The votes are in. Below you’ll find the people and businesses that represent the best in Denver. From the top new restaurant all the way to the best alternative model, we hit a wide range of Denver categories and industries to showcase what our city has to offer. Read on to find out who won, while learning a little bit about our category winners.


Best New Restaurant + Best New Restaurant – Fan Favorite: Urban Farmer

Urban Farmer. Photo by Amanda Piela.

The Lowdown: Urban Farmer got its start in 2008 in Portland, and since opening, the team has stayed true to its mission — to celebrate farmers and food purveyors with each plate they serve. Executive chef Chris Starkus — who joins Urban Farmer Denver after eight years at the Portland location — spent months before opening the restaurant developing relationships with local food purveyors across the state with Sage Restaurant Group co-founder Peter Karpinski. – Alex Palmerton

Read more here.

Most Underrated New Restaurant: Hearth and Dram

The “Going Down Proper” at Hearth and Dram. Photo by Kyle Cooper.

The Lowdown: Hearth & Dram brings with it a selection of more than 350 whiskeys, innovative, wood-fire-grilled comfort food and a unique charm reminiscent of Colorado’s gold rush era. The name is as descriptive as it is enticing – a hearth is the warm area in front of a fireplace, and a dram is a unit of measurement for whiskey that was coined hundreds of years ago, but is still used today in Ireland. Everything about the new space exudes welcoming warmth. – Sarah Strohl 

Read more here. 

Most Influential Denver Chef (2017-2018): Caroline Glover

Caroline Glover. Photo by Nisa Sedaghat.

The Lowdown: At the intersection of scratch-to-table and fine-dining and nestled into the front of Aurora’s new, food-driven Stanley Marketplace, awaits one of Denver’s newest, burgeoning eateries — Annette.  Helmed by Caroline Glover, her blend of kitchen expertise and a panache for teamwork, has made this tiny space thrive. Her modern gastropub has found the perfect balance between tasteful understatement and elegance in all of its elements. – Nisa Sedaghat 

Read more here.

Best New Brunch in Denver: Tupelo Honey

Cherry Bomb Froze’ at Tupelo Honey — Photo by Amanda Piela

The Lowdown:  Tupelo Honey is a Southern food concept operating more than a dozen restaurants in the eastern United States, but Denver is the brand’s first location west of the Mississippi River. It only takes one visit to see that Tupelo Honey has brought southern hospitality to the heart of LoDo, along with a little bit of Denver detail. – Alex Palmerton

Read more here. 

Best Brunch – Fan Favorite: Kachina Southwestern Grill

Kachina. Photo by Alexandra Palmerton.

The Lowdown: Last spring, the Dairy Block welcomed a Westminster favorite for its first Denver outpost. The southwestern restaurant pulls from the various influences of the region and as a result blends together modernity and heritage into one vibrant restaurant. – Alex Palmerton

Read more here. 

Best New Coffee Shop in Denver: River and Roads Coffee

Micheal and Desiree Keen. Photos by Giacomo Di Franco

The Lowdown: When Micheal and Desiree Keen first toured the junk-lot that is now Rivers and Roads coffee, they saw past the deterioration, dirt floors and piles of trash. The couple had a vision of a community space for the Clayton Neighborhood and that would reach past the purpose of an ordinary coffee shop. – Cara Chancellor

Read more here.

Best New Coffee Shop – Fan Favorite: Blue Sparrow

Photo by Kenneth Coles.

The Lowdown: Denver’s River North district has become one of Colorado’s fastest-growing neighborhoods in recent years.  Named as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 neighborhoods to visit in the US, this eclectic area on Denver’s north-side is teeming with newly opened breweries, art galleries, restaurants and yes — coffee shops. Among the new kids on the block is Blue Sparrow Coffee — and founder Jeffrey Knott is no stranger to Denver’s ever-expanding coffee scene. – Cara Chancellor

Read more here. 

Best New Bar in Denver: Bigsby’s Folly

Photo Courtesy of Bigsby’s Folly-A Craft Winery: Food, Bar, Private Events on Facebook

The Lowdown: Bigsby’s Folly — the newest urban winery to hit Denver — opened in RiNo on Friday, June 16. The roaring 1920s inspired tasting room found its home in a 130-year-old warehouse on 3563 Wazee Street. “Our vision is to do for the wine industry what craft breweries did for beer by bringing education, adventure and quality wines to people in urban neighborhoods like RiNo,” said Chad Yetka, Bigsby’s Folly’s Co-Founder and CEO. – Alex Palmerton

Read more here.

