From the reopening of a soul food staple to a Texas burger chain to a modern take on traditional Vietnamese cuisine, these 10 restaurants should be on your dining bucket list in 2023.
Some trends we’re noticing among these planned openings: existing eateries are finding new locations to stay in business; popular fast food chains are continuing to make the leap to Colorado; and up-and-coming chefs are ready to take on the risk of a new restaurant again.
Here are the 10 most-anticipated restaurant openings around Denver in 2023.
Colorado got its Christmas wish in December with the announcement of a Casa Bonita opening date. “South Park” creators and Casa Bonita owners Trey Parker and Matt Stone said they plan to reopen the doors of the famous Lakewood eatertainment venue in May with well-known local chef Dana Rodriguez behind the burners.
The original plan was to reopen by late 2022, and the restaurant — which has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic — made our list of anticipated openings a year ago, but Stone and Parker ran into some unforeseen challenges with the building’s renovation. According to city permitting documents and construction plans, the renovations will cost about $12 million.
6715 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood; casabonitadenver.com
Chefs Anna and Anthony Nguyen moved back to Colorado from California two years ago with the idea to start their own restaurant, and after a series of pop-up previews that garnered a lot of attention from Denver foodies, the couple has finally secured a location.
In April 2023, the Nguyens plan to open Sap Sua, a Vietnamese restaurant, in Congress Park. Anthony is a first-generation Vietnamese American, and the menu will include some of his family recipes with a twist, such as a charred cabbage dish based on his mother’s recipe.
2550 E. Colfax Ave., Denver; sapsua.com
Fans of Kelly Whitaker, the Denver chef behind highly acclaimed restaurants like The Wolf’s Tailor, Basta and Bruto, will get another taste of his skills with the opening of Hey Kiddo on the third floor of the Asher boutique hotel in Berkeley early in 2023. Hey Kiddo’s menu is not yet fully fleshed out, but Whitaker said the style will be New American, and he’s collaborating with a San Francisco chef on some Korean-inspired dishes. There will also be a 16-seat cocktail lounge called Ok Yeah.
4337 Tennyson St., Denver; hk-oy.com
Molotov Kitschen and Cocktails
If you miss Rebel Restaurant as much as I do then rejoice at Bo Porytko’s plans to open an Eastern European restaurant called Molotov Kitschen and Cocktails in January. Molotov is an ode to Porytko’s Ukrainian grandparents, and its menu will be based on traditional cuisine from Ukraine, Scandinavia, Germany, Poland and Georgia. Dishes will include elk Sauerbraten, braised duck and sour cherry borscht, patychky (Ukrainian meat on a stick) and rabbit in a clay pot.
3333 E. Colfax Ave., Denver; molotovdenver.com
Welton Street Cafe
It’s been nearly two years since Welton Street Cafe closed its doors in Five Points, due to a landlord disagreement. And we’re counting down the days until the soul food mainstay reappears in a larger, newer location down the block from its original space, where owner Fathima Dickerson said they plan to break ground this month. An opening is penciled in for summer.
After raising money through a temporary takeout space and a GoFundMe campaign, the Dickerson family feels confident in the move and is ready to gift Denverites with its oxtail stew, catfish and fried chicken once more. Until then, the business is still offering catering.
2883 Welton St., Denver; facebook.com/weltonstcafe
After nearly 20 years in a garden-like setting in Larimer Square, Bistro Vendome closed its doors on Jan. 1 and will move to Park Hill early in 2023. The French restaurant gets to reinvent itself when it takes over the former home of Tables, another long-lived restaurant that closed in August.
James Beard award-winning chef and co-owner Jen Jasinski and head chef Jeremy Wolgamott have said they want to bring the same “Bistro Vendome feel” to Park Hill with a patio, plus its usual nightly dinner and weekend brunch service.
2267 Kearney St., Denver; bistrovendome.com
Kings of Wings Tap & Tequila
If you’ve been struggling without Kings of Wings since it closed in December 2021 due to a fire, you’ll be happy to hear that not only is its original restaurant reopening next year, but the owners are adding a second, larger location in Golden.
King of Wings Tap & Tequila is taking over the 2,800-square-foot former home of Colorado Plus Cidery & Pub in Golden. The new space will include all of King of Wings’ signature sauces and grilled (not fried) wings, a tequila bar, margaritas and a tap wall featuring 29 local beers.
7741 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge; 1100 Arapahoe St., Golden; king-of-wings.com
El Rancho’s closure this summer left a brewery-sized hole in Evergreen. But the local landmark will return under new ownership and the culinary guidance of Bonanno Concepts, which owns restaurants like Mizuna, Luca, Ostera Marco and Denver Milk Market. El Rancho is expected to begin serving house-made beer and food, inspired by Russell’s Smokehouse, which the restaurant group closed at the end of 2022, and infused with Latin flavor, in January.
29260 US-40, Evergreen; elrancho-colorado.com
Rich Spirit Bagels
This summer, fans of Bakery Four’s bagels can skip the line for its pastries and head to a new bagel shop, Rich Spirit Bagels, within Wheat Ridge’s Gold’s Marketplace development. Customers can expect to see the same classic offerings Bakery Four has on its menu now, like everything bagels, sesame bagels and salt bagels, as well as other flavors like green chile, cheddar or cinnamon crunch. There will also be some bagel and lox and egg sandwich options.
10081 W. 26th Ave., Wheat Ridge; instagram.com/getrichspirit
Whataburger and In-N-Out Burger
Texas-based Whataburger made its Colorado debut in 2022 with the opening of two locations in Colorado Springs. And the burger chain, known for its honey butter chicken biscuits and spicy ketchup, announced in November that it plans to open four more franchise locations in northern and southern Colorado Springs by the end of 2023. Hopefully, Denver is next.
5905 Constitution Ave.; 2495 Montebello Square Drive; 1105 Garden of the Gods Rd.; 702 E. Fillmore, Colorado Springs; whataburger.com
California-based In-N-Out Burger, on the other hand, is opening its first Denver location next year in Central Park after having already delighted burger lovers in Aurora, Lone Tree, Lakewood, Thornton, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs. Customers should expect to get their animal-style fries sometime in the next few weeks or months as the company is nearing the final stages of construction, according to a spokesperson, although there is no set opening date yet.
4597 N. Central Park Blvd., Central Park; in-n-out.com
Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and drink news sent straight to your inbox.