When it comes to dining, there are few things more frustrating than trying to pull yourself out of the same restaurant lull. It’s easy to go simply with what is popular or what you are familiar with. While it may be simpler to choose from your stack of favorites, your dining experience is left bland and boring. Here’s where 303 comes in; It is always a goal of ours to find a fun neighborhood restaurant that is slightly under the radar but delivers top notch food. We have a few qualifications when we are searching for our new favorite neighborhood spot: a welcoming ambiance, quality food, and a friendly staff. The Highlands neighborhood is the perfect place to start because the exploring never ends. Check out our first list to see where you should start your culinary exploration:
What: Jezebel’s Southern BistroWhere: 3301 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211 Pros: This joint offers good southern cuisine with a friendly staff. Cons: The service is slow, but keep in mind everything is made fresh to order so the slow service is worth it in the long run.
Jezebel’s has brought good southern charm to Denver and the staff is happy to tell you about it. Everything at Jezebel’s moves a little slower, but it’s part of their flare. The staff treats you like family, taking their time to educate you about the whiskey flights or how their food is cooked. Nothing is rushed here and that’s a good thing. Taking your time to learn the ropes of the menu here is worth it. Jezebel’s offers some of the best fried chicken in Denver and in our opinion the best atmosphere to get it. The outdoor patio is best at night with lights strung across the top giving it a backyard feel. The food at Jezebel’s leaves you feeling warm, happy and satisfied. Be sure to make it to Jezebel’s for happy hour at some point soon; the menu is incredible and has food options for as little as $3 and at most $5. Jezebel’s won’t break the bank and you’ll feel at home with your server. It’s more than a restaurant experience here and that is what Jezebel’s pride themselves in.
What: Salt & GrinderWhere: 3609 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211 Pros: The casual atmosphere and cuisine makes this a perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat on any afternoon. Plus their meatball sub is probably one of the best in town Con: With the in house salumi still under construction, these sandwiches don’t have much of a wow factor…yet.
Salt & Grinder is Frank Bonanno’s most recent concept and the latest addition to his eleven-restaurant empire. The eatery is unlike anything else he has done in the past with its almost fast-casual attitude and focus on expertly crafted sandwiches. This deli-inspired shop springs from Bonanno’s childhood and serves up some truly authentic subs. However this isn’t Jimmy Johns, or at least it won’t be, because the sandwiches are constructed with expertly crafted ingredients from out-of-this-world bread, to fresh mozz and soon-to-be in-house made salumi. Although the concept is not fully baked (in-house salumi is in progress), this little deli is definitely worth visiting to grab a quick bite to eat during lunch rush in the Highlands.What: The Wooden Spoon Where: 2418 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211 (303) 999-0327 Pros: This neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot has incredible pastries; the cinnamon roll is to die for and big enough to share. Cons: The restaurant is incredibly tiny, and when it’s busy it can be loud and cramped.
Paris is known for its fresh baked pastries and out-of-this-world croissants. Almost nothing in the states can ever compare but instead of buying another round trip ticket in order to satisfy your cravings, check out one of our favorite shops in the Highlands. The Wooden Spoon, while it is not a Parisian boulangerie, is pretty close. The menu is small and the atmosphere is quaint. It feels almost like a small Paris cafe, with a line out the door and people chatting and waiting for a freshly baked pastry or brioche egg sandwich. If you happen upon this neighborhood spot on a Saturday or Sunday then you will be lucky enough to grab a freshly baked cinnamon roll. Be warned, they’re about as big as your face, and while they can be shared we won’t judge you if you finish it all yourself. If you tend more toward the savory side then the egg sandwich is the perfect for you. The Egg Sandwich is made with the freshest ingredients and local eggs and comes with two additional items. The Wooden Spoon has an incredible menu and the fresh ingredients make all the difference. The ambiance is quaint and if you don’t mind a line out the door it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the place.What: Tifamade Cantine Where: 2556 15th St, Denver, CO 80211- on the side of Truffle Table Pro: These handcrafted masterpieces are definitely a treat for anyone who can find the place Con: The hours are a little odd (Tues-Sat 11-2)
Squeezed into a tiny back corner of Truffle Table is a hidden highlands gem. Tifamade Cantine, operated and owned solely by Tiffany Lung, is a little pop-up shop that serves up flatbread masterpieces. Here you can get a daily assortment of sandwiches, handcrafted with fresh ingredient picked from the Highlands Farmer Market, served on warm homemade bread. If you can locate the place and get there within their operating hours, you will be in artisan-made heaven. Make sure to try out whatever Tiffany has crafted that day or try the Beet Salad Sandwich, which is usually on the menu.
What: Coral RoomWhere: 3489 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211 Pros: This eatery has been a neighborhood favorite for almost over a decade. The place is best to grab a drink and a nice dinner without having to worry about a reservations in the perpetually packed Highlands. Con: Although the food is fresh, unique and tasty, the price point can be a little high for a more laid back atmosphere.
The Coral Room is one of those restaurants you see all the time and wonder what it is like but haven’t gone inside. Well it’s time to take the plunge because this place is worth a visit. The Coral Room, right off 32nd in the parking lot that also houses Sweet Cow, has been a “cornerstone of Highlands cuisine for over a decade.” Serving up fresh and creative fare, this unknown spot is a favorite to many highlands locals. At any time of day you can find a handful of familiar faces hanging by the bar, grabbing a bite to eat and chatting about their day. It is truly a neighborhood eatery that caters to its many loyal customers. However beyond the locals, not many others seem to occupy the space. This is good news for us because we all know what it’s like to get a reservation in the Highlands last minute. Luckily you won’t sacrifice on the cuisine either because this place is attracting some great young talent. New Sous chef, Patrick Baker, recently left the highly revered 12, to start cooking at Coral Room. His passion and creativity paired with an established kitchen is the perfect recipe for a foodie favorite. Come in and chat with the staff and see what they have up their sleeve, but don’t leave until you’ve had their Sesame Salmon. It is one of our absolute favorite salmon dishes and its melt-in-your-mouth might make you cry tears of joy….Seriously.
Dining out should be more than what is popular at the moment. Support your neighborhood or simply find a spot that’s out of the ordinary. These local finds are delicious and fun, with the nicest staff in town. Treat yourself to a night out of the ordinary and stop by one of the neighbor eateries.
Words by Sarah Martin & Brittany Werges