Ever since it opened on the corner of Larimer & 25th, Work & Class has been one of my favorite restaurants in Denver. I just love their commitment to “high-quality product at a fair price, served in a fun atmosphere” — as well as the choose-your-own-adventure type of menu that mixes the best of American and Latin flavors. The chef, Dana Rodriguez, was a James Beard semi-finalist (and you’ll often see her working hard right alongside everyone and running around making sure all the guests are happy). Work & Class has gotten tons of accolades since it first opened and is considered one of the top Denver restaurants. I have to agree.
The only down side is that it doesn’t open until 4pm, is closed on Mondays, and doesn’t take reservations. Take note of that last part and get here early if you want to get a seat.
Happy hour runs 4-6pm Tue-Fri, and 4-5pm Sat/Sun. I love places that do happy hour on weekends, too! If that wasn’t enough, they’ve now added a “Happiest Hour” 4-5pm Tue-Fri, with an additional 20% off all happy hour food and drink. That’s the first time I’ve heard of the concept, and I’m so down!
Happy hour includes fancy barrel-aged cocktails for $9, house cocktails for $6, wine for $4 (or $7 for the fancy stuff), and draft beer for $4. The food menu is always changing, but you can currently get decadent, flavorful little dishes like green chili cheese fries with braised pork, tamarind pork ribs, bacon-wrapped asparagus and grits, chipotle chicken pot pie, vegetarian chile relleno, etc. These run you about $6-$10 on happy hour.
Work & Class has become somewhat of a cornerstone in the quickly growing RiNo district. It’s a cute little space right across the street from Los Chingones, Sugarmill, Americatus Italian, and Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs — and right next door to Cart-Driver. And it’s my favorite of all the options.
The inside is bright and cheerful, and it fills up very fast (this photo was probably taken around 4:10pm right when Work & Class opened). Personally, I like sitting inside instead of outside. It tends to get really hot on the covered outdoor patio.
I think it’s a really nice touch that they bring you a little starter bite as soon as you sit down (this is the chickpea croquette, for example).
The cocktails here are pretty fantastic: tart pomegranate-cucumber (pictured below), spicy-basil sour, yucatan orange-clove, fresh watermelon-lime, etc. And true to the choose-your-own-adventure menu style, you pick the flavors you like — and can get any type of alcohol mixed in.
One of the cool things about the food here is you get to pick and choose what you want, how much of it, and paired with what. You pick your meat (or two) and decide whether you want 1/4 lb, 1/2 lb, or 1 lb. And then you pick any of the sides (in a regular or large size). So if you’re with other people, you can just order a bunch of stuff and mix and match:
Of the appetizers here, my favorite is the Peppers Five Ways (fresno poppers, bacon-wrapped jalapeños, grilled shishitos, mixed pickled peppers, and pepper jam). They span the range of spiciness and give you a little variety. Personally though, I love spicy food and could just eat the fresno poppers all day (crunchy on the outside, cheesy on the inside, just spicy enough — mmmmm).
If it’s your first time here, you have to try the roasted goat (cabrito). Even if it’s just to say you did. It’s tender and juicy — and if I had to compare it to another meat, I’d say it’s closest in flavor to lamb. My husband comes here just for the goat, and sometimes get extra just to make with eggs the next morning.
My personal meat favorite here is braised short rib. It’s so tender it just falls apart as soon as you touch it with your fork. (The braising style usually varies, and I believe currently these are stout-braised.)
When it comes to sides, I absolutely love the twice baked potatoes (these may be seasonal). Mashed potatoes are one of my favorite things in the world, and if they have bacon and other toppings on top of them, even better.
Another great side is the fried sweet plantains, which are a constant here. This place and Cuba Cuba are the two perfect places to try these if you haven’t before.