At the start of the year, we’re tracking 10 new restaurants set to debut in 2022.
In no particular order: a Colorado Mexican institution (which is a reopening, to be exact); a local mezcal brand’s cantina; a Los Angeles French transplant; a women-led members club; a modern cabaret; and five local expansions from Littleton to Boulder.
Some trends we’re noticing among these openings: Mexican food continues to rule, in many forms; hotel restaurants are a safer bet for chefs and entrepreneurs; and successful local concepts tend to multiply. Time will tell if 2022 is the year of the post-pandemic restaurant comeback.
Do call it a comeback. This longtime Lakewood entertainment destination should soon have the food to match its crazy, cliff-diving antics. After a tumultuous pandemic ride, the restaurant will reopen sometime in the second half of 2022, led by beloved Denver-based chef Dana Rodriguez. You might recognize the restaurant’s new owners, too: Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of “South Park.”
Another development from Dana Rodriguez, this new bar is set to open Jan. 12 at 2800 Zuni St. in Denver’s Highland neighborhood. The Cantina should fit in well alongside Rodriguez’s existing Denver concepts, Work & Class, Super Mega Bien and Doña Loca Mezcal. It will serve a selection of tequilas, mezcals and cocktails as well as Mexico City street food.
L.A.-based Ludo Lefebvre opens his first Colorado restaurant in January at the brand new Thompson hotel in downtown Denver (at 16th and Market streets). It’s named after Lefebvre’s late mother-in-law; his wife, Krissy, is originally from here. At the classy new brasserie, guests can expect Denver-French omelets, bison bourguignon, a whole assortment of steak frites and burgers à la Lefebvre’s famous “Big Mec.”
Opening in the spring at 3845 Lipan St., Birch Road should be a first for Denver — a women-owned, BYOB “clubhouse” with a membership model much like a gym or co-working space. Monthly membership ($105 for one member and two guests) includes a bottle locker and access to private event spaces as well as the members’ lounge, where there’s a full bar setup for hosting gatherings without a tab to pay at the end of the night.
This craft cocktail bar bills itself as “hidden but not secret,” located inside the Clayton Members Club & Hotel, 233 Clayton St., in Cherry Creek. The space was first set to debut over the summer soon after Clayton was unveiled, but was delayed. Drinkers will finally experience the live performances, bespoke drinks and small bites sometime in February.
The Cherry Cricket
By late 2022, Littleton will get its outpost of the Cherry Cricket at 819 W. Littleton Blvd. The Cricket has been a Denver mainstay for more than 70 years and now has two locations, in Cherry Creek and Ballpark. This newest location will include a 100-person patio and “burger garden,” plus all the pork green chile and Cricket burgers we’ve come to love.
After a successful start at The Source in Denver, this Mexican restaurant is expanding. Head chef Manny Barella will bring his Monterrey, Mexican cuisine to 4580 Broadway in North Boulder early this year. Watch for Barella’s takes on esquites (street corn), shrimp tacos, chiles rellenos and more.
Curtis Park Deli
A favorite Denver sandwich shop is also expanding to Boulder, at 3000 Pearl Parkway. Curtis Park Deli already has two locations (the original, and namesake, as well as a newer 6th Avenue outpost). Soon diners in Boulder will be able to try the Curtis corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss; or the French ham, brie and mixed greens. Dressings are made in-house, and breads are baked fresh daily.
Fans of Denver’s own French onion soup dumplings will have a new spot to pop ’em when ChoLon opens its third location by late summer or early fall. Coming to the Lakehouse Denver Residences in Sloan’s Lake, the newest ChoLon will feature mezzanine seating and views over the lake. And it’s going to be joined by another, new restaurant concept in the same family. Details on the latter are still in the works.
Denver’s own conveyor belt sushi shop is set to open its fifth local outpost later this year. Sushi-Rama Broomfield will open by February or March at the Arista development. Expect floor-to-ceiling windows, a colorful, retro design, plus plenty of rolls, kara’age and sake. Other Sushi-Rama locations are running in RiNo, DTC, Lone Tree and Aurora.
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