Hip to be square

Red Tops Rendezvous introduces travel-worthy, Detroit-style pie to Denver’s Jefferson Park


When guests enter Red Tops Rendezvous, they are greeted by a hulking mural of the Fisher Building. From there, the walls are covered in sleek wallpaper with images of endless stacks of vinyl. Upstairs, Motown records from owner Kevin Eddy’s personal collection are available to play at listeners’ leisure. The place is all Detroit.

Eddy grew up in Livonia, a Motor City suburb where his grandfather was known to cook weekly meals for the whole neighborhood. His youth was filled with visits to Buddy’s Pizza, a spot known by all as the uncontested birthplace of the Detroit-style pie. Legend has it that in 1946, Buddy’s founder Gus Guerra borrowed a square pan from the Ford Motor Plant and made pizza history.

Eddy took his childhood love of food and community and turned it into a career. In 2000, Eddy moved to Denver from Chicago to open the second outpost of The Tin Lizzie, which grew to be a popular downtown dive. In 2010, he was one of the founding members of Highland Tap and Burger. He’s since gone on to become the chief development officer for The Culinary Creative Group, the folks behind some of Denver’s hottest locales including Mister Oso, Bar Dough and A5 Steakhouse.

As long as Eddy has been opening restaurants, he’s wanted to create a place that reminds him of home. “It was always in the back of my mind,” he says, but the dream took a backseat while Tap and Burger and Bar Dough rose to prominence.

This year, Eddy finally brought the dream to life.

At the core of Red Top’s menu is the crust, developed and perfected by opening chef Alan Youngerman. “The perfect bite has crunch on the bottom, is soft on the inside, has caramelized cheese on the side and just a touch of burnt cheese on the top,” says Eddy.

The family-style restaurant is built for bustle, its 144 seats sprawling across two well-spaced floors. TVs line the walls, an intentional nod to the tailgate crowd from nearby Empower Field who have already started packing the place on game days.  

“To me, pizza was square,” says Eddy, who took great care in making sure everything about Red Tops’ crust remained true to the source material. “Authentic Detroit-style is more like Wonder Bread.”

The seasonal menu is composed of snacks, salads, entrées and pizzas. Some pies, like the namesake Red Tops — with a brick cheese blend, Bianco DiNapoli tomato sauce and Parmesan — will remain indefinitely, with others, like the Millions of Peaches — with Palisade peaches, shishito peppers and red onion — getting switched out during quarterly overhauls. Current chef Jacob Grant will roll out a new fall menu toward the end of this month.

Despite the pies being some of the best this side of Michigan, some of Red Tops’ most exquisite dishes are not actually pizza. The shrimp scampi — with roasted prawns, rigatoni and a thick sauce of garlic, butter and white wine — is a must, as is ricotta gnocchi with roasted cauliflower, pesto, pickled red onion and parmesan. But the crowning achievement may be the Coney Knots, which wrap Nathan’s beef franks in house pizza dough, slather them in yellow mustard and serve them with a side of Coney Chili. It’s here the restaurant is at its most quintessential, a pure ode to the most devilishly unique aspects of Detroit cooking. The plate is meant to be shared, though ordering a few for the table is the only surefire way to keep folks from getting greedy. 

As with other Culinary Creative concepts, the bar menu has been carefully honed. The Red Pop — with Espolon blanco, mezcal, pomegranate, lime and bitters — is a good pregame porch pounder, while the Eight Mile High Club — with Michter’s US1 bourbon, Nonino, Aperol, lemon and hot honey — acts as a robust pairing for any of the dense pies. 

Red Tops Rendezvous is a brilliant ode to Eddy’s palpable love for his hometown.