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8.2
DEN

Acorn

You know Denver is getting crazy when the new hot restaurant is in a 19th century brick factory on Brighton Boulevard. Seriously. At this point, we’re half-expecting an artisanal marshmallow and ice market to open on Peña Boulevard any day now.

The dream of the 1890s is definitely alive in Denver and The Source is leading the charge. The Source is the name for the massive compound home to, among others, Acorn, a French bakery, a flower shop and a brewery specializing in sour beers. The Source website proudly refers to the “edginess” of its tenants and marketplace, but we’ve managed to avoid the douchebag vibe so far.

When you pull into parking lot, it feels like you’ve arrived at a warehouse rave or a fight club. The building is in an isolated industrial area with dog food production smells in the air and neighbors ranging from a self-storage place to an auto body shop and a tire joint. So what’s crack-a-lackin in this wasteland? Acorn y’all. Open since last fall, the sister to Boulder’s OAK at Fourteenth has made a big impression with its small plates and strong drinks. We're not always sold on small dish restaurants, but Acorn made us believers. You still have the problem of unbalanced dishes that tend to be heavy on meat and grain and short on veggies, but we’ll do our best to guide you in the Food Rundown.

It’s not just the food though. The drink menu is impressive, and expensive, with stiff pours. We highly recommend the Ornamental Tonic, which is spicy and awesome. Whiskey hounds should go for the Warm Welcome. Most surprising, the space feels pretty intimate even in this airplane hangar of a building. So next time you get lost trying to find I-70, stop off at Acorn. It's worth your time.

Food Rundown

Razor Clam Ceviche

A ton of different flavors going on here and everything is super fresh. The ceviche is served in four large spoon-sized bites. At $14, the value proposition becomes a problem here, but the taste was great.

Kale and Apple Salad

A mainstay from the mothership, OAK at Fourteenth, and we can see why. The kale is filthy with parmesan and the candied almonds and apple give a nice bite to everything. This is one of your few opportunities for a veg-focused dish before the oncoming meat tsunami. Take it. And maybe grab the coal-roasted beets too.

Squid Ink Tagliarini

Maybe our favorite dish of the night. The braised octopus and calamari were tender and delicious and the squid ink pasta and tomato sauce were super silky and satisfying. Don’t worry that you don’t know what tagliarini is because neither did I (it’s pasta, hayseed). You need to order this.

Hamachi Collar

Yellowtail grilled over oak with crispy garlic and a citrus-soy ponzu. It’s every bit as good as it sounds. Stop worrying about how much you look like a caveman eating this and get in there.

Oak Smoked Duck Breast

Oooweee. The duck was really f

Whole Roasted Quail

Overall, this was pretty great, but the mustard spätzle was salty as f

Butterscotch Pudding

Nothing mind-blowing here, but a nice option for people who don’t like super sweet desserts. Loved the cocoa nib ice cream on top.

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