The Best Restaurants In Denver guide image


The Best Restaurants In Denver

Expert Neapolitan-style pizza, green chile-doused burritos, and more places that make Denver a super fun city to eat in.

It's no secret that you’ll find natural beauty and excellent quality of life in Colorado—we’re afforded all the big city culture while getting to gaze at the Rockies at the same time. Everybody is here because they probably love the outdoors in some capacity, whether you’re a native who couldn’t bear to move somewhere flat or a transplant from either coast who now owns a Subaru. 

In the past few years, Denver has also become something of a food town. There are awesome Mexican, farm-to-table, and meat-centric spots that have been around for decades, which are now complemented by plenty of new exciting restaurants opened by non-local chefs. Plates of pasta tower like our mountains, green chile flows like the Colorado River, and the ice cream is worth battling I-70 ski traffic for.

Here are 30 restaurants that make Denver a super fun city to eat in. You’ll find pan-Latin dim sum, birria tacos, modern Chinese standouts, and tapas that challenge what you know tapas to be.

We also have a guide to Denver's coolest neighborhood, RiNo, where to find the best sushi, and restaurant intel to other Colorado cities (Aspen, Vail, Durango, and Breckenridge).



Potager has been doing the farm-to-table thing for over 25 years—long before iPhones stole our attention and Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet. This is the OG farm-to-table spot in Denver, which means they’re borderline obsessive about sourcing and cooking what’s fresh from local farmers. If you want to hear about where those beets came from in your salad or the mushrooms that accompany your short ribs, this is the place. The menu changes based on what’s fresh, but if there’s a ravioli on the menu or the rich chocolate pudding with whipped cream, get them. Potager’s woodsy interior kind of reminds us of having dinner on a farm, if dinner on a farm was indoors and in the middle of a city.

If the Cricket isn’t home to Colorado’s number one hamburger, what makes it so special? Everything else. It’s the ultimate Denver neighborhood hang. It’s the place where you come to have lunch on the patio with a giant beer even though it’s Tuesday. It’s the place where all your friends from grade school meet to get drunk the night before Thanksgiving. It’s the place where you eat onion rings and then play some darts with greasy fingers. And yes, it’s the place that will put peanut butter on top of a pile of hot ground beef, despite god and nature’s wishes, just because that’s what you want. Although the green chile and white cheddar is our move.

This fast-casual Native American spot combines traditional Osage recipes with more modern dishes. And while you may go down the line and order Chipotle-style, the tacos and bowls are way better than any chain, with options like fry bread tacos with spiced ground meats and excellent berry BBQ-glazed bison ribs. You should also check out Tocabe’s online marketplace, where they sell Native-sourced ingredients like blue corn pancake mix, grass-fed bison, and their signature house rub.

There should be a written law that any visitor to Denver must eat a green chile-drenched breakfast burrito. We’re so into the handheld bundles of breakfast joy that Denver even has an official breakfast burrito day (it’s the second Saturday in October). 

You’ll see carts slinging these burritos on downtown corners, but drive on past those and stop in at 38-year-old El Taco de Mexico. It’s a pretty simple space, but the menu is full of soul-nourishing Mexican food that includes flautas, tacos, and enchiladas, in addition to burritos. When they ask you if you’d like your burrito smothered in green chile, the answer is always yes. Just don’t be confused if it doesn’t come out green: In Colorado, it’s tinted orange, thanks to the addition of tomatoes.

Whether you’re headed to Boulder for a hike, shopping, or to just take in the gorgeous Flatirons mountain views, everything will be better if you first fuel up with one of Blackbelly’s breakfast burritos. That’s because this fancy restaurant also has a not-so-fancy butcher shop attached to it, which means that the bacon in your burrito was probably cured right there. 

Just make sure you come back for dinner. This meat destination highlights prime cuts and charcuterie sliced and aged in that attached butcher shop, and you should sample all of it—specifically in dishes like the classic beef tartare, crispy pig ears, and lamb radiatore.

