All My Favorite Restaurants in the Denver Area

Below are my favorite spots in Denver by category, based on my experience eating and drinking all around the Denver area for the last 10+ years (skewed towards downtown and neighboring areas). Some categories have been supplemented by my good foodie friends with more experience in that cuisine. If you think I’m absolutely missing a local gem, please email/message me and let me know!

And no, I don’t have a gluten-free section, because Colorado is  the capital of gluten-free cuisine, and all the below should have at least some gluten-free options. You can search the page for “gluten-free” to see where I’ve called out some options specifically.

Click on a category below to jump down to that section:

African / Ethiopian
BBQ
Cajun / Creole
Caribbean / Jamaican
Chef’s Table / Omakase
Chinese
Comfort Food
French
Hamburgers
Hot Pot
Indian
Italian
Japanese: Ramen
Japanese: Sushi
Korean
Mediterranean / Israeli
Mexican / Latin
New American / Continental / Farm-to-Table
Pizza
Rooftop Views
Seafood
Spanish / Tapas
Steakhouses
Thai
Vietnamese / Pho

African / Ethiopian

  • African Grill & Bar (S Lakewood): One of my personal favorite spots in all the Denver area, serving up a wide variety of African cuisines, but leaning Ghanaian (where the wonderful owners are from). They have a wide variety of fufu options, which is a must-try with the spicy goat soup.
  • Queen of Sheba Ethiopian (E Colfax): This is a tiny spot widely acclaimed as the best Ethiopian in Denver, and it is indeed a special spot. The lovely lady who runs it is your server, bartender, and cook — so have patience when you come here. You can call ahead several days for gluten-free injera.
  • Axum (E Colfax / Park Hill): Another one on E Colfax, but closer to downtown if you don’t feel like driving further East. It’s also a bit bigger than Queen of Sheba and has a few more menu options. Call ahead several days for gluten-free injera.
  • Konjo Ethiopian Food (Edgewater Public Market): This one is in a food hall, but the food quality is no less excellent. Gluten-free injera is available upon request.
  • Nile Ethiopian (Aurora): This one can be hit-or-miss in terms of service if you look at their reviews — but it’s a good option to try in this part of town if you don’t feel like driving to E Colfax. Always curious to hear your thoughts if you go, too.

BBQ

  • Smok (RiNo): Located in The Source, this is a bit more bougie of a BBQ spot than you may be used to, but I love it. It’s got all the favorites, like brisket, burnt ends, smoked pork belly, pulled pork, pork ribs, and smoked hot wings — along with awesome cocktails.
  • Plates by the Pound (Aurora): this comes as a top recommendation from my BBQ connoisseur friend from Texas, so you know it’s good. Not open every day, but available for catering. Brisket is the specialty.
  • Lulu’s (Louisville): Also recommended by my friend, but more for the vibe. The BBQ is great, but the patio and space make it what it is.
  • Seasoned Swine (Golden): Food-truck turned restaurant, this is one of my personal favorites for their super flavorful brisket, their spicy chipotle cherry BBQ sauce, and the fresh-made margaritas.
  • G Que BBQ (multiple locations): Dependable dine-in or catering spot with multiple locations that is always a good go-to in a pinch.
  • AJ’s Pit BBQ (S Denver): Texas-style pit smoked BBQ. Pricy, but high-quality meats with options like tri-tip.

Caribbean / Jamaican

  • Jamaican Grill (Lincoln Park): This is another one of my hole-in-the-wall favorites going on 10 years now. I come here all the time for their goat curry, oxtail, jerk chicken, and brown stew chicken. (They also have pan-fried fish, but I’ve never gotten it.) Caveat: they close on holidays, Sun/Mon, and sometimes just because. Availability of dishes is also subject to daily constraints, and portions are much better for dine-in than delivery (they might not even let you know if they’re out of something for delivery). So I recommend eating on site (and bringing cash for a discounted cost / future favoritism).

