Denver's ten best new restaurants of 2012

squeaky bean nick touch.jpg
Mark Manger
Squeaky Bean bartender Nick Touch plays mad scientist. Slide show: Scenes from Squeaky Bean
With new restaurants popping up left and right, Denver's food scene is as exciting as it's ever been. Over 200 restaurants opened in the metro area in 2012, featuring everything from globally inspired cuisine to American classics. In the Best of Denver 2013, we'll unveil our pick for the Best New Restaurant. In the meantime, here is our list (in no particular order) of the top ten to open in Denver in 2012.

See also:
- First look: An Italian feast at Amerigo
- Presentation matters at Squeaky Bean
- The 2013 Best of Denver Readers' Poll

amerigo.jpg
Lori Midson

Amerigo
When Ian Chisholm opened 10) Amerigo Delicatus Restaurant & Market in Denver's Ballpark neighborhood this summer, he hit it out of the park. This small, inviting neighborhood eatery makes every dish from scratch. The menu includes such Italian classics as bruschetta, linguini and lasagna. But for dessert, there's the decidedly untraditional doughnut sundae, a house-made buttermilk doughnut and vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate ganache and walnuts.

the squeaky bean.jpg
Mark Manger

9) Squeaky Bean
Squeaky Bean was a surprise hit in Highland, but the cramped quarters ultimately convinced owner Johnny Ballen to close his place. But he resurrected the concept with an entirely new Squeaky Bean that opened this past June in LoDo. The space is much, much larger -- and this time, he even has a kitchen where Max Mackissock turns out incredibly innovative fare, featuring fresh produce from the Bean's mini-farm in Lakewood known as "Bean Acre."

the populist.jpg
Lori Midson

8) The Populist
Jonathan Power and Noah Price already had a hit with Crema Coffehouse, but they wanted to do more. And so this past November, they opened a hip (very) American eatery called The Populist on Upper Larimer Street. The chic, recycled space has just the right intimate atmosphere for diners to enjoy a menu full of adventurous dishes and unusual flavor combinations.


Location Info

Amerigo Delicatus Restaurant and Market

2449 Larimer St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Squeaky Bean

1500 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

The Populist

3163 Larimer St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Central Bistro & Bar

1691 Central St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

True Food Kitchen

2800 E. 2nd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Taita Peruvian Cuisine & Bar

1521 Marion St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

The Universal

2911 W. 38th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: General

Pho Lee

6860 S. Clinton St., Greenwood Village, CO

Category: Restaurant

Uncle

2215 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

The Kitchen

1530 16th St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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32 comments
Teatree
Teatree

Too bad The Universal just fired the chef that built the whole menu. Such a shame. As a southerner this was the only place I could find authentic southern food. I don't know what they were thinking by letting him go. Highly doubt it will live up to the quality of food they had coming out of the kitchen with that guy.

Vylette
Vylette

The Kitchen shouldn't even be on the list. Service leaves so much to be desired and the food is definitely hit or miss.

1800saint
1800saint

I love the Squeaky Bean, but how many times are they going to be included on the 'Top NEW Restaurants' list? They are not new. For that matter is the Kitchen really 'new'? If a new McDonald's opens downtown will that be eligible? Why do we continue to rehash the same places when there are so many truly new options? No doubt these are great restaurants, but both of them have been on the 'new' lists for years.  

linda
linda

Lori - At first glance, your profile photo looks a little obscene.

MegsinDen
MegsinDen

Lucky Pie making the treck from Louisville to Denver was a fantastic addition to the food scene.  Their pizzas are unique and fun, their lamb meatballs are beyond belief and their beer selection shows their quality of taste.  It should be the 13th on this list.

derekrusso
derekrusso

Trillium should have made the Top 10, IMO.  

GFTW
GFTW

Dung might not be the best name for a chef.

helkins
helkins

Happy to see The Kitchen Denver finally being recognized.

cmwalter
cmwalter

The Kitchen didn't move from Boulder to Denver. It opened a second location in Denver.

dinergirl
dinergirl

what about the Corner House? a delicious gem to be sure!