Sushi Den has provided land-locked Denver with fresh, top-tier seafood for almost 40 years. Fish is flown in daily, with the owner’s own brother hand-selecting cuts from Japan’s Nagahama Fish Market. Looking to splurge? Go all out with the chef’s table omakase. Prior to your dinner, the restaurant will email you a questionnaire about your preferences, and they’ll tailor the experience to your favorites. The meandering dinner typically involves multiple courses of nigiri and sashimi, plus a cooked dish or two and dessert. Even if you don’t score a seat at the sushi bar, the regular menu and serene dining room are still worth checking out.

While Aurora has its fair share of Korean barbecue restaurants, none of them are quite as fun as Seoul Korean BBQ & Hot Pot. The plates are fuller, the service faster, and the endless amount of banchan—like spicy cucumber salad and seasoned spinach—is a blast to explore. Go for stacks of short ribs, wagyu ribeye, and thick-sliced pork belly, and have fun grilling it all up at the table knowing you won’t have to clean up the 20 different bowls and plates.

Liks is a Denver ice cream institution that opened in 1976, also known as the good old days before California figured out we existed and people skied in jeans. Today, it’s still one of the best places in the city to stop for a cone after dinner or a pint to take home. The flavors change daily, but you can’t go wrong with anything that has cheesecake in it (look for the Cheeseman Park flavor). Also, try the caramel apple or the amaretto cherry chip if you see them.


It didn’t take long for people to latch onto Molotov Kitschen & Cocktails—the restaurant only opened in January 2023, and it’s already one of the busiest spots in town. From the team behind Misfit Snack Bar, Molotov serves Eastern European dishes with creative twists, like smelt and pork pate-filled dumplings and beet-less borscht (it features sour cherries instead). The kitsch-filled space—check out the cuckoo clock collection—is tiny, so you should definitely try and make a reservation.

If every neighborhood had a spot like Bodega, the world would be a better place. That’s because people would be too busy feasting on lamb birria french dips and banana bread pudding cups to worry about politics or whether or not people should wear socks with sandals (it’s a no, by the way). The fast-casual Bodega takes staples like cheeseburgers and breakfast sandwiches and makes the best possible versions, all with friendly service and a space that oozes retro ‘90s energy.

One of the first places to really kick off the birria taco trend in Denver, Kike’s has expanded into birria burritos, birria quesadillas, and even birria ramen. But really, it’s all about those tacos. The beef is simmered for more than eight hours in its spicy, saucy bath before hitting the griddle in cheesed-up corn tortillas and served with a cup of consomme for dunking. Take them to Highland Park, about a five-minute drive away, for people-watching with a side of consomme.

Here are two reasons why you should seek out Right Cream: First, the newish spot has possibly the best ice cream you’ll ever have. And second, it’s right next to Denver Beer Co., so you can wash down your Oreo toffee and almost-too-salty caramel-laced ice cream with a pint of Love This City pilsner. There’s not a lot of space, but you should take a cone, pint, or one of the over-the-top sundaes to the Denver Beer Co.’s sprawling lawn for maximum ice cream enjoyment.


At first glance, the menu at The Greenwich looks pretty straightforward—there are pizzas, vegetables, and roasted chicken—but the familiar dishes are new and exciting here. Sourdough-crusted pizzas are topped with honey labneh and hot sauce and braised greens come with za’atar spiced yogurt and zingy, crispy capers. Above all, order the cheesecake for dessert: a Basque-style, creamy, caramelized wonder finished with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. The space has a cool feel, complete with a lofted dining area.

Forget Me Not’s patio is often lined with massive crystal vats of large-format cocktails, glasses of organic wine, the occasional plate of caviar, and plenty of fashionable people looking very content with their current reality. This is one of the top cocktail bars in town, but at the same time, it never feels exclusive. It’s one of the best spots to sip away an afternoon, and if you stay for dinner, check out the lobster crunch wrap with chili aioli or the grilled cheese with apple butter, taleggio, and smoked gouda.

