The Best Restaurants In RiNo

A bungalow that only serves 18 people a day, a food hall you’ll want to move into, and a classic diner that’ll fill you up for $10.
The Best Restaurants In RiNo image

photo credit: Lindsey Alexander

The River North Art District, or RiNo for short, is Denver’s most colorful neighborhood—literally and figuratively. It’s a one-mile-long stretch of mural-covered buildings, graffitied walls, warehouses-turned-breweries, and a wonderland of some of the city’s best restaurants. Currently, that list includes a sceney Chinese spot, Denver’s first tasting menu-only restaurant, and plenty of native and transplant chefs riffing on classics.

You’ll run into most of the neighborhood's spots along Larimer Street, but don’t be afraid to cross over to Brighton Boulevard, where the food scene just gets better. And even though there’s been a recent influx of chains moving in (hey there, Shake Shack and Federales), RiNo remains a vibrant nerve center of what’s next in town.

These are the best restaurants you should check out the next time you’re in RiNo. And if you're looking for great restaurants all over the city, check out our guide to the best restaurants in Denver.


photo credit: Werk Creative

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$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersSmall PlatesFine DiningBrunch
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Yes, Safta gets plenty of the old-money Cherry Creekers navigating their E-classes through Brighton Boulevard’s never-ending construction, but it also gets 20- and 30-somethings taking a ride share over from Larimer Street.

Both sets would travel from anywhere for Safta’s pillowy pitas, best eaten with a generous swoosh of creamy hummus with spicy lamb, or harissa-spiked chicken and honeyed cheese borekas. There’s plenty of room for everyone in the bright, industrial-cozy space that anchors The Source Hotel. (Yes, this is a hotel restaurant, but it’s actually really, really good.)

Perhaps the best description of the vibe at this soulful Latin/American spot is that it’s the kind of place that has five beer-and-a-shot deals. So yes, things get loud, but there’s a lot of concrete for all that noise to bounce off of. You’re here for a quick and casual meal made up of one (or more) of their meats sold by the quarter, half, and full pound. Go with the slow-braised achiote-tinged cochinita pibil (if they have it), but don’t overlook the not-so-basic lemon pepper brown butter rotisserie chicken.

Even though it opened in 2015, this Chinese restaurant is still the cool kid in RiNo. Hop Alley is named after Denver’s 19th-century Chinatown, but it’s also a conversation starter and tongue-in-cheek wink at the neighborhood’s history. Located in a former soy sauce factory, the place serves up plates like tongue-numbing la zi ji and char siu beets that will convert even non-beet people, all with a side of blaring hip hop. They also recently expanded into a neighboring business, which means you might actually be able to snag a table here.

Cart-Driver sets the standard for pizza in Denver. The wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pies have turned the heads of locals and snobby New York transplants alike, proving that yes, there actually is good pizza in Denver. The perfectly crunchy, chewy, cheesy pies are loaded up with toppings like wood-roasted chanterelles, littleneck clams, and spicy calabrian honey. So long as it isn’t covered in a pile of snow, head out to the attached patio to escape the cramped shipping container space (seriously, the whole restaurant is 640 square feet).

photo credit: Lindsey Alexander



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You’re not going to want to share any dish on The Greenwich’s menu. But since you probably aren’t capable of finishing roasted clams, a few sourdough-crusted pizzas, a plate covered in spicy lemongrass hamachi tiradito, thrice-cooked potatoes, and a lemon roasted chicken all on your own, you should probably bring some friends to help. And if for some reason you can only pick one thing to eat in all of RiNo, make it The Greenwich cheesecake. The caramelized, olive oil-drizzled, Basque-style cake is a creamy slice of heaven.

If you were to move into the Denver Central Market, you’d have a really hard time sleeping. This high-energy, always-buzzing food hall is the place to have a great meal from morning until night. Start with coffee at Crema Bodega and a fresh-made pastry from Izzio Artisan Bakery, and close it down with a pizza and pasta dinner at Vero Italian, a scoop of Tin Cup whiskey and pistachio brittle at High Point Creamery, and a couple draft cocktails at the central Curio Bar. If you absolutely, positively have to narrow it down to just one meal, make it Vero Italian.

It makes sense that one of the world’s coolest bars picked Denver’s coolest neighborhood to move into. Death & Co. started in NYC, so you might have some pretty major expectations for drinks like the Sandia Sunset with jalapeño tequila, mezcal, watermelon, aloe, and mint, or the martini shaken with vodka and gin. But don’t just stop in for a pre-dinner cocktail or a nightcap—the food coming out of the kitchen is just as good as those legendary cocktails. 

Snacky plates like salty, coconut-oiled popcorn and lemon-zested pork cracklings or the full-on buttermilk fried chicken with hot honey are definitely worthy of your stomach space. Stake your claim at one of the loungey areas away from the busy bar and settle in for more than just a drink.

To say that Dio Mio is an Italian restaurant is like saying Beyonce is a singer—technically accurate, but not really painting the full picture of just how glorious each is at their respective craft. The radiatori pasta coated with basil pistachio pesto and topped with sesame and seaweed furikake is next-level, and the nearly foot-long chicken parm is the best in town thanks to a layer of sweet salami compote and spicy and tangy Thai chile giardiniera. The setting also happens to be fast-casual, meaning you can get in and out as quickly as you’d like, and for non-bank-breaking prices (half of the generous-sized entrees are under $20).

From the team that brought you excellent ceviche and churros at Señor Bear, Mister Oso serves that same style of pan-Latin food and party vibe, only with more tacos. Start with the downright perfect queso fundido, continue with lamb barbacoa and birria tacos, and finish with those excellent churros. Wash it all down with a pisco punch on Mister Oso’s magical, vine-covered patio and—for a second—the world might feel a little less like a dumpster fire.

Yes, this basement noodle joint does a very Colorado green chile ramen, but purists shouldn’t worry—they’ve got killer bowls of porky tonkotsu and spicy miso ramen, too. Beyond the broth, you’ll want to prioritize some of the shareable small plates like spam musubi, blistered shishito peppers, and okonomiyaki fries. The vibe is super industrial here, with concrete just about everywhere you look, exposed ducts, and neon lighting the subterranean space.

Butcher Block Cafe has been slinging cinnamon rolls and smothered breakfast burritos since before the moniker “RiNo” was even a thing. The energy is exactly what you want a 40-plus-year-old diner to be: dated decor, big booths, menus written on the walls, and strangers chatting it up over cups of watery diner coffee at the counter. Come here for a solid early breakfast—it opens at 5am most days—where $10 can more than fill you up.

Dining at Beckon is like going to a dinner party at a friend’s house, assuming the type of people you know like to roast up squab and top hakurei turnips with trout roe. Denver’s first tasting menu-only restaurant was opened by people who worked at Frasca, Boulder’s best Italian restaurant, and they bring that same eye for hospitality to the bungalow-turned-18-seat restaurant. (Cold? Someone will bring you a blanket. Don’t want to go home yet? Linger on the patio around the blazing fire pit.) Plan ahead for this one, as the eight-course weekend dinners typically book up at least a month out.

OK, so Uchi is technically in Curtis Park, but since the Denver outpost of the Austin-born sushi spot is only a block from RiNo and is so freaking good, we’re including it here. There are many different ways to do Uchi—Happy Hour nigiri in the lounge, a 10-course omakase in a private room, sizzling wagyu hot rock in the woodsy dining room—but our favorite is to grab a perch at the lively bar and pick something off the long list of daily specials that never disappoint. Just keep in mind that it’s perpetually busy, so you’ll want to drop in early.

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