In the last decade, the culinary scene in Denver has become one to be reckoned with. Previously known as a meat and potato town, Denver is the 2020 recipient of an impressive 12 James Beard Award (the Oscars of food) nominations. It can be difficult to sift through the sea of restaurants constantly popping up in the Mile High City, so here is an eclectic mix featuring a few of our favorites.
This modern downtown steakhouse (conveniently located across the street from The Hilton Denver City Center) is a creation by renowned restaurateur and notable Denver chef, Troy Guard. As one of his eight Denver restaurants (which we also recommend) Guard and Grace has received multiple nods for its refreshing menu, but come here for the steaks and leave happy. As you’ll note on their website, they’ve received awards for best steak in Denver five years in a row.
It wouldn’t be Denver if we didn’t kick this list off with two steakhouses. A complete contrast to the contemporary Guard and Grace, Buckhorn Exchange is Denver’s oldest restaurant and decorates its walls with over 500 taxidermy, one rumored to be shot by Theodore Roosevelt himself. Come for the spectacle and stay for the incredible history and stories that come alive in this National Historic Landmark. Frequented by Hollywood icons in its heyday, you can also try some of Colorado’s most exotic menu items at this iconic spot, from Rocky Mountain Oysters to alligator.
Sushi lovers look no further than this 30 year-old-staple of the Denver food scene. Fresh daily deliveries from Japan guarantee the best of the best by Sushi Den and Chef Toshi, who’s sister restaurants Izakaya Den and OTOTO which we also recommend, happen to be right next door. Enjoy the wonderful area of South Pearl St. along with their remarkable platters of sashimi and sushi and take solace in the fact that this place has been recognized by Zagat as one of the best in the country.
Arguably home to one of the best views in Denver, El Five has the food to back up the breathtaking views. Meet the hostess at the entrance and take an elevator up to the top (fifth) floor to enter into an effortlessly cool Mediterranean oasis. Kick-back, relax and enjoy some of the best tapas in town.
This farm-to-table sustainably-sourced restaurant has been a pillar of the Denver food scene for the last decade. Renovated in an old garage, Root Down has a perfect outdoor patio that overlooks the city with funky artwork and an edgy meets upscale vibe. Great for vegetarians and vegans alike, they also have an incredible lamb porterhouse and flat iron steak. Come for brunch, lunch or dinner and don’t forget their fantastic desserts!
The best ramen in town, period. Although the new West Washington Park location now provides a larger space and a more extensive menu to its original post in the Lower Highlands, Uncle attendees should still be prepared to wait, as people flock to score a bowl of their infamous spicy chicken ramen and steamed buns. Regardless of the location you choose, your taste buds will leave happy!
Sister restaurant to Uncle and quick generator of a cult-like following, Hop Alley serves up a hip-hop soundtrack and family-style Chinese fare. But this is not your grandmother’s orange chicken restaurant. Come hungry, enjoy the fantastic cocktails, and please order the melt-in-your-mouth salt and pepper soft-shell crab lettuce wraps.
This casual but trendy Middle Eastern restaurant takes hummus to a whole new level. Ash’Kara’s perfectly done wood oven pita pairs with a smorgasbord of incredibly tasty dips including babaganoush and muhammara. Plus, it’s a lamb and falafel lover’s paradise.
We’ll start with saying that Coperta has their own mozzarella bar where you can build your own cheese plate. Still need more to visit this Italian neighborhood classic? Coperta focuses on food and wine from Rome and southern Italy, and the restaurant is fondly known as one of the best dining experiences in Denver’s Uptown area. The word “Coperta” means blanket in Italian, and that’s exactly the experience you’ll get, warm, cozy and you’ll never want to leave.
It’s not a trip to Denver if you don’t try some of the state’s unique game offerings. Not only is Los Chingones one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city, but it serves up its famous and delicious rattlesnake chorizo guacamole. Adventurous eaters are also encouraged to ask for their wild-card tacos, an inventive and surprising offering that changes daily. Don’t fret if the snake has you feeling squeamish, Los Chingones has all the best Mexican classics and never disappoints.
A rite of passage stop a few blocks away from Coors Field, you’ll find students, tourists and families alike congregating to indulge in their “frankfurter fantasies” at Biker Jim’s. Many may have seen Biker Jim’s famous spot on a many of food channel features, as it’s often topping lists for best hot dog joints in the country. When you go, we recommend Biker Jim’s Elk Jalapeno Cheddar Dog. Not crazy enough? Try the ostrich!