Fact: Matzo ball soup dumplings and patatas bravas taste better when paired with a killer view. El Five, which is located on the fifth floor in a LoHi penthouse, has one of the best vistas in town and a tapas menu that covers much of the globe. With its city and mountain views, party-all-the-time vibe, sexy space with risque vintage posters, and top-notch food and drinks from the Edible Beats group—they run other hotspots like Linger, Root Down, and Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox—El Five is one of the busiest restaurants in town, so book ahead for your next date night.

When a dim sum cart rolls by the tables of Super Mega Bien, you’ll get to pick out plates of carne asada with Argentinian chimichurri, Cuban ropa vieja with olive tapenade, and tuna ceviche with avocado mousse. This place is loud and fun, filled with bright colors, numerous carts rolling by, and is even decorated with lucha libre decor. It’s one of the better group spots in town, since everything works for sharing and you can try a bunch of different stuff.

Hotel restaurants typically make us want to check out, but not The Source Hotel’s Safta with all its creamy hummuses, honeyed cheese borekas, and harissa-spiked chicken. Not to mention the pitas, which are so big and pillowy they could pass as some sort of bread-based balloon. While the fine dining Israeli restaurant serves one of the best dinners in town, don’t overlook their weekend brunch. The all-you-can-eat bagels, lamb, pastrami hash, smoked fish, and pastries are worth making a return trip in the morning.

Hop Alley is named after Denver’s 19th-century Chinatown, but it’s also a conversation starter and a tongue-in-cheek wink at the neighborhood’s history. Nowadays, the eight-year-old restaurant is still the cool kid in RiNo, Denver’s trendiest neighborhood. Sichuan chilis numb your tongue to a hip-hop soundtrack, and classics-with-a-curveball run through the menu, like char siu beets, sweet and sour fried parsnips, and the super spicy pork and pickled cabbage dumplings. Cool the heat with equally fun boozy drinks, some of which are served out of boba-style cups.

Yes, Daughter Thai makes excellent panang curry and pad see ew, but it’s the elevated Northern Thai specialties that make this place stand out. Take the mea sai khao soi, which mixes crispy duck confit and a tangle of egg noodles in a spicy coconut curry, or the vibrant larb salad with a mound of soft-shell crab in a citrusy sauce. Whatever you order, you’ll be eating it in a sleek, curtained dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows for prime Platte St. people-watching.


A5 is a different sort of steakhouse than you usually find in Denver. Sure, there are the requisite whipped potatoes and New York strips, but there are also rare cuts like bavette, Delmonico, and the Japanese A5. Not to mention the must-eat beef tartare katsu sando appetizer, which has a soft-boiled quail egg among all that chopped tenderloin. It’s also decidedly un-stuffy, with tropical wallpaper and a thatched roof bar. Whatever steak you choose, order it “Chef Max Style,” which means it comes topped with buttery roasted bone marrow, garlic, and onions.

Mention Uchi to most people in Denver, and their eyes will probably light up. Whether it’s the best, most buttery piece of maguro they’ve ever eaten, the sizzling wagyu hot rock, the crunchy rice loaded with mushrooms, or, better yet, the 10-course omakase tasting that changed their life, a lot of people have a memory of Uchi that makes them eager to come back. And while there are so many different ways to do Uchi—there’s bar seating, a lounge area, private rooms, and a large, wood-filled dining room—the lively bar is where you want to be. 

The Best Sushi Spots In Denver guide image

DEN Guide

The Best Sushi Spots In Denver

When Le Bilboquet opened in 2019 in Cherry Creek, Denver’s swankiest neighborhood, it became a go-to spot for wealthy transplants and the local cool kids cursing the wealthy transplants. The French restaurant is all white tablecloths, over-the-top bouquets, and pampered service—this is definitely the kind of place that folds your napkin when you go to the bathroom. It’s the spot to go when you’re craving a perfect duck confit, escargot bathing in garlic butter, and a bottle of something bubbly—and don’t mind dropping $100 or so per person (depending on how much of that bubbly you drink).

