Sometime in the timewarp that was summer 2020, husband and wife chef duo Brian de Souza and Syd Younggreen started serving elegant, multi-course meals at their home in Boulder. It was served on Friday and Saturday nights to just 16 people. There was only one seating.
They called it The Guest.
Younggreen and de Souza met in New York working at the Latin American fine-dining establishment Her Name Was Carmen, opened by a former Le Bernardin chef. “It was my first kitchen job and everything was in Spanish,” says Younggreen.
Food is a mutual obsession the couple, whose apartment in Brooklyn often overflowed with dishes as they tested out recipes. “I think food is something that consumes his thoughts so much,” Younggreen says of de Souza.
After learning the ropes in some of New York’s finest kitchens, de Souza and Younggreen moved to Boulder, where Younggreen’s parents live, to forge their own culinary path, recently opening The Regular in downtown Denver. The massive space is home to a three-part project. The main room houses The Regular. There’s a space where El Mercado will soon open, stocking goods from purveyors like Olympia Rare Foods, Lazy Acre Beef and WONDER Press Juice, alongside soups, salads and sandwiches for the lunch crowd. Then there’s a door that opens into a private dining room set to host a new iteration of The Guest by the end of the year.
“It was about July or August of 2021 that we realized we wanted to take that next step and make it official,” says Younggreen. By that point, the pair had moved to Denver and were continuing The Guest from their downtown loft.
The Guest is a way for de Souza and Younggreen to push their experimental brilliance. The Regular is a bit more approachable — at least from de Souza’s point of view. “The idea was that The Regular was going to be easy neighborhood food, but I don’t think Brian can do that,” Younggreen says with a laugh.
The single-page menu is broken down into tapas, appetizers, mains, steaks and sides. There’s a few white tablecloth standards, like steak tartare, oysters and filet mignon. But even the simplest dishes hit the table as forward-thinking expressions of serious technique. The tartare is transcendent with cashew cream and garlic chips, the oyster covered with parsley, thyme, pickled shallot and bacon fat. Even the house salad, with Esoterra greens, candied nuts and green grapes tastes otherworldly.
“I’ve been training this team for over a year. They’re pitbulls, rottweilers and sharks back there,” says de Souza. “I’m trying to do the best we can do. If we put Denver on the map, that’s awesome.”
Diners shouldn’t leave without getting the Seco de Branzino with little neck clams and carrot puree. But the nearly show-stealing drink menu from general manager and beverage director Bruce Polack is an equally crucial part of any visit. Polack is a certified sommelier who curates the nearly 150-strong, by-the-bottle wine list. “We want you to see producers and varietals you aren’t familiar with,” he says. That same philosophy extends to the spirits. “We don’t do brand names here. Moulin Vodka and Four Roses Single Barrel are our wells.”
The Tears of Dawns Simplicity, with Junmai sake, green tea gin, yuzu liqueur, rice wine vinegar syrup and orange blossom spritz is a good look into Polack’s knack for drinks that are both boozy and pristine. The Jungle Fog, with Jamaican rum, cognac, pineapple lime and demerara, is the kind of powerful poolside pounder that should come with a warning label for sunburn risk.
The Regular leaves no stone unturned. The booths are intimate enclaves, and the music darts effortlessly from The Doors to Little Dragon. It’s a dining experience that’s greater than the sum of its already exquisite parts.
“We were always underground,” says Younggreen. “Now we’re trying to make regulars.”