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20 restaurants that scream “Denver”

A photo of Red logo
by Linnea Covington
Updated March 27, 2023

Denver’s greatest restaurants reflect the city’s Rocky Mountain soul and its metropolitan heart. The result is a unique dining scene that’s equal parts rugged and refined.

Join the pinky-up crowd for tea, scones, and finger sandwiches at a storied hotel downtown. Check out an iconic Lincoln Park steakhouse complete with mounted game on the walls. Travel to Paris, if only momentarily, at a quaint cafe and bakery in Denver Tech Center.

Get to know the Mile High City through some of its best restaurants. Read on for a guide to 20 spots that scream “Denver.”

A photo of Spuntino restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1868)
$31 to $50
Italian
Highlands
About the restaurant

When a place feels as cozy as Spuntino, it’s bound to remain one of the top restaurants in the city. Diners can sit and chat with co-owner Elliot Strathmann about his amaro program and well-curated Italian wine list. Tap into Strathmann’s knowledge for the perfect drink to go with executive chef Cindhura Reddy’s exquisite Italian food, which comes with Colorado and Indian twists—the latter flavors are homages to Reddy’s Indian roots. The menu changes with the seasons and might feature toasty arancini with Hatch green chiles and white cheddar and wild-tracked Rocky Mountain elk tartare with toasted masala aioli and ajwain seed crisps.


Top review
SusanHvip
Dined 2 days ago
I have dined at Spuntino many times. It is always fabulous food and service.
A photo of Rioja restaurant
4.7
4.7 (10145)
$31 to $50
Mediterranean
Downtown / LoDo
About the restaurant

There weren’t many fine-dining restaurants around Larimer Square when James Beard Award-winning chef Jennifer Jasinski opened Rioja in 2004. So the restaurant is considered a pioneer that blazed the trail for other innovative spots to descend on this historic block. Expect Mediterranean-inspired fare with local flavors, such as smoked sweet potato soup, grilled octopus tonnato, and housemade pastas tricked out with artichoke mousse, seasonal produce, and duck sausage. There’s also a tasting menu available upon request. Despite the white tablecloths, Rioja maintains an easygoing vibe. The restaurant remains a Denver staple for brunch, lunch and dinner, and Denver wouldn’t be the same without it—or Jasinski’s other beloved restaurants including Bistro Vendome, Stoic & Genuine, and Ultreia.


Top review
Andrew
Dined 3 days ago
Completely fantastic experience, from food to service and staff! Can’t wait for the next one!
A photo of Steuben's restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1164)
$30 and under
Comfort Food
Uptown
About the restaurant

Classic American is the best way to describe what’s served at this restaurant. Secret Sauce—the hospitality group behind neighboring pan-Asian spot Ace Eat Serve—opened Steuben’s in 2006. It’s a place for solid comfort food, from pot roast to fried chicken to green chile cheeseburgers, which are a staple in the Denver diet. Steuben’s staying power lies in consistency: It kept its original menu intact save for the addition of a popular hot chicken. The restaurant is also great for kids, with a playful pint-sized menu that includes a milk flight.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
Excellent service. Food is terrific. We had pot roast and the fried chicken. Food arrive piping hot (first restaurant to do so all week) and was delicious.
A photo of Q House restaurant
4.8
4.8 (659)
$31 to $50
Contemporary Asian
Central
About the restaurant

Chef Christopher Lin has been immersed in Chinese American food since he was a child, thanks to his Chinese immigrant parents and their New Hampshire restaurant. Luckily for Denver, Lin brought his skills to Congress Park, where he creates shareable platters such as hot and sour shredded potato salad with wood ear mushroom, shrimp fried rice, twice-cooked pork belly, and chongqing chicken spiked with chiles and Sichuan peppers. A lot of the dishes sound familiar to any Chinese food lover, but they tend to have a little twist: The lo mein has confit duck leg in it and the barbecued spare ribs are spiced with peanuts, for example. The setting leans modern with thick wood tables, padded chairs, and a row of stools along a wall of windows. There are also outside seats for balmier days and a full bar that you can sit at to sip a yuzu highball or glass of dry Riesling.