Cajun / Creole

  • Lincoln’s Roadhouse (S Pearl): One of my current favorite hole-in-the-wall spots, with great Cajun and comfort food, wonderful staff, and live music on Fridays/Saturday. The po’boys and etouffee are definite standouts for me.
  • Nola Voodoo Tavern (MLK): A little neighborhood spot with great food and beer.
  • Nola Jane (LoDo/Downtown): This place is downtown, with all the pros and cons that brings. The blackened catfish is the dish to get here.
  • NoNo’s Café (Highlands Ranch): This is absolutely one of my favorite spots, with an old-school, friendly feel and a beautiful wrap-around porch. The only down side is the location (for me). Definitely try the etouffee-smothered catfish.
  • Lucile’s Creole Café: Lucile’s is a Denver institution with multiple locations — but this is a breakfast & brunch only spot (and there’s usually a long line for brunch).
  • Bayou Boys: This isn’t a location, but rather a group of awesome guys who know how to make the best Louisiana-style crawfish boil. They only do them in the Spring, and the location varies every weekend (check their website to see which brewery they’re boiling at every weekend).
  • Crawling Crab (S Lakewood): Ok, so this spot is more Vietnamese than Cajun, but they can do a Cajun-style crab and crawfish boil, too. This and Clawful below are my favorites for this if I can’t make it to a Bayou Boys event. My go-to is the dungeness or snow crab clusters, clams, and crawfish. Their S Federal location was better (just cozier), but not sure if that’s going to re-open.
  • Clawful (Lakewood): This is the other great Vietnamese year-round spot for crab and crawfish boils. The options are pretty much the same as at Crawling Crab above, but sometimes the quality can be better here — although it’s a much smaller spot.

Chef’s Table / Omakase

  • Beckon (RiNo): A 17-seat chef’s counter (or covered patio seating), with rotating seasonal menus that change every quarter. By reservation only. Expect to be here for 2.5 hours. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • KoKo Ni (Zeppelin Station): A 14-seat chef’s table from James Beard Chef Paul Qui featuring local ingredients and blending global flavors. By reservation only. Closed until Spring 2022. Expect to spend 90 minutes here. Also on my date night restaurant list.

Most of the sushi places (covered in the Sushi section) also have “omakase” (chef’s choice). Uchi, Matsuhisa, and Bamboo are where I’ve usually done it.

Chinese

  • Star Kitchen (S Federal): I personally don’t think it’s as good as in Hong Kong or San Francisco, but some people disagree with me. Regardless, it’s the best dim sum in town, but get there early or be ready for a long wait.
  • Hong Kong Station (Centennial): The best platter-style (non-dim-sum) Chinese food in town, but it may be better for takeout or delivery since they don’t serve alcohol. You absolutely have to get the spicy beef & tendon curry, as well as anything Szechuan style (I like the tripe and pig intestine, but there’s also calamari, beef, chicken, and other non-weird meats).
  • Yuan Wonton (food truck pop-up): These guys don’t have a permanent location, so you need to watch their Facebook for pop-up announcements. The lines get insane, so get there early.
  • Q House (E Colfax): This little spot on Colfax makes modern, creative takes on Chinese food — with fantastic cocktails to boot. The Duck Lo Mein is one of my favorite dishes here. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • Hop Alley (RiNo): This is another modern/fusion spot with a great reputation. I think they’re reservation-only these days.

Comfort Food

  • The Post Chicken & Beer (multiple locations, most recently in LoHi): the best gluten-free fried chicken in town, with great happy hour and brunch options. Non-chicken options like meatloaf are also on the menu, of course. And they make their own beers.
  • Lincoln’s Roadhouse (S Pearl): One of my favorite hole-in-the-wall spots, with great Cajun and comfort food, wonderful staff, and live music on Fridays/Saturday. The meatloaf burger and pot roast burrito have been on the menu for 20+ years. The po’boys are also a must-try.
  • Culinary Dropout (Colorado Blvd): This is in the complex of new restaurants at 9th & Co, and I love their vibe and food. The fried chicken is the standout (albeit not gluten-free), and the 36-hour pork ribs aren’t far behind.

