Edited by Lesley Kennedy and Alison Gwinn
Señor Bear’s Latin-inspired fare, El Five’s upscale take on tapas and a special anniversary menu from Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse are all on our radar this month—make your reservations now.
Contemporary Latin-inspired cuisine
“It’s like summer in a bowl,” the waitress says as she brings us the Wild Salmon Crudo, an explosion of fresh colors and sweet bites, from raw salmon and watermelon to pickled shallot and crispy seaweed. We’re at Señor Bear, the Latin-inspired restaurant from Max MacKissock and Blake Edmunds that opened in June in LoHi in a charming historic building that previously housed Jezebel’s Southern Bistro and Bar and, before that, the Squeaky Bean, where MacKissock once served as executive chef and Edmunds as sous chef.
The chefs, who also launched neighborhood favorite Bar Dough, have paired with Juan and Katie O’Shea Padró, owners of Highland Tap and Burger, to create a bright, inventive menu in a chic but understated setting complete with an Aztec-tiled bar and an often-overflowing outdoor area.
Señor Bear divides its changing menu into four categories: bocadillos (snacks), mariscos (seafood), vegetales (vegetables) and carnes (meat). In addition to the Crudo, we opted for the Agua Chile, a gorgeous, refreshing concoction made from citrus-brined scallops sliced very thin over a bed of chilled cucumber and jugo de chile, avocado, radish and red onion, sitting in a lovely cool vegetable broth. Under “vegetales,” we tried two out-of-this-world soups: a chilled carrot soup spiced with arbol chile peanuts, lime, cilantro and mint and topped with a decadent dollop of hoja santa ice cream, and on another day, a creamy yogurt gazpacho garnished with thinly sliced cucumbers and peppers. But nothing could beat the basil- and cilantro-infused Squash Blossom Quesadilla, made with fontina and queso Oaxaca, which we paired with the Ensalata de Casa, an unusual mixture of spicy greens, molé crumble and raw summer veggies.
Under “carnes,” it’s a neck-and-neck race between the Lengua, a grilled beef thinly sliced and layered with charred peppers and chimichurri, and the El Pollo Bronco, a grilled chicken served with pepper salsa, grilled onion and tortillas—both so good. We’re stuffed— still, we can’t wait to try the Crispy Pig Tail or the veal Carnitas—this is the kind of menu where there are always delicious surprises.
3307 Tejon St. / 720.572.5997
DEL FRISCO’S DOUBLE EAGLE STEAKHOUSE
Traditionally, the suggested gift for a 20th anniversary is china. That’s fine … As long as the dishes come plated with a meal from Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. It turns out the Greenwood Village favorite of Denver’s top movers and shakers is celebrating its own two decades of business this month, and if the allure of flawless, handcut, aged USDA prime beef, Australian cold-water lobster tail, hand-shaken martinis and a swanky setting aren’t enough to lure you for a return visit, maybe the 20th anniversary tasting menu will.
Available through September 5, the $97-per-person menu from executive chef Mario Hernandez certainly inspires long-time love. Included: the choice of an appetizer (Bacon au Poivre or Shanghai-Style Calamari paired with a glass of chardonnay or riesling); salad (Del’s Signature Salad topped with a creamy avocado dressing we would have happily eaten with a spoon or a blue cheese lettuce wedge); entrée (8-ounce filet mignon, 16-ounce ribeye or sesame-seared tuna (paired with a cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir); choice of sides (think sautéed mushrooms, maque choux corn, jalapeño bacon macaroni and cheese, potatoes au gratin and more); and dessert (Hazelnut Budino paired with a tawny port or moscato). Entrée enhancements may be added on—we ordered our filet served Mile High Style ($19), which involves a crab cake with lobster sauce perched atop the steak, and our ribeye got a shot of melt-in-your-mouth flavor with a heaping slab of AKC truffle butter ($18).
Of course, the anniversary special dishes and wines are available on the regular dinner menu as well, save the dessert (but you certainly can’t go wrong with the restaurant’s famous six-layer lemon cake slathered with lemon buttercream icing and lemon glaze). Arrive early and order The VIP cocktail—Svedka Clementine vodka infused with fresh Hawaiian pineapple that feels like a beach vacation in a glass—and whether you’re there to celebrate a special occasion, business deal or just life in general, know this will be a memorable meal.
Now, thinking ahead, the traditional 30th anniversary gift is pearls … Del Frisco’s, oysters on the half shell and a strand of pretty jewels? It’s a date.
8100 E. Orchard Road, Greenwood Village / 303.796.0100
Tapas with a twist
The panoramic city and mountain views alone are worth a visit to El Five, but you’ll be equally dazzled by the food: tapas done three ways (traditional, new school and Middle Eastern), paellas (vegetarian, seafood and meaty), as well as two “feast” courses, Trout a la Plancha and Grilled Hanger Steak.
Opened in April five floors above Sushi Ronin in LoHi, El Five is the latest offering from Justin Cucci—and, like all its brethren in Cucci’s Edible Beats group (Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, Root Down, Linger and Vital Root), its cuisine is both playful and daring. The sleek, upscale restaurant, highlighted by old Arab-language movie posters and glass sliders that open onto a large, packed patio, has a busy but relaxed vibe that attracts a varied crowd of date-night couples, girlsnight- outers and hip downtown types. After ordering a fabulous Pineapple Mint Collins and Gin and Tonic de Barcelona, we whet our appetites with the Quesos (the Monte Enebro and Valdéon cheeses from Spain, served with handmade crackers and drizzles of quince and honey, were to die for).
Next, it was a tapas feast: Chicken Kofta (yummy morsels served with peaches and flavored with dill), the piquant Ash-Roasted Carrots (accompanied by a spicy Middle Eastern ras el hanout yogurt), Tabbouleh Lettuce Wraps and melt-in-your-mouth Goat Cheese Croquettas. As always with Cucci, El Five has a nice selection of vegetarian offerings. Green Gazpacho with spiced pepitas? Crispy Cauliflower Yufka with avocado fattoush? Charred Baba Ghanoush with pomegranate molasses? Yes, a return visit is already on our calendars.
2930 Umatilla St. / 303.524.9193
TRENDING: There’s a Hawaiian poke craze happening in Denver (you know, chunks of raw, marinated tuna or other seafood—and, pssst, it’s pronounced poh-KAY). Now open: PokeCity (DTC); Sushi Cup (Capitol Hill); Turtle Boat (Rosedale); QuickFish Poke Bar (Highland); Ohana Island Kitchen (Highland). Opening soon: Denver Poke Company (Highland), Poke House (Highland), Aloha Poke Co. (RiNo).