Gone are the days of the Rocky Mountain oysters. This is where Colorado lamb, the palisade peach and always flowing, high quality beer stay. From the latest in cooking-focused concepts to emerging neighborhoods, this guide will take you to the real essence of Denver food.
From a not-entirely-secret beer scene to fantastic craft spirits and a booming list of restaurants taking on influences from around the world, there’s a little bit of everything in Mile High City. Despite its reputation as a cross-border commuter in the US scene, diners here will have a hard time finding a white tablecloth restaurant with a snooty attitude. There are many kitchens in Denver that are incredibly good to eat, but great restaurants like New York and Los Angeles have almost none of the constipation.
Denver and its surrounding satellite cities are often referred to as the “Napa Valley of Beer”. To really understand the alcohol scene here, order a Sauer from TRVE in the Baker district and visit the tasting room in the Spirituosenpalast Leopold Bros. (5285 Joliet Street). If you want to enjoy the best of Mexican cuisine, head to El Taco de Mexico and order the Chilirelleno Burrito, which is always smothered. And don’t miss the new generation of food halls: Denver Central Market, Union Station, Stanley Marketplace, The Source, Zeppelin Station, Avanti, Denver Milk Market and Broadway Market, among others. Others are in preparation.
Eater Denver has maps for almost everything that contain specific information about the best places and things to eat and drink in the Denver area. We’ve selected the best spots on our most popular maps so time-hungry eaters can prioritize where to go.
Denver Central Market should be high on every visitor’s bucket list. Denver Central Market
Hot restaurants:: The latest additions to this list of hot spots are Gattara and Daughter Thai Kitchen & Bar.
Essential restaurants:: If you need to narrow down the Essential 38, head to Annette for the hottest new American cuisine, Frasca Food and Wine for a stunning Italian dinner, and the two-decade old Potager for an authentic farm-to-table experience. Do you feel like local Chinese in a bohemian setting? Immediately run to Hop Alley.
bars:: Check out Williams & Graham, a now must-have and highly acclaimed speakeasy run by barman Sean Kenyon and B & GC, a secret Cherry Creek spot that is even an adventure to get a reservation. Looking for the hot new spots? Start with Suite 6A by Death & Co in the Ramble Hotel or Lady Jane in LoHi.
Pizza:: Wood-fired cakes are casual and yet precise at Cart Driver in RiNo (Prosecco on tap also with your pizza factories); White Pie that will take you back to New Haven; and Pizzeria Locale from the Frasca Food & Wine team in Boulder if you are in the area.
Ice cream:: If you’re not planning on scrambling for ice cream, you can use Little Man’s original cream jar for the full experience, Sweet Action for unique flavors and a nice vegan selection, and Sweet Cow (there are multiple locations) for a neighborhood favorite.
coffee:: The coffee roasting game and artisanal coffee scene are great, especially in places like Crema, where the breakfast rolls are delicious too, and Huckleberry, with their music-loving highland getaway.
beer:: When it comes to major breweries, Black Shirt Brewing is a gem in the RiNo neighborhood, Avery rocks in Boulder, and New Belgium is a grand shrine sourced just a short drive up the street in Fort Collins.
Those parts of the city that are constantly growing and evolving are the ones that every self-proclaimed food person needs to know well – with everything they need to eat and drink in each one.
Hipsters, artists and technicians young and old flock to this formerly industrial district that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Drinks across the street in Bar Fausto won’t disappoint, nor will conveyor belt rolls in Sushi Rama, live jazz in Nocturne or a late night burger in Meadowlark Kitchen. This neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of breweries in the city. So use Ratio Beerworks and Our Mutual Friend Brewing. The latest hotspots can be found in the Call for Breakfast, the Source Hotel for dinner and the Ramble for drinks.
Little Man Ice CreamCorner stone dwellings
The view from the El Five tapas joint on the fifth floor is unbeatable anywhere in town. The salads and pastas at Bar Dough make this one of the hottest in town, along with the trendy ramen-haunted Uncle next door and the nearby pan-Latin American party Señor Bear. Some of the best fried chicken in town can be enjoyed on the roof of the Low Country Kitchen, and Old Major is a great choice for premium meats and sausages. At the Avanti F&B Food Hall, the new Bistro Georgette and Rotary booths are the newest favorites, and the Bindery is a great choice for brunch or dinner. A little off the beaten path, Spuntino is a cute stop to enjoy Italian food and homemade amaro.
Larimer Square Courtesy Visit Denver
Before there was LoHi and RiNo, there was Lower Downtown, nicknamed LoDo, which has resurfaced as a food and drink hub in recent years. Two areas concentrate a large amount of what every food-crazy person should visit: Larimer Square, where local classics like Rioja and Osteria Marco operate; and Transit Station Union Station, where visitors can dine at the James Beard Awarded Mercantile Dining & Provisions, enjoy a fireplace spritz and cicchetti from Tavernetta, or enjoy a gin, tonic and tapas from Ultreia. Another neighborhood highlight is ChoLon, a Pan-Asian restaurant that serves both lunch and dinner.
Uptown is one of Denver’s best walkable areas and a popular place to eat and drink, mostly along 17th Avenue. Ten-year-old new American diner Steuben’s and its sister ping pong hall and Ace Asian restaurant offer fun, casual experiences with an energetic atmosphere, while the new American Beast + Bottle and its sister are a must for an intimate dinner or brunch that Restaurant Coperta is equally delicious for southern Italians. The nearby Olive and Finch is a popular spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner and baked goods.
Chef Elise Wiggins serves a wood-fired pizza at the CattivellaRyan Dearth / Eater
Aurora and Stapleton:
Stapleton and Aurora are two of the most exciting places to dine in Denver right now. From the former airport to the wasteland and developed community, Stapleton now has eateries like the stunning Concourse Restaurant Moderne and Cattivella. Just down the street at the entrance to Aurora, Stanley Marketplace attracts diners from across the city with food from popular local empanadas to the best new restaurant in the area. Keep walking in this area and there are even more sneak spots to discover.
The Denver omelette::
This isn’t something you should be eating, but if you’re curious, it’s an omelette stuffed with diced ham, onions, and green peppers.
Pot-laced candy, brownies, and other foods courtesy of the (almost) everything-marijuana laws in the state. Buy from Life Flower Dispensary or LivWell.
Rocky Mountain oysters::
Also, nothing to “eat” during your visit to Colorado is a dish made from testicles obtained from bulls, pigs, or sheep. If you really want to give it a try, head to the iconic Buckhorn Exchange.
Big Red F.::
One of the most transformative restaurant groups in the region with enduring power and reputations is this mini-empire led by Chef Dave Query. These include the Jax Fish House (multiple locations), but also places like Lola, Centro, and the Post Chicken and Beer is now open near Denver.
Frasca Food & Wine is a sought-after travel destination in Colorado. This upscale bouldering dining room is what we mean when we talk about teaching with no excuse. Indeed, thoughtful staff is what sets this northern Italian bolthole apart most from many others. That and the Friulano wine and the cuisine that take the niche to a completely new level.
The Kizaki brothers::
The owners of Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and OTOTO, Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, are among the city’s most respected restaurateurs who are committed to the highest quality sushi. For more than three decades they have built an excellent reputation offering Denverite’s traditional and creative fish preparations in an environment that is constantly improving.
Make reservations in advance
Mercantile Dining & Provision, Annette, Tavernetta, Corrida, Beckon, Safta, Suite 6A
The 17-seat kitchen counter in the Beckon Restaurant Adam Larkey / Eater
Get in touch
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Union Station Farmers MarketAshton Ray Hansen