This year may have set a record for new restaurant openings in metro Denver. Trendspotting became difficult, as so much volume led to multiple variations of almost anything good, whether it was fast-casual service, tiny dining rooms, fried chicken, wood-fired everything, restaurants with their own attached markets, or simple typographical symbols representing a common conjunction (we’re talking about you, ampersand). Still, our favorite new restaurants of 2014 started trends or elevated them to the highest form, rather than merely following the pack. Among them you’ll find two fast-casual joints turning out creative and delicious dishes worth of fine-dining establishments, several kitchens relying on wood-burning ovens and grills, some of Denver’s smallest bistros, a couple of eateries peddling house-made products from their own mini-markets — and even a sprinkling of ampersands. Because whatever the trend, it’s the chefs, restaurateurs and staff that truly make a restaurant great, not the concept — or the typography. Keep reading to see (in alphabetical order) the fifteen best new restaurants of 2014.