The emergence of Hawaiian cuisine in the form of poké has slowly taken over the Denver dining scene. Rather than following the trend of order by the scoop environment, Hi Tide Elevated Poké and Hawaiian Fare introduces poké as more of an elevated experience.
Friends Celeste Pfeiffer and Melissa Krischuk opened Hi Tide (in the former Americatus space) in June 2018 in the River North district next door to Los Chingones and Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs. Having met through significant others, their friendship grew into a creative business venture.
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Krischuk moved to Colorado in 2010 with the opportunity to franchise a few Yogurtland locations. Pfeiffer, born in Mississippi, moved around quite a bit growing up, having lived both on the east coast and midwest from Philadelphia to Ohio. It was after taking a trip to Beaver Creek where she fell in love with the Rocky Mountains and in 2006 officially called Colorado home.
While Pfeiffer and Krischuk are the operating owners, their silent partners had a lot of influence in helping these women create a poké restaurant in Denver. Both silent partners, Jay Krischuk and Chris Cartwright grew up in Alaska but ended up reconnecting in Colorado. All four partners have vacationed in Hawaii all their lives and they’ve had plenty of opportunities to soak up Hawaiian cuisine.
Having been in corporate sales for 10 years, Pfeiffer became a self-taught personal chef and gained experience doing prep work and managing the front of house at Señor Bear in Denver. Her epicurean influences come from her Thai mother and American father. A fusion of eastern Asian flavor profiles and simple comfort foods from the Midwest have largely affected the menu at Hi Tide. When creating the menu, Pfeiffer wanted to mashup Hawaiian, Korean, Thai, Japanese and American cultures in an approachable way.
When the poké craze from the west coast started showing up on menus in the midwest, Krischuk and Pfeiffer decided to open a restaurant to showcase their version of this trendy dish. After looking at various poké franchises, nothing seemed to fit the model they had in mind. So they made their vision come true with adaptations from the artsy RiNo district while still keeping an Asian influenced menu.
While the name in part represents the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains — Hi Tide also symbolizes the elevated cuisine. With a full kitchen, Hi Tide has the freedom to create the raw fishbowls that you would expect from a poké spot like the OG Tuna ($13-$15) — Pfeiffer’s take on a classic Hawaiian poké bowl with sushi-grade ahi tuna on a bed of steamed rice, topped with avocado, sweet onion, jalapeño, toasted sesame and seaweed salad. And a fully cooked poké bowl like the Hawaiian Kalua Pork ($10-$12) with smoked Kalua pig in dried pineapple and applewood chips — slow roasted for seven hours, topped with a house-made sesame ginger dressing, Fresno chiles, red cabbage, grilled pineapple salsa and a pineapple caramel drizzle served over steamed white rice. Outside of your typical bowls, some of the simpler appetizer dishes are the most sought out.
The Broccoli on Fire ($5) is a bowl of broccoli smoked, fried and tossed in an orange gochujang sauce, topped with a house-made charred citrus aioli sauce. The perfect bite of both sweet and spicy — not at all the same broccoli you were forced to eat as a child.
Mimicking the dining menu, the restaurant itself doesn’t copy your typical fast-casual dining décor. With bar and table seating, the space radiates a modern Hawaiian aesthetic with soothing tiki island vibes whereas sleek lines and bamboo stalk lights above the bar are a subtle nod to Japanese culture. Green leaf print is sprinkled throughout the restaurant highlighting the Hawaiian influence while the exposed brick walls and artsy murals reflect the urban creativity of the RiNo district. Both modern yet relaxed, Hi Tide draws in every type of diner from young adults to small families.
With the décor transporting visitors to another part of the world, the menu seals the deal on this traveling experience. Traditional Hawaiian poké bowls, Asian inspired small plates and frake (frozen blackberry and ginger sake) help diners ride out the hi tide in RiNo.
Hi Tide Elevated Poké and Hawaiian Fare is located at 2449 Larimer St., Denver. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
All Photography By Amanda Piela