The Top 20 Date Night Spots Around Denver in 2022

This list is meant to be a collection of restaurants that not only have exceptional food and drinks, but also a particularly romantic or classy atmosphere fit for a special occasion. They’re perfect for date night, a celebratory meal with a couple of friends, or a small family dinner when relatives come to town. Restaurants here are on the pricy side, but in my opinion, also worth it.

1. Uchi

2500 Lawrence St / RiNo

Uchi has been one of my favorite special-occasion restaurants in Denver since it first opened in RiNo. James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole brought this gem here from Austin in 2018, and I’ve never seen it anything but packed since. Not only is the quality of the sushi always top-notch, but Uchi also has a lot of non-traditional dishes that I absolutely love. You can tell that culinary creativity is applied with a purpose here to create unique sushi dishes with fantastic flavor and texture.

Favorite dishes: hama chili, walu walu, 72-hour braised short rib, foie gras

Happy hour: Daily 4-6:30pm

2. Matsuhisa

98 Steele St / Cherry Creek

Matsuhisa is probably the priciest option on this list — but for good reason. It comes from renowned celebrity chef and restaurateur, Nobuyuk “Nobu” Matsuhisa, who opened his first restaurant in Beverly Hills back in 1987. His original namesake “Nobu” opened in New York in 1994 to critical acclaim, and there are now Nobu locations all over the USA and the world. In 1998, the chef opened his first Matsuhisa restaurant in Aspen, followed by Vail, and then here in Cherry Creek. All the food here is truly special, influenced both by Chef Matsuhisa’s origins and training in classical Japanese cuisine, as well as his life in Peru. The ingredient quality and preparation here is exceptional and a step above anywhere else, making it well worth the price for a special occasion.

Favorite dishes: any of the “live” sashimi dishes (killed to order), black cod in miso (the chef’s signature dish)

3. Water Grill

1691 Market St / LoDo

Water Grill is the latest newcomer to the Denver dining scene, occupying a beautiful corner space in the newly-finished structure that has replaced the former Market Street Station downtown. It is both grandiose and cozy at the same time — complete with fishing antiquities, wood finishes, a fireplace, large copper bar, and an enormous tank housing live crab and lobster. The center of the space is dominated by the raw bar, where you can watch fresh seafood towers being compiled from a variety of oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, sea urchin, and more. Highlights here are the aforementioned seafood towers, whole fish in your choice of preparations, live king crab, seasonal spiny lobster, and the carefully-compiled wine list that pairs perfectly all of the above.

Favorite dishes: Seafood tower, spiny lobster

4. LeRoux

1510 16th St Mall / LoDo

LeRoux is a beautiful gem of a modern French restaurant that opened in LoDo at the end of 2018. Right next door to ChoLon, it’s actually also the brainchild of the award-winning Chef Lon behind that restaurant, too. An homage to his roots in French culinary training, LeRoux serves up French classics like french onion soup, evolutions of classics like the onion-crusted short rib, and labor-intensive creations like the mushroom mille-feuille (literally “thousand-leaf”). It also has my favorite dessert in town: the Paris-Brest pastry filled with pistachio mousseline and salted caramel.

Favorite dishes: french onion soup, mussels with spicy sausage, onion-crusted short rib, paris-brest dessert

Happy hour: Wed-Sun 4-5:30pm

5. Cattivella

10195 E 29th Dr / Eastbidge

Its name literally meaning “naughty girl” in Italian, Cattivella is in my top 2 Italian restaurants in Denver (Tavernetta being the other). It’s the flagship restaurant from award-winning Denver chef Elise Wiggins, who goes to Italy every year to learn classic Italian techniques and recipes and and brings them back to Cattivella. I believe her brother is Celiac (or highly intolerant to gluten) — so she also makes some of the best gluten-free pizza and pasta in town. The centerpiece of the restaurant is the chef’s counter around the wood-burning pizza oven and wood-burning grill — and you can always sit there and watch the staff hard at work.

Favorite dishes: charbroiled oysters, pasticcio, lamb ragu,

Happy hour: Daily 4-6pm indoor, Monday all night for patio dining

6. Tavernetta

1889 16th St Mall / LoDo

Tavernetta is the other restaurant in my top 2 Italian restaurants in Denver, which isn’t surprising considering it comes from Colorado’s culinary royalty: Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, who are behind Frasca in Boulder (and up for a James Beard award in 2022). It opened at Union Station at the end of 2017 and quickly became famous for its fresh handmade pastas, beautiful wine selection, and impeccable service. It also has some of the best gluten-free bread (focaccia) and pasta that I’ve ever had.

