The Best Michelin-Star-Worthy Restaurants in Denver, Colorado

The Four Seasons Hotel Denver is close to buzzing Larimer Square
The Four Seasons Hotel Denver is close to buzzing Larimer Square | © Richard Cummins / Alamy Stock Photo
Kellie Mortimer

Denver’s chefs are making a name for themselves, serving Michelin-worthy cuisine to rival New York and Chicago. The city’s restaurateurs have snagged several James Beard culinary award nominations, and Bon Appétit named the Wolf’s Tailor in its 2019 best new restaurant list. For a meal deserving of a Michelin star, check out these top restaurants in the Colorado capital.

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Sushi Den

For more than 30 years, Sushi Den has been preparing Denver’s best and freshest sushi. Despite Colorado’s landlocked geography, owner Toshi Kizaki prides himself on having one of the few restaurants in the country that buys its fish from a Japanese fish market. His younger brother, who is stationed at Nagahama Fish Market in Japan, selects each fish personally before it arrives in Denver just 24 hours later. However, the fresh fish is only part of the appeal of this South Pearl Street restaurant. Its bustling atmosphere, changing menu and open kitchen where you can watch the sushi chefs work with the utmost precision make it one of the best.

The Wolf’s Tailor

Inspired by his travels throughout Italy and Japan, Kelly Whitaker distinctively combines the two cuisines for a truly unforgettable dining experience at the Wolf’s Tailor. Selected as one of Bon Appétit’s 10 best new restaurants of 2019, it will delight you with a completely different experience every time you visit. The menu, which changes almost daily, highlights Whitaker’s loves: charcoal grills, house-milled grains (which he turns into delicious pasta) and vegetables grown directly in his gardens. Not knowing what to expect is half the fun of this Sunnyside eatery, but know that you’ll be in for a culinary vacation across continents.

Hop Alley

Following the success of his wildly popular ramen restaurant Uncle, Tommy Lee opened Hop Alley – and Denverites are sure glad he did. Inside a former soy sauce factory and wonton commissary in RiNo (River North Art District), the trendy restaurant draws from Lee’s Chinese heritage and celebrates the different regional cuisines of China, including Taiwanese, Cantonese, Sichuan and Hunan. The menu is served family-style and is so well executed that it even earned Lee a place on the James Beard semifinalist list for best chef in the Mountain category in 2020.

Super Mega Bien

Emigrating from Mexico, chef Dana Rodriguez rose through the ranks of Denver’s restaurant scene, from dishwasher to the owner of two highly successful dining establishments: Work & Class and Super Mega Bien. The latter, which opened in 2018, earned her a semi-finalist spot for the best chef in the Mountain category from the James Beard Foundation and for good reason. Within a vibrant interior, this lively Latin American restaurant creates Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican favorites reimagined, served dim-sum style from its signature turquoise cart or on family-style platters.

Fruition Restaurant

Fruition Restaurant is the brainchild of Alex Seidel, who opened the farm-to-table establishment in 2007. As it gained popularity, Seidel opted to buy a 10-acre (4ha) farm just outside Denver, and today, it grows high-quality vegetables and herbs and even has a dedicated creamery. The seasonal menu highlights the best ingredients from the farm, which the chef transforms into noteworthy, elevated American fare where the attention to detail is evident.

Rioja

In the heart of historic Larimer Square, Rioja stands out. Chef Jennifer Jasinski was the first woman in Denver to win the James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest award in 2013. Today, Rioja is still one of the best restaurants in Denver, with its ever-changing Mediterranean-inspired menu filled with home-made pasta, fresh seafood and local Colorado meats – all accompanied by a carefully thought-out wine list. The sophisticated and modern interior is bustling almost every night, so reservations are highly recommended.

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