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Burgers, wine, and CO’s James Beard semifinalists

Peyton’s Plate: Denver’s most delicious news

Here are this week’s news morsels worth munching on…

Whataburger is here! The Texas-based fast-food burger chain darling made its Colorado (re)debut yesterday in Colorado Springs at the InterQuest Marketplace. (Apparently Whataburger had several outposts here in the 1970s.)

Its dining room will start serving burgers at 6 a.m. (because “breakfast” is just a man-made construct) and will be open until 10 p.m. The double-lane drive-thru will operate 24/7. Whataburger has plans for two more locations also in the Springs, popping up later this year.

Of course, not everyone is stoked for yet another out-of-state burger chain to join the ranks (looking at you, Shake Shack, In-N-Out, and Five Guys). After all, we have so many local burger spots that more than match up to those overhyped heavy hitters (um, hello, GOOD TIMES?! — Need I point you once again to our beloved City Cast Denver Burger Crawl episode?).

In fact, Smash & Grab, a Denver-based pop-up doling out burgers, chips, and natural wines, went viral in local social media spheres last summer with its first-come, first-served wildly delicious burgers. S&G shows up somewhere new once a month with just one greasy, finger-licking burger option — no doubles, no modifications, no pre-orders — and only about 100 patties for the night. You just gotta get there and see for yourself.

And now they’re back! If you didn’t manage to nab a burger last year, Smash & Grab is popping up at Hops & Pie at 3920 Tennyson Street this Monday, Feb. 28, from 6 p.m. until sold out.

Speaking of big returns, Boulder’s beloved Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery (incidentally, also known for good burgers) has finally reopened after a two-year pandemic hiatus! Sadly, the brewery’s sister business in Denver, Vine Street Pub & Brewery, has not yet announced when it will be welcoming back guests (though owner Kevin Daly promises it will.)

Some other tasty news to bite into: 

  • A coalition of Colorado’s largest grocery stores are proposing a ballot initiative that would allow grocery stores to sell wine. Things are expected to get pretty heated as the proposal would pit locally-owned liquor stores head-to-head against grocery giants. 
  • And lastly, 12 local chefs are representing Colorado on the 2022 list of James Beard Award semi-finalists, including (unsurprisingly) Chef Dana Rodriguez, who you know from Work & Class, SuperMegaBien, and of course, most recently, Casa Bonita

Until next week, stay hungry, Denver!

— Peyton Garcia, City Cast Denver Newsletter Writer 


In yesterday’s top story, we accidentally misspelled the name of Brenden Beck, an assistant professor at CU Denver’s Department of Sociology. Sorry, Brenden!


🦠 So long, omicron? Colorado is now averaging fewer than 1,000 new COVID cases per day — the lowest that number has been since early August before the omicron spike. “Immunity is high and protection against severe disease is very high,” said Beth Carlton, an associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health.

🚧 It’s not the 1950s anymore: Denver City Council has unanimously voted to overhaul the city’s zoning appeal board, which will mean updating procedures and protocols that were established in (and have remained unchanged since) 1956. The new rules will require that board members have some training or experience in things like, you know, zoning.

💊 Polis says they “got some things wrong”: In 2019, state lawmakers passed a bill that reduced the charge for possession of 4 grams of fentanyl from a felony to a misdemeanor. Now, they want to reverse that decision, calling the bill’s passage a mistake, and pointing to an increasingly alarming rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths as evidence.

  • Why it’s top of mind: Five people died over the weekend after unknowingly ingesting a lethal amount of fentanyl in what they thought was cocaine, officers believe. 
  • A closer look: On Monday’s episode of City Cast Denver, host Bree Davies spoke with Attorney General Phil Weiser about what the state’s doing to tackle the fentanyl crisis. And in Monday’s newsletter, Bree shared some perspective on the topic and how you can do something to help. 

🚓 Denver’s new director of safety: Denver City Council formally appointed Armando Saldate as the city’s new executive director of public safety in a 12-1 vote. Saldate was previously involved with Denver’s Early Intervention Team responding to homeless encampments and with the civilian-led Street Enforcement Team. Councilmember Candi CdeBaca was the sole “no” vote.

🚩 Aurora ICE facility in hot water: An immigration detention facility in Aurora is facing a complaint from the American Immigration Council over its COVID safety protocols — or lack thereof. The complaint alleges that the facility did not provide sufficient mask mandates, cleaning supplies, opportunities for vaccination, or attention to the medical needs of detainees. 


When Craft Breweries and Their Top Aluminum Can Manufacturer Clash, Who Wins? Pandemic-fueled supply chain issues have set these two longtime collaborators on a collision course. So why can’t we all just talk it out over a cold one? And why is former craft brewer slash U.S. senator John Hickenlooper sitting this one out? 

Today on the show, CCD producer Paul Karolyi speaks with Denver Business Journal beer reporter Ed Sealover about Ball Corp.’s new canning policies. And just for you newsletter readers, Paul made sure to ask for a rec:

Paul: I can’t let you go before I ask you for a recommendation. I was gonna ask about a six pack, but maybe a growler fill feels more appropriate. What are you filling your growler with these days?

Ed: I’ll tell you, I am trying to make more and more trips to Seedstock Brewery on West Colfax Avenue at Lowell. They are making Czech pilsners, traditional German-style beers, and helles that are just out of this world. In fact, they were one of just three breweries in the country that just got a formerly dead style of Czech malt to use in their pilsners from a craft malting shop out in Indiana that knew them by reputation.

I should mention Cohesion Brewing here in Denver was another one that got that special malt and made this fantastically bright and original Czech-style Pilsner that arguably hadn’t been drunk in 100 years. And that’s my latest brewery that I try to go back to over and over again. I just think they’re doing some fantastic stuff. And flying under the radar.

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