The Ten Best New Restaurants of 2017


Now that the dust has settled and we've had a chance to reflect on a full year of openings, we've looked at our list of the fifteen best new restaurants of 2017, made sure that late entries to the game had a chance to show their best stuff, and whittled the roster down to the ten best restaurants to debut in 2017. Hallmarks of the best include bold flavors, inventive menus and the finest ingredients — handmade pastas, dry-aged beef and international spices all caught our attention. But good food is only part of the formula for success; our favorite eateries also pushed the limits of stylish, modern design and excelled in hospitality and service. With that in mind, here are the ten best restaurants to open in metro Denver in 2017:

 "El Gran Combo" guacamole with guajillo-pistachio mojo, orange and plantain chips at Candela Latin Kitchen. Photo by Mark Antonation

"El Gran Combo" guacamole with guajillo-pistachio mojo, orange and plantain chips at Candela Latin Kitchen.
Photo by Mark Antonation

Candela Latin Kitchen 
Central Bistro & Bar owner Isiah Salazar and chef Jesse Vega converted their breezy bistro into a pan-Latin lounge this past summer, compiling a roster of tacos from Salazar's upbringing and Puerto Rican specialties from Vega's family, along with a few other dishes from Central and South America. The result is a restaurant loaded with intensity and soul, with dishes that leap from the plate with joy while maintaining a heart of pure comfort. Mofongo, the national dish of Puerto Rico, is the star, but bright ceviches, meats drenched in cooked-down sauces, and homey empanadas make up a lively accompanying cast. Central Bistro may have been hot, but Candela burns just as bright.

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Where We’re Eating This Month, January 2018
Zagat | JANUARY 2018


Anniversaries can prompt restaurants to look inward; that’s what happened at LoHi’s Central Bar & Bistro, anyway. As the concept approached its fifth birthday, owner Isiah Salazar decided the New American menu wasn’t working and opted to reinvent the eatery. Five months ago, Candela Latin Kitchen was born, and the hip, colorful spot has been tempting Denverites ever since with Latin American taco mashups, ceviches, empanadas, and tequila- and rum-based drinks. Chef Jesse Vega, a native of Queens, New York, serves a menu of Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Mexican flavors, such as fried sweet plantain tacos with maple chipotle glaze. The El Gran Combo guacamole has a lively punch thanks to guajillo-pistachio mojo sauce and fresh orange segments, and both the carnitas and the vegetarian-friendly mofongo are excellent. We’re sure Candela will enjoy many anniversaries to come. 1691 Central St., 303-477-4582

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The 15 Hottest Restaurants in Denver, January 2018
EATER | Josie Sexton

Where to dine in Denver this month

More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? Restaurant obsessives want to know what's new, what's hot, which favorite chef just launched a sophomore effort that is worth dropping everything for and running to as fast as we can. And while the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering classic standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the 'it' places of the moment.

Thus, we offer the Eater Heatmap, which changes on a monthly basis to highlight where the food-loving crowds are flocking to at the moment. This month Call, The Family Jones, Ultreia, Candela, White Pie, and Bamboo Sushi join the list. See something missing? Add it to the comments or drop us a note at

3 Candela Latin Kitchen

In August, this five-year-old LoHi restaurant completely revamped and reopened as a pan-Latin hot spot, paying tribute to its owners' Mexican and Puerto Rican roots, respectively. Try Jesse Vega's leche de tigre shrimp ceviche, the crispy pescaditos, and a fresh take on guacamole with citrus and pistachio mojo and fried plantains for dipping.

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When it comes to bucket lists, we say go big or go home. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in 2018.

This list of 77 must-try Denver dishes includes everything — from the fried to the fancy. We’ve even included food and beverage events we love, and 14 of our favorite drinks of the year. But, if you’re looking for anything beer-related (which of course warranted its own article), you’ll have to stay tuned for its own list coming soon. 

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Hottest Restaurants In Denver - France, Latin America, Southeast Asia, The Deep South: Our Top Picks Cover The Globe
Zagat | August 6, 2017


Candela Latin Kitchen - Modern Latin fare & a lively vibe

Restaurateur Isiah Salazar and exec chef Jesse Vega celebrate their respective Mexican and Puerto Rican roots with this Pan-Latin kitchen and bar in LoHi, where regional staples like mofongo, empanadas and tres leches get a stylish spin alongside cervezas, caipirinhas and sangria. An open kitchen framed by a neon ceiling sign reading “HOT” animates the airy, colorful space, as does the skyline view from the front patio.

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Candela Is Ready to Roll Out Latin Cuisine in Former Central Bistro Space
Westword | Mark Antonation | August 3, 2017

Sometimes change is good — especially when nobody loses out. Central Bistro & Bar wrapped up a five-year run at 1691 Central Street two months ago, but owner Isiah Salazar and chef Jesse Vega held on to the space, giving it a new name and menu rather than closing up shop altogether. The result is Candela Latin Kitchen, which will open to the public on Friday, August 4.

Candela's theme is the cuisine of Latin America, with a heavy emphasis on Puerto Rico, Peru, Mexico and Cuba, according to Vega, who grew up in Queens, New York, in a Puerto Rican household. "It's the most culturally diverse borough in all of New York," the chef explains. "Just the potlucks at church were crazy."

Vega balances that cultural diversity with his family's Puerto Rican cooking in a menu that's equal parts familiar and novel — without ever seeming intimidating. "We don't want to get confused with a Mexican restaurant," he notes, pointing out that Denver already has plenty of great options for that. But at the same time, tacos were a part of his life growing up, so Candela's menu sports a few taco options. Those options are laced with Caribbean influences, though, including a sweet-plantain taco and pork carnitas revved up with a Veracruz-style salsa macha.

Shrimp ceviche takes a Peruvian twist, with its coconut-milk "leche de tigre" marinade hit with an ample dose of habanero. Salazar says guests will be encouraged to shoot the leche left over at the bottom of the dish (there's a notch on the rim to make that an easy proposition) with a rum or tequila back.

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