Best New Restaurant: Our ten winners over the past decade
Twenty-four hours from now, the Best of Denver 2013 will start hitting the street -- and the web. This year's edition is packed with more than 400 winners (we're still counting). The the very last category in our Food & Drink section was one of the toughest picks this year: Best New Restaurant. In advance of this year's unveiling, here's a look back at our last ten winners (eight still open) in the Best New Restaurant category.
Pinche Taqueria, 1514 York Street
Pinche Taqueria, our Best New Restaurant in 2012, is going so strong that it opened a second Pinche Taqueria this year, in Highland.
Best of Denver 2012 award description: More than 300 restaurants opened in metro Denver in 2011, and many of them added something new and special to an already vibrant dining scene. But none did it with the aplomb of Pinche Taqueria, a raucous, irreverent spot that grew out of Kevin Morrison's highly successful food truck. The menu here is focused and simple, featuring an array of gringified tacos packed with succulent meats and punchy flavors, as well as a handful of appetizers and the best churros we've ever tasted; the bar program is a frequently evolving homage to tequila, whiskey and debauchery. But this restaurant is so much more than a sum of its parts: Every time we stop by, we love it a little bit more. Pinche Taqueria feeds more than our bellies: It feeds our imagination, letting us enter someone else's magical world for a while so that we remember, again, what dining out is all about.
Euclid Hall, 1317 14th Street
Since Euclid Hall opened in August 2010, the restaurant has been a favorite with industry insiders, food fans and tourists alike; its chef, Jorel Pierce, was named a Rising Star semifinalist in this year's James Beard Awards.
Best of Denver 2011 award: Veteran Denver restaurateurs Beth Gruitch and Jennifer Jasiniski started with a clear vision for Euclid Hall: an American tavern, an unassuming place where diners could gather for beers and bar food, elevated well above bar level by making everything possible -- sausages, mustards, pickles -- in-house. With that articulate frame, they outdid themselves in every way imaginable. The space itself is beautiful, with history preserved in the brick walls and shiny wood floors, but washed clean of any memories of the grimy spots that inhabited the address before. The beer list is full of rare and stellar selections, and the contemporary cocktails are clever. But what makes Euclid Hall such an outstanding addition to the Denver dining scene is the menu: plump sausages in taut casings; a teetering stack of fried chicken and griddled sourdough waffles; a variety of poutines, hand-cut fries laden with gravy; cheese curds; and accoutrements ranging from mushrooms to foie gras.
Argyll, 2700 East 3rd Avenue - RIP
Argyll, which closed the year after it won this award, is gone but not forgotten -- in fact, Robert Thompson still has plans to open a new Argyll one day, perhaps in the Baker neighborhood.
Best of Denver 2010 award description: In the great gastropub movement that's marching through Denver, Argyll is doing its part to ensure that its contributions to the crusade don't go unnoticed. There's an awful lot to appreciate about this joint: the cask-conditioned ales, wickedly strong and poured only on the weekends; the bartenders and servers, who are quick with a smile and a good story; and the music, which always seems to pulsate with danceable one-hit wonders from the '80s. The wine list has come full circle, too, since owner Robert Thompson unlocked the doors last spring, and the patio? It's killer. But the real reason to grab a stool at Argyle's tartan-topped bar has everything to do with chef Sergio Romero's menu, which trumpets all sorts of triumphs, including the best corned beef hash in the galaxy; plump mussels steamed in an Indian-laced curry fragrant with lemongrass and cilantro; creamy, dreamy macaroni and cheese; well-crafted charcuterie plates; house-cured pork belly; house-brined pickles and the most amazing potato chips in the free world.
Continue reading for more previous winners.