French

  • Le Bilboquet (Cherry Creek): The inside is a little too white-tablecloth for me, but the covered outdoor patio is wonderful. The famous “Cajun Chicken” is a must-try (expect it to be flavorful and juicy, but not terribly “Cajun” though). I also think their beef tartar is the best in town.
  • Bistro Vendome (LoDo): Part of the famous Jennifer Jasinski empire here in Denver, this spot has been around at least as long as I have been in Denver. They have all the classic French bistro dishes — set in a beautiful, quiet courtyard off Larimer Square.
  • LeRoux (LoDo): Right next door to ChoLon is this French sister restaurant with an awesome happy hour and dinner menu. The atmosphere is trendy, but classy — and the food is top-notch and consists of both French classics, as well as more modern dishes. Also on my downtown happy hour list and date night restaurant list.
  • Brasserie Brixton: This is one I keep hearing amazing things about, but have yet to try myself. It’s on my list to visit ASAP, though!
  • To the Wind Bistro (E Colfax): This is a cozy little spot that you absolutely need a reservations for. The menu is seasonal, but limited, so check it out online.

Hamburgers

  • Hopdoddy (Union Station / 9th & Co): I love the sourcing/ingredients here. They only buy high-quality bison, beef, chicken, and sushi-grade tuna — sourced from small farms whenever possible. The menu is the perfect length, with just enough variety — but nothing too crazy. They also do burger bowls (but the gluten-free bun is not my favorite). And the milkshakes churned on-site are some of the best I’ve ever had — a must-try.
  • Punch Bowl (S Broadway): This really isn’t a burger place, but I love their house burger (a double cheeseburger). Everything is scratch-made, including the delicious gluten-free buns.
  • Slater’s 50/50 (RiNo): This is the perfect spot if you’re looking for that crazier burger and milkshake variety. I know it sounds weird, but the PB&J burger is fantastic.

Hot Pot

  • Tasty Pot (Aurora / S Parker): There are several decent hot pot spots in Denver, but this is miles above the rest. It’s what made me create the “hot pot” category as a standalone. They have some amazing broth flavors here — like savory Taiwanese or aromatic Thai Curry (similar to Tom Yum) — and that alone makes it better than most other places I’ve been. They also adjust the spice level for you and offer options of pre-set ingredient combos, so you don’t actually have to make your own soup. Trust me, it’s just better.

Indian

  • Spice Room (Highlands): After New Indian Café in Greenwood Village closed (and we had an Indian buffet at our wedding from them), Spice Room is now hands-down my favorite Indian food in Denver — with a cozy atmosphere fit for a date night, a large selection of both meaty and vegetarian dishes, and a great spice level (even medium has a kick).
  • Mint (Downtown): I usually only order delivery from here (albeit almost every week), but I’ve also been here for lunch. The location itself feels a little more like a buffet/café, but the food quality is great.

Italian

  • Cattivella (Eastbridge / formerly Stapleton): This flagship restaurant from award-winning Denver chef Elise Wiggins is my favorite Italian spot in Denver. Try the charbroiled oysters, lamb ragu, or pasticcio. The gluten-free pasta and pizza is amazing, too. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • Tavernetta (Union Station): Brought to you by Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca fame (and James Beard and Top Chef), this spot is probably my 2nd favorite after the above. Their gluten-free house-made focaccia and pasta are amazing. Also on my downtown happy hour list and date night restaurant list.
  • Angelo’s Taverna (6th St or Santa Fe): This is a long-time neighborhood favorite spot with an amazing happy hour, chargrilled oysters, lamb lollipops, and all sorts of fantastic pastas and pizzas (also available gluten-free). The bruschetta is a mini pizza topped with fresh tomato, melted cheese, and lots of zesty pesto — and it’s a must-try.
  • Lo Stella Ristorante (Golden Triangle): A family-owned hidden gem of a spot with a sister location in Portofino, Italy. Super authentic Italian food made the way you’d expect it in Italy.
  • North Italia (Cherry Creek): Yes, it’s a chain — but the happy hour specials are bomb, the atmosphere is fun and upbeat, and the bolognese is delicious.
  • Postino (multiple locations): More wine café than Italian restaurant, I’m still putting Postino in this category due to their focus on bruschetta boards. The bruschetta options are pretty incredible (try the apple, brie, fig — and the goat cheese and sweet & spicy pepper jam). The only down side is it’s wine and beer only (no liquor).