Best New Bar – Fan Favorite: Poka Lola Social Club

Photo by Kyle Cooper.

The Lowdown: If stepping back into the days of the sidecar, jitterbug and classic soda fountains are your ideas of a sexy scene — look no further than Poka Lola. This retro social club in Denver’s Dairy Block is a nod to turn of the century American soda fountain culture with an adult twist. – Alex Palmerton

Best New Brewery + Best New Brewery – Fan Favorite: Zuni Street

Craft Beer, Colorado Beer, Colorado Craft Beer, Denver Craft Beer, Zuni Street Brewing Company, New Breweries in Denver, Alysia Shoemaker, Photography by Alysia Shoemaker, 303 Magazine, The Highlands, Denver Breweries, Where To Drink in Denver

The Lowdown: Joining the brewery scene in Denver requires more than just good beer. The brewery needs a certain kind of style in order to stand out from the pack. It doesn’t need to be flashy, it doesn’t need to be incredibly daring, but it does need to be something that the beer drinkers of Denver can appreciate. TJ Slattery and Willy Truettner, the owners of Zuni Street Brewing Company, not only created a place that Denver beer drinkers could appreciate, but they made it feel like home when they opened their doors in March. – Alysia Shoemaker

Read more here. 


Best Rock Artist / Band: CITRA

Fan Favorite New Album: CITRA – Mr. Copacetic

Photo by Mark Tepsic.

The Lowdown:  By the way they act, the four members of CITRA could be brothers, except they’re in no way related. Although they only officially became a band in 2016, their chemistry makes it seem like they’ve known each other for decades. In the recent days of their forming, CITRA released the five-song EP Ocean and two singles titled “My My Mind” and “Air.” This year, the group released their first album Mr. Copacetic, which is clearly already a fan favorite. – Emily McCarter

Read more here.

Best Folk Band / Artist: Treehouse Sanctum

Photo Courtesy of Treehouse Sanctum.

The Lowdown: Local folk-rock band, Treehouse Sanctum, already boasts an impressive resume. Their latest album Vivere was released this May of 2017 and was recorded at The Keep in Denver. Vivere was co-produced by Grammy-nominated engineer Nick Sullivan and mastered by Grammy award winner Jonathan Russell in Nashville, Tennessee. They’ve also already shared the stage with the likes of Mumford & Sons, The Flaming Lips, Dawes and many others. Their sound is rooted more in folk music than rock — and their lyrics go beyond common folk music tropes. Treehouse Sanctum is fronted by Sam & Danya Lynn and accompanied by Andrew on drums, Ben on Bass and Jeremy on lead guitar and Dewayne on the trumpet. Together the band creates a compassionate and warm sound — the way folk music, to us, is supposed to. –  Drew Boulos

Best Country Band: Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs

UMS, Underground Music Showcase, 303 Music, 303 Magazine, Tyler Harvey, Amanda Piele, UMS 2017

Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs. Photo by Amanda Piela.

The Lowdown: We first fell in love with Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs at last year’s Underground Music Showcase. Playing a relatively understated show, the band lived up to their name and brought the noise. The folk-country band blends genres for a wholly fresh take on country that still feels like its honoring their roots. – Brittany Werges

Best Multi-Genre Band / Artist: ATOMGA

Photo by Kenneth Coles.

The Lowdown: Before heading into an ATOMGA show, you know two things. One, the room will be full, and two, the sounds will be loud. Denver’s premier Afrobeat band has been crowned royalty since 2011 and is known for being a sure thing when it comes to providing an epic night with genuinely talented musicians. In addition to the tunes, their dedication to bringing out the lover in all of us is what ties the entity of ATOMGA into the total package.The group just released their third album, AGA, and it is their best work yet. – Denby Gardiner 

Read more here.

Best Alt-Rock Band: Slow Caves

Photo courtesy of Slow Caves.

