All around Denver these days you can spot them—diners out enjoying the sunshine on patios or picking up takeout for picnics in the park. Restaurants in the city are back to 100% capacity (though social distancing is still a must), the city has extended the expanded outdoor dining area permits, booze to-go is sticking around, and we’ve even started to see some new spots opening. All your local favorites deserve your support right now after the year of hardships the industry has faced, but if you’re looking for a little inspiration on where to enjoy your next meal, we’ve got you covered. From the Front Range’s newest food hall to a soul food favorite that’s finally reopened in a brand new location, these are the spots that are satisfying our hunger and inspiring us with their pandemic perseverance right now.
The gist: With a move from food hall Avanti to their own brick and mortar, which opened January 2021, this fast-casual concept is making it really, really easy to eat flavorful and healthy food when you’re not up for another night of doing the dishes.
The food: The menu here is built around a trio of rotisserie proteins: chicken, pork, and salmon. You can load those into a bowl, or opt for a sandwich or salad alongside super fresh veggies and any (or all) of their flavor boosting sauces. From there, add on any of their standout sides that go way beyond the typical fries or salad—think blistered green beans with garlic and fried capers or grilled polenta with wild mushrooms and shaved parm. They also offer a lineup of beer, wine, and ready-to-pour cocktails from The Family Jones.
The cost: Plates and bowls range from $14 - $20 and a la carte sides are $3.50 - $7.50
How to order: Use their app to order for pickup and delivery
The gist: This new food hall packed with food and drink options is located in a historic building on the banks of Clear Creek and has downtown Golden’s first and only rooftop patio.
The food: There are five concepts inside: Republik of Chiken, which serves elevated takes on burgers, chicken sandwiches, and other comfort food classics; Tacos al Chile for Mexican; sushi from Sushi Sora; smoked meats from Rolling Smoke BBQ; and ice cream from Happy Cones. The space also features two self-pour walls where you can serve yourself up local beer, wine, cocktails, and a selection of sake.
The cost: Burgers and sandwiches are $13 - $16, tacos are $3, sushi rolls start at $6, BBQ plates are $14 - $18, and ice cream is $4.49 - $5.99
How to order: Visit in person
The gist: With homey, '70s retro vibes and a killer rooftop deck with mountain views, this is a top spot to grab a pizza and drinks.
The food: The 12” pies here are made with naturally leavened sourdough and are cooked in the brick oven for the perfect charred yet chewy crust, which is topped with options like local bison, cupping pepperoni, and castelvetrano olives. There’s also a selection of apps (just say yes to the pepperoni rolls) and salads. And while the pizza may be some of the best in town, don’t miss out on their beverage program which includes cocktails made with local spirits, craft beers, and natural and organic wines.
The cost: Appetizers and salads are $8 - $14, pizzas are $12 - $18
How to order: Order pickup via Toast
The gist: A Denver favorite for soul food, Corafaye’s has been serving up southern homestyle eats since 2006 but after a long closure due to the pandemic, recently reopened in a new location on Colfax and Chambers.
The food: The original menu is currently condensed a bit, but all the crowd favorites including fried chicken, catfish nuggets, and smothered pork chops are accounted for. Most mains are available as plates with two sides and bread, and there’s also a selection of sandwiches. And of course, don’t skip dessert, especially if that dessert is peach cobbler.
The cost: Plate meals are $4.95 (for a fried chicken leg and one side) to $16.99 and burgers and sandwiches are $6.99 - $12.49
How to order: Call 303-333-5551 to order for pickup or get delivery via Postmates, GrubHub, or DoorDash
The gist: Located inside the Rally Hotel at the new McGregor Square development next to Coors Field, this retro-inspired eatery is a bright and fun spot to grab a bite.
The food: Classic diner eats get a playful, modern makeover with options that range from the all-American cheeseburger and the BLT amped up with raclette to crab and trout dip served with a bag of bugles and everything bagel deviled eggs complete with house made salmon bacon. The drinks also get a nostalgic twist, with non-alcoholic options like Yoohoo, root beer floats, and of course, milkshakes (which you can definitely get a boozy version of). And yes, there is pie.
The cost: Appetizers are $5 - $15 and entrees are $12 - $36
How to order: Order online via their website for pickup
The gist: From hockey player to attorney, owner Natascha Hess took a winding path to the food scene and made a big splash with her food truck turned recently opened brick and mortar location.
The food: Inspired by her time living in China and traveling to Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, Hess’ street food inspired dishes go big on bold flavors. From the snackable Bangkok Balls to the playful Cheeseburger Fried Rice, the entire menu is full of crave-worthy temptations. But if you have to pick one place to start, it’s a bestseller from her food truck days, the tantalizing Char Siu pork with smashed cucumber salad.
The cost: Appetizers are $8, and entrees range from $13 - $17.
How to order: They are open for dine-in or you can order for pickup via Toast
The gist: Chef Ty Leon, beverage director Austin Carson, front-of-house master Heather Morrison opened this fresh pasta haven in the former Cafe Marmotte space in January 2020.
