Why Pistol Whip? “Why not?” says renowned Denver tattoo artist-turned-restauranteur, John Slaughter.
When the building went up for sale next to Tribe Tattoo — Slaughter’s popular tattoo shop which has reigned in Lincoln Park for over 18 years — he seized the opportunity to “get out of the tattoo chair” and bring his vision to life. After removing old gas tanks from what now serves as Pistol Whip’s dining room, Slaughter singlehandedly created an interior reminiscent of a “modern French farmhouse,” incorporating rustic elements into an otherwise contemporary atmosphere. Eye-popping blue chairs, gold accents and charming vintage pieces bring a refreshing balance of elegance and simplicity to the space. Truly, Pistol Whip is the first of its kind in the rapidly evolving art district on Santa Fe. The upscale yet approachable menu may be enjoyed during a formal dinner in the dining room or while watching a game at the bar.
Slaughter — who grew up in the restaurant business prior to his career as a tattoo artist — has assembled an impressive team with various areas of expertise. In the kitchen, chef Nicolas Lebas, a native of France and former executive chef of Panzano, showcases the breadth of his culinary experience by creating elevated dishes that appeal to the eyes as much as the tastes buds. Who knew hummus could be considered pretty? In fact, the spicy kale and parmesan hummus ($10) with fresh vegetables and oat crackers may be one of the most visually pleasing plates on the menu. Additionally, the steak tartare ($14), another beautifully composed dish, offers a relishable burst of texture and flavor, accompanied by crispy potatoes, smoked quail egg, black olive vinaigrette, parsley cured egg yolk and summer micro greens. A noteworthy assortment of steaks are dry-aged in house, the Faroe Island salmon ($26) stands out for its fresh, buttery flavor and the desserts (including house made sorbet and gelato) are equally desirable.
The wine program has been refined by general manager and sommelier, Luke Recine and the bar is helmed by Luis Martinez Peraza. With 20 beers on tap, four natural wines on tap, a broad selection of wine by the glass and a creative list of cocktails — including the Sicario ($12) with Nuestra Soledad San Luis del Rio mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Bonal and Benedictine — Pistol Whip’s versatile bar is set to become a neighborhood gathering place. Likewise, the expansive 50-seat patio is the perfect spot for al fresco dining in the art district.
When Slaughter began his ambitious endeavor, he recognized the need for an exceptional place to dine and congregate on a street that is typically quiet by 8 p.m. Moreover, Slaughter declares that Pistol Whip’s approachability is based on a New York City-style of restaurant — with a cutting edge name to lure in curious guests and “a little bit of everything” to keep them coming back.
While the name Pistol Whip may bring about questions and controversy, Slaughter is proud of its distinctiveness. “If you want to get literal about it, you just got hit over the head by something amazing,” he stated, in reference to the first few bites of Pistol Whip’s tantalizing steak tartare. Besides the presence of Slaughter himself or patrons he may have previously tattooed, the only tattoo affiliation you will find within Pistol Whip’s walls exist on a specially-designed children’s coloring page, attached to a kids menu that goes beyond the usual, uninspiring dishes with more unique options to please budding young palates.
This edgy and enticing new concept officially opened yesterday, May 1 and will be open for dinner seven days a week, with lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on the weekends and a daily happy hour.
Pistol Whip is located at 698 Santa Fe Dr, Denver.