Resident
Resident

@helkins The Kitchen gets very mixed reviews from people that live downtown.  Definitely not worthy of number 1.  Great atmosphere but average food

monopod
monopod

@cmwalter Or a third, if you count [Next Door].  Or even a fourth, if you count [Upstairs].  Hooray for the Kitchen's ambiguous empire!

MegsinDen
MegsinDen

@foodcrazy At least a decent one.   The decent pizza places are few and far between in Denver.  

monopod
monopod

@Resident It say in the intro paragraph that the list isn't in any particular order - "number 1" doesn't mean anything (though it's confusing that they used a countdown format in an allegedly non-hierarchical list).  I don't think they meant to say that The Kitchen was better than the rest.

helkins
helkins

@Resident That's your opinion. And yes I live in the Lohi and work downtown. I personally have had great meals every time I've been there, as well as my friends and coworkers, from their burrata to the lamb sirlion to the caviar. Of course it helps when you have personal recommendations from the chef. :)

scolo
scolo

@helkins@scolo@Residentso says the raging bitch who ripped Resident a new asshole a few comments above for expressing their "Opinion",  I quote:  "Again your opinion and who are you that your opinion is the end all be all? Did I ask for your opinion?"   

scolo
scolo

@helkins   so says the raging bitch who ripped Resident a new asshole a few comments above for expressing their "Opinion",  I quote:  "Again your opinion and who are you that your opinion is the end all be all? Did I ask for your opinion?"   

helkins
helkins

@scolo @Resident A bitch? If someone has a opinion there is no need to harass someone about their comment. Post your own comment on the article and leave me out of it. I'm happy the both of you have so much time to jerk off but I don't need to be bothered.

scolo
scolo

@Resident why apologize?  no such thing as someone OWNING a thread, and they sound like they are being a raging bitch anyways.

Resident
Resident

@helkins I like the Kitchen and apologize for intruding on your thread.  

helkins
helkins

And I like I said I live and work in the neighborhood and we love The Ktichen. But do note I never said anything about ranking and to me that is a moot point. I SAID I WAS HAPPY THEY ARE BEING RECOGNIZED. So I guess you and your neighborhood don't have to visit The Kitchen. That is perfectly fine by me! Now please get a life and leave mine alone.@Resident 

helkins
helkins

@Resident @helkins Do me a favor. Get off my comment and comment somewhere else. You are entitled to your opinion but you don't need to intrude on mine. And every meal I've had at the Kitchen has been great. Do I have to spell it out for you to get my point across? I've been to Aoba plenty of times and it is the best sushi "downtown"  but because they use very little creative element they will never be recognized as one of the top. 

Resident
Resident

@helkins @Resident I actually agree with your points here.  Squeaky Been WAS better in the Highlands and there is no arguing the date Coohill's opened.  This article happens to be an opinion piece so I am giving mine.  The Kitchen is good, but the neighborhood consensus would not give it number one.  I've never had a bad meal at the Kitchen but great meals are not the norm, unless apparently you personally know the chef. Give Aoba a try. I'm pretty sure it opened last year. 

helkins
helkins

@Resident @helkins Again your opinion and who are you that your opinion is the end all be all? Did I ask for your opinion? They are all great restaurants and I don't think anyone is disagreeing. Keep in mind this is actually Squeaky Bean's second opening and their food was far better when they were in the Highlands and Coohill's opened in 2011 therefore they could not make this list. Like I said I've never had a bad meal at The Kitchen Denver and AGAIN happy to see they are being recognized. Why don't you ask for the manager or the chef on your next visit and I'm sure they'll be happy to make some suggestions that you'll be satisfied with. Or better yet why don't you give me your name and I'll be delighted to pass it on to them. lol

Resident
Resident

@helkins The lamb sirlion is great but overall it is hit and miss.  Squeaky Bean and Coohill's are both better.  In fact, Aoba is better and more consistent but nobody ever goes there.  

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