Top review
JonCvip
Dined 4 days ago
Had a fantastic experience. Service was excellent. Cocktails were original and lovely. Food was to die for. Must haves - Wontons in Chili Oil, Chong Qing Chicken, and Cheung Fun.
A photo of Carmine's On Penn restaurant
4.4
4.4 (2644)
$30 and under
Italian
Washington Park
About the restaurant

Family-style Italian used to be plentiful in Denver, but many of those places have sadly shuttered in the last decade. That isn’t the case with Carmine’s on Penn, which has been going strong since opening in 1994. The restaurant looks like a traditional red-sauce joint, with candles on the tables and simple, sturdy furniture and decor. You’ll find two portion sizes on the menu: The smaller one for two people, marked with a “T,” or the larger for groups, marked with an “F.” Kick off dinner with a classic Caesar salad complete with white anchovies, then make way for vodka sauce-drenched ravioli or baked ziti. The wine list is made up of all Italian varietals, ideal for pairing with the bolognese or spaghetti in clam sauce.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on May 18, 2024
Other than the abrupt gal That I spoke to on the phone two times, the service and food are great!!!
A photo of Buckhorn Exchange restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2024)
$50 and over
Steakhouse
Central
About the restaurant

If you love meat, Buckhorn Exchange should be on your list as a must-visit Denver restaurant. After all, it’s an iconic city spot that was founded in 1893, back when the area was still considered the Old West. The space and offerings have changed since then, and now Buckhorn Exchange mainly specializes in steak and game meat. In addition to the beef and bison steaks, the menu includes lesser-seen options such as Rocky Mountain oysters, fried alligator tail, and rattlesnake marinated in red chile and lime. Reserve a table in one of the many rooms that make up this old house (a National Historic Landmark), all red-checkered tablecloths, deep red walls, and dark wood paneling. There are more than 500 taxidermy animals mounted on the walls and throughout the space, plus a whole lot of history to digest with your meal.


Top review
LocalsSummer
Dined 5 days ago
You can’t go to Denver without having dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange! The history is fascinating and the cultural artifacts and story behind everything there is incredible. And the food is terrific! The wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable and very attentive. I have been there on multiple occasions with clients I’m entertaining and we have never been disappointed! I highly recommend!!
A photo of Tamayo Restaurant restaurant
4.6
4.6 (4282)
$31 to $50
Contemporary Mexican
Downtown / LoDo
About the restaurant

Tamayo was locally loved chef Richard Sandoval’s first Denver venture more than two decades ago. Tamayo has consistently delivered inventive modern Mexican fare to locals and visitors over the years, and it’s always a go-to among the lunch crowd and nighttime theater goers. Order dishes such as crab-topped guacamole, red snapper ceviche, lobster enchiladas, and a side of caramelized plantains with chipotle butter. Don’t leave without getting the housemade churros which come with cinnamon-chocolate and caramel sauces for dipping. The drinks list is equally impressive, headlined by tequila and mezcal as the main spirits of choice. After Tamayo, check out Sandoval’s empire that includes Toro Latin Kitchen + Lounge in Cherry Creek, plus other hotspots across Colorado.


Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 4 days ago
Everyone from the host and hostess to water server, waiter and food preparation staff were all fantastic... seamless quality service from the moment we walked into Tamayo Restaurant to the moment we walked out. Mocktails, queso fundido and striped bass were phenomenal!
A photo of Williams & Graham restaurant
4.9
4.9 (904)
$31 to $50
American
Highlands
About the restaurant

Before decent cocktails could be found at any diner, dive, or takeout spot, Williams & Graham revitalized the speakeasy in Denver and started serving really, really good drinks. When you walk into the tiny space, you can’t see the real bar. It’s hidden behind a bookshelf, and diners can enter only when a table or seat is ready. There’s a simple but solid food menu by executive chef Grant Bushkuhl that includes a signature dry-aged beef burger with Port Salut cheese or roasted bone marrow with bacon jam, among other knockouts. If none of the 60-plus classic cocktails on the menu sound right, the bartender will mix up a beverage to suit your tastes.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 2 days ago
Everything was great! My visits from out of town loved ir.
A photo of the plimoth restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2328)
$50 and over
American
Central
About the restaurant

The plimoth was one of the first spots in Denver to fully dedicate its menu to the farm-to-table concept. The City Park restaurant opened in 2014 and has remained a neighborhood staple ever since. The menu changes with the seasons, and chef-owner Peter Ryan works with many local farms to get the freshest and best produce on the table. If you’re lucky, your meal might include French onion soup with alpine cheese, cider-braised pork shank with chevre polenta, and carrot cake topped with cream-cheese icing and citrus marmalade.


