On any given night, chefs and bartenders and owners of tiny wine shops sit elbow to elbow at Hop Alley’s bar. They are ordering cocktails from a list that celebrates the Chinese zodiac, like the Rabbit 5 A.D., with Tequila, pineapple and celery, flavors that prepare for the heat of the menu. Named for Denver’s long-gone Chinatown, it’s the latest from restaurateur Tommy Lee, already famous for his ramen at Uncle. Here he pulls on his Chinese heritage for dishes like fried chicken buried in whole red chiles and Sichuan peppercorns, or salt-and pepper soft-shell crabs with lime mayonnaise. If wine director Matt Mulligan sees you suffering through the spice, he’ll offer a splash of his riesling by the glass—if you haven’t already taken advantage of his sharp wine list and ordered a bottle from Domaine Weinbach from Alsace or a Baudry Chinon.
3500 Larimer St., Denver, Colorado
This story appears in the print issue of April 2016.
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