The Lowdown: Just a couple of local Coloradans being creative and doing what they love — a description that can help paint the picture of the beach rock, grunge vibin’ band Slow Caves. Comprised of Jakob Mueller, Oliver Mueller, David Dugan and Jackson Lamperes, this quartet hails from Fort Collins. –  Taylor Heussner

Read more here.

Best Pop Artist / Band: Motion Trap

Photo courtesy of Motion Trap on Facebook.

The Lowdown: What happens when Glass Animals spawns a three-way love child with Cherub and Tycho? Denver’s Motion Trap. Comparisons aside, Motion Trap has created a unique electro-pop sound that’s influenced by some of music’s past and present heavy-hitters. This past summer the band performed at both Denver’s Underground Music Showcase and Loveland’s Arise Music Festival. Motion Trap has been in the works for over 10 years and there’s no doubt that their combination of eerie ambiance, danceable rhythms and funky vocals have set them up for success. Check out their newest album Heavenly Bodies released in September of 2017. – Tyler Harvey

Read more here. 

Best DJ / Electronic Group: Covex

Photo by David Veltri Photography.

The Lowdown:  The ethereal electronic work of Covex is as tantalizing manufactured as it is tangibly accessible. Following in the likes of Odesza and Illenium, Covex’s strength is in his ability to marry electronics and live elements into a seamless vision. Denver has had an illustrious history of electronic artists to emerge from this great city, and if we were betting people, Covex would top the list of the next to come up. In fact, the musician will be headlining his first ever show later this month at Larimer Lounge. – Kori Hazel 

Best Venue in Denver: Bluebird Theater

The Lowdown: The 550-capacity theater is a staple for up and coming talent that inevitably find themselves graduating to bigger Denver venues when they return. Situated across the street from Mezcal (where you’ll pre-game) and next door to Atomic Cowboy (where you’ll post-game), the Bluebird Theater is your chance to impress your friends with your incredible hipster taste. You can try and claim that you are not said hipster, but the Pitchfork review you discovered the band on would say otherwise. Rest assured, however, the Bluebird is one of the few remaining famous buildings that hipsters can feel alright in, and that’s a very good thing. – Kori Hazel

Read more here. 

Best Underrated Venue + Fan Favorite Venue: Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox

Photo courtesy of Ophelia’s.

The Lowdown: When Ophelia’s first opened, the buzz was primarily focused on its culinary side. However, famed Denver restaurateur, Justin Cucci, is well known for creating spaces that transcend any labels (see: Linger). Cucci, who has a love for all things eccentric, designed an eclectic restaurant/venue hybrid that breathed new life into this former brothel. However, Ophelia’s seductive past seems to live on as its impossible to attend one of its many intimate shows without getting down on the dance floor. – Brittany Werges 

Best Denver Music Festival: The Underground Music Showcase

Photo by Brittany Werges.

The Lowdown: UMS, a special showcase of local talents big and small, is one of great pride for our city — so much so our own governor can’t help but to declare it a state holiday. In honor of one of the most special weekends in Denver, we always set out to find the best by attending as many shows as humanly possible. And while we still haven’t invented our UMS cloning machine quite yet, last year we collectively saw more than 100 shows in the span of four days. – Brittany Werges

Read more here. 

Best Colorado Music Festival: Telluride Bluegrass

Concert-goers lounge at Telluride Bluegrass 2017. Photo by Brittany Werges.

The Lowdown: It’s difficult to translate a festival experience into words. Add in that the festival is Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and well, you’ve got quite the conundrum for several reasons. How do you describe the rugged mountains that enfold the tiny town of Telluride? What words can you speak to translate the musical vibes that enveloped the valleys? Can you paint the pink sunset hues that rest over the ridges of the hills into thoughtful language? Give me a paintbrush and I’ll show you the fairy tale that takes place in the hills of western Colorado .- Taylor Heussner

Read more here.

Best Up and Coming Local Artist: Wildermiss

Photo by Kyle Cooper

The Lowdown:  It’s hard to not fall in love with singer Emma Cole’s voice. Her angelic vocals were made for Wildermiss — and each musician’s unique sound fits together perfectly with the others. This upbeat alternative band didn’t skip a beat in 2017 and has no intention of slowing down in 2018. Wildermiss is one of those bands you know you’ll see in the future — they found something special within each other — and that resonates with fans. – Ellie Herring

Note: this award was previously given to SidmfKid, who unfortunately turned down the award. Wildermiss came in at a close second and has accepted the title.  