Japanese: Ramen

  • Uncle (Highlands & Wash Park): This gourmet ramen spot is pretty famous around Denver, which also makes it pretty hard to get a seat, too. You be the judge if the wait is worth it.
  • JINYA (Union Station): Yes, it’s a chain — but I love that they have very spicy ramen if you like it that way. The vibe here is also pretty cool — more dimly-lit downtown bar than quiet restaurant.
  • Ace Eat Serve (Uptown): This isn’t just a ramen spot, but they do great ramen. In addition to traditional spicy pork or shoyu chicken, they also have a khao soi curry style ramen. And the bao buns are awesome, too.
  • Kyu Ramen (Colfax): You can build-your-own ramen here with tons of awesome options. I love the vegan kale noodles and the curry broth — both of which are pretty unique. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can do DIY ramen for delivery.
  • Sukiya (S Denver): With 3 locations at S Broadway and further South, this spot serves up traditional flavors (try the charred pork) and gets consistently good reviews.

Japanese: Sushi

  • Uchi (RiNo): Uchi was first opened in Austin by James Beard Chef Tyson Cole, and I’d have to say it’s probably my favorite sushi spot in Denver. It’s worth trying to get here for their happy hour at 4pm; otherwise, have a reservation. Try the hama chili, walu walu, 72-hour braised short rib, and foie gras. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • Matsuhisa (Cherry Creek): This is the same empire as Nobu, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, so it’ll probably dent the wallet (and also be worth it). The raw specials of the night are the thing to go for (since they were usually alive right before serving). The miso black cod is also a standout. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • Sushi Den (S Pearl): Sushi Den opened in Denver in 1984, which officially makes it a Denver institution (and blows my mind). The quality of their food continues to be excellent, which matches the line to get in. Make a reservation. Try the black cod and any specials.
  • Mizu Izakaya (LoHi): Izakaya means “pub” in Japanese, so this spot has a fun vibe both inside and on the patio, great happy hour specials, and a wide range of food ranging from sushi to ramen. My favorites are the pork belly bao buns, hamachi sashimi (theirs is very citrus-forward), and any of the specials flown straight in from Japan.
  • Bamboo Sushi (LoHi): Nestled right between Postino and Recess in LoHi, this spot has a fantastic elevated outdoor patio (which is one of my favorite things abut it). They also have daily happy hour 4-6pm.
  • Blue Sushi (LoDo/Downtown): This is more of a fun happy hour spot, since their happy hour menu is an entire page (and runs all day Sundays). The atmosphere in their “sake bombers lounge” is super fun, too — and items like sake bombs and margaritas are also on the happy hour menu. Also on my downtown happy hour restaurant list.

Korean

  • Seoul Korean BBQ & Hot Pot (Aurora): Undisputed as the best Korean BBQ in town.
  • ThankSool Pocha (Aurora): Korean street food at its best, paired with fun drinks and late-night K-Pop.
  • Dae Ghee (multiple locations): This is your typical Korean BBQ chain, and it’s not amazing, but it’s also not bad at all. It’ll do the job if you’re craving Korean BBQ and aren’t in Aurora.

Mediterranean / Israeli

  • El Five (LoHi): One of my favorite spots in Denver, with beautiful views of downtown and delicious Mediterranean food (from Spain, Israel, Morocco, and all around the area). It can be a bit pricy, but you can keep costs down by sharing a paella. I also love coming here for happy hour, but if you’re walking in without a reservation, get here 15 minutes before they open.
  • Mazevo (Highlands): Love their lentil soup, harissa chicken, lamb tagine, and their spicy lamb with hummus. Other traditional dishes also available.
  • Safta (RiNo): Acclaimed Israeli food from Chef Alon Shaya, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind New Orleans’ perennially packed Saba.
  • Ash’Kara (LoHi): Another fantastic Israeli spot, centered around their 900-degree brick oven.
  • Rioja (LoDo / Larimer Square): This is part of famed Chef Jennifer Jasinki’s local empire, serving locally-sourced, modern takes on Mediterranean dishes.

