Find a Little of Everything in Denver’s Catering and Restaurant Scene
- Meredith Bethune
- 4 Min Read
The Denver restaurant scene is constantly evolving. According to Zagat, chefs from coastal cities are flocking to the Mile High City thanks to its affordability, natural beauty, and an open-minded and continuously growing population of enthusiastic eaters. Once known for little more than Rocky Mountain oysters, today the Denver catering scene has it all from barbecue to poke. Here are the hottest trends you’ll see right now.
Barbecue Can’t Be Beat
Rustic smoked meats slathered in tangy, handcrafted sauces easily fit into Denver’s love of the outdoors and history of cowboy culture. Whether it’s served from a food truck or prepared in a restaurant kitchen, right now is the Denver restaurant scene’s golden era of barbecue. You’ll find nationwide favorites like Dickey’s Barbecue Pit thriving alongside local establishments such as Billy Sims BBQ, Russell’s Smokehouse, Jake & Joel’s Barbeque Company, Barefoot BBQ, Bennett’s Bar-B-Que, and Genesee Pub and BBQ. They all cater classic barbecue like succulent pulled pork, tender brisket, and a few signature side dishes. “Barbecue is a great choice for catering because the “Low-n-Slow” cooking technique commonly used on the meats gives them an incredible flavor and texture that holds well,” explains Jordan Cole, co-owner of Bold BBQ Catering, “You can’t get that type of quality by rushing the process, so if you’re looking for catered meats, a quality barbecue operation is your best bet!” This Denver catering company does classic smoked meats, as well as modern interpretations like Garlic BBQ Meatballs, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin, and BBQ Tofu for vegetarians.
In tribute to Denver’s spirit of openness, you can also find many more unexpected takes on this old-fashioned American tradition. Ophelia’s Kansas City BBQ of course does their barbecue Kansas City-style, preparing their ribs with a family dry-rub recipe that has been passed down through the generations. At Today Hawaiian BBQ, try some Teriyaki Pork while Genna Rae Wings does barbecue sandwiches and chicken with the spicy influence of the Caribbean.
Nourishing Grain Bowls
Most are gluten-free, some are vegan, almost all are customizable, and they’re hitting it big in the Denver’s catering scene. These bowls, typically composed of rice, quinoa, or other grains and topped with eclectic ingredients that could include anything from superfood acai berries to pickled vegetables or cacao, have officially moved out of health food obscurity and into the mainstream.
The founders behind Vitality Bowl started the business to make an allergen-friendly food available to the public, and the restaurant’s namesake menu item comes with acai berries blended with banana, strawberries, and flaxseeds, and embellished with granola, bananas, strawberries, goji berries, and honey. Rush Bowls creates an ideal healthy breakfast, blending all-natural fruit until it’s thick and creamy. That base is then sprinkled with crunchy granola and drizzled with honey. At Superfruit Republic, the Blueberry Pumpkin Bowl comes topped with crunchy granola, blueberries, and pumpkin seeds. Looking for a lunch that will help you avoid the mid-afternoon slump? Protein Bar does five different quinoa bowls that draw influence from global cuisines, epitomized in the Korean Bibi-Q Bowl made with an organic quinoa blend, all-natural chicken, diced cucumbers, radish, spinach, pickled carrots, and sweet and spicy sauce.
Tucking into a bowl of traditional Hawaiian poke evokes the feeling of sitting on a tropical beach, even when you’re in landlocked Colorado. That’s part of the reason why this dish of sliced raw fish layered over rice, topped with vegetables and an umami-based sauce has taken the Denver catering scene by storm. Poke 303 offers several different bowls topped with raw tuna or salmon, cucumber, jalapeno, avocado, green onion, seaweed salad, crab salad, furikake Japanese seasoning, roasted seaweed, sesame seeds, and a signature sauce. Meanwhile, several poke choices at sONO! Grinds have an international flair, like the Taco Poke Bowl topped with ahi tuna, lettuce, avocado, pineapple pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, spicy lime sour cream, or the Kimchi Poke Bowl layered with cucumber kimchi, fried spam, daikon mix, and sauce. Komotodo Sushi Burrito does poke burrito-style with spicy yellowfin tuna, English cucumbers, green onions, wakame, onion tempura flakes, romaine lettuce, jalapeños, and mango, all rolled up in a seaweed wrapper.
Everybody Loves Italian
If you’re looking to please a large crowd with dishes packed with fresh ingredients, you can’t go wrong with pizza or pasta. According to Eater, the Denver restaurant scene has undergone a massive Italian food renaissance this year. For a casual event, look no further than Mici Handcrafted Italian with items like Pasta Marinara or even the Molto Carne Pizza heaving with melted mozzarella, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and meatballs. The local chain’s CEO Elliot Schiffer explains, “Italian food works so well for catering because the cuisine was built around the family table— it’s meant to be shared. Mici’s pizzas, pastas, and salad use our own family recipes that date back generations.” At Bruno’s Italian Bistro, hot entrees like the Chicken Marsala or Baked Ziti with Sausage and Peppers are perfect for an event that’s a bit more upscale. For a cocktail party, dainty canapes like Caprese Skewers with Balsamic or Ricotta Stuffed Peppers from DiFranco’s Italian are guaranteed to be a hit. Take a chance and try something new in Denver’s catering scene.
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