Michelin has been the buzzword on the local dining scene since June, when the tire maker announced that its world-renowned guide, which hands out coveted stars and other accolades to restaurants, was coming to Colorado.
The full list of winners was released last week and more than half of the 44 restaurants are located in Denver. Now, another high-profile publication has shed light on the city’s food scene. THE New York Times released its 2023 list of America’s 50 Best Restaurants on September 19, and two of them are located in the Mile High.
One of them is on a roll: Chef Jose Avila’s La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal debuted at 2233 Larimer Street in 2021 and has racked up accolades and recognition since then. It was Western word‘s Best New Restaurant in the 2022 Best of Denver and landed on our 2023 list of the city’s ten best taco restaurants. More recently, it was one of nine restaurants awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
THE New York Times recommends pozole negro and guisados, “a whole genre of stews and braises, which can be ordered as tacos or costras.” We recommend stocking up on anything in taco form and opting for a side of bone marrow to pile on top. The house margarita is also a winner.
A taco spread from La Diabla.
The other NOW The pick is Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails, which opened in January at 3333 East Colfax Avenue. The restaurant is the latest effort from chef Bo Porytko, who helped push the dining scene into more adventurous territory with Rebel Restaurant before it closed in 2018. He then reemerged with Misfit Snack Bar, which serves out of Middleman on Colfax. With Molotov, he focused his culinary creativity on his Ukrainian heritage, bringing Denver an upscale oriental restaurant that maintains a fun, quirky vibe in a small, intimate space.
Molotov was one of the places we expected to see in the Michelin mix, so this recognition is well deserved. A recent NOW The story about the cost of introducing the Michelin guide to a new market even ended with a quote from Porytko, who noted that the scene is filled with “repetitive farm-to-table menus and seasonings shy. Not many chefs (in Denver) really deserve it,” he said of the Michelin star. “But I hope it pushes everyone to get better and be more adventurous.”
The fare at Molotov is indeed adventurous and changes regularly. This month, the restaurant will celebrate Oktoberfest with a German-inspired menu including options like fried pork shank and salmon and leek strudel, available through October 1. On Fridays and Saturdays there will also be live polka music, as well as plenty of seasonal draft beer. Reservations are available on Tock.
With the NOW nod, Portyko and his team have even more reason to celebrate, and Denver diners have yet another great reason to get out and enjoy the best of our local restaurant scene.