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An Eater’s Guide to Denver

Denver is known for its diverse food scene. There are many restaurants, cafés and eateries to choose from in Denver. But if you want the best food in Denver, then look no further than these five places.
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That well-known lamb. These Palisade peaches, Olathe corn, and Rocky Ford melons. The ever-present inexperienced chile. Ever-flowing beer. Anybody who nonetheless claims there’s no such factor as Colorado delicacies simply hasn’t been trying onerous sufficient. This information to its capital metropolis will present you the place to seek out it at its perfect.

Union Station Farmers Market
Ashton Ray Hansen

Welcome to the Land of Actually Elevated Delicacies

Over the previous few years, the restaurant publicity machine has begun to connect the adjective “elevated” to only about every little thing from consolation meals to cocktails. Right here within the Mile Excessive Metropolis (so nicknamed, to be clear, for its altitude and never its hashish trade), we will joke that our culinary tradition has at all times been elevated; it simply took the nationwide media, which had lengthy dismissed Denver as a cowtown, some time to note.

Reading: Best local food in denver

What accounts for the progressiveness with which we’re now credited? Little doubt it correlates partially to the collective sense of journey right here, the place a comparatively younger, dynamic inhabitants spends each potential second of free time climbing, climbing, snowboarding, and snowboarding up within the mountains — and frequenting the newest breweries, distilleries, and naturally eating places in between. That demographic naturally contains cooks themselves, who’re as more likely to be came upon within the wild foraging, fishing, or looking as they’re within the kitchen. Okay, that’s maybe a slight exaggeration — however the level stays that the chance to chase new highs, to scale new heights, is what Coloradans dwell for, figuratively in addition to actually. Could your personal Denver eating journey be as thrilling as your first fourteener.

The place to Begin: Eater Denver’s High Maps

Eater Denver’s maps are designed to maintain you within the loop from the waking hour to bedtime; right here, we’ve distilled a number of of the preferred right down to their fundamentals.

Bustling food hall
Denver Central Market in RiNo is open for enterprise from morning to nighttime.
Adam Larkey

Breakfast: Whereas egg- and chorizo-stuffed burritos from taquerias like El Taco de Mexico should still represent the consummate morning meal in Denver, one of the notable issues in regards to the metropolis’s rampant progress lately is the rise in breakfast choices from around the globe. Now you can begin the day with one other Mexican staple, huevos con machaca, alongside a michelada at La Machaca de Mi Amá; with a purple bean bun and a matcha latte at Tokyo Premium Bakery; with Armenian espresso service and the savory pastry known as ajarski at Home of Bread; with raggmunk, or Swedish potato pancakes, and a cup of the Fjäll home mix at Kaffe Landskap; or with Australian-inspired Vegemite-avocado toast and a flat white at Stowaway Kitchen.

Lunch: In fact, Mexican meals is an equally certain wager for lunch round right here, whether or not from a top-notch truck, like Kiké’s Pink Tacos, or a killer torta store, like ATM. However so is pizza, be it Connecticut-style at White Pie, Detroit-style at Blue Pan, or Neapolitan-style at Marco’s Coal-Fired. And so are burgers: Go lowbrow with the JCB at historic hangout My Brother’s Bar or connoisseur with the Shroom Luva’s at any of three Faucet & Burger places. For the health-conscious (to not point out time-strapped), there’s sustainable poke hut The Turtle Boat and vegetarian magnet Very important Root; for pockets watchers, there’s stuffed frybread at American Indian eatery Tocabe and moo tom yum at 9 Thai. However the lunch-friendly lists go on and on, from hen shacks to crock spots.

Pleased Hour: Appears it’s at all times pleased hour someplace within the Mile Excessive Metropolis, with specials on sips and snacks working virtually across the clock at institutions of every kind. Grape geeks (and interior-design nerds, for that matter) ought to take a look at the half-price pours Trellis Wine Bar; craft-brew buffs can take in the suds at The Brutal Poodle for reasonable and Champagne tastes on a beer finances have to know that they’ll make out like bandits after work on the in any other case dear sushi sanctuary Uchi.

