Sushi follows pizza into LoDo, tacos not far behind

April 19, 2012

Sushi eateries are invading LoDo with the same feeding frenzy that recently put a plethora of pizza places in the neighborhood.

Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar, will open its fifth outlet in the former India House space at 1514 Blake St., Blue Sushi Sake Grill this summer will take over part of the old Dixons building at 16th and Wazee, and Aoba is soon to open in the old Organixx space at 15th and Blake.

That’s a lot of fish swimming into the same lake. Hapa, with locations in Boulder (two), Cherry Creek and the Landmark project south, is owned by Mark Van Grack, who last month bought the 1514 Blake St. building from India House owner Gughi Singh for $2.1 million.  Singh bought the place nearly 10 years ago for $950,000, according to public records.

Meanwhile, Denver chef-restaurateur Troy Guard and the H Burger boys are making a run for the border with two taco joints in the works – on East Pearl in Boulder and in the former 8 Rivers location at 1515 Blake St. They expect to sign the 8 Rivers lease next week.

Guard, who already has TAG, TAG Raw Bar and Madison Street in his culinary collection, said T|aco (pronounced Tee-ahko, a take on H Burger) will open the Boulder store the first week in May. The downtown restaurant opens in August.

“The menu will have 10 tacos, a salad, chips, guac, fresh salsa, ceviche, homemade tortillas and a tamale of the week,” Guard said. “The kind of food I like to eat. I think Mexican food is making a comeback with a twist.”

Certainly Pinche Tacos owner Kevin Morrison, one of the founders of the Spicy Pickle sandwich shops, would agree. He’s had mucho success with his tiny taqueria at 1514 York St.

And H Burger will open another outlet on East Pearl next to Pizzeria Locale also in the first week of May. “We’re just a little busy,” joked partner Geoff Smith.

House with spouse

I told you recently that former Nuggets star Nene and his wife, Lauren, got their Grape Street home under contract for $1.6 million before he was traded to the Washington Wizards. But it doesn’t look like the Hilarios are real estate poor in Denver.

Earlier this year, the couple upgraded to a posh pad in the Buell Mansion subdivision for $3.4 million.

Perhaps the Hilarios will hang on to the Cherry Hills Village nest where they’ll return to roost during the off season.

Strings celebrated

Strings owners Tammy and Noel Cunningham were among the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award winners honored during a gala dinner Wednesday at its 2012 Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Cunninghams (Noel died in December) were named this year’s Cornerstone Humanitarians for their philanthropic efforts. Each honoree was given a $5,000 contribution to his or her charitable initiatives.

Baby steps

Congrats to The Palm general manager Cathy Cooney Green and hubby Brian Green on the April 2 arrival of baby Finnegan Robert Green. The tot’s stats were 7 pounds 3 ounces and 21 inches long.

Cathy expects to return to the power lunch steak place June 1.

Signs of the times

In the Lime XS parking lot on Sixth Avenue: “Party like a piñata, get smashed. Cinco de Mayo.”

On the marquee outside of the shuttered Caldonia’s on Parker Road: “Closed forever.”

Eavesdropping on a periodontist: “Your teeth don’t care whether you have dental insurance.”