The Michelin Guide’s star-ranking system has become somewhat of a Bible in the restaurant industry. But its roots are far more humble.
It was created in 1900 in a small town in France by the founders of the Michelin tire company when there were fewer than 3,000 cars in the country. The Michelin brothers produced a small red guide filled with maps, directions on how to change a tire, fuel stations, and where to have adventures along the way. Restaurants and hotels were added in the 1920s.
Although it was primarily a listing of locations, Michelin reviewers would give one star to a restaurant that they deemed worthy of a stop. Two stars meant the spot had excellent cooking and was worth a detour. Three stars were for exceptional restaurants that were worthy of making an entire journey itself just to eat there.
The Michelin Guide announced this week that it was expanding to Colorado and that its reviewers have been visiting restaurants in Denver, Boulder, Aspen, Snowmass Village, Vail and Beaver Creek Resort for the past few months. But until stars are awarded — something Michelin said could happen this fall — the question is: who will be worthy?
Here’s a list of 10 restaurants in and around Denver we think could be contenders:
Chef Michael De Leon was the only Denver chef to make it to the final round in this year’s James Beard Awards, although Colorado was snubbed overall. The restaurant, owned by Kelly Whitaker, is known for its multi-course, omakase-style tasting menu inspired by Latin and global cuisines.
1801 Blake St., Denver; brutodenver.com
Frasca Food and Wine
Frasca has won three James Beard Awards: one for Outstanding Service in 2019, another for best Wine Program in 2013 and Best Chef Southwest, for chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, in 2008. The fine-dining restaurant opened in Boulder in 2004, bringing a level of service Colorado wasn’t used to, along with hyper-regional Northern Italian cuisine.
1738 Pearl St., Boulder; frascafoodandwine.com
Tavernetta — owned by the Frasca Hospitality Group (see above) — is also known for impeccable service. Executive Chef Cody Cheetham was nominated for Outstanding Chef in the Mountain Region last year. The Italian restaurant is located near Denver Union Station.
1889 16th St. Mall, Denver; tavernettadenver.com
Sap Sua hasn’t even opened yet, but the Vietnamese restaurant was recently named as one of Bon Appétit’s eight most-anticipated restaurant openings across the country. Owners Anna and Anthony Nguyen previously worked at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles when that restaurant was awarded its own Michelin Star.
2550 E. Colfax Ave., Denver; sapsua.com
Chef Caroline Glover, who owns Annette in Stanley Marketplace, won a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mountain Region last year. Annette serves scratch-to-table and wood-fired fare sourced locally and seasonally.
2501 Dallas St., Aurora; annettescratchtotable.com
Work & Class
Chef Dana Rodriguez has been nominated for a James Beard Award four times, including for Outstanding Chef this year, and was also hired by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to take over Casa Bonita’s kitchen. Work & Class, her homestyle Southern & Latin American cuisine restaurant in RiNo, is centered on tender meats by the pound.
2500 Larimer St., Denver; workandclassdenver.com
Beckon was Denver’s first real chef’s-counter restaurant when it opened in RiNo in 2018. The fine-dining restaurant offers a ticketed dining experience with ever-changing seasonal dishes for $175 a head. Executive Chef Duncan Holmes previously worked at Frasca, among others.
2843 Larimer St., Denver; beckon-denver.com
La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal
Jose Avila was a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Chef in the Mountain Region this year and last. His restaurant, La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal, which opened in 2021, was also named one of Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants in 2022, and The Denver Post recognized it as the best new restaurant of 2021.
2233 Larimer St., Denver; ladiabladenver.com
Chef Ty Leon previously worked at Michelin-star restaurant Plumed Horse in Saratoga, and he’s put his fine-dining knowledge to the test at his traditional Italian restaurant Olivia, which he opened in Denver in 2020.
290 S. Downing St., Denver; oliviadenver.com
Sushi Den is packed any given day of the week, and is usually the first response when someone is looking for the best sushi in Denver. The storied restaurant flies its fish in daily from Tokyo and provides a traditional Japanese setting.
1487 S. Pearl St., Denver; sushiden.net
Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and drink news sent straight to your inbox.
Source: Read Full Article