A hub for epic eats, farm-to-table restaurants, and fine cuisine, eating out in Denver is never an easy feat. From neighborhood dining establishments to chophouses, here are the best restaurants in Colorado’s Mile-High City.
Set in a sleek space with minimalistic design, Hop Alley is Denver’s answer to modern Chinese cuisine. Dishes include bone marrow fried rice, duck rolls with scallion pancakes, and Sichuan-fried chicken. And although it’s a small space (seats less than 60 people), diners can get an up-close-and-personal look at what’s going on in the kitchen. Expect hip hop music, clever cocktails with fancy ice cubes, and paper napkins.
Meet Bar Dough: exposed ceilings, a wood-fired oven, and open-kitchen concept. Here, diners can get their hands on innovative Italian fare – such as duck bolognese with foie gras and a poached duck egg – alongside wood-fired pies, handcrafted pasta, and small bites. The grilled octopus should not be missed, while the signore bianco pizza – stracciatella, creamed leeks, pickled chiles, and fennel pollen – is an adventure for the taste buds.
Everything about Stoic & Genuine screams seafood. The iconic Denver establishment offers some of the freshest, if not the freshest, bi-coastal seafood in town. From the epic raw bar – oysters, crudo, caviar, crab, lobster – to the beautifully crafted sea-focused mains, this modern joint never disappoints. The lobster roll is a must for any first-timer, but innovative plates such as the mussels smoked in jalapeño butter and the paella will have diners singing.
Located inside the Source, a restored 1880s foundry-turned-marketplace, is Acorn: artisanal cocktails, oak-fired dishes, and graffitied walls accompanied by bold American flavors that rival even those of acclaimed sister restaurant, OAK at Fourteenth. The menu changes weekly and features modern twists on comfort classics – fried pickles, meatballs, shrimp and grits – but this eclectic space also does fine dining well (think shaved foie gras, oak-smoked pork belly, and wagyu beef tartare). Plus, the wines and beers are picked by hand.
Restaurant with Rooms, Contemporary, Steakhouse, American, Seafood, $$$
Guard and Grace, Denver | Courtesy of Guard and Grace
Guard and Grace isn’t your average chophouse. The bright and airy 9,000-square-foot space – fit with a floor-to-ceiling wine cellar – is modern yet inviting, boasting dozens of grills, a raw bar, and a swanky outdoor patio. Steak is king at G&G, with local grass-fed cuts ranging from four to 22 ounces, but diners can also indulge in charcuterie and artisanal cheeses, oysters, and oak-fired plates – right in the heart of downtown.
Rioja is all about locally sourced goods. Inspired by Mediterranean flavors, the restaurant does everything from handcrafted pasta to seasonally inspired small plates. The menu is decked out with dishes like lobster-yam bisque, octopus with farfalle, and honey bourbon braised lamb shank – each ingredient chosen carefully. And with an outdoor patio, top-notch wine list, and simple décor, Rioja’s elegant space is a no-brainer.
Brought to you by Chef Alex Seidel, Fruition is Denver’s take on modern farm-to-table cuisine. The seasonally focused menu features dishes such as seared diver scallops with lobster-caper emulsion, braised pork belly cheeks with apple, and pasta carbonara with house-cured pork belly and handmade cavatelli. The motto is simple: highlight fresh ingredients and let them shine. The atmosphere is casual, so diners can get a taste of fine dining without the snoot.