Top review
REBill
Dined 7 days ago
Food was outstanding as usual; except we did not care for the greens used in the Caesar salad. The white anchovy was wonderful. Our server Angelica was wonderful and made great suggestions. We did not care for her leaving at dessert, as they pretty much dropped the ball at this point. We had a variety of people finish us up and it did not make for a great transition. Lamb was cook to a perfect temperature and was very tender. Note this location is very loud and never understand why they don't install something to buffer some of the noise.
A photo of Linger restaurant
4.6
4.6 (7396)
$30 and under
Global, International
Highlands
About the restaurant

Chef and restaurateur Justin Cucci brought eclectic global street food, tasty cocktails, and raucous vibes when he opened Linger in 2011. The kitchen whips up dishes such as wild mushroom dosa with curried cauliflower puree, scallion and five-spice short rib pancake, and tempura chile-ginger shrimp. Like Linger’s sibling restaurants in the Edible Beats culinary group (Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, El Five), the menu here accommodates dietary restrictions and allergies with handy symbols next to each dish. Linger has one of the best views of downtown Denver—as long as you’re lucky enough to snag a table on the seasonal rooftop patio.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
Great small plates, quality is small, but unique and great flavors!
A photo of Afternoon Tea at the Brown Palace restaurant
4.6
4.6 (4425)
$50 and over
Afternoon Tea
Downtown / LoDo
About the restaurant

Join the pinky-up crowd and enjoy an elegant tea service in one of Denver’s oldest venues, The Brown Palace Hotel. Afternoon tea has been a highlight of the hotel’s offerings since the luxurious venue opened in 1892. Today, the service is held on the ground floor of the atrium each afternoon. Sit back in one of the lush chairs and choose from an array of loose-leaf teas and the optional glass of Champagne. Then nibble on fresh scones with Devonshire cream, finger sandwiches, and tiny pastries, all while soaking in the hotel’s old school grandeur. Make sure to reserve a spot for any occasion—it’s a popular service, especially on weekends.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
A beautiful venue and wonderful service for my daughter's birthday. Would highly recommend my daughter and I are both Celiac, staff were very accommodating and kind to us.
A photo of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar - LoDo restaurant
4.7
4.7 (2730)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Downtown / LoDo
About the restaurant

Jax Fish House in LoDo has sourced some of the best oysters since 1996. Founded by Dave Query (who runs the Big Red F restaurant group), this restaurant and its other outposts maintain a commitment to keeping their seafood sustainable, using programs such as Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to help make purchasing decisions. Executive chef Sheila Lucero upholds this promise in a tantalizing menu that goes beyond oysters to include made-to-order seafood chowder, grilled Norwegian salmon, lobster mac and cheese, and more. Pair the meal with a classic cocktail, local beer, or bubbles, and search for bits of nautical decor tucked among the exposed brick walls.


Top review
AndrewC
Dined 2 days ago
Cortney did an excellent service job. Food was very good. Noise was a bit loud but we’re old.
A photo of Sushi Den restaurant
4.9
4.9 (1274)
$50 and over
Japanese
Platt Park
About the restaurant

When chef Toshi Kizaki opened Sushi Den in December 1984, no one could predict the spot would still be going strong almost 40 years later. Sushi Den brought sushi to Denver when very few were doing it. But it’s not just an iconic past that lures the crowds; it’s Kizaki’s dedication to fresh ingredients, exceptional service, and top-notch fish. The last feature is key and is made possible by the chef’s brother, who lives in southern Japan. He makes daily trips to the local fish market to purchase the seafood for Sushi Den. From there, the fish is placed on dry ice and shipped directly to the restaurant, where it arrives within 24 hours. For those seeking a more casual experience, Kizaki opened gastropub Izakaya Den next door.


Top review
KJLWvip
Dined 6 days ago
Best sushi in Colorado. Always an amazing experience and so happy Sushi Den is now open for lunch too.
A photo of Little India Restaurant - 6th Ave restaurant
4.2
4.2 (235)
$50 and over
Indian
Downtown / LoDo
About the restaurant

Simeran Baidwan launched this spot in 1998, armed with his family’s recipes and the help of his parents. Now there are four restaurants, and all are known for a wonderful lunch buffet, solid Indian fare, and an elegant but laid-back vibe. The menu reaches into various pockets of India, and diners might find themselves ordering from across the subcontinent with items such as Jaipuri samosa, chicken saag, and shrimp vindaloo. With dim lighting and Indian tapestries draped around, stepping inside this local institution feels like you’re far away from the Mile High City.


Top review
Bill
Dined on Feb 16, 2024
The Little India Restaurant is an excellent typical Indian restaurant with an extensive menu. Good food at a reasonable price. Outdoor seating available.
A photo of Uchi Denver restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2754)
$50 and over
Sushi
River North (Denver)
About the restaurant

Chef Tyson Cole’s award-winning Texas transplant Uchi swam into Denver in 2018, and it’s been a popular spot for sushi and super fresh produce since. A lot of the latter bounty comes from the independent rooftop farm attached to the restaurant. Thanks to an eight-foot oculus that looks up into the greenhouse, diners can catch a glimpse of the farm while they eat. Sit along the 70-foot marble sushi bar and order the chef’s tasting menu, or go for a select few items such as hirame usuzukuri (thinly sliced flounder with candied quinoa) and seasonal mushrooms with short-grain rice and egg yolk.


