Linger is that restaurant right now. It’s the kind of restaurant that when you log onto OpenTable.com, the only tables you’ll find are at 4:45pm and 9:45pm. If walk by it on any night of the week and you will see BMWs and Audis lined up at the valet and a crowd of good looking people hanging around the door. It looks a little intimidating. But so is skydiving just before you jump (I’m told). So, is Linger worth the effort it takes to get in, both emotionally and logistically? The short answer is yes.
Now let’s get into the long answer. Linger is located in a building previously occupied by the Olinger Mortuaries Company. They just turned off the light on the “O” and bam, the name “linger” is born. I’m a sucker for that sort of practicality. The food concept that drives the restaurant is global street food. But we aren’t talking old hot dogs frothing in their own juices on a Manhattan sidewalk. We’re talking Food Truck Convention/Anthony Bourdain type street food. And they do one hell of a job whipping it up.
There is a distinct art to eating at Linger. The name of the game is rationing. They don’t have appetizers per se. They call it street food but it doesn’t come wrapped in foil and covered with mustard. It’s tapas, plain and simple. The Wagyu Burger Sliders sit near the top of the menu and can be enough to sidetrack you from making it around to the rest of the world. The menu is divided by region. No one would blame you for indulging in the sliders but then you might miss what else makes Linger a must-stop on your Denver culinary pilgrimage. The Ginger-Chili Shrimp might make you rethink any animosities you hold towards crustaceans (they are generally very pinchy). The Chicken B’stilla is an admirable tribute to a Moroccan favorite. And as someone who has eaten B’stilla in Morocco, this dish stacks up favorably with anything I ate over there. One piece of advice, save the Devils on Horseback for the end. We are talking about dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with goat cheese. It’s the stuff of legend but damn they are filling. And sweet enough to be put on any dessert menu. I’m sure the ghosts that invariably haunt linger were laughing at me as I tried to put down my third bacon wrapped bombshell.
I didn’t try any of their specialty cocktails as that generally isn’t my game. But they make a solid gin and tonic (it’s not rocket science). In keeping with their theme, the wine list is global. And when I say global, I mean bring an atlas along just in case you get lost. There are wines from Austria, South Africa, Germany, Italy and Argentina. I spent a summer in Lebanon and chose the Chateau Musar “Jeune” wine, which is a full bodied Lebanese red. It didn’t disappoint.
Let’s be honest, there are worse things in life than going to the hottest restaurant in Denver. It’s good to feel like your part of the “scene” in a city. You certainly get that feeling when you are at Linger on a Friday night. It’s rare to find something that lives up to the hype. Just look at the New York Yankees lately, or gourmet ramen restaurants. I must admit, Linger certainly lived up to my mighty expectations. So pick a Friday night a couple weeks off and make a reservation. And don’t forget to linger when you get there.
2030 W. 30th Ave.
Denver CO 80211
Lunch / Tues-Fri, 11:30-2:30 p.m.
Dinner / Tues-Sat, 5:30 p.m.