Dinner: Assuming you wish to make each second of your time right here depend, there’s no higher method to weigh your choices for dinner than by perusing Eater Denver’s 38 Important Eating places. To call a number of positioned exterior the neighborhoods lined under: The Wolf’s Tailor, as its quirky identify would possibly recommend, delivers a culinary expertise so eclectic it’s uncategorizable, to not point out unforgettable. Restaurant Olivia has made its identify on attractive handmade pastas, ingenious cocktails like the ocean salted-melon margarita, and extremely polished service. Q Home brings the funk within the type of trendy Chinese language fare: Suppose beef tongue and tripe with numbing chili oil or bok choy stir-fried with fermented tofu. And African Grill and Bar makes its friends really feel proper at dwelling whereas taking their palates on an exhilarating journey to the homeowners’ homelands by way of plates of kelewele, egusi, yassa, and purple purple.

Drinks: To construct your bar-crawling itinerary, in the meantime, look no additional than 25 Denver Important Bars. There await historic dives like Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill; first-class cocktail lounges similar to Williams & Graham; and comfy nooks for area of interest drinkers, together with natural-wine purveyor Noble Riot and severe sour- and wild-beer specialist Goed Zuur. Talking of beer, they don’t name better Denver “The Napa Valley of Beer” for nothing — not least as a result of it’s dwelling to the world-renowned Nice American Beer Pageant; a whirlwind tour of this 12 months’s award-winning breweries may embrace Congress Park’s Cerebral, RiNo’s Our Mutual Buddy, and Unusual Craft in Lincoln Park.

Late Night time: And the social gathering doesn’t must cease there. Although this isn’t precisely a metropolis that by no means sleeps, evening owls will nonetheless discover their share of roosts to rule, from rollicking Ok-pub Thank Sool Pocha to old-school 24/7 diner The Breakfast King.

Eating ’Hoods to Know In and Round Denver

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Ever-growing and evolving, these districts are those that each Denver diner is aware of in and out; we’ve singled out some highlights. (See the glossary for different key geographical phrases.)

Hummus, lutenitsa, pita, and lamb shank
An array of dishes from Safta at The Supply Resort in RiNo.
Lucy Beaugard

RiNo: Seven or eight years in the past, no person had ever heard of RiNo (brief for River North). However this as soon as dusty stretch of industrial-strength warehouses has since been carved out of 5 Factors by the artists, brewers, distillers, and naturally, restaurateurs who’ve made it the most well liked ’hood on the town. Among the many eating locations that put it on the map are the eternally hip, progressive Chinese language spot Hop Alley; swanky jazz and supper membership Nocturne; and magical Mexican-Midwestern mashup Work & Class. More moderen, however no much less game-changing, arrivals embrace Owlbear Barbecue; modern Israeli go-to Safta; prix fixe-only chef’s counter Beckon; and the brand-new Greenwich, an elegant shrine to its New York namesake. Simply right here for drinks? Make it a carrot-elderflower saison at Ratio Beerworks or an over-the-top cocktail at Demise & Co.

Savory rabbit pie with mustard gelato
Rabbit, pictured right here within the type of a savory pie with mustard gelato, is a signature of The Bindery in LoHi.
Lucy Beaugard

LoHi: The Decrease Highlands, higher generally known as LoHi, is one other treasure trove for the tastebuds — and feast for the eyes, for that matter: Simply attempt the views from fifth-floor tapas joint El 5 or the Household Jones Spirit Home’s drop-dead decor on for dimension. Different must-stops, in the meantime, span the globe inside a few sq. miles tops. Spuntino is just not your common mom-and-pop red-sauce parlor; although certainly run by a husband-and-wife group, it’s recognized for a number of the metropolis’s most imaginative Italian delicacies in addition to considered one of its most fascinating wine lists. Innovation can also be on the menu at The Bindery, which showcases influences from nearly each continent — generally in a single dish, for instance, halibut-scallop ceviche with ume plums or calamari risotto with inexperienced chile. For fab Japanese fare, there’s trendy izakaya Mizu and raucous ramen store Uncle; for a pan-Latin social gathering, Señor Bear; for a meat-centric splurge, The Fifth String; for sandwiches you received’t discover wherever else, Dimestore Delibar; and for just a little little bit of every little thing — from Venezuelan arepas to Nashville-style scorching hen — there’s meals corridor Avanti F&B.

