Awesome Sauce: Vesta Celebrates 20 Years

Additional reporting by Katie Berohn

Vesta celebrates 20 years as a Denver date-night fave


GAME ON Vesta’s Madras Grilled Venison is served with potato gratin, Brussels sprouts, oyster mushrooms and dried cherry beurre rouge.

In 1999, my then-fiancé (now husband) had relocated to Denver ahead of me, and I flew in from Florida to check out the city. Our first stop: dinner at Vesta. Nearly two decades, two children, two homes and subsequent visits later, we dined at the LoDo mainstay again last month, and while the neighborhood has changed, the food and service remain top-notch.

Josh Wolkon opened Vesta Dipping Grill at 19th and Blake 20 years ago when he was just 25—back when Coors Field was about the area’s only draw. “At the time, LoDo was a lot of empty buildings and warehouses … it was still borderline sketchy,” he says.

Now, executive chef Nicholas Kayser, on board since 2016, is just the third chef to take the helm at the date-night hotspot; Wolkon attributes Vesta’s low turnover to a loyal staff and company culture that encourages a healthy work-life balance (think gym memberships and wellness challenges). But, of course, it’s the food that keeps diners returning (Wolkon’s restaurant group also includes Steuben’s, Steuben’s Arvada and Ace Eat Serve). Start with a selection from the thoughtful wine list or cocktail program and dig into the Bone Marrow—slathered on toasted brioche and served with a short rib marmalade— or the Togarashi Tuna Poké (or, like me, both). Move on to bold seasonal dishes like the Madras Grilled Venison or Sumac Roasted Diver Scallops, adding sauces (such as sambal aioli, jalapeño remoulade or chimichurri) for dipping. And finish with something sweet—Nitro Caramel Corn or Sticky Toffee Pudding, anyone?

“We opened with a bunch of skewers and shish kebabs and 36 different dipping sauces,” Wolkon says. “Over the years it’s evolved; the sauces are still part of the concept, but we have a charcuterie program and the dishes are just so much more composed.” Sometimes change is the best sauce.

1822 Blake St.

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