Denver’s location in the center of the country is reflected in its cuisine – a combination of appealing Western culinary charm, such as steak and barbeque and local flavors, and the innovative international cuisine that a world-class city demands. It’s also a cuisine that’s skyrocketed in status over the last few years, with Denver area chefs recognized for national acclaim in a variety of ways.
Consider that six Denver chefs were nominated for the James Beard House Foundation Awards in 2010, and that many area restaurants have also been nominated for James Beard Foundation awards. Other Denver chefs have been featured on the Food Network, including the Food Network Challenge–which has Denver master baker Keegan Gerhard as its host – and on the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food program.
Steaks and more
Got beef? Denver’s location means it’s no surprise that it’s a city known for its steakhouses. Whether your craving is for ribeyes, T-bones, tenderloin, or porterhouse, this is one city that’s got you covered. Try local favorites like Elway’s (named for ex-Bronco John Elway), the Denver Chophouse, The Capital Grille, or The Broker, or go for national chains with Denver charm like Morton’s of Chicago.
Of course, authentic western cuisine is also big here – with big game on the menu at any number of innovative restaurants. Try elk and bison and soak in history at the Buckhorn Exchange – founded in 1893, it’s Denver’s oldest restaurant – or dine on buffalo, elk, quail, salmon and more in the rustic ambiance of The Fort – an authentic replica of an adobe fur fort that’s been featured in both Bon Appétit and National Geographic Traveler.
Brewpubs and Casual Noshing
Got beer? This city definitely does. Did you know that Denver brews more beer than any other U.S. city? With 80 different beers brewed daily and the Coors Brewery in nearby Golden (founded in 1873), it’s no surprise that the Great American Beer Festival is held here each fall, as well as such local events as the Denver Beer Fest. Sip on some tasty suds at Wynkoop Brewing Co. – the largest brewpub in the United States. Try a sampling from the Falling Rock Tap House – it’s easy with this brewpub’s selection of more than six dozen taps.
Local flavors and creative culinary chops
Colorado’s agricultural bounty and Denver’s thriving famer’s market scene mean that going local is easy to do, with delicious results. Many area restaurants are creating innovative dishes with the freshest produce, fruits, meat cheese and eggs that the region has to offer. The area’s flavors are varied, too – from Pacific-Rim fusion and comfort food to ethnic hotspots and traditional French, Italian and more.
Try Frasca’s in nearby Boulder – an Italian favorite and consistently named as one of the area’s top 10 restaurants; Mizuna in Governor’s Park – acclaimed Denver chef Frank Bonnano’s flagship restaurant (he also owns Luca Di Italia, Osteria Marco, and Bones – an Asian-fusion noodle restaurant); or Table 6 – Chef Scott Parker’s classic American bistro known for its creative cuisine and vegetarian entrees.
No matter what you’re craving, Denver’s restaurant scene is sure to satisfy. Browse our sampling of listings below or VISIT OR DINING GUIDE.
A Sampling of metro Denver Restaurants
No matter what you’re craving, Denver’s restaurant scene is sure to satisfy! Browse our sampling of listings to get an idea of the city’s cuisines, price points, and variety whenever you dine out.
BD’s Mongolian Barbeque1620 Wazee St. Denver, 80202 303-571-1824 www.gomongo.com
BD’s Mongolian Barbeque, a national chain restaurant, gives Denver diners its take on stir-fry, letting diners create their own feast from a variety of choice meats and seafood, fresh veggies and flavor-packed sauces, and then chefs cook it Mongolian-style on a large, flat grill while you wait.
Blue Bonnet Cafe457 S. Broadway Denver, 80209 303-778-0147 www.bluebonnetrestaurant.com
One of the city’s most popular Mexican restaurants for the last 40 years, the family-owned Blue Bonnet Café is known for its great patio, handmade chips and salsa, chimichangas, award-winning margaritas, flautas, chile rellenos, pollo adovado, fish tacos, and carnitas – all made from scratch.
The Buckhorn Exchange1000 Osage St. Denver, 80204 303-534-9505 www.buckhornexchange.com
Known as Denver’s original steakhouse, The Buckhorn Exchange is located in the city’s oldest neighborhood just five minutes from downtown. This National Historic Landmark and Western Museum has been serving the finest in Old West fare since 1893, including Prime grade steaks, buffalo prime rib, elk, salmon, quail, game hen, and succulent baby-back pork ribs. You’ll also find exotic appetizers such as alligator tail, rattlesnake and buffalo sausage, as well as the house specialty Rocky Mountain Oysters.