Photo of an Italian feast on the wall of a restaurant
A meta-meal within the type of a Slim Aarons {photograph} at Tavernetta.
Mike Thurk

LoDo: Earlier than there was LoHi and RiNo, there was Decrease Downtown. Its unique eating hub, Larimer Sq., stays dwelling to such enduring native favorites as Mediterranean fixture Rioja, cozy Italian hang-out Osteria Marco, and subterranean cocktail lounge The Inexperienced Russell. In 2014, the motion expanded to the newly renovated Union Station, the place no fewer than three James Beard awardees function at, respectively, modern American go-to Mercantile Eating & Provision, ultra-suave Italian vacation spot Tavernetta, and beautiful tapas bar Ultreia. And that’s not all. For a superb time, hit up chichi pan-Asian spot ChoLon for its well-known kaya toast and French onion soup dumplings; Pony Up for brown butter-washed Previous Fashioneds and newfangled French dips; tiny chef’s counter BRUTØ for an intimate, intricate tasting extravaganza; and Run for the Roses for a top-shelf nightcap. (And that’s nonetheless not all, however this paragraph has to finish someplace.)

Fried chicken and taiyaki waffles
Brunchtime hen and taiyaki waffles at Ace Eat Serve.
Ruth Tobias

Uptown/Metropolis Park West: Simply southeast of downtown, this immanently walkable space is a noontime boon, what with regional American diner Steuben’s providing up the likes of clam chowder and meatloaf, eclectic café Onefold turning out duck fried rice and chilaquiles with equal oomph, Olive and Finch whipping up juice blends and elaborate sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, and Dos Santos taking tacos for a artistic spin. Come dinnertime, Ace Eat Serve certainly serves up a plethora of pan-Asian plates with a aspect of ping pong, whereas Coperta will spoil you for contemporary Southern Italian meals and wine, from aperitivi and antipasti throughout to digestivi and dolci. Different greatest bets for dessert: upscale bakery-café D Bar and scoop store Frozen Matter.

Watermelon cucumber salad
A seasonal watermelon salad at Ginger Pig.
Ruth Tobias

Berkeley: Centered primarily round a roughly eight-block stretch of Tennyson Road, this neighborhood began to development shortly earlier than Eater Denver revealed a information to its eating scene that also holds up nicely three years later, minus a number of closures — and plus a number of arrivals. Since then, Asian fusion hit Ginger Pig, easygoing Mediterranean kitchen Mazevo, and temaki counter Berkeley Park Sushi Co. have all joined top-flight butcher store and deli Il Porcellino Salumi, the ever-lively Cafe Brazil and Name to Arms Brewing Firm, and refined cocktail retreat The Tatarian.

Korean banchan
Banchan at Korean restaurant Shin Myung Gwan in Aurora.
Ruth Tobias

Aurora: Whereas Caroline Glover’s homey but splashy Annette within the Stanley Market justifiably introduced the nationwide meals media working to this jap suburb, locals have lengthy celebrated it as a microcosm of worldwide delicacies. Right here you’ll discover scores of very good Korean, Ethiopian, Chinese language, and naturally Mexican eating places, to not point out shops for Greek, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Thai, Cajun/Creole, Polish, and even Burmese and Russian fare — no scarcity of which repeatedly discover their means onto Eater Denver maps. Taproom vacationers, in the meantime, shouldn’t sleep on Haykin Household Cider or the Chinese language-inspired Jade Mountain Brewing Firm, which can also be a teahouse.

Turkish breakfast
Turkish breakfast at The Boco Restaurant (fka The Breakfast Champion).
Ruth Tobias

Boulder: Technically, Boulder isn’t a suburb of Denver. But it surely’s shut sufficient — and given its vibrant eating scene, no complete culinary information to the realm could be full with out it. Its crown jewel is Friulian-inspired legend Frasca Meals and Wine, amongst many different posh special-occasion spots, but it surely’s completely potential to have a blast right here with out breaking the financial institution: You can, as an illustration, begin with an elaborate Turkish breakfast at The Boco Restaurant (fka The Breakfast Champion); seize lunch on the charming Little Tibet; take in the ambiance of the architecturally jaw-dropping Dushanbe Teahouse come afternoon; and eventually wind down over a number of artfully introduced Japanese nibbles at Izakaya Amu.