Favorite dishes: any of the pasta dishes

Happy hour: Daily 4-6pm

7. El Five

2930 Umatilla Fifth Floor / LoHi

El Five boasts beautiful views of downtown Denver from its 5th floor location next to its sister restaurant Linger in LoHi. It also offers something that’s otherwise missing from Denver: a delicious melting pot of Mediterranean dishes influenced by the cuisines of all the countries in that part of the world — from Europe, to North Africa, to the Middle East.  Everything here is amazing, starting with something as simple as the jamon ibérico & cheese plate, and ending with the labor-intensive paella. Also, their gluten-free pita is better than regular pita!

Favorite dishes: jamon ibérico & cheese app, hanger steak, paellas

8. Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club

1330 27th St / RiNo

Nocturne is a very unique venue on this list — as it combines dinner and live jazz music. The venue itself has a very glitzy 20s vibe to it, and you’ll never be out of place dressed accordingly. Reservations here include a dinner that revolves around their 3-course menu, allowing you to “elevate the ‘supper’ portion of your jazz and supper club experience with the seasonal three course menu or supplement your dinner with seasonally inspired small plates or cheese and charcuterie offerings.” Also, if you can, I recommend trying to get a table on the mezzanine overlooking the stage and rest of the dining room.

Check out their music calendar online.

9. Guard & Grace

1801 California St / Downtown

Guard & Grace is probably my favorite steakhouse in Denver. It was created by local trendsetter Chef Troy Guard — who you must have heard of if you’ve spent any amount of time in Denver. (He is behind the TAG Restaurant Group, which also owns TAG, TAG Burger Bar, Los Chingones, Bubu, FNG, Hashtag, and others.) Guard & Grace strikes a great balance between trendy and traditional — and it always has impeccable steakhouse service. Funnily enough, some of their vegetable and seafood dishes here are actually also my favorites — not just the steaks.

Must try: the oak-fired carrots and oak-fired octopus appetizer, as well as any of the steaks (topped with a bit of the alaskan black cod, trust me)

Happy hour: Tue-Fri 3-6pm

10. Fruition Restaurant

1313 E 6th Ave / Cap Hill

Fruition Restaurant is a small, intimate neighborhood restaurant that has always been a dependable go-to for a quiet date night with fantastic food. It’s the original restaurant of Chef Alex Seidel (most recently known for Mercantile Dining & Provision), who opened it in 2007 with the goal of serving top-quality farm-to-table dishes in a non-pretentious setting. Farm-to-table isn’t just a catch phrase here, as Fruition Farm is a 10-acre farm south of Denver that supplies many of the ingredients to the restaurant. Fruition is perennially honored as one of the top restaurants in Colorado, and helped Alex earn a spot on Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef list in 2010, as well as the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2018.

avelina patio denver

11. Avelina

1550 17th St / LoDo

Avelina occupies an elegant, airy space right in the middle of LoDo — with the perfect patio for when the weather is nice. The focus here is on seasonal New American cuisine — with a diverse roster of cocktails, craft beers, and boutique wines. The kitchen is led by Executive Chef Joshua Oakley, who brings almost 10 years of culinary experience to Avelina — from farm-to-table to fine dining. You can always entrust your dinner to him with the chef’s tasting menu. Otherwise, there are currently some fantastic options like wagyu beef carpaccio, a Mediterranean-style roasted cauliflower head, veal bolognese, duck confit cassoulet, and much more. There are also gluten-free pastas and flatbreads available.

12. Annette

2501 Dallas St, Ste 108 / Aurora

Opened in 2016 inside Stanley Marketplace, Annette is the first restaurant of Chef Caroline Glover — who is a 2019 Food and Wine Best New Chef and a many-time finalist and semifinalist for James Beard awards. Annette brings diners scratch-to-table and wood-fired fare in a cozy atmosphere that — according to its own mission statement — “honors food producers, nourishes eaters, and embodies craftsmanship, creativity, and rustic simplicity.” You’re meant to feel at home — although if this is what home cooking tastes like — maybe I grew up in the wrong home.

Happy hour: Tuesday all night, Wed-Sat 4:30-5:30pm

13. Beckon

2843 Larimer St / RiNo

Beckon is a small spot inspired by season ingredients that only offers a pre-fixe menu (with optional wine pairings) and is by pre-paid reservation only. Beckon consists of a 17-seat indoor chef’s counter, as well as a covered patio / outdoor garden seating. The menu is a rotating seasonal menu that changes every quarter (and can be viewed online when making reservations). Expect to spend no less than 2.5 hours here.