Fan Favorite Local Artist: Shayla Monique

The Lowdown: “Shayla Monique is a Denver, born in 1999, is a singer and songwriter from Denver, Colorado. Music has played a huge role throughout her entire life and she has been performing live since the age of 9 years old. Shayla has been spending all of her time writing and recording in the studio, while also working on perfecting her craft through vocal coaching and piano lessons. Shayla Monique’s genre falls under R&B/Hip-Hop/Rap and she has a successful following on SoundCloud, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. She writes all of her own music and has been focused on gaining experience and building her brand through live opening and supporting performances for many headlining artists and Denver’s own, Ran$teez.”

Read more here.

Best Bluegrass Band / Artist: Rapidgrass

Photo courtesy of Rapidgrass.

The Lowdown: Rapidgrass is the spitting image of Colorado mountain music, coming in the form of a string quintet and catching you all over the Southwest. With their lifelong celebration of “mountains and whitewater rapids,” the band is a vital player at bluegrass festivals across the country, and an important piece of Denver’s live music scene. Rapidgrass hosts their own festival this year in June in Idaho Springs, where you’ll get a taste of the best of local string and bluegrass music, smack dab in the Rockies and alongside the river. – Emma Jerry Polachek

Best R&B Artist/Group: Ghost Tapes

Photo courtesy of Ghost Tapes on Facebook.

The Lowdown: Ghost Tapes is a modern soul band based in Denver. Their sound is unique to the Denver music scene by delivering what they call, “cerebral and poetic” music which comes from the intriguing lyrics and vocalist Stella Nursery’s melodic voice. Ghost Tapes’ music is inspired by the elements of ’70s funk and soul, ’90s hip-hop and late ’90s neo-soul. Listen to their originality and judge for yourself here. – Symone Roque

Best Hip-Hop Artist/Group: Ray Reed  + Best New Album / EP: Ray Reed – Pac Man

Photo of Ray Reed by Alden Bonecutter.

The Lowdown: Ray Reed just might be the rapper that puts Denver’s hip-hop scene on the map. Cities like Atlanta and Houston get all the rap fan’s attention — but once they hear Ray Reed — that will change. Reed raps about street life, growing up in D-town and more on his latest mixtape PacMan. During his time in jail, Reed realized his dream of rapping, developing a promising career at one of the most difficult times in his life. And we’re glad he did. – Ellie Herring

READ: Q&A – Denver’s Ray Reed is Ready to Jump From Local Artist to Hip-Hop Star

Best Metal Band: Green Druid

Photo courtesy of Green Druid on Facebook.

The Lowdown:  Brooding. Atmospheric. Isolationist.” is how Denver band Green Druid would describe themselves. Known for testing the limits with songs that hit “marathon lengths,” the local metal outfit draws influence from ancient culture that honors both their Irish heritage and pagan roots. – Brittany Werges

Read more here.

Best Jazz Band/Artist: Ron Miles

The Lowdown: A recent inductee in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, Ron Miles is a staple in the local jazz scene. The talented cornetist, trumpeter and composer, grew up in Denver but pulls influences from African American history across time and place in his most recent album I Am a Man. In 2014, Westword described his work as “rich, full-bodied and lyrical,” while naming him “among the greatest collaborators in jazz.”- Brittany Werges

Read more here. 


Fashion and Photography

Best Colorado Instagrammer: @connorschmidtt

Photo by @connorschmidtt

The Lowdown: When it comes to taking pretty landscape pictures, competition in Colorado is thick. When we stumbled upon Connor Schmidt’s profile, we saw someone who not only knows how to showcase Colorado at its best but has a keen eye for composition and color. As a result, his dream-like images capture not only the physical beauty of the Centennial state but an emotional one too. – Brittany Werges

Best Denver Instagrammer: @armando_geneyro

Photo by @armando_geneyro

The Lowdown: Armando Geneyro’s work is one you often don’t see on Instagram. Gone are the filters and candy-colored hues, and in its place you’ll find gradients of black and white that burst with energy and story. Known for creating the hashtag #theyshootn (what he called “Nat Geo for the streets“), Geneyro spends his time capturing Denver on the ground while supporting fellow photographers that aren’t afraid to push boundaries and create a voice of their own.  – Brittany Werges

Read more here.

