Blanco Cocina and Cantina + Culinary Dropout Help Cement 9+CO Development’s Growing Appeal

On Wednesday, November 3, Blanco Cocina and Cantina and Culinary Dropout opened as part of the 9+CO Development. The concepts are both from restaurateur Sam Fox, who has opened roughly 130 restaurants nationwide — including True Food Kitchen, North Italia and Flower Child. While the two share the same circle drive, each is entirely independent, sharing only the same propensity for sturdy portions, neatly-crafted cuisine and strong cocktails. The new locations mark Blanco’s eighth iteration and the ninth for Culinary Dropout.

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The first Blanco opened in Tuscon 14 years ago to near-immediate acclaim. Fox, a third-generation restaurateur, was largely raised in Arizona and cites his upbringing for inspiring the menu. The food is largely a hybrid of Sonoran and Arizonan flavors, with cheese-heavy burritos, tacos, chimichangas and enchiladas anchoring a menu of margaritas, frozen drinks and cocktails. The burritos all come heavily stacked, with the short rib machaca ($17) being generously filled with caramelized peppers and onions, yellow cheese, ancho chile sauce and a dash of cilantro. As for the name itself, “I was drinking a lot of Blanco tequila at the time,” laughed Fox.

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While Blanco largely sticks to the standards, Culinary Dropout is decidedly irreverent, flipping bar classics on their head with a nearly psychedelic enthusiasm. The place is patently stylish, ranging from the interior’s custom shoe wall down to the distinct fashion each employee has independently opted to rock. Sandwiches sit on the relatively tame side, with options including the chicken falafel ($15) — with feta yogurt, pickled onion, arugula and harissa tahini — and the pub burger ($15.50) — with Havarti, bacon and house barbecue sauce. Some of the most exceptional items are to be found on the brunch menu, with sausage, bacon and egg pizza ($18) arriving Detroit-style loaded with smoked onion alfredo, mozzarella cheese, provolone fondue, hash browns and arugula. At Culinary Dropout, fun clearly reigns supreme, inviting patrons to relax and enjoy the cocktails, a major focal point of the entire experience. The Tijuana Spa Water ($13) — Blanco tequila, jalapeño, mint, pineapple and cilantro — veers towards the healthy side, an emerald green emblem of the place’s undeniable vivacity.

There’s a good reason Fox has amassed so many restaurants, with each of his latest concepts delivering on a lifetime of experience and decades of individual success.

Blanco Cocina and Cantina is located at 4177 East 9th Ave., Denver. It is open Sunday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Culinary Dropout is located at 4141 East 9th Ave., Denver. It is open Sunday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.

All photography by From the Hip Photo.