10 Newest & Hottest Restaurants in Denver, Winter 2024

For those of you that like trying the latest spots, I’ve done the research for you and tried them first — so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth going based on my honest reviews. Some have been fantastic and become new favorites of mine. Others have been ok. Here’s what’s worth trying.

1. Kawa Ni

1900 W 32nd Ave, Denver

Kawa Ni is a new favorite of mine — a Japanese-style Izakaya that opened in November 2023 in a cozy corner spot in LoHi at the end of the same block that houses Postino, Bamboo, and Recess. The word Izakaya in Japanese means “stay-drink-place” — so a local spot to get comfortable with a drink and some friends — and the vibe here is definitely that of a happening, hip, neighborhood spot. While they serve raw fish dishes, it’s not a “sushi” restaurant — but a mix of sashimi, dumplings, noodle bowls, rice bowls, and much more. And prices here are totally affordable. They not only have a happy hour, but all the dishes normally range about $15-20. Pro move: get a side of red curry broth for anything you can pour it on!

2. Sap Sua

2550 E Colfax Ave, Denver

Sap Sua is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that opened by City Park in Summer of 2023, and it has been recognized by everyone from the James Beard Foundation to Esquire for their creative re-interpretations of Vietnamese food. Must-try dishes include charred cabbage, shrimp cakes, and the best pork shoulder I’ve ever had. My only criticism of this spot is that the vibe is a little blah — from the bland decor to the difficult acoustics. The wine and cocktail options have some room to grow, as well — but the food is worth coming for regardless!

3. Ukiyo Omakase

1317 14th St, Denver

Ukiyo Omakase is a hidden new Japanese 12-seat chef’s table in downtown Denver that opened in February 2024 in the basement below Bao Brewhouse on 14th Street between Larimer and Market (accessible via a door right down the alley). I came for a sneak peak and tried 18 unique and tasty courses — from mushrooms, to chawanmushi, to wagyu, to fatty toro, to smoked fish, to Jamaican chicken skewers, to tiramisu. Not every dish will be everyone’s favorite here, but the creativity is fantastic. It honestly seemed pretty reasonable for the $175 cost per person. There’s also a great selection of Japanese cocktails, as well as sake and wine.

4. Call Me Pearl

1600 20th St, Denver

The opening of Call Me Pearl was more of a re-opening and re-branding of the Rally Bar (at the Rally Hotel in McGregor Square) — and I’m so glad they did this! The space was always gorgeous, highlighted by an enormous chandelier that reminds me of the top of a champagne bottle right after it’s opened and you can see the bubbles. With the re-opening, the drinks and food now match that beautiful atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot for some caviar and champagne, a classic martini, delicate seafood bites, etc. (Not to be missed is the Cafe de Tacuba cocktail — which is like a spicy, tequila-based version of an espresso martini.)

5. Major Tom

2845 Larimer St, Denver

Opened in March of 2023, Major Tom is a fantastic alternative to the famous (and now Michelin-star) Beckon — which can cost you $500 per person these days if you add premium pairings to your pre-fixe tasting menu. Major Tom comes from the same renowned Chef Duncan Holmes (it’s literally next door) — but it has a more casual vibe, an a la carte menu (albeit a little short/limited), and much more affordable prices. We had a very enjoyable date night here and splurged on some fun, aged dessert drinks (like a Victory Vintage 1945 Madeira) — the benefit of being next door to Beckon.

6. Farm and Market

2401 Larimer St, Denver

Now open in RiNo at 2401 Larimer (and with its own parking lot) — Farm and Table brings a whole new type of farm-to-table to Denver. It’s not only a restaurant and market, but also a 3000-sq-ft vertical hydroponic (no soil) farm producing 120 pounds of greens and herbs daily. I guarantee you that not only will you discover varieties of greens you’ve never tried before, but they’ll taste better than anything you can find in a regular grocery store. All greens and herbs are also available to take home. Fun fact: I discovered a new favorite salad green here called “tatsoi” — a cousin of the bok choy that looks like spinach, but is much higher in beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.

7. Nana’s Dim Sum & Dumplings

3316 Tejon St, Denver

Nana’s is my new favorite dim sum in town — and yes, I prefer it to older spots on S Federal such as Star Kitchen, which have objectively held that title in the foodie community for many years. Unlike the bland atmosphere of traditional dim sum spots — with their big round tables and white tablecloths and ladies carting around food options, Nana’s in Highlands has a very different, modern atmosphere. The vibe is trendy and cool — with dark wood, red lanterns, neon signs, dim lighting, a full bar, modern music — and generally the kind of evening atmosphere you want from a restaurant today. The food is ordered off a menu, not from carts — and you can watch the lovely ladies making dumplings at the glass viewing window. Some of my favorites here are the chicken feet, the soup dumplings, and the mini pork “thumblings.” (Nana’s is also opening in Aurora and Boulder.)