Best Local Women’s Boutique: Melrose & Madison

Photo courtesy of Paige Brown.

The Lowdown:  Melrose & Madison is a local, family-owned boutique that offers the finest fashion statements from LA to New York. The store combines the latest trends and style from the east and west coasts while adding in a laid-back Colorado twist to tie it all together. This boutique, run by mother Kristen Brown and her daughter Paige Brown, is a family affair with two locations. – Abby Hackmann

Read more here.

Best Local Men’s Boutique: Abstract

Photo by Danielle Webster.

The Lowdown:  Abstract Denver has been a pillar of streetwear for the Mile High City for over 15 years. Because of its extreme popularity, the storefront hosted the Kendrick Lamar pop-up shop last July where Coloradans stood in line for 10 hours just to be in the building. Staying true to Abstract’s mission, the shop has provided exclusive brands, self-printed local goods and art like no other entity in Colorado. – Jocelyn Blake

Read more here.

Best Local Boutique – Fan Favorite: Station

Photo by Alden Bonecutter.

The Lowdown: If you’re someone that loves unique ’90s vintage streetwear, hip-hop/rap fashion and local art then you’ll definitely want to head to Five Points and check out Station. The idea for Station and the original location both came from the house of co-owner David Bywater. As trends in the vintage fashion realm have sparked more popularity and as Station has created a larger following for the shop and brand, there was a need for a space to hold not only its unique clothing but local art, pop-up shops and events. Station focuses on finding items that you won’t find anywhere else from the hyped to the hard to find. It carries vintage Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica and Polo, local prints, brands and exclusive items from Supreme and Bape just to name a few. – Symone Roque

Read more here.

Best Designer: Crystal Lee

The Lowdown: Colorado’s own Crystal Lee of CRLEE Designs makes womens’ clothing that are lush, functional, and as easy as Denver’s culture. Recently, the Centennial-based artist took her designs to the next level and showcased her work New York Fashion Week in September 2017. – Aaron Rodriguez

Read more here.

Best Fashion Photographer: JJ Constantine

The Lowdown:  JJ Constantine is an artistic alias used by Jacek (Jack) Jarzabek, a contemporary portrait, event and fashion photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. His passion with photography started many years ago when as a young boy he assisted his brother in a dark room, where both of them developed exposures taken with an old Minolta and Pentax cameras. Jack immigrated to the US from Poland in late ’80s and pursued his music career. Once his music days were over, he obtained his education in visual arts and animation — during all this time he always had a camera handy. He started his photography career as an assistant in one of Miami’s fashion studios over 10 years ago, but did not start to pursue photography on his own until late 2010.”

Read more here.

Best Salon: Oracle

Photo by Rebecca Slaughter.

The Lowdown: From the minds of Denver Fashion Week veterans, Bri Bird and  Hailey Hodapp, comes Oracle. The relatively new salon is all about quality with a flair for creativity. According to them, the Oracle team knows that the true mark of great hairdresser is not just to “create” but also to “recreate” amazing work. With 20 years of combined experience, the new salon is quickly making a name for itself in the Denver hair and beauty scene. – Brittany Werges

Best Female Model: Zoie Zeller

Photo by Kyle Cooper.

Bio coming soon…

Best Male Model: Gary Rickard

Bio coming soon…

Best Alternative Model: Stephanie Maner

Photo by Stephanie Maner

The Lowdown: 303 Magazines Alternative Model of the Year, Stephanie Maner has seen it all when it comes to the changes within the fashion industry. Being a model for more than 30 years, Maner’s adaptation has only brought her great success and opportunities. – Karysma Hicks

Read more here. 

Colorado Hairstylist of the Year: Joe Denny

Bio coming soon…

Colorado Makeup Artist of the Year: Cha Cha Romero

Cha Cha Romero (middle). Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Romero on Facebook.

The Lowdown: “I was always the unique outcast as a kid. Nobody could relate to my creative mind or fashion. I grew up fast, started living on my own at 16 and lived more life in my teens than many people do in their 30s. Made me tough and independent. Maybe that’s why I’m not afraid to live life. I’m thankful for all my experiences — good and bad. They molded me for success.” – Jennifer Tom

Read more here.