Having lived in the Denver area for ~2 years, I sampled my fair share of places and thought I’d share some of my favorites. The price ranges here are based on the average price of an entrée or main dish.
For brunch: Table 6, Jelly, Lola, Rootdown, Linger, Devil’s Food, Gaia Bistro
For Lunch: Gaia Bistro, D’Deli
For drinks & appies, or Happy Hour: Lola, Linger, Rootdown, Indulge
For a special dinner: $52.80 at Linger or Rootdown, Rioja, Limon, Machete
For a great bar scene: Machete, Euclid Hall, Rio Grande
The most overrated restaurants:
- Beatrice & Woodsley (Denver): Incredibly expensive but miniscule dishes, forgetful and un-knowledgeable staff. The décor is amazing though.
- The Kitchen (Boulder): Pretentious, trying way too hard, overpriced. Quote from a friend: “I’m still starving and now I’m angry because I spent $3o for nothing. Let’s go get some BBQ.”
Casual & Cheap (<$10)
- D’Deli (Golden, CO) – A unassuming little deli with AMAZING sandwhiches. The hungry students from the Colorado School of Mines frequent here for satisfying ravenous hunger induced by too many math equations. They offer a really diverse array of sandwiches inspired by various cultures, with some seriously unique offerings. Try a more traditional option like the “Gold Hill” – roast beef, blue cheese aioli, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, beets, jicama, and spinach. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you could go for the “Das Butterbrot” – pork loin, ham, peanut butter, honey horseradish Dijon, sauerkraut, apple sauce, and bananas. Weird? YES. Delicious? Oddly. . . yes. A sandwhich will cost you $6.50 for a half and $8.50 for a whole – a smoking good deal!
- Devil’s Food Bakery – come here for a proper espresso and a great casual brunch.
- Gaia Bistro – they make the most delicious savory crepes, and the coffee is strong and delicious.
- Jelly – I’ve had the pleasure of going to Jelly twice, both at the original Capital Hill location and the newly opened Denver University location. I love love LOVE the decor here; the walls are painted in bright pastels and lined with vintage cereal boxes, which are great fun to look at, and the seating is a combination of leather booths and old-school diner tables. Coffee is offered the minute you sit down, and the donut bites are advised as an appetizer. The first time I visited we sampled Bacon Pancakes (an absolutely MAMMOTH inch-thick pancake- note the thumbs up :)) and the Eggs Benedict. Both were very good. The second time around we sampled the donut bites- Chocolate Anglaise, Maple Bacon, Thai, and Bakti Chai. Incredible! The “Thai” donut is a plain donut covered in peanut butter and sriracha hot sauce. Sounds totally weird but it is a flavor explosion. The Eggs Florentine is also delicious. Make your way down to Jelly for all day delicious breakfast!
Bacon pancake at Jelly
Donuts. . .
And more donuts. . . 🙂
Middle Ground ($10-30)
- Linger – this Denver hotspot, the sister restaurant to Rootdown, is easily one of my favourite restaurants in the world. Constantly busy, funky, eclectic, and amazing food. . . what more could you want? Linger advertises their food as being as locally, organically, and naturally-sourced as possible, with a globally-inspired menu. It’s an ideal local for some drinks and appetizers shared amongst friends. I highly advise trying the Happy Hour (if you can get in, Tuesday – Friday from 4-6:30) – the best way to sample some of their goods at low prices. The Devils on Horseback are devilishly good, as is the Popper Breakdown. The Masala Dosa and Goat Tacos are also finger-licking good. A second fantastic deal to try is the $52.80 Tuesday night dinner – two can dine, three courses each, for $52.80. Because Denver is 5280 feet above sea level – get it? Very crafty. And for 26 bucks each you will leave incredible satisfied – I guarantee it!
- Rootdown – much like it’s sister Linger, Root Down offers an eclectic menu, a Happy Hour Monday – Friday from 4:30 – 7, and a $52.80 Sunday dinner. I would consider their food less “tapas style” and more traditional, but equally as delicious. I went here for the $52.80 Sunday dinner and both me and my friend were blown away but the meal. Below is the baby beet salad as the first course.
- Indulge Wine Bar (Golden, CO) – Indulge is a restaurant which does tapas-style dining and drinks very well. The menu is well-suited for sharing, and if you head there for happy hour (3-6 PM), wines by the glass start at $4 and beers are all $3. Recommended are the fried pickles – huge slices of tangy dills with a crispy coating and spicy garlic aioli. The flatbread are also a solid bet, and the Ahi tuna guacamole is delicious.
- Euclid Hall – one of my favourite restaurants/bars, hands DOWN. Fantastic atmosphere and location, interesting and delicious food, good service, and a great selection of beers. The bar, named after one of the Study Halls at Harvard, organizes their beers by mathematical “complexity” – arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, calculus. . . you get the picture. Happy Hour is also called Study Hall – so adorable. Food is somewhat European with some heavy German influence. Recommended items: Chicken & Waffles, the Pickle Sampler, the Boudin Noir, the Mussels, the Wild Mushroom Poutine. . . heck I’d be willing to bet anything on the menu is damn good. Below is a special which has sadly left the menu – “Spaghetti and Meatballs”; roasted spaghetti squash with garlic-mushroom meatballs and blistered tomatoes. Delish.
- Lola – Come here for authentic Mexican flavours and atmosphere. The guacamole is prepared table side and is the best guac I’ve ever had. The Huevos and Ceviches are killer. I only wish I’ve been for happy hour – it looks incredible. Run to this restaurant ASAP and be prepared for a fantastic experience 🙂
- Limon – Authentic Latin American flair. To start we ordered a Pisco Sour and a Malbec. The Pisco Sour I was wary- having had Pisco Sours made by a Peruvian while in Peru, I was skeptical this could stand up. While it may not have been quite as good, it was pretty darn close. The food menu is divided into Central America, South America, and the Carribean, with very unique offerings in all. We shared the Bocoles appetizer (Central America), which we agreed was one of the best things we’ve ever tasted. Black bean cakes stuffed with butternut squash, goat cheese, and topped with spicy mole. To die for! I had the Chile Marinated White Fish (South America), cooked in a banana leaf and nice and spicy. The Chile Relleno (Carribean) looked amazing, and both these “tapas” plates were definitely large enough for a meal. The shared dessert we chose was the trio of creme brulees- vanilla, mocha, and coconut. Two thumbs up!
Bocoles at Limon
Seabass at Limon
- Machete – A wonderful selection of tacos, tostadas, and killer margaritas. A hidden gem in Cherry Creek.
A classic margarita, salsa sampler, chips, and guac at Machete.
For a special night (>$30)
- Rioja – owned by the same people as Euclid Hall (and right across the street), it’s heralded as “the best restaurant in Denver”. Quite a claim, but I must say it is pretty darn fantastic. My friend and I struggled to pick an appetizer from the amazing choices, so our waitress was kind enough to bring us our two top choices, compliments of the house. Since when do restaurants provide two free appetizers at the drop of a hat?? Incredible. For my main, I had the Duroc pork tenderloin, accompanied by roasted onions, squash, and fresh figs. Very unique and delicious. I highly recommend Rioja to anyone looking for a special splurge night out!