The Ten Best New Fast-Casual Eateries in Denver Metro in 2014

Categories: The List

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Danielle Lirette
Clint Wangsnes of Chop Shop knows that fast and casual doesn't have to mean boring.
Denver has been an incubator for fast-casual restaurants ever since Chipotle made a big splash with its first store in the mid-'90s. But the evolution of the concept has gone far beyond burritos and sandwiches. Fast and casual doesn't have to mean cheap and greasy. Quite a few eateries opened this year with counter service, menu options that can be cooked quickly or served up point-and-order style, and relaxed dining rooms perfect for families with kids, savvy urban residents on the go, or budget-minded diners looking for great food without the added expense that full-service dining entails.

In fact, so many new quick-service joints have sprung up that we've compiled our favorites in one list. Keep reading for the ten best new fast-casual restaurants in metro Denver to open in 2014, in alphabetical order.

See also: The Fifteen Best New Restaurants in Metro Denver in 2014

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Roasted for Broasted! We Get Fried for the Wrong Use of a Term

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Inside Block & Larder -- can you see the Broaster?
Food lesson for the day: Broasted is a trademarked word. Who knew?

Apparently not the Forgy brothers, who just opened Block & Larder, which features "broasted rabbit" on its menu. But even though that rabbit is cooked in a pressure fryer built by the Broaster Company of Beloit, Wisconsin, you can't call it "broasted." Delicious, yes. But not broasted.

See also: Block & Larder Is Roasting on Tennyson

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Zaidy's Latke Sandwich Satisfies Hanukkah and Hangover Cravings All In One

Categories: Veggie Girl

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Chelsea Keeney
Hanukkah is in full swing and on the fourth day, we bring to you a veggie sandwich of latke proportions. Zaidy's has been around as long as some natives can remember (29 years, to be precise), dishing up latkes, kugel, knishes, and more in Cherry Creek North. So to celebrate this year's Festival of Lights, we tried out the deli's Label's Special without lox.

See Also: Steuben's New Baked Ziti Will Keep You Warm This Winter

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Elevation Charcuterie & Artisan Meats Aiming for March Opening

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Elevation Charcuterie
Butcher Chad Nelan has been working to perfect his sausage and cured meat recipes for the past two years, making it his sole focus over the past few months after leaving his job at Tony's Market. His goal is to open his own company, Elevation Charcuterie and Artisan Meats, by March next year to supply several varieties of salami, pancetta, lonza, coppa, culatello and other cured meats to restaurants, grocery stores and specialty markets in Denver and across the country. To help fund the program, Nelan and partner Alex Windes launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to help build a USDA-approved production facility.

See also: Butcher's Bistro Opens in Former Twelve Location

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Reader: More Hipster Doughnuts -- Just What the World Needs

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Denver is rolling in doughnuts. Last year Dunkin' Donuts made a big comeback in Colorado, and Voodoo Doughnut opened its first shop outside of Oregon smack-dab on East Colfax Avenue. And now we're about to get another national name in the local market, albeit one of the worst names imaginable for what are reportedly very tasty doughnuts. Yes, Fractured Prune is on its way.

See also: Fractured Prune Doughnuts Set to Break into the Denver Market

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Ugly Sweaters, Holiday Cocktails, Tea and a Farm Tour: Four Tasty Events This Weekend

Categories: Culinary Events

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This weekend you can finally break out that ugly holiday sweater for a quartet of tasty events, including a holiday tea and a class on holiday spirits, as well as a market at Broken Shovels farm. Keep reading for the delicious details.

See also: Block & Larder Is Roasting and Broasting on Tennyson Street

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Block & Larder Is Roasting on Tennyson Street

Categories: First Look

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Danielle Lirette
Block & Larder just opened on Tennyson Street, featuring a chophouse-style menu from chef Lucas Forgy, who owns the place along with his brothers Jason and Aaron. Although the three brothers also own beer mecca Freshcraft, Block & Larder focuses more on the food and on cocktails than on craft brews. "We wanted to do our take on a chophouse and mix it with New American dining," explains Jason Forgy. "Everyone knows we like beer, but we also really like meat." And if the attention to detail that the Forgys have put into bringing in some of the best beers in the country to Freshcraft are any indication, Block & Larder should be a hit with fans of house-butchered meats and more unusual cuts of meat.

See also: Mizu Pulls Out of LoHi, the Royal Set for Saturday Opening in Berkeley

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Some Local Chefs Find Eggs More Than They're Cracked Up to Be

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Danielle Lirette
Colorado farm-fresh eggs adorn a Sunrise Sunset skillet.
A banner hanging outside Sunrise Sunset, which I review this week, proclaims, "We serve only Colorado farm-fresh eggs." This got me thinking about eggs, because in the hundreds of conversations about sourcing I've had with chefs over the years, no one has ever waxed poetic about eggs. Local produce? Yes. Local meats? You bet. But eggs? Crickets.

How often have you seen a menu touting an egg by name, like Tender Belly bacon or Jumpin Good Goat Dairy feta, with the surcharge that would go along with it? The fear, of course, is that customers -- not the chickens that came first -- might cross the road to a restaurant on the other side.

See also: Behind the Scenes at Sunrise Sunset

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Mizu Pulls Out of LoHi, the Royal Set for Saturday Opening in Berkeley

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The Gravitas Development Group has been behind quite a few of Denver's hottest restaurant projects this year. Gravitas is the company responsible for the shipping-container project at 2500 Larimer Street that houses Work & Class and Cart-Driver, and it also built out the neighboring spaces on Tennyson Street that are home to Block & Larder, which opened earlier this month, and the Royal, a burger bar set to open on Saturday. But even in this incredible year of restaurant openings, not everything goes as planned. The latest Gravitas project, a five-story building in LoHi, will feature a new concept from restaurateur Justin Cucci, but is losing the ground-floor sushi bar Mizu.

See also: Mizu, a Japanese Sushi Bar, Lounge and Restaurant, Opening in LoHi

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Fractured Prune Doughnuts Set to Break Into the Denver Market

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Doughnuts have become a big business in Denver since Dunkin' Donuts made a comeback in Colorado and Voodoo Doughnut opened its first non-Oregon store on East Colfax last year. Now a new national player in the fried-dough game is coming to Denver -- and it may just have the worst name of any eatery around. Fractured Prune Doughnuts, a chain out of Ocean City, Maryland, will open its first Denver shop on South Colorado Boulevard in late January or early February, according to a Fractured Prune spokesperson. The company has a story to go with that name, though, and a unique way of serving doughnuts.

See also: The Ten Worst Restaurant Names in Denver

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