The Capital Grille1450 Larimer St. Denver, 80202 303-539-2500 www.thecapitalgrille.com
Rich African mahogany paneling and art deco chandeliers are just a few elegant details at the upscale Capital Grille, a recent recipient of the American Culinary Federation’s “Achievement of Excellence Award.” The menu includes nationally renowned dry aged steaks, fresh seafood, and an award-winning wine list of more than 5,000 bottles.
Denver Palm RestaurantTabor Center, 1672 Lawrence St. Denver, 80202 303-825-7256 www.thepalm.com
This Denver location of the nationally known original New York restaurant founded in 1926 features an extensive lunch and dinner menu, as well as Bar Bites, special business lunch menus, and private dining. The dinner menu reflects the restaurant’s Italian-American heritage and includes such classics as prime aged steaks, jumbo Nova Scotia lobsters, chicken parmigiana and veal martini.
Earl’s Downtown Denver1600 Glenarm Place Denver, 80202 303-595-3275 www.earlsdowntowndenver.com
Known for its diverse menu and convenient downtown location, Earl’s Downtown Denver is located next to Cooks Fresh Market and close to such nearby attractions as the Colorado Convention Center, Coors Field, Invesco Field and others – making it ideal for dinner or drinks before an event. Menu items include a Leroy’s crispy dry ribs; a wedge salad with house-made bleu cheese dressing; and a hot chicken Caesar salad, plus pastas, burgers, wok items and more.
Elway’s2500 E. 1st Avenue, #101, Cherry Creek 303-399-5353 1881 Curtis Street, Denver 303-312-3107 www.elways.com
With two locations – downtown in the Ritz-Carlton Denver and in Cherry Creek – Elway’s is the result of a culinary and business partnership between former Denver Bronco John Elway and longtime friend Tim Schmidt. The menu includes USDA hand cut prime steaks, finfish, crustaceans, and more – with a menu that changes to meet market availability.
Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen1317 14th Street Denver, 80202 303-595-4255 www.euclidhall.com
With a motto of “Crafted, Not Cranked Out,” Euclid’s is the third restaurant from the team of Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch, who also own Rioja and Bistro Vendôme. Located in Euclid Hall, an 1883 building that once housed the venerable Soapy Smith’s bar, Euclid’s is a Denver favorite and American tavern with pub food from around the world, including house-made sausages, po’ boys, poutine, and schnitzels – plus an extensive beer selection and creative cocktails.
Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli78 E. Allen St. Castle Rock, 80108 303-663-9223 www.heidisbrooklyndeli.com
Founded in Denver and now a nationally franchised chain, Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli brings the flavors of New York to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. The menu includes such traditional favorites as Philly Cheesesteak and Reuben sandwiches, plus every kind of variety of sandwich you can dream up – and then some.
Highland Tap & Burger2219 W. 32nd Avenue Denver, 80211 720-287-4493 www.highlandtapdenver.com
Highland Tap & Burger features a casual pub style atmosphere to “watch a game, get something other than a bunch of fried food and processed meats and enjoy a pint of Colorado Craft beer.” Go for lunch, dinner, happy hour, or weekend brunch; there are great specials all week long and a creative and eclectic menu that features such surprises as an Avery I.P.A. Mac N’ Cheese with Fontina, aged white cheddar, parmesan and toasted homemade rustic breadcrumbs, and house-made salad dressings.
Illegal Pete’s1530 16th St., Suite 101 Denver, 80202 303-623-2169 www.illegalpetes.com
With multiple locations throughout Denver and Boulder, Illegal Pete’s features inexpensive Mexican food (tacos, quesadillas, nachos, queso, burritos, salads, and more) in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
Mad Greens1600 Stout St., Suite 100 Denver, 80202 303-464-7336 www.madgreens.com Based in and founded in Denver in 2004, Mad Greens – Inspired Eats has eight locations throughout Denver with a menu that focuses on chef-designed salads, build-your-own salads, Panini and soups for a “fun and healthy alternative to fast food and casual sit-down restaurants.”
