and a bowl of ramen. It’s off the beaten path a little bit, and is kind of a quiet spot when I get done with work, which I enjoy. They have a late night sushi happy hour which goes from ten pm to close, and sometimes a bunch of us will head over there and take down some serious sushi.
This place is kind of a cool old breakfast spot and man, do they have what can cure your hangover ills. I like a good spicy, somewhat greasy breakfast, and this place has it nailed. Get the Machata plate…it’s a combination of ground beef, mushrooms, jalapeños, potatoes, eggs, green chili, and cheese. It’s every bit as delicious as it sounds.
It has been a favorite for both my wife and myself, and Lon just cranks out some really delicious and consistent food. The soup dumplings, brussels sprouts, and ribs are dishes we never miss, and we love the atmosphere inside. It remains top on our list when we have a chance to go out alone.
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
Paul C. Reilly and his sister Aileen Reilly are two of the nicest people I have ever met. They are close friends, and run an absolutely amazing restaurant called Beast and Bottle. Whole animal butchery, and a seasonal, ever changing menu makes it a wonderfully personal place. They make you feel like you are coming to their house for dinner. It truly is a special place.
Thank you, Chef Foster, for taking us on culinary tour on Denver!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!