For every person who migrates to Denver, there's a group of jealous friends and family members who want in on the Colorado action, even if only for a weekend. Yep, in just one quick text, you've suddenly become both concierge and tour guide. And whether it's friends you can't wait to see, or friends you're kind of glad you haven't had to see, don't panic - we're here to help. First tip: stock up on toilet paper, and hide your best towels.
When you're entertaining out-of-towners, you want to think outside the box. Ohana serves poke bowls, spam, and other Hawaiian favorites out of a hole in wall - you can't really get more outside the box than that (especially for people unaware that "poke" is also a noun). Take a mid-morning stroll through the Lower Highlands, and stop for an early lunch - keep in mind they do tend to sell out of the poke early.
Anyone who's entertained a big group knows the pain of getting everyone to align on what to eat and where. Finn's offers a nice solve with their food truck "pod" (an open-air patio built around food booths), which features a variety of unique options like BBQ, Filipino, Jamaican, steamed buns, and ice cream. There's also a cocktail bar next door where you can kill time playing your own game of choice with 160+ varieties of whiskey.
Entertaining your significant others' parents? Bar Dough is our favorite Italian spot in town, and nothing says "So nice to see you again, soon-to-be Mom and Dad (maybe?)" like lights-out pasta. Grab a seat at the pizza bar and let the cooks help distract your dinner guests from asking questions about when you're getting married or giving them their next grandkid.
Detroit. Pretty good at hockey, used to be really good at making cars. Still really good at making chili cheese dogs/coney's. But Detroit-style Pizza? Turns out, they're really good at that too. Detroit-style pizza is highly delicious, and Blue Pan has brought some hip-to-be-square magic-ness to Denver.
Bachelorettes love Denver. Take a break from your Maid of Honor duties and let the people at Postino help entertain the crew for a while. Postino offers a big and affordable wine selection (the daily happy hour is $5 glasses). And their various bruschetta options are a good way to keep the less-experienced drinkers in the group from passing out before the sun goes down.
From an outsider’s perspective, there’s definitely a bit of pretentiousness at play upon entering Black Eye - "hip" design, cool-looking people, a refrigerator turned magazine rack. But you'll also find friendly service and great coffee & snacks to balance all that out. It's cool enough for your friend, and the food and drinks are worth the price for you.
This market-style food court sits just West of the city. And while the food is just decent (and a bit overpriced), the rooftop has one of the best bar patios and cityscape views in town. Get your early afternoon buzz going here, and impress your friends with cool Denver facts, like the one about us having more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks stores.
Old Major sits high on a lot of Where To Eat in Denver internet lists, but we like it best during lunch when the patio and bar areas at OM transform into Royal Rooster. The double burger at the bottom of the menu is awesome, and the chicken sandwiches are about as good as it gets for an indulgent lunch around town.
Everyone has a vegan or vegetarian friend, and damn it, they deserve good food too, even if they do choose to deny it to themselves 90% of the time. Vital Root is currently holding court as the chief roughage shop in town, for meat-free people and meat lovers alike.
Burn up a ton of calories exploring the majesty of Denver's ski resorts and foothills, then slurp them all back up here. There isn't much around town that satisfies more than Uncle's spicy chicken bowl after a full day on the mountain.
Lucile's is as solid as it gets when it comes to breakfast moves for big groups and special events. Get some Cajun (beignets included) in your life, and impress your family by ordering the off-meu favorite, Hank's Eggs. Get here early if you have a big group - Southern hospitality is plentiful at Lucile's, but they don't take reservations.
Sitting at the entryway to one of the best food/bar crawl streets in town, Hops pizza is all about fresh & unique toppings on from-scratch crust, and a huge variety of local craft beers on tap. Make this your early evening starting point, then cruise your way down Tennyson St. and see what the night brings. Tuesday through Friday, happy hour is available from 3 to 6:30pm and gets you $1 off drafts and slices of the day.
Go here for some of the city's best sandwiches, and solace after going too hard the night before. The high-quality food comes with zero judgment, so feel free to stumble over in your PJs - assuming you managed to put any on when you got home last night.
A trip to Denver isn't complete without a trip to Boulder, and a trip to Boulder isn't complete without a trip to Frasca. This is the best restaurant in Colorado. If you can make it on a Monday night, do it - they offer a pre-set tasting menu (wine pairings included) of seasonal dishes, all served from some of the best staff and sommeliers around.
This restaurant, interestingly enough, opened before dope was legalized in Denver. Part breakfast joint (think huge smothered biscuit platters), part pizza joint (think oversized, quality thin crust pies), the Cowboy is the very best hangover cure in town - it's also the best way to work your way into another hangover the next day.
If you're looking for a special occasion restaurant, but can't make it to Boulder, you should be eating at Fruition - the classiest of classy restaurants in Denver proper. This place consistently impresses with its attention to detail and quality, and both the food and environment are worth every penny.
If you’re responsible for a bachelor party weekend, consider Biker Jim’s for an afternoon meal. Everyone orders at the counter, which means it’s easy to pay separately, and the selection of unique hot dogs and sausages has something for all tastes.
Your sister's in town and wants to hang at a cool spot, but she's going to have her toddler in tow. Enter Steuben’s. This Denver classic features diner standards like fried chicken, meatloaf, burgers, and soups, but they've also got a few curveballs (see: Maine lobster roll) that keep things interesting. Add in their legit kids’ menu and a serious cocktail program, and it’s a win-win situation for grown-ups and kids alike.
The Cruise Room features a whole lot of booze and a little bit of history. It's also our favorite spot to grab drinks downtown. The bar originally served as a hot spot for World War II soldiers on leave in need of strong drink. Rumor has it some of the original tapestries featured Hitler and Mussolini, until a handful of U.S. Navy boys came in and ripped them down. Ask your server about the story.
The Source offers a nice all-in-one option for lunch, into drinks, into dinner, into more drinks, all without having to leave the building. The marketplace houses Comida (cheap, delicious street tacos), Acorn (upscale shared plate dining), and a handful of bar/lounge areas in between that'll make all you lazy planners look like rockstars for finding such an interesting and convenient place.
Euclid Hall is the perfect place to take friends or family members who are looking to try something new, without coloring outside the lines too much. It's an industrial-looking cocktail hall/restaurant serving interesting stuff like Pad Thai Pig Ears, Bone Marrow, and Marlin Crudo. They also feature a nice variety of beers on tap, and have the perfect afternoon or evening drinking atmosphere.
Union Station is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike, and Mercantile is the place to eat upon making said visit. Bring a group and bask in the glow of Denver's answer to "what would The Great Gatsby look like at 5,280 feet?" Despite keeping the menu relatively simple, everything edible (and drinkable) matches up nicely with the fancy decor.
This farm-to-table pioneer makes for a special date night. Just note that they don't take reservations. Tell the host/hostess you just got engaged and maybe you'll score a spot on the romantic back patio.
If you're looking for late-night eats after burning it down near LoDo, we recommend Cart-Driver. Ease out of your drunken haze and soak up the booze here with some of the best wood-fired pies and oysters in town. Open until 12am, seven days a week (we recommend getting there after 10 pm.)