8. MAKfam

39 W 1st Ave, Denver

This is a definite must-try spot — and I recommend coming for lunch. MAKfam touts itself as an elevated, fast-casual spot serving modern Chinese dishes like dumplings and noodles using fresh ingredients and unique recipes inspired by the owners’ Chinese family heritage. It started as a New York City-area pop-up, was part of a Denver food hall for a bit, and finally has its own location on S Broadway. It’s even got a 2024 James Beard nomination! My favorite dishes are the Fancy Wun Tung Tong (dumplings swimming in the most flavorful broth) — and surprisingly, my new favorite wings in town (the spicy Mala wings).

9. Hana Matsuri Omakase Glendale

658 S Colorado Blvd, Glendale

Opened in summer 2023, I can honestly say this is the first sushi restaurant in Denver that has made me rethink my favorite sushi since 2018 (when Uchi first opened) — and being a huge lover of sushi, I take that statement very seriously. Hana Matsuri Glendale is the 3rd of the family-owned Hana Matsuri locations in Colorado, but it is distinctly different — both in atmosphere and food. Under the direction of renowned Chef Duy Pham (with 30+ years of experience in Colorado restaurants) — this has truly become a hidden gem of the sushi scene. The standout is that this location offers a phenomenal omakase of 20-ish creative pieces for just $150/person (sampler pictured). And even if you don’t come for the omakase, the other options here are amazing. There are fish being flown in fresh here that I’ve never even heard of. For example, I had flying fish (tobiuo) for the first time! Not to be missed are also the aburi options (a specialty of theirs). Aburi means lightly-seared with a flame, and I think it’s the best way to keep fish raw, but bring out more flavor. Toro tuna and salmon belly are the obvious choices, but there’s also lobster, scallop, escolar, and more. Even for non-fish people, there’s something delicious here. Try the hot rock — which comes with an option of kobe beef, truffle duck, lamb chop, or chicken tenders. The fluffy molten chocolate “cake” definitely made the “worth it” list, despite my gluten intolerance. Must try!

And yes, I have been to the new Highland sushi hotspot — Kumoya (which funnily enough, also has a chef who once worked at Sushi Den). I think their atmosphere is top-notch and the fish quality is undeniable, but the presentations are more traditional (and so it’s not as memorable). It also runs $250+ per person (with prices like $125 for an 18-piece sashimi sampler, $54 for dry-aged toro, and $17 for a wasabi sampler). So just cost-wise, I’d come back to Hana Matsuri any time.

10. Jacques

3200 Tejon St, Denver

Jacques is a French bistro that opened at the end of 2023 in the heart of the hip LoHi neighborhood — and the vibe fits the location. It’s trendy, it’s buzzing, it’s fun, it’s friendly. At first, I wasn’t too sold beyond the happy hour cocktails and bites — but I think it’s getting better every day. There were almost no gluten-free apps on the menu when we first came here, but I see that part of the menu changing and growing. The shared bouillabaisse we tried when the restaurant had first opened wasn’t a real bouillabaisse — but that seems to have left the menu. Individual plates like mussels, half chicken, and steaks look like much better options that I’m excited to go back and try again.

Honorable Mention:

  • Samosa Shop is now selling their amazing (and gluten-free) samosas at Honor Farm downtown. I would buy these all the time at the Pearl Street Farmer’s Market, so I’m glad they found a more permanent location.
  • Kike’s Red Tacos opened a brick-and-mortar permanent spot in Highlands, where they used to just have a food truck. Best birria in town.
  • Yuan Wonton, which would have lines down the street at its pop-ups, found a permanent home in Park Hill this last year.
  • Masas & Agaves is in Boulder, not Denver, but it’s serving up some amazing Mexican fine dining with fresh, authentic Oaxacan flavors, and I can’t not mention it.

Opening Soon (and I’m excited):

  • Blackbelly (the famous green-Michelin-star spot in Boulder is bringing a location to Denver in 2024)
  • Church & Union (a Top Chef is bringing this South Carolina spot to Union Station in 2024)
  • Uchiko Cherry Creek (my favorite sushi spot in — Uchi — is opening this sister restaurant in Cherry Creek in 2024)