The Foodie Bucket List: 20 Of The Best Restaurants In Denver, According To Denverites

Jessica Ramos Jessica Ramos

The Foodie Bucket List: 20 Of The Best Restaurants In Denver, According To Denverites

An ode to some of your favorite, can’t miss eateries.

We asked you a simple question: “Where would you take someone who was visiting Denver if you could choose one place” and boy, did you guys deliver. From Texas BBQ to farm-to-table to Japanese and Mexican, elegant and casual, mom and pop to chains, we truly think this is the ultimate guide for eating your way across Denver. We hope you enjoy!

1. El Five

Welcome to El Five. We’re starting this list off with a bang–one of Denver’s rooftop bars nestled in the LoDo neighborhood. Take in scenic skyline views while scarfing down some killer seafood, burgers, and bar bites, and that’s not even mentioning their delicious cocktails.

2. Watercourse Foods

This cute bistro has some Watership Down-inspired murals and classic vegan comfort foods. Watercourse is all about doing things that cause the least amount of harm to the environment and the community, and we couldn’t agree more with their message. Here, you can get a bunch of different types of vegan bar food, like vegan cauliflower wings or truffle fries or even fennel sausage bolognese.

3. Tavernetta

Tavernetta has got some delicious Italian and Mediterranean vibes going for it with elegant and elevated plates to match. From handmade pastas like Tagliatelle with Lobster and Anolini with Dandelion to seafood like Halibut and Sea Bass. Don’t skimp out on their extensive worldly wine menu as well.

4. Hillstone

You know Hillstone is good when it’s got other locations in big cities like New York and San Francisco, but lucky for us, one of their central locations is in Denver. They’re more upscale eatery than casual (their website says hats and flip flops are a little too casual for them) so keep that in mind before heading over. Hillstone has some good American classics like Rotisserie Chicken, BBQ Ribs, and Trout, so it’s a great option for everyone.

5. Los Dos Portillos

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? The owner of Los Dos Portillos, Jose Ramirez, grew up determined to make an authentic no-frills Mexican eatery here in Denver, and now you can enjoy Portillos in multiple areas of Denver! We’d recommend some Ceviche since its summer right now, but you can’t go wrong with a heaping plate of Carnitas nachos either.

6. Happy Camper

Happy Camper is another great addition to the list with a lovely outdoor patio and great looking menu. The layout involves a perfect green lawn, pull up chairs, fire pits, and communal wooden benches and tables to eat. The menu is centered all around pizza, but they’ve got a big list of bar snacks as well. Come with your friends on a warm summer evening and enjoy a couple of pizzas for the table.

7. Nocturne 

If you’re in the mood for a lounge with live jazz, then Nocturne is the perfect place. Located in RiNo, head over to the elegant and art-deco style turquoise door with gold accents, and be taken down into a dark underground lounge. Sip on cocktails like their Lady of Lavender Mist with London Dry Gin, Creamy Sherry, Lavender Chamomile Rosemary Syrup and Lemon or a crisp glass of vino, and finish the night off with a “old fashioned” croissant bread budding or an affogato.

8. Post Oak

Enjoy some authentic Texas BBQ right here in Denver. They’re dedicated to keeping the Texas BBQ traditional alive, and that’s why they only use authentic Post Oak delivered from Texas. Get a meat-laden sandwiched like the Ron Swanson with a full pound of brisket, pork, turkey, and pork belly, or get BBQ tater tots or Mac and Cheese.

9. Potager

Potager’s patio will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. Enjoy New-American cuisine in a rustic restaurant meets wine bar. They’ve got small plates, appetizers, entrees and desserts, as well as daily specials which are eclectic and incredibly fresh. Potager’s is also issuing help from local farmers, makers, and the seasons to create a local and fresh menu perfect all year round.

10. Pig and Sprout

Pig & Sprout is a two-level, gastropub with multiple bars serving up American food and cocktails. They’re also doing a brunch menu on the weekends. Pig & Sprout is two-fold: on the pig side of the menu, you’ve got your meats dishes and on the Sprout side, you’ve got a vegetarian, pescatarian, and vegan side of the menu. Served all day, they’ve got a breakfast burrito on both sides. The Sprout side serves it with tofu and the Pig side serves it with bacon.

11. Hapa Sushi

We hope you’re not too bummed that it took this long down the list to get to sushi, but here she is. Hapa Sushi, a Japanese restaurant right here in Downtown Denver. They’re late night happy hour has just returned, with deals running from 10pm to midnight on Friday & Saturday, making this an excellent late night stop.

12. Jovanina’s Broken Italian

Jovanina’s is a wood-fired modern Italian restaurant (through a Colorado lens) here in the heart of LoDo. Their dinner menu is perfect for sharing, and their pizzas and pastas are hand-made. Their ‘Broken-Italian’ style Margherita pizza is topped with fresh and creamy burrata, torn basil, arugula and garlic parmesan chips, and they’re even doing the Roman speciality: cacio e pepe pasta.

13. Hop Alley

Hop Alley is a cute bar selling up unique renditions of Asian-inspired dishes. One of their newest summer snacks is their Coriander Summer Melon Salad, with seasonal melon, cucumber, green coriander, and berry viniagrette. Pictured above is their rendition of dim sum classic, the turnip cake, with lap cheong sausage and shrimp, turnip green relish, pickled hakurei turnips, and black garlic sauce.

14. Beckon

Beckon is one of Denver’s chef counters where chefs are serving up pre-paid, reservation only seasonal meals, and you can watch from a beautiful, sleek black chef’s table. They’ve also got a sweet, outdoor garden patio as well so come in, take a seat where you’d like, and enjoy some culinary delights. Reservations are available Wednesday through Saturday and their number is 303.749.0020.

15. AJ’s Pit BBQ

Texas Style Pit smoked BBQ. That’s it. That’s the tweet. Haha, no but on a serious note, just look at that fluffy, dense cornbread. And that’s not even getting into the delicious cuts of meat Aj’s offers. From ribs to pork belly to sausage, you definitely won’t leave this place feeling hungry.

16. Quality Italian

Quality Italian is a globally successful and elevated Italian restaurant, serving up some elegant takes on classics like Spicy Lobster Rigatoni Alla Vodka, homemade ricotta for the table, and even Prime Dry-Aged Tomahawk Ribsteaks.

17. Welton Room

The Welton Room is an incredibly popular and fun cocktail bar here in Five Points, where their speciality is liquid nitrogen cocktails. Their other whimsical cocktails are topped with edible flowers, interesting ingredients, and even popsicles it seems. You’ll not want to miss this place.

18. Annette

Anette’s is a cozy and sunny spot for seasonal, modern farm-to-table American plates plus craft cocktails. Try a plate of shrimp and squash blossoms, or something a little more adventurous like the grilled beef tongue and marrow toast.

19. Barcelona Wine Bar

Barcelona Wine Bar transports you to the Cosmopolitan city of Barcelona along the Mediterranean coast. Sample from fresh tapas like nutty Jamón Iberíco, Manchego Cheese, Olives, and paella of course. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe without the expensive plane ticket.

20. Señor Bear

Señor Bear is a contemporary Latin American restaurant serving up fresh dishes like Albacore Tuna Ceviche and Argentinean empanadas. Don’t skip out on their fresh and fruity summer cocktails either!
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