Top review
Callmesuevip
Dined on May 14, 2024
The food was absolutely delicious and the service was excellent. I now know why it's so hard to get a reservation!
A photo of Marco’s Coal Fired restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1191)
$30 and under
Italian
Downtown / LoDo
About the restaurant

Owners Mark and Kristy Dym are on a quest to make the best Neapolitan-style pizzas they can, going as far as getting certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Each component of the pie is meticulously selected, which means Antico Molino Caputo ‘00’ flour for the crust, San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce, cheeses from the Italian countryside, and toppings made with fresh Colorado-grown produce. The restaurant has gone strong in the Ballpark neighborhood since 2008, standing out in a sea of pizza places. Fan favorites include the limoncello chicken wings, meatball sliders, and the Sweet Italia pizza, topped with arugula, prosciutto di Parma, fig preserve, and fresh mozzarella. Bonus points for vegan and gluten-free options.


Top review
Scoutvip
Dined 2 days ago
Great pizza and service was very good. Will definitely be back !
A photo of Citizen Rail restaurant
4.4
4.4 (1619)
$31 to $50
American
Downtown / LoDo
About the restaurant

The dry-aged meat program at Citizen Rail has been chef Christian Graves’s pride and joy since he opened the restaurant in 2017. Spy the goods through the glass walls of a tidy locker, then watch the meat get fired up in the open kitchen. It’s all part of the charm that brings in guests from the Kimpton Hotel Born (which the restaurant is attached to) and local diners looking for a special night on the town. Pair a steak with a side of duck fat potatoes or carrot, miso, and burdock soup. Or try the roasted swordfish with butter beans and tomato jam. Citizen Rail is open for dinner nightly, as well as weekend brunch, and reservations are recommended— especially if you want to score a seat in front of the busy kitchen.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 2 days ago
Very good food and wonderful service. Happy hour prices for burger and salad very reasonable .
A photo of Shanahan's Steakhouse restaurant
4.8
4.8 (9018)
$50 and over
Steakhouse
Tech Center / Greenwood Village
About the restaurant

Shanahan’s pulls out all the stops for a classic steak dinner. Owner Marc Steron named the place after former Denver Broncos football coach Mike Shanahan, highlighted by the coach’s Lombardi trophies along the wall. Take a seat on the cowhide bench, order Delmonico rib eye with a side of black truffle mac and cheese, find a bottle of red wine from the 800-plus choices, and you’ll understand why this spot remains a winner. All the meat on the steak and chops menu is dry-aged for at least 28 days. There’s a whopping 36-ounce wagyu tomahawk steak for those looking to go big. Everything—from the salad dressing to the sauces—is made in house.


Top review
FatDaddyvip
Dined 3 days ago
We had a wonderful dinner. The food and service were both A++.
A photo of Le French DTC Belleview Station restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1865)
$30 and under
French
Tech Center / Greenwood Village
About the restaurant

Sisters Aminata and Rougui Dia opened their quaint Parisian cafe in 2019. The two wanted to showcase the rich French food they grew up loving, in addition flavors from their Senegalese heritage. Expect dishes such as a fried chicken sandwich with lemon-onion yassa sauce and cauliflower steak with coconut-orange curry on onthe otherwise French bistro menu. Le French serves weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner, and also has a full bakery with fresh croissants, tarts, and macarons. You might be far from the Eiffel Tower, but one bite of the croque madame or ham and Gruyère crepe will shuttle you to the City of Light, if only momentarily.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
Relaxing, delicious lunch with friends. We weren’t rushed and had good service.
A photo of City, O' City restaurant
4.6
4.6 (35)
$30 and under
Vegetarian
Uptown
About the restaurant

Before animal product-free food became hip on social media there was City, O’ City, Denver’s first vegetarian comfort food restaurant and bar. The pioneering spot serves breakfast, lunch, anddinner and caters to the late-night crowd, dishing up fun favorites such as “chicken” and waffles with bourbon-brined chicken-fried cauliflower, vegan mac and cheese topped with barbecue tofu, and seitan wings. Though a few non-vegan options—such as dairy-filled ranch dressing—grace the menu, the offerings remain meat-free.


Top review
wvfgolden
Dined on Dec 23, 2023
The vegetarian rendition of Chicken and Waffles was great! The straight coffee was mid but my daughter and wife really liked the coffee cake.
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