* Click here for rating key
Rioja Restaurant Review: The simple décor --- crisp white tablecloths, olive green banquettes and white-washed brick --- creates a pleasing play of textures. The same is true of the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Each plate that comes out of Jennifer Jasinski's kitchen is a little crunchy, a little creamy, a little sweet, a little sour --- with bold, bright flavors. Begin with octopus flatbread, Rioja house salad (arugula, dates, Gorgonzola, almond vinaigrette) or the signature "Rioja picnic," composed of artisan meats, warm pine nut-crusted goat cheese, Italian Gorgonzola, olives, fennel salad, orange confit and almonds. The rustic pastas, all of which are available in starter and entrée-size portions, include the artichoke tortelloni pooled in a white truffle broth. For dessert, don't miss the hot beignets filled with goat cheese, ricotta and figs and drizzled with a port wine sauce or the house-made ice creams and sorbets. The polished staff doesn't miss a beat, the wine roster trumpets a globetrotting selection of bottles, many of which lean toward Spain, and there's also an impressive cocktail list. Weekend brunch, popular with LoDo loft dwellers, peddles everything from sweet potato hash and eggs in purgatory to chicken confit and latkes.