The Market at Larimer Square1445 Larimer St. Denver, 80202 303-534-5140 www.coloradoeats.com
Mark and Gary Greenberg transformed a grocery store into Denver’s most recognizable deli and espresso bar in 1983, and it has since become a Denver favorite. Whether looking for a place to work and drink a great cup of coffee, a place to grab a sandwich, a place to meet some friends, or a place to relax, “The Market” is known for its bakery and full-service breakfast and deli menu.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room1400 Arapahoe St. Denver, 80202 303-991-2277 www.theoceanaire.com
Designed to resemble a 1930s ocean liner, the Oceanaire features seafood flown in daily from around the world, like Alaskan halibut, fresh Copper River salmon, true Dover sole, or bluefin tuna. The menu is printed daily; there’s also an oyster bar, cocktail lounge, and prix fixe specials.
Ocean Prime1465 Larimer Street Denver, 80202 303-825-3663 www.oceanprimedenver.com
Another upscale Denver seafood favorite, Ocean Prime features the highest quality ingredients available, local and regional flavors, and a made-from-scratch menu with daily seafood selections; wild and naturally harvested fish recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch; and USDA Prime steak cuts that are aged for maximum tenderness and flavor.
Old ChicagoMultiple metro locations www.oldchicago.com
In 1976, a few buddies opened a pizza joint in Boulder, Colorado. From the start, they agreed to base OId Chicago on a few basic principles: Serve up delicious, handmade pizza, have the best lineup of cold beers in town and always treat the guests like family. The food is savored for its freshness and flavor the lineup of 110 beers is famous for its variety. Guests can always expect warm, genuine hospitality.
Rialto Cafe934 16th St. Denver, 80202 303-893-2233 www.rialtocafe.com
Located in the heart of downtown Denver on the popular 16th Street Mall, Rialto Café features expertly prepared American foods and has been voted Best in Denver in several categories for such creative dishes as Kobe sliders with Bearnaise sause. There are plenty of options, too, with menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, a theater Prix Fixe menu, happy hour, wine & cocktails, group packages, and even a gluten-free menu.
Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant1525 Blake St. Denver, 80202 303-623-5432 www.riograndemexican.com
Founded in Fort Collins in 1986 and a Colorado mainstay ever since, the Rio Grande has locations all over the state, including Denver, and is known for great Mexican food and such signature margaritas as the Rio Marg.
Rock Bottom Brewery1001 16th St. Denver, 80265 303-534-7616 www.rockbottom.com
One of the many CraftWorks-owned eateries and brewpubs (others include Old Chicago and the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants), the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery features craft beer made on-site and made-from-scratch creative cuisine that ranges from the traditional Fish & Chips, Steak & Fries and burgers to the unique Lobster & Shrimp Tacos and Ponzu Salmon.
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery2262 Larimer St. Denver, 80205 303-297-0700 www.snoozeeatery.com
Founded in 2006 and specializing only in breakfast and lunch, Snooze is a Colorado-based local favorite with locations in Denver and Fort Collins. Specialties include a Breakfast Pot Pie with homemade rosemary sausage gravy, a flaky puff pastry, topped with an egg, any style, and hash browns; and the Sandwich I Am – an Udi’s soft pretzel roll filled with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and a sausage patty, served with a side of smoked cheddar hollandaise & house hash browns.
Strings1700 Humboldt St. Denver, 80218 303-831-7310 www.stringsrestaurant.com
Located in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood, Strings is one of Denver’s hippest restaurants with a menu that focuses on new American cuisine, including creative noodle dishes and fresh seafood like Cashew Crusted Seabass with saffron couscous and vanilla beurre blanc. Lunch and dinner specials change daily, and there’s also a lighter bar & and menu with happy-hour specials.
Ted’s Montana Grill1401 Larimer St. Denver, 80202 303-893-0654 www.tedsmontanagrill.com
The national franchise founded by media mogul and environmentalist Ted Turner and restaurateur George McKerrow, Jr., Ted’s Montana Grill is features fresh, made-from-scratch comfort food using Certified Angus Beef, National Bison Association-certified bison, chicken and seafood. Favorites include steaks, meatloaf, crab cakes, pecan-crusted trout, cedar plank salmon, burgers, chicken grills and vegetable sides.