Mexican / Latin

There’s clearly no lack of delicious Mexican / Latin food in Denver, and even this list has hard to narrow down! Below is a mix of upscale newer restaurants, chains that are absolutely worth it, and traditional hole-in-the-wall spots (and trucks).

  • Machete (LoDo or Cherry Creek): It’s a bougie Mexican spot, but I love the Day of the Dead vibe, the freshly-made margaritas, the tacos that have sauces and toppings customized to each meat (lobster and tripe being my favorite), the creative quesadillas, and the jicama tortilla option.
  • La Calle (Alameda & Tejon): This is your traditional, authentic, hole-in-the-wall street taco spot — also knows as “that little orange house” you pass on Alameda.  It has everything: the al pastor and carnitas tacos that you know and love — but also traditional Mexican flavors I love like tripe, cow tongue, goat, cow head, pig skin, pig stomach, etc.
  • D’Corazon: An old-school, Family-owned little spot that serves up simple, but delicious Mexican comfort food in the heart of downtown. I’ve been coming here for 10 years, and I highly recommend the Carne Adobada or the Carnitas.
  • La Loma: This is a Denver institution that started as a family-owned spot in Highlands in 1981, and has since moved downtown across from the Brown Palace. Its description of itself as “upscale rustic” is spot-on — and they make delicious cocktails and platters of Mexican food. Must-tries are 1) the mini rellenos (appetizer) that comes with their fantastic pork green chile, 2) the mesquite grilled steak fajitas (which is an entire steak grilled and sliced up after), and 3) the tequila-lime enormous shrimp. Also on my downtown happy hour list.
  • Necio (Highlands): Great food, service, and outdoor patio — but I really have to commend the drinks here. Their famous “Mangonada” is a delicious foot-tall frozen mango margarita doused with Tajin syrup that’s a must-try — not to mention all the other creative cocktails. You can also get a giant Patron-shaped “punch bowl” of margarita that contains a whole bottle of Patron or a “shot tree” of 12 colorful Tequila-based shooters in a variety of flavors. Party brunch anyone?
  • Los Dos Potrillos (S Denver): A family-owned spot with 4 locations between Centennial, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and Parker. The margarita selection is fantastic, the molcajete bowls are bubbling hot and decadent, the DIY taco platters are enormous, and the seafood soup (caldo de mariscos) and nopales (cactus) are my favorite in town.
  • Perdida (Wash Park): The upscale Coastal Baja décor at this new neighborhood restaurant makes this place perfect for some bougie happy hour cocktails and tacos. Try the shrimp tacos and the pozole.
  • Toro (Cherry Creek): Yes, this is part of Richard Sandoval’s empire, and yes, it’s in a hotel — but the food and cocktails are delicious. Plus, for $50, they have all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink bottomless brunch.
  • Que Bueno Suerto (S Pearl): I know this spot has mixed reviews on Yelp, but it’s my favorite in the area (definitely better than Uno Mas). They also have my favorite vegetarian taco anywhere — with nopales (cactus), mushrooms, and corn.
  • Kike’s Red Tacos (food truck on S Pearl): If you want messy, birria tacos that you can dip into some flavorful consommé just like in Mexico, this is the best spot.

