Fans of Señor Bear, rejoice: The LoHi restaurant’s brand-new little brother—Mister Oso—opened on Thursday in the space that formerly housed the Populist. There, chef and co-owner Blake Edmunds channels his love of Central and South American cuisine through a casual, flavor-bomb menu of salads, smoked and roasted meat tacos, ceviches, and crudos.
Like at Señor Bear, it’s the unexpected elements Edmunds employs that make Mister Oso’s dishes so special—and tasty. He’s particularly playful with the vegetable plates; fried quinoa and dehydrated cantaloupe add crunch and sweetness to a shaved Brussels sprouts-and-avocado salad, while a poached egg, toasted panko, and fried shallots harmonize with a traditional anchovy-garlic-lemon dressing in Oso’s grilled Caesar. “These are the styles of salads I like eating,” Edmunds says.
Tacos are another standout, built on your choice of supple Boulder-made corn or duck fat flour tortillas. The carnitas variety with salted cabbage, guajillo-tomatillo salsa, charred jalapeño, and cilantro has the perfect hint of smokiness, and the creative cauliflower al pastor is a charred delight studded with pineapple, chiles, tomatillo, and avocado.
Bar manager Tamsen Braam’s cocktail menu is playful too, highlighting Latin American spirits such as tequila, mezcal, and pisco through the mediums of elevated palomas, margs, and daiquiris, as well as large-format punches and sangrias.
Shike Design, also responsible for Ash’Kara’s chic digs, gave the restaurant’s interior a complete makeover, adding ornamental red, green, blue, and orange wire fence scrolls, a birds-of-paradise mural, and other cheerful, tropical touches. “We want the ambiance to be as bright and fresh as the food,” says Nina Blick, a Populist vet who joined the Mister Oso team as general manager. The Populist’s iconic light-strung, ivy-walled patio will remain, and get a remodel in the spring to include a fire pit.
The Mister Oso team also includes a few other Culinary Creative Group alums, namely Braam and assistant manager Chanelle Kawamura (Señor Bear, Bar Dough), as well as familiar faces from the Populist like Blick and chef de cuisine Russell Stippich—a testament to the united effort behind the endeavor from veteran Denver hospitality pros.
The restaurant is currently open for dinner, but lunch and happy hour is in the works.
If you go: Sunday–Thursday, 5–10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5–11 p.m.; 3163 Larimer St.