Tastemaker Takeover: Chef Frank Bonanno

BY Steph Wilson


Tastemaker Takeover: Chef Frank Bonanno

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It’s time to raise a fork and dig into the culinary scene in Denver, Colorado, where the king of the kitchen, Chef Frank Bonanno, reigns supreme. With his restaurant group, Bonanno Concepts, Chef Frank has been tantalizing the taste buds of Denverites for over 20 years, and Thursday, he’s taking over DiningOut’s Instagram to show us what it means to be a true DiningOut Tastemaker.

Let’s start with the basics. Chef Frank is a jack-of-all-trades, with a personality as bold as his flavors. He’s equal parts charming, passionate, and a little bit of a rebel. He doesn’t follow the trends, he creates them, and that’s exactly what makes him such a standout in the industry. An outstanding restaurateur and top chef (so lauded by the James Beard awards), Chef Frank is the author of the Mizuna and Luca cookbooks and the host of Chef Driven on PBS. He’s appeared on Bravo and The Food Network, not to mention he’s the man behind a high-end cocktail joint that Condé Nast recognized three times as among the top 10 cocktail bars in the world. But don’t let the accolades fool you—Chef Frank is down-to-earth and approachable, always taking time to chat with guests and make them feel at home at his restaurants.

Chef Frank Bonanno is behind a ton of Denver’s top food and drink concepts, each shaping the Denver dining scene in its own unique way. From fine dining at the American-style eatery Mizuna, steeped in French tradition and serving as the flagship of Bonanno Concepts, to the rustic Italian cuisine and handmade pasta at Luca, to the casual French 75 bistro, to the barstools at Vesper and the high tops at Salita (a new hotspot from the team at Green Russell, in the former home of Bones and Lou’s), Chef Frank and his team have raised the bar for dining—and drinking—out in Denver.

Even with ten current concepts (and counting), including the 16-venue food hall at Dairy Block, the chef isn’t one to rest on his laurels. The Bonanno team recently undertook the renovation and revival of the iconic El Rancho restaurant and taphouse, a hallowed halls of comfort food and cold brews that has been a staple in the Evergreen community for generations. Tucked into the foothills, this historic venue is a must-visit dining destination. With its six fireplaces reflecting across oak floors, remnants of an original Pony Express outpost, chairs from 1948 still holding strong, and spectacular views of the Continental Divide from a sunset deck that speaks to Colorado history and the lore of the American West, El Rancho offers a feast for both the eyes and taste buds.

It’s exactly what you crave—mashed potatoes dripping in gravy, Sunday night prime rib, weekend brunches, and margaritas right on tap. All the classics, all the comfort, and all the Colorado—with the delight you’d expect from a Bonanno concept.

Speaking of comfort food, you might have seen me raving about the chef’s lobster ramen—and I’m not the only one who’s been raving. When posted a video on his Instagram of some ramen he was making, a flurry of hungry commenters begged him to bring back the dish (originally on the menu at Bones, later at Bao Chica Bao at Milk Market). Today, as he takes over our Instagram, we can only hope that he’ll let us in on the secret recipe behind the best bowl of noodles in Denver history. Only one way to find out: tune into the @diningoutmagazine.com Instagram today while he whips up some magic. While you’re there, slide into the DMs to let him know you’ve been dreaming sweet, delicious dreams about his lobster ramen. With enough encouragement, perhaps he’ll let the dish make a guest appearance on one of his menus soon enough.

Chef Frank Bonanno’s takeover of @DiningOutMagazine on Thursday and its not to be missed. So, follow along, grab a fork, and get ready to go behind the scenes and into the kitchens at some of the best restaurants in town. This is one day of dining content that you won’t want to miss. And for all you hungry Denverites out there, remember to support our local Tastemakers, because they’re the ones who make our city’s dining scene the best it can be.


Steph Wilson

Steph Wilson is a writer, editor, and creative maximalist in Denver. She makes magazines for a living and throws color around the world like confetti for fun.

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