Guard and Grace Welcomes New Chefs and Celebrates a Big Win

It didn’t take long for Guard and Grace to establish itself as the crown jewel of Troy Guard’s TAG Restaurant Group. Since opening in 2014, the downtown eatery has cemented itself for its expansive, ritzy interior and a strong commitment to every elegant detail associated with the steakhouse experience.

“Opening a steakhouse had never really crossed my mind,” said Guard.

After debuting his unique brand of “continental social food” at TAG Restaurant in Larimer Square in 2009, Guard has grown the restaurant group to include 11 restaurants across four concepts — the healthy bowl concept Bubu, the Mexican-leaning Los Chingones, the breakfast spot HashTAG and the two iterations of Guard and Grace; one in Denver, the other in Houston. There were ebbs and flows, with the original TAG closing its doors in 2021.

This year, however, has been a big year for Guard and his cohort. In March, the chef was named Chef of the Year for Bar and Restaurant Expo’s 2023 Industry Excellence Awards, given for dedication to culinary excellence, sustainability, ethical practices and inclusive culture. To top off the well-earned recognition, two new chefs were added to the Guard and Grace roster.

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The prodigal son, pastry chef Ryan Walker, returned after sharpening his talents in New York at Daniel Humm’s now-legendary Eleven Madison Park. A Vail native and Johnson and Wales graduate, Walker spent the first three years of his career working at the original TAG. This was back in 2012.

After his time in the Big Apple, he came back to Colorado in 2019. He did a stint at hometown favorites Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard before he dropped back down to the city to take the cakes at Guard and Grace.

Filling the role of Executive Chef is Steven Garza. Born in Dallas and raised both there and in Peoria, Illinois, the chef has accrued a true international pedigree, working in kitchens from Chicago to Hong Kong. Laurent Gras’ famed L20 was in there, as was a stint at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, where he ran operations for 1,200 rooms and 90K square feet of banquet space. He spent three years with Maximal Concepts, where he learned the ins and outs of Italian, Thai and Steakhouse traditions while performing at an extraordinarily high level for the Pearl of the Orient’s dining upper crust.

He moved to Denver in 2021 to open Blanco Cocina + Cantina before joining the team at Guard in August of 2022. He says one of his biggest contributions is instituting new systems and perfecting portions. “Part of our Culture at TAG is Ohana,” said Garza, noting that the Hawaiian term for family has permeated every aspect of the restaurant’s organization. “The most important thing in anyone’s career is to find a mentor,” added Guard. “I get to do that now, and I love it.”

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The good news doesn’t end there.

“We’re gonna open two more Guard and Graces in the next three years,” said Guard, adding that the team is currently figuring out which lucky cities will get the concept.

Guard and Grace is located at 1801 California St., Denver. It is open Tuesday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 – 11 p.m., and Sunday and Monday from 4 – 10 p.m.

All photos courtesy of Jason Sinn & TAG Restaurant Group.

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