Tavernetta nails the Italian trifecta: good wine, handmade pastas, and great hospitality. But what makes this one of the best restaurants in the city is they also have one of the best steaks you can find in Denver (we’re talking about you, New York strip with marsala and mushrooms), an after-dinner cookie plate, and a spacious bar with a great spritz list and soul-warming fireplace. While it’s not the cheapest—pastas can hit $39 and the grilled branzino rings in at $55— you’re guaranteed a beautiful meal in a beautiful setting.

If you’ve been planning on finally confessing some deep feelings to someone and need a white tablecloth to do it over, come to Restaurant Olivia. Especially if that certain someone likes quiet, candle-lit dining rooms, excellent service, and homemade pastas with ingredients like black truffles and lobster. As with everything else here, the cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks are top-notch, featuring combos like a caprese negroni and a Manhattan jazzed up with espresso liqueur and chocolate bitters.


There’s no shortage of Mexican food in Denver, but this fast-casual, lunch-only spot stands out because of its mission. The restaurant doubles as a social enterprise, with a very cool earn-while-you-learn model. Meaning that while the immigrant and refugee women from countries like Mexico, Venezuela, and Syria whip up your incredible Mexican Coke-braised carnitas, they’re also receiving money, education, and training so they can one day open their own food business. The menu changes daily, but if those carnitas are on the menu and you’ve got a sunny day, order them and take them to a picnic table out front.

Denver may not exactly be known for its pizza—although there is something called “mountain style” pie, and if you’re curious, you should visit Beau Jo’s for a taste. But there’s recently been something of a pizza boom happening throughout the city. Regardless of where you’re from or what time zone you live in, Cart-Driver makes exceptional wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pies with the perfect chewy, crunchy, cheesy, and tangy bite. And the toppings are treated expertly—we’re talking wood-roasted chanterelles, littleneck clams, and lamb sausage. The RiNo location can get a little cramped, but there’s a great attached patio where you can take your pie.

When you need a cocktail, pizza, ice cream, a green smoothie, and a crab cake sandwich—maybe even all at the same time—head to the high-energy Denver Central Market. The only food hall centrally located downtown, DCM has great options for all of your snacking, lunch, dessert, and second breakfast needs. Whether you stop in for a cinnamon roll from Izzio Artisan Bakery, a latte from Crema Bodega, pizza or pasta from Vero Italian, or an ice cream flight from High Point Creamery, you’ll find a large mix of locals and out-of-towners hanging out in the airy RiNo hall. 

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A former repo man from Alaska hops off his Harley to open a food cart slinging reindeer sausages in Denver. Oh, and a cream cheese-spewing caulk gun is involved too. This is the reality at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs. The menu is as unique as the man himself, with ostrich and harissa-roasted cactus, green chile-laced buffalo, and the signature elk jalapeño cheddar dogs—all of which make for a tasty lunch around $10. While you’ll still find Biker Jim’s carts set up around town, the man himself is more likely to be manning his caulk gun at the LoDo brick-and-mortar location.

When the Blazing Chicken Shack II (the original was a food truck) opened nearly a decade ago, it beefed up Denver’s lacking soul food scene. The ladies working here are always ready to warm you up with spicy collard greens, creamy mac and cheese, crispy catfish sandwiches, and that juicy fried chicken that just might be the city’s best—and might even call you “baby” in the process. The space is pretty bare bones with just a few tables, but the food and hospitality inside are pure southern comfort.

Of course you love tacos, but if you can take off your tortilla-focused blinders for a second, there are some other major, must-order Mexican dishes at Tarasco’s. The menu at the Federal Boulevard strip mall spot can be overwhelming because it’s so long, but skip to the Michoacano section, where you’ll find stuff like sweet corn tamales with salsa verde, spicy pozole, and the complex seven chile mole served over carnitas. Besides the amazing food, the space radiates positivity, with happy quotes and calaveras covering the walls.

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photo credit: Werk Creative

The Best Restaurants In Denver guide image