Bao Brewhouse Updates Menu and Announces New Concept

Peking duck

Even in the best of times, taking over the space that once held Euclid Hall is a tall order. To do it during the height of social distancing required a nearly preposterous level of dedication.

But for Michael Swift and his wife and business partner Evelina, it would appear that all the hard work paid off. When Bao Brewhouse first opened in late 2020, it was just serving dumplings and other small plates from its main-level taproom. The upstairs tea room was still a glint in the team’s eyes, though even then, Michael planned for it to be the crown jewel of the place.

The upstairs now looks like it could be a proper rap video set, if that video took place in Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood for Love. Dim lights and the massive chandelier of red paper lanterns lend plenty of sex appeal, with the nicely-ornamented DJ booth keeping the energy high Thursday through Saturday. It would appear that in 2023, Bao Brewhouse has hit its stride.

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The restaurant is now on its fourth chef, one Jose Guerrero, the man behind My Neighbor Felix, who Michael has known since their shared days at the ViewHouse and the now-shuttered downtown club Chloe. “The current menu is a combination of everything we’ve done. A little bit of every chef has put in their two cents,” said Michael. “We wanted to simplify things but still keep it delicious,” added Evelina.

The big on the pig ($15.88) — the signature dumpling with spicy pork, scallions, fried onions and spicy chili crisp — still sits front and center. Don’t leave without ordering this.

Big parties can opt for the whole Peking duck ($67.88) that hits the table with bao buns, cucumber, scallion, carrots, daikon sprouts, cilantro and plum sauce. Though no meal is complete without the short rib spicy noodle ($27.88), which combines Chinese sausage, garlic, ginger, scallions, baby bok-choy, tri-color peppers, Thai basil, pistachio, sambal hoisin and miso Mongolian sauce. The whole thing is then topped with a king-sized slab of melt-in-your-mouth short rib.

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While the food stays centerstage, the Swifts have been upping the nightlife portion with the introduction of Bao Buns and Boogies, a monthly party with full bottle service and free bao buns that get passed out at midnight. “Evelina and I both come from the nightclub scene,” said Michael, noting that Evelina’s music industry background has helped them keep things sonically interesting.

With both the tea and taproom thriving, the Swifts have decided to open Ukiyo, a Japanese bathhouse-inspired super fine-dining omakase concept in the basement. The project will be helmed by Roaring Fork rising star Paul Sananikone and is slated for the end of summer.

The pair also hopes to open two additional taproom spots in the Denver area within the next couple of years. “Bao is always going to be the HQ,” said Evelina, noting that since the blueprint is there, there will likely be split-off versions of each level.

Bao Brewhouse is located at 1317 14th St., Denver. It is open Monday from 4 – 10 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 p.m. – 10:30 pm., Thursday – Saturday from 12 p.m. – 12 a.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

All photography courtesy of Bao Brewhouse.

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