With two restaurants opening in two weeks, it’s safe to say the TAG Restaurant Group has a lot on its plate. Both of its newest ventures are in Stapleton’s East Bridge Town Center — a third Los Chingones that opened June 24 and now a brand new concept, Hashtag, that opens July 7 at 7 a.m.
“I love opening restaurants,” TAG Beverage Director Michael Cerretani explained. “It’s exciting, crazy and extremely hard work. But, you can work a 15 to 16 hour day and not even notice because it’s fun.”
With restaurants ranging from a high-end steakhouse like Guard and Grace, to a quick counter-service spot like Bubu, Hashtag will fill an entirely different need for the group — breakfast.
“Troy has been wanting to do breakfast for years,” Cerretani said. “He always can’t wait for Mother’s Day brunch so he could design breakfast menus for the other restaurants. But Troy’s got a great instinct of when and where, and he saw a need in this neighborhood specifically.”
Stapleton is Guard’s own neighborhood, which has seen at least 10 restaurants opening this year alone. However, Hashtag — a kitschy name combining TAG’s namesake with the breakfast “hash” to form a word that’s also culturally relevant these days — will operate in a completely separate sphere from dinner restaurants like Los Chingones or Cattivella.
Let’s take a peek before it opens next week.
When we visited Hashtag a week before the opening, you could already feel the exciting buzz surging around the opening team. Contractors worked tirelessly to finish the intricate wood paneling on the ceiling, as the opening management team trained new staff beneath it. Cerretani was right, the mood was infectious.
General manager Cherish Devereaux explained how the group wanted to keep that positive energy flowing through every breakfast service.
“I want people to feel like they visited friends not a business,” she said. “When they leave here, I want them to know they just found their new favorite breakfast place.”
For Hashtag, Guard tapped into the same studio that designed the new Los Chingones — LIVstudio. Because the restaurants are next door to one another and even share a bathroom, it’s interesting to walk between the two and see different design elements at work.
For this 2,460 square-foot space, it’s all about texture. Yellow-painted pots and pans line the walls, wood paneling juts in and out of the ceiling to create a 3D effect and even the dining room chairs are thoughtful — their white, rounded appearance and yellow cushions make them each look like eggs.
The restaurant will seat 85 in the main dining room and about 25 on the patio.
When bringing the Hashtag menu to life, Cerretani knew the team had to be careful.
“The reality is people have an emotional attachment to breakfast or brunch,” he explained. “Ultimately we decided that breakfast is not a new concept — so let’s do it right by honoring the things people love.”
Hashtag’s menu has something for everyone, with menu categories like Starters, Health Kick, Use Your Hands, Buenos Dias, Cakes & Carbs, Benedicts, Omelet Station, Hashivore and sides.
Like the original TAG, Hashtag has dishes that represent different cultures — from the El Jefe Burrito with adobo roasted pork shoulder, black beans, hash, green chili salsa and pickled onion, to a Hawaii-inspired Loco Moco, a TAG meatloaf with eggs, mushroom gravy rice and kimchi. The menu even features an “Ancient Chinese secret soup Pho-style” with chicken, ginger, scallion and cilantro — Hashtag claims it’s the truest hangover cure.
If you prefer more expected breakfast fare, you won’t be disappointed either. From the Cast Iron Cinnamon Roll that’s the size of your head to an Old School Benedict, there’s a sweet and savory choice for the whole crew. However, keeping true to its namesake, our absolute favorite was the Pastrami Hash with potatoes, eggs, arugula, mushrooms, caramelized onions and a whole grain mustard aioli. It’s a potato lover’s dream.
As for cocktails, Cerretani’s vision was clear.
“I want to keep things light and refreshing,” he said. “I mean, after all, it is the morning.”
Guests will find their typical favorites like mimosas — with orange, pineapple, grapefruit or passion fruit guava juice — or bloody marys — an original, a smoky and a spicy, all with Guard and Grace’s signature steak seasoning in the mix. There’s even a nod to more classic cocktails like the Corpse Reviver #2 — a traditional hangover cure from the Savoy Cocktail Book with gin, Lillet, triple sec and lemon juice served in an absinthe-washed glass.
We predict that people will frequently sip the Fruity Cougar with seasonal berries, fresh lime juice, vodka and a kombucha topper. But, our favorite — that we will most definitely be sipping all summer — was the Watermelon Breakfast Margarita. This light and refreshing cocktail is simple, with tequila, agave, fresh lime juice and fresh watermelon juice. But beware, they go down easy.
Ultimately, Hashtag is a breakfast place worth venturing to, for all of the reasons that Cerretani explained —”If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. Just do it really well.”
Hashtag is located at 10155 E. 29th Dr., Denver. Once it officially opens Saturday, July 7 — its hours will be Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
All photography by Rachelle Foos.