New American / Continental / Farm-to-Table

  • Annette (Stanley Marketplace): A newer spot founded by James Beard nominated Chef Carline Glover, serving amazing scratch-to-table and wood-fired fare. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • Avelina (LoDo): An elegant space in the middle of downtown with both indoor and patio seating. The seasonal New American dishes are modern, beautiful, and delicious. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • Fruition (between Cherry Creek and Cap Hill): A Denver favorite for many years from James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Siedel — in a cozy, low-key atmosphere. It’s approachable, but also top quality. Also on my date night restaurant list.
  • Work & Class (RiNo): I had a hard time finding the right category for this spot, since owner Dana Rodriguez does bring a Latin flair to everything. But I wouldn’t call this place Latin (although the influence occasionally shows). It’s self-described as offering a “square meal, stiff drink, and fair price.” You pick your meat — at ¼ lb, ½ lb, or 1lb — and then you pick your sides. That doesn’t really capture the quality of the food though, from achiote-braised pork, to red wine braised short rib, to coriander roasted lamb, to green chili lamb & pork meatballs, and so much more. Plus, much of the menu is gluten-free!
  • Potager (Cap Hill): This restaurant and wine bar has a name that literally means “kitchen garden” — and it is the definition of farm-to-table, with seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms, farmers markets, or even from their own garden. It also means the menu will be a little limited, so check it out onlin.
  • The Plimoth (N of City Park): Inspired by classic French and Italian cuisine, but also local seasonal ingredients — this spot makes for a great meal in an intimate, yet casual, setting. Also on my date night restaurant list.

Pizza

  • Walnut Room (RiNo): This has been my personal favorite for delivery for many years. Super thin crust and so many creative, gourmet topping options. Gluten-free available.
  • Blue Pan (Highlands & Congress Park): A locally-acclaimed favorite specializing in Detroit-style pizza. Gluten-free versions are available.
  • White Pie (Uptown): You guessed it, thin-crust white pies (without tomato sauce) are the specialty here. Everything is delicious — especially if you get that cracked egg on top. Not sure about gluten-free.
  • Pizza Alley (Highlands): Traditional NY-style pizza since 1976. Homemade sauce, good ingredients, awesome atmosphere. Gluten-free available.
  • Cart Driver (RiNo/LoHi): Fancy Southern Italian wood-fired pizza that’s gotten a bit of a cult following since it opened. Gluten-free sourdough crust available.
  • Kaos Pizzeria (S Pearl): One of my personal favorites, nestled in a cozy little house on South Pearl Street. I love their pizza that has fresh, heirloom sliced cherry tomatoes on top.

Rooftop Views

  • The Woods (RiNo): Come for the cocktails and views on top of The Source Hotel at this rooftop bar — but go eat below at Safta or Smok instead.
  • El Five (LoHi): One of my favorite spots in Denver, with beautiful views of downtown. They also have amazing pan-Mediterranean food, including paella.
  • Red Barber (RiNo): The Red Barber is on the roof of the newly-built Catbird hotel in RiNo, offering views of all of downtown. There is a daily happy hour 4-6pm. If you prefer to eat elsewhere, Fish N Beer and Hop Alley are also below.

Seafood

  • Jax Fish House: There are several locations, but the one that opened in 1996 in LoDo is my favorite (and my go-to spot for happy hour going on 10 years now). Great atmosphere, driven by the long bar that runs the length of the whole restaurant, with friendly bartenders who make you feel right at home. Highlights include freshly-shucked oysters, fantastic gumbo (or gumbo fries), and the entire seafood-driven menu. Also on my downtown happy hour restaurant list.
  • Water Grill (LoDo): This is the most recent and sought-out newcomer to the Denver food scene, but it’s also going to put a dent in your wallet. Located in the heart of LoDo, it serves up top-of-the-line fresh seafood like grandiose seafood towers, lobster and crab straight from the live tanks, whole fish prepared in your choice of styles, and everything in-between.
  • Fish N Beer (RiNo): Great neighborhood spot in RiNo with an awesome happy hour and my favorite chargrilled devil butter oysters in town. Not to be missed are also the buffalo blowfish tails — the only place I’ve ever had these.
  • Blue Island (Cherry Creek & Lone Tree): One of my favorites for raw clams and for clam chowder, but they also have great specials like $1 oyster Mondays, 50% off bottles Tuesdays, etc.
  • Crawling Crab (S Lakewood): One of my top 2 spots for year-round crab and crawfish boils. This and Clawful below are both Vietnamese spots in Lakewood. (Bayou Boys is the best for real Cajun boils, but they only do theirs in the Spring at various breweries around town). Try the Asian-style house sauce (a mix of everything) — although they can do Cajun seasoning, too. My go-to is the dungeness or snow crab clusters, clams, and crawfish. Their S Federal location was better (just cozier), but not sure if that’s going to re-open.
  • Clawful (Lakewood): As mentioned above, this is the other great year-round spot for crab and crawfish boils. The options are pretty much the same, but sometimes the quality can be better here — although it’s a much smaller spot.
  • Maine Shack (LoHi): Yes, this place is expensive as heck, but if you want a good lobster roll and/or fried clams in Denver, it’s your best bet.
  • Stoic & Genuine (Union Station): I usually come here for the location, since they have a beautiful patio overlooking the Union Station plaza of fountains (which makes for fantastic people-watching on a nice, sunny day). Grab a bottle of wine, order the whole fish to split, and enjoy.
  • Bayou Boys: This isn’t a location, but rather a group of awesome guys who know how to make the best Louisiana-style crawfish boil. They only do them in the Spring, and the location varies every weekend (check their website to see which brewery they’re boiling at every weekend).

