The Regular opens restaurant in downtown Denver with hidden speakeasy

Dining at The Regular, a modern fine-dining restaurant that opened last week downtown, is like taking a seat at owners Sydney Younggreen and Brian De Souza’s own dinner table.

Every detail throughout the 44-seat restaurant, located at 1432 Market St., has been carefully thought out: from the old school rock-n-roll music playing on the speakers to the quirky yet cozy furniture in the lounge; from the central fireplace that’s a nod to the one in their own home to the green touches in honor of Younggreen’s favorite color. They even built the bar with no name-brand spirits in order to push you outside of your comfort zone.

“Every little thing that you see around – every fork, knife, every plate has been hand selected,” De Souza said. “It’s music that we listen to, not just what’s on the radio. Everything is thought through, and I don’t see any other way to work, in my opinion. To have your personality shine through is the most important thing, and it’s just natural.”

De Souza and Younggreen want their “regulars” to feel at home for good reason. The restaurant was inspired by a dinner series called The Guest that the two hosted in their home for a few years in Boulder. Younggreen, who graduated from CU Boulder in 2018, met De Souza in New York City and the two have worked for Michelin-star spots like Blue Hill and Le Bernardin.

The Guest evolved out of the dinner parties they would hold at their Manhattan apartment. They started it in August 2020 after moving to Boulder (Youngreen’s hometown). A reservation-only series with a rotating multi-course menu, The Guest had a waitlist of 700 people.

But De Souza and Younggreen didn’t just want guests, they wanted regulars, so they found a permanent fixture (and got their home back in order) to show off their skills.

At the Regular, De Souza has assembled a fierce team of culinary soldiers to put together his small but mighty menu with four entrees, four appetizers and four tapas. There’s broccoli carbonara for the pasta lover, branzino or salmon for those pescatarians, or two cuts of beef from Evergreen-based Lazy Acre Ranch for the carnivores.

“If you came here and loved the grilled broccoli carbonara, for example, which is one of my favorite dishes to do, I want you to come back and get the same dish if you want that,” De Souza said. “That’s what The Regular is all about. It’s in the name. Become a regular, enjoy the dishes that you’ve already tasted before without things changing so often.”

But there will always be specials for the adventurous. De Souza and his team try to use every scrap of food to avoid being wasteful. They buy whole salmon, using it in the salmon tiradito, the salmon entree and even creating a salmon head special. “It’s just about paying respect to the ingredients you have and where they come from, even if it’s an ant, you know, it doesn’t matter what it is. You have to find interesting ways to create something out of it.”

And at the bar, general manager and beverage director Bruce Polack has carefully curated a list of wines and spirits that he calls “conversation starters.” But you find familiar names like Ketel One or Jack Daniels since the drinks are meant to push your palate. Some of the wines, too, are only made in batches of 200-300 cases per year, so The Regular might be the only place to try it.

“We don’t want you to come in and know what you already want to order, we want you to experience something you’ve never tried before,” Polack said.

Younggreen, a professionally trained pastry chef, has also brought some adventure to the dessert menu with “not overly sweet” dishes, like tonka bean custard, inspired by a night where she tasted a plop of caviar on custard for the first time.

“I like to surprise people with desserts,” she said. “I like to use ingredients you would not normally think to see in a dessert, you know, red beet ice cream, celery root creme brulee with grapes.”

But they’re not saying goodbye to The Guest just yet. Hidden inside of The Regular, The Guest will make a comeback later this year as a speakeasy restaurant with 22 seats and a clear view of the chef’s plating counter. De Souza and Younggreen will create a secret menu every night ahead of the reservation-only experience with only a poem to clue you into the everchanging ingredients.

On top of The Guest, the couple is opening El Mercado in September next to The Regular. El Mercado will be a daytime deli serving fresh soups, sandwiches and salads for takeout, as well as Lazy Acre Ranch cuts of meat, seafood and baked goods.

At night, El Mercado will showcase the ingredients for The Guest’s dinner, giving customers a first glance at their meal.

“This is only the beginning,” Younggreen said. “I’ve been looking at a 3D rendering for two years, and now I’m actually sitting here and it feels surreal to see this place in its ultimate form at night lit up full of beautiful, unfamiliar faces.”

“I’m waiting a little bit longer for myself to feel proud right now,” De Souza added. “I don’t care about anything besides everybody putting their head down and working. I want to create a team of Mike Tysons, Cristiano Ronaldos and watch them grow and be a thousand times better than what we do here.”

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