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What’s Cooking in Castle Rock

Kitchen stars share what’s cooking in our growing food scene.

By Liana Lozada on July 31, 2019

Castle Rock, CO
Castle Rock / Jeff Adkins

Douglas County recently earned U.S. News & World Report and Aetna’s 2019 Healthiest Communities rankings. With Castle Rock at the county’s axis, Castle Rock chefs are directing patrons toward more mindful meals: These neighborhood forayers are crafting thoughtfully sourced menus rooted in fresh regional ingredients prepared with big-city finesse. 

Chef Dan Skay’s Manna took home Food Management’s 2014 National Table Top Award and MUFSO’s Best New Concept 2014 thanks to its ingredient-driven devotion. 

“I would love to see a continual growth of locally sourced ingredients, independently owned and seasonally inspired foods and beverages,†explains Chef Dan. “I believe it will happen – the community is growing, and the desire is great!”  

Come to the (Outdoor) Table in Castle Rock, CO

Chef Jose Espinoza of Trestles also believes the expanding population and food interest could also sprout Castle Rock’s food scene.

“I am hoping that with all the new development in Castle Rock there will be a place for new chef-run establishments,†says Espinoza.

Meet the chefs and establishments helping nourish Castle Rock’s budding food landscape:


Chef Dan Skay 

Under the mission “Bringing God’s bounty to the table,†Manna’s Chef Dan Skay has taken on transforming thoughtfully sourced ingredients into healthy, flavorful and globally inspired meals. 

“That means serving innovative dishes with a menu that reflects Colorado’s growing seasons,†explains Chef Dan. 

Harbored inside the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital, Manna features plates like andouille chicken sausage, patatas bravas with bison meatballs, and vegan chile stuffed poblanos alongside soups and rock oven pizzas.  

When it opened, Manna devoted itself to products “raised and produced by people who care†and also tapped Seattle Fish for their Skuna Bay craft-raised salmon and Alamosa, Colorado, striped bass. Chef Dan has witnessed a shift toward sustainable sourcing across Castle Rock over the last years – it’s a shift he is proud to be a part of. Manna hosts a full acre garden – known as the “The Garden of Eatin†– which includes 90 community plots alongside a 1,400-square-foot garden that supplies the restaurant. Chef Dan recently promoted Chef Adam Freisem to executive chef from chef de cuisine so he could focus on operations. 

Castle Rock CO
Castle Rock / Jeff Adkins

Union Bistro

Chef-Owner Kim Heideman & Executive Chef Chris Dreiling 

In operation since 2005, Union Bistro is a Castle Rock staple. Chef-Owner Kim Heideman and Executive Chef Chris Dreiling continue to evolve its seasonal menu while staying true to Colorado’s terrain: Union’s motto, “Using quality ingredients from around the block and around the world,†can be experienced with bites of their all-natural, hormone-free beef sourced from Verde Farms in Larkspur.  

The inviting, casual setting is met with belly-warming, internationally inspired dishes like the roasted duck with gluten-free gnocchi in a red pepper orange basil sauce, a Cuban flatbread, or salmon in spring pea risotto. The platings are made all the more soothing thanks to table touches from the hands-on culinary team. Chef Kim and Chef Chris are known to make floor rounds explaining dish origins, highlighting moments from their travels and tastings, as well as experiences from PB&J Restaurants, cooking James Beard-recognized dinners, and world-class training.

Chef Kim told media outlet, Food News Feed, “I think keeping menus changing, seasonal and fresh is what guests look for and expect. Cost-conscious items and creativity are what keep restaurants moving forward.”

Castle Rock’s Downtown Riverwalk is a Bridge to the Future


Chef Jose Espinoza

Chef Jose Espinoza and his wife, Mimi, arrived in Castle Rock three years ago. Together, the duo has worked the lines and served the masses in California, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. Their restaurant, Trestles Coastal Cuisine, is named after a beloved surfing shoreline between San Diego and Orange County, and their menu reflects the maritime muse. 

“I would like to have people leave our restaurant saying and sharing ‘that was some of the best tasting and freshest meals we have had,†says Espinoza.

Sourcing is an important component of that hope. 

“We work together with Seattle Seafood to sources the freshest and sustainability-minded seafood. An example would be our Skuna Bay salmon,†Espinoza says. 

These salmon are naturally raised off Vancouver Island’s coast. At Trestles, the fish flaunt a macadamia herb panko crust with a Champagne-Citrus Beurre Blanc. Chef Espinoza also flies in hard-to-find fish like Hawaiian opah, ono, Australian barramundi and Pacific wolffish. 

“One of our main focuses is to always be creating new flavorful dishes,†Espinoza says.

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