Open: Wednesday-Saturday, by reservation only (and you’ll need to reserve closer to a month in advance)

14. Daughter Thai

1700 Platte St / Commons Park

I definitely wanted to include a couple of modern Asian places on my list, and Daughter Thai was the first one that came to mind. It’s not traditional, super-spicy Thai food (go to US Thai for that) — but I also don’t think stomach problems make for a great date night. Daughter Thai offers a trendy, vibrant space with fun, creative cocktails and flavorful, beautifully-plated Thai dishes (that maybe lack a little heat). In other words, it’s the perfect Thai spot for a date.

Favorite dishes: Bangkok ribs, volcanic beef, lamb massaman curry

Happy hour: Hard to confirm online, but they maybe have a happy hour M-Thu or M/W/Th 5–6:30pm at the bar.

15. Q House

3421 E Colfax / City Park

Another modern Asian restaurant that I love for date night is Q House, which serves up delicious cocktails and creative, refined Chinese dishes in a cute little space over on East Colfax by City Park. Every time I’ve come here, I’ve been impressed by everything from the food, to the drinks, to the service. The menu changes throughout the year, but I do believe the Duck Lo Mein has been on it since Q House opened (and is one of my favorite dishes). Take a chance and try something that sounds out of your comfort zone, too. For example, I believe beef tongue & tripe with numbing chili oil is currently on the menu.

16. Toro

150 Clayton Ln / Cherry Creek

Toro is located inside Cherry Creek’s Hotel Clio (formerly the JW Marriott), but it’s not your typical hotel restaurant. It’s the newest spot to open from famed restaurateur Richard Sandoval, specializing in pan-Latin cuisine with South American, Japanese, and Chinese influences. The atmosphere and decor are upscale, but also colorful in true Latin fashion. There are huge windows and sliding doors that brighten the space and lead to an airy courtyard patio (complete with fire pit). All the dishes are delicious, from the anticuchos (skewer apps), to the ceviches, to the grilled meats with chimichurri. Margaritas are a must, of course.

Happy Hour: Daily 3-5pm

17. The Plimoth

2335 28th Ave / N City Park

Located directly north of City Park, The Plimoth is a wonderful little gem of a restaurant offering beautiful, yet cozy, spaces bth inside and outside. The food is inspired by classic Italian and French dishes, but also local seasonal ingredients. Their dishes are always beautiful, delicious, and have something for everyone (including vegetarians). One of my favorite items, that may or may not be available due to seasonality, is the braised wagyu oxtail with cheesy polenta.

18. Chez Maggy

1616 Market St / LoDo

Chez Maggy comes to us from the famed celebrity and Michelin-star Chef Ludo — and it’s inside the new Thompson Hotel downtown. It’s not a huge space, and the tables are french bistro style (round tops fitting a maximum of 4 people). It’s very price, but it’s also very delicious. The best french onion soup I’ve ever had is right here, with perfectly melted, crispy cheese dripping down the sides of the soup bowl. They also have French classics like escargot, tartar, duck breast, confit duck, and many more — all beautifully prepared and plated.

Must try: french onion soup

19. American Elm

4132 W 38th Ave / Highlands

I forget about this spot sometimes, because you can miss their beautiful, peaceful patio garden as you’re driving by. But it’s an incredible restaurant, with wonderful staff and phenomenal cocktails and food. The style is New American, the focus is fresh ingredients done well, and the results are delicious. There are also fantastic vegetarian options on the menu, whether done with vegetables or faux meats. The roasted half-chicken is brined for nearly 36 hours and my favorite thing here.

Must try: roasted half-chicken, ribeye cap, buttermilk pie dessert, espresso martini

Happy hour: M-F open–6pm, Sat/Sun 2:30–4pm

20. D Bar

494 E 19th Ave / Uptown

D Bar is listed last, because it wins for the last part of the meal: dessert. D Bar was originally a little dessert spot on 17th — and its dessert menu remains the highlight of the restaurant. (You can even just pick up desserts from the dessert counter on your way home, which I’ve done way too many times.) There are great brunch, lunch, and dinner options here too — all set in a bright, open atmosphere in the heart of Uptown. This used to be my regular spot when I lived in the neighborhood, just because I always loved the trendy vibe, friendly service, good wine, and of course the desserts.

Must try: warm Nutella-filled beignets (it’s literally heaven in your mouth)

Happy hour: Wed-Sun 3-6pm