Spanish / Tapas

  • Three Saints Revival (LoDo): A newcomer to the Denver food scene just behind Union Station, this spot shows promise with its wine menu and tapa selection — but will be on the pricier side.
  • Barcelona Wine Bar (RiNo): This is a happening spot in the middle of RiNo that can definitely get packed, so make a reservation or come early and snag a spot at the bar.
  • 9th Door (Cap Hill): A cute, dimly-lit little local spot that’s been serving up Spanish tapas for quite a few years now. I used to go to the one downtown, but this is the only location still standing.

Steakhouses

This is Denver, so there are a lot of good steakhouses here. Yes, The Denver Chophouse, 801 Chophouse, Steakhouse 10, Perry’s, Hillstone, Del Frisco’s (the one on Orchard), EDGE (inside the Four Seasons), STK, and a bunch of others are all great. However, I didn’t want to have a list of 10 steakhouses and leave you struggling to choose, so I’ve picked out just my top 4 favorites.

  • Guard & Grace (Downtown): This is my personal favorite steakhouse, from famed local chef Troy Guard (who has a 2nd location in Houston now). It’s got a bit more of a modern feel than many steakhouses, but still very classy. I’ve never had a bad experience here. The octopus and fish here are also amazing.
  • The Capital Grille (LoDo): It’s a chain, but the white-glove service is always impeccable, the wine list is expertly put together, the steak is consistently perfectly prepared, and you just can’t go wrong in a pinch.
  • Eddie V’s Prime Seafood (Greenwood Village): This is the only steakhouse I would drive to the suburbs for, and that’s high praise. Sophisticated fine dining, an award-winning wine list, fantastic cocktails, perfectly-cooked steaks, and even a full menu of seasonal seafood.
  • Urban Farmer: Historically, the service here has been hit-or-miss for me, but I think it’s improving — and the quality of their food and dedication to sourcing from small farms keeps me coming back. It’s the one place you can order a grass-fed, corn-finished, dry-aged, or wagyu steak — and knowing exactly which small farm it comes from.

Thai

  • US Thai (Edgewater): The best authentic Thai, that comes in real Thai-hot spice levels if ordered. You’ve been warned. I recommend grabbing some dishes here and taking them to the brewery across the street.
  • Daughter Thai (Platte St): Fancy Thai in an elegant dinner atmosphere with cocktails. Make sure you try the ribs, volcano beef, and massaman lamb curry. Also on my date night restaurant list.

Vietnamese / Pho

All of the spots below are very similar in terms of their menus — and they’re not far from each other, either. I’d say Savory Vietnam probably has the best food, but the space is meant more for large parties than date night (big, white banquet tables). New Saigon has a better atmosphere for date nights. Saigon Bowl and Pho 95 have more soup-focused menus, but all of the traditional options, as well. Dishes I’d recommend trying at any/all of the below, maybe not all at once: 1) cherrystone clams, usually available as an appetizer 2) dungeness crab in whatever house sauce they use, 3) bun bo hue, which is a spicier and better version of pho, but always with beef, 4) DIY spring roll platters with whichever variety of meats catches your eye, 5) Thai-style spicy hot pot with mixed seafood.