Denver Glossary of Phrases

Burrito topped with green chile
A burrito that isn’t smothered in inexperienced chile is simply “a sleeping bag for ground beef,” to cite the late Mitch Hedberg.
Ruth Tobias

420: Code for getting excessive, this quantity now additionally refers to April 20, a day of celebration for hashish lovers. Space eating places, bars, and breweries mark the annual event with every kind of intelligent promotions (although it needs to be famous that THC-infused edibles and potables can solely be bought at dispensaries).

5280: The variety of ft in a mile serves as a form of shorthand for the nickname Mile Excessive Metropolis. See, as an illustration, 5280 Burger Bar within the CBD. (The native space code, 303, performs an identical function.)

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CBD: Amusingly sufficient, the initials that stand for cannabidiol — a non-psychoactive part of hashish — additionally stand for Central Enterprise District, or the a part of downtown that’s not LoDo. Although the pickings are slimmer right here, there are nonetheless some finds available: pre-Prohibition-inspired cocktail lounge Union Lodge No. 1, for one, in addition to swish steakhouse Guard and Grace and eternally thronged road cart Liang’s Thai Meals.

Denver Omelet: That is nothing it is best to exit of your method to devour, however should you’re curious, it’s an omelet full of diced ham, onions, and bell peppers.

Denver Steak: This shoulder lower of beef has gained in nationwide reputation lately. Its identify belies its origins — it wasn’t invented right here — however so what? Good steak is sweet steak.

Federal Boulevard: A essential thoroughfare that doubles as a global Restaurant Row. Mexican and Vietnamese eateries are particularly prevalent alongside it — attempt Tacos El Paisa or Tarasco’s within the former case, Pho 95 or New Saigon within the latter — although Chinese language, Thai, and varied different kitchens pop up too: High examples embrace Hong Kong Barbecue, Star Kitchen, and Suvipa.

Pueblo chile: That is precisely what it appears like — a chile grown within the Colorado city of Pueblo, the place debates over its high quality relative to New Mexico’s Hatch chile can get heated. However by no means thoughts all that: The warmer the chiles themselves get, the much less their variations register anyway, dissolving as a substitute into that candy, candy burn.

Rocky Mountain oysters: Some Denverites sniff that solely vacationers go to the long-lasting Buckhorn Alternate to eat fried bull testicles. That is true. However that doesn’t imply you shouldn’t do it, if solely simply to say you probably did.

SoBo: Cease attempting to make this nickname occur, actual property brokers — it’s not going to occur. That stated, it’s brief for South Broadway, which, like Federal Boulevard above and Colfax Avenue under, is dwelling to many a must-stop, together with vegetarian scorching spot Someone Folks, Colombian charmer La Chiva, the long-lived Style of Thailand, and tiki bar Adrift.

Smothered: A smothered burrito is one which comes topped with inexperienced chile — as nicely it ought to. Simply don’t be stunned if the chile appears extra orange or brown than inexperienced; its hue partly is dependent upon its supporting elements. (“Green” on this case actually means “fresh,” versus purple chile created from dried pods.)

The ’Fax: That is the nickname for what, again within the Nineteen Seventies, a author for Playboy known as “the longest, wickedest street in America.” The popularity caught — and Denverites love Colfax Avenue all of the extra for it. But along with a number of the world’s most colourful dive bars, it’s strewn with quite a few restaurant gems, together with tiny bistro To the Wind; stylish new pizzeria Benzina; pierogi parlor Baba & Pop’s; cocktail hang-out Intermediary, the place the extremely progressive Misfit SnackBar operates; and all method of Mexican, Central American, and Ethiopian institutions (together with the great Axum and Queen of Sheba).

Western Slope: Masking roughly the westernmost third of Colorado, this area is the supply of a lot agricultural satisfaction. Lots of the ranches that yield our well-known beef and lamb are right here; so are the orchards that produce our bounty of fruit — not solely Palisade peaches however plums, cherries, apples, pears, and extra — and the vineyards that just lately prompted Meals & Wine to dub the Grand Valley “the new Sonoma.”

Three Painkiller cocktails
Painkillers at Adrift on South Broadway (not SoBo).
Harrison Warters Images

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Union Station Farmers Market
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