Opened on December 2, 2017, Izakaya Ronin was a Japanese-style restaurant located at 053 Brighton Boulevard, Denver. It was chef Corey Baker’s idea to bring a taste of Tokyo to Denver through Izakaya Ronin. Corey was also the chef behind Sushi Ronin, one of the most famous sushi restaurants in Denver and the recipient of the award “Best Sushi Restaurant in Denver” for four consecutive years — 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Unfortunately, in August 2019, Izakaya Ronin closed the restaurant after realizing that 053 Brighton Boulevard was not an optimal location for the Japanese-style restaurant. They posted a message on their Facebook page informing customers about the closure and thanking them for their continued support throughout the years. Up until its closure, Izakaya Ronin had enjoyed a good reputation among people seeking Japanese cuisine. The Japanese-style restaurant was most famous for its Laman Tonkotsu Ramen and rare and expensive Japanese Whiskey. It was also well known for it’s unique and minimalistic setup.
Izakaya Ronin featured some of the things that had made Sushi Ronin’s menu popular, namely omakase, sushi and sake. The restaurant had a division of an upper and a lower floor. The focus on the upper floor was on high-priced maki and nigiri served with cocktails and sake, while the focus on the lower floor was on affordable snacks like dumplings, noodles, yakitori, Japanese whiskey, and soju. The underground vibe at Izakaya Ronin literally extended from the sushi bar located on the main area to a subterranean lounge.
The restaurant’s decor was fantastic and specifically appealed to groups of friends and young couples. The dining area setup consisted of standard tables and seating, warm lighting, and a sushi bar. It was an ideal place to relax while having a plate of nigiri and a Saketini. As you walked to the pub in the main restaurant, you noticed a set of nondescript basement stairs on your right, which led to a possibly mysterious land. If you made your way through the dining room and ventured into this mysterious world after 5 pm, you would discover a hidden 2-room moguri with dim red lights and prison-like walls. On one side of the room, you would observe a row of small round candlelit bistro tables — the ideal intimate date night setting over some glasses of cocktails.
As you walked down the stairs into the hidden bar, it felt as if you were walking out of one world into another. Once you enter the speakeasy, the first thing you would realize is the beautiful, warm, and minimalistic wood-lined dining region with sets of 2, 3, or 4 tables designed for late-night gathering with friends and feasts. The space was pretty cozy but not cramped and felt like a restaurant that you would expect to find in a city like Tokyo or New York. The area on this floor featured a tamer version of a traditional izakaya.