The MICHELIN Guide is finally touching down in Colorado. From brand new One Stars with seasonal multicourse contemporary tasting menus to restaurants with 70-acre organic farms that are on the forefront of the sustainability battle, explore this year's Star-studded (and delicious) roster below!
More than just a name, it's an ethos at this ambitious RiNo dining room from Chef Duncan Holmes where staff warmly welcome you. Once inside this Scandi-cool space, diners pull up a chair at the 18-seat counter facing the kitchen where a focused team is hard at work. The multicourse contemporary tasting menu rotates quarterly (think harvest-themed in the fall). This kitchen offers far from typical dishes. Seared quail breast with a confit leg is spot on, especially when sided by creamed kale made with sunflower seeds and a quail reduction. The hits keep coming through to dessert, where a warm, fluted buckwheat tart with a custard filling is bested with a cocoa nib crumble and a quenelle of subtle-yet-spectacular cinnamon and celeriac ice cream.
At this singular enclave, Chef Barclay Dodge and his team are executing seasonally inspired cooking that focuses on foraging, fermenting and local farms. The dimly lit interior might seem moody and mysterious at first, but everything about the experience is open and accommodating, from the charmingly loquacious staff to the menu format, which allows diners to customize their own tasting of four or more courses. From hand-picked spruce tips to butter from locally sourced cooperative dairy cows, this is a concept that pays attention to details—even ingredients from farther afield, like lobster from New England, gets a hit of local flavor from being grilled over juniper wood.
One Star Green Stars
Cuisine: Mexican / Contemporary
This hip spot from Kelly Whitaker's Id Est Hospitality Group is tucked away in the Dairy Block's Free Market. Chef Michael Diaz de Leon runs the show here, where the team takes a serious approach to locality and seasonality, not only in the produce but also the grains, which they mill or nixtamalize in-house. The mastery of the hearth as the primary cooking implement makes this operation special, and infuses each of the tasting menu's courses with distinct notes. The menu, which is Mexican at its core, has a clear narrative, and is perhaps best displayed in lamb prepared two ways—as a street-style taco and ground lamb leg kushiyaki with a quenelle of mole chichilo. The non-alcoholic pairings are especially intriguing, as in the burnt onion Mai Tai.
The Wolf's Tailor
With culinary stylings as singular as its name, this charmer stands apart from the pack. Chef Taylor Stark shepherds a creative multicourse menu that abounds with personality, boasting a unique, genre-defying style that draws variously from Nordic, Italian and East Asian cuisines, but nonetheless feels focused and cohesive. Although the menu shifts throughout the year to explore different themes, diners will find a common thread in cooking that highlights ingredients while displaying technical precision and harmonious flavors, with fermentation a frequent motif. Matched with disarming service and an in-depth beverage program of thoughtful cocktails (and their dry counterparts) alongside carefully curated wines, this bespoke experience is sure to please.
Cuisine: Steakhouse / American
Chef/owner Hosea Rosenberg is a familiar name in these parts, and Blackbelly Market is just one of the reasons why. There are plenty of spots to sip and snack here, whether at the counter facing the open kitchen, the well-stocked bar area, or the polished, dark wood tables. Take a peek at the refrigerated, glassed-in butchery room, where you may see Head Butcher Kelly Kawachi holding court. You'll taste her handiwork across the menu, and in the charcuterie boards showcasing duck rillette, pork terrine, headcheese and saucisson. Koji-cured pork is supremely flavorful, while agnolotti made of caramelized onion dough in a fragrant mushroom "brodo" is an inventive twist. For the win, order the donuts, especially the chocolate hazelnut cream with hazelnut caramel and milk chocolate-hazelnut topping.
Bramble & Hare
It's a farmhouse-meets-lodge vibe at Jill and Chef Eric Skokan's Bramble & Hare, where wood paneled walls and wood floors keep things rustic, and chairs and loveseats are draped with fur throws for an extra dose of charm. The couple's own farm supplies most of the inspiration for the dishes on this American menu—even down to the prosciutto they age in-house from their own pigs. Those impressive ingredients aren't gussied up in this kitchen, where a smart but straightforward cooking style allows them to truly shine. Many items are married in new and creative ways. Case in point? The salted turnips served with a pistachio purée, pickled onions and that fantastic house-cured prosciutto, delivering a fantastic surprise in a well-balanced, bright dish.
Hero image: Ben Perri/Beckon