The food: When Leon and his team first purchased Cafe Marmont in 2019, they kept the French cuisine intact, but after a brief makeover, they reopened with a new name and a dedication to Italian cuisines with a focus on Leon’s area of expertise: handmade pasta (do not skip the lobster spaghetti with black truffle). Carson’s cocktails are impeccably crafted whether you opt for a classic or one of his creative spins, like the caprese negroni (yes, there’s tomato and basil involved).
The cost: Starters are $8.50 - $16.50, entrees are $12.50 - $19.50, and cocktails are $15.50. They also have a five course tasting menu option for $95/person
How to order: For dine-in reservations, call 303-999-0395, or use Tock to book online or order for pickup.
The gist: Chef Kelly Whitaker (the founder of Boulder’s Basta) opened this unique eatery in 2018 where seasonal ingredients, house milled grains, and playful cooking techniques come together in unexpected ways.
The food: Heritage grains milled in house take center stage here in the form of house made pasta which is a staple, although the preparations often jump the borders of global cuisines—for example, right now you’ll find both a lamb bolognese and radish kimchi fried rice on the them. Many dishes feature wood-fired and charcoal grilled elements, but the best part of the food here may be that you can always expect the unexpected.
The cost: A la carte items are available for dine in and pickup and range from $9 - $65. The Entrust omakase menu for dine-in is $90 per person.
How to order: Order online or book a reservation for dine-in on Tock.
The gist: A Texas-style BBQ hit from Karl Fallenius who spent time working under Aaron Franklin at Austin’s famed Franklin’s before bringing his smoking skills to the Mile High.
The food: Fallenius made Owlbear synonymous with stellar brisket via his original outpost behind Finn’s Manor, and after a long (but well worth it wait) finally opened a brick & mortar location. The brisket remains the best in town, and he continues to expand the selections with specials like a super craveable burger, house-made sausages, and gumbo.
The cost: Meats are available by the pound starting at $6 for a quarter pound. Sandwiches are $7 - $9 and sides come in a range of sizes starting at $4 - $6 for a small.
How to order: Currently only open for takeout only with all ordering online
The gist: Known for his eponymous New Orleans restaurant, award-winning chef Alon Shaya brought his take on modern Israeli cuisine to Denver in 2018, and pita lovers all over the Mile High have rejoiced ever since.
The food: It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with this spot after just one bite of the insanely fluffy, perfectly charred wood-fired pitas. And it only gets better from there. Pair those pitas with oh-so-smooth hummus topped with decadent lamb ragu or lutenitsa, a flavorful blend of roasted eggplant, tomato, peppers, and garlic. Then move on to harissa roasted chicken or pomegranate braised lamb shanks or charred cabbage or anything really. There are no bad moves to be made here.
The cost: Starters and hummus range from $8-$17, small plates from $8-$16, and large plates for $37. For dine in, you can choose from two prix fixe menus for $50 or $70, or the weekend brunch menu for $45 per person.
How to order: A la carte items are only available for takeout via online ordering and delivery through DoorDash. For dine in, book online via Resy.
The gist: After years of serving stellar ramen to the hungry masses at Uncle, owner Tommy Lee opened this Chinese powerhouse in 2015, and the bold flavors continue to make a must-visit spot today.
The food: If you still think Chinese in Denver means too sweet beef and broccoli and chow mein, you’ve been missing out. The hip-hop soundtrack and high energy atmosphere pair perfectly with dishes that are ideal for sharing. Don’t skip the la ji zi (mouth-numbing -- in a really, really good way, Szechuan fried chicken), bone marrow fried rice, and chilled tofu with bang bang sauce.
The cost: Plates range from $6-$27
How to order: Order online for pickup or through Postmates for delivery. For dine in (including new outdoor tables), book online via Resy.
The gist: The first restaurant from Caroline Glover, one of Food & Wine Magazine’s ten best new chefs in America 2019.
The food: Glover’s driving goal for Annette is to make each service feel like a dinner party among friends, whether that means pivoting to impeccable burgers on house made English muffins while she was forced to close for dine-in during COVID-19 or serving signature favorites in their new outdoor seating options which include a heated yurt. While many items are perfect in their simplicity, like the chive-covered deviled eggs, Glover’s also not afraid to tackle less common ingredients and transform them into comfort food, like the grilled beer tongue + marrow toast that’s become a staple on the menu.
The cost: Snacks are $3.25-$4.25, plates range from $7.50 to $29.
How to order: Order online for curbside pickup or book online for outdoor dining via Resy.
The gist: Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine has long been lauded as one of the top eateries in the region, so when their team opened this Italian haven in the renovated Union Station in 2017, it was an instant hit.
The food: Elevated classic Italian at its best is what you’ll find here, from the burrata with burrata with trapanese pesto and the grass fed beef carpaccio to melt in your mouth gnocchi with zucchini pesto. The wine here also deserves equal attention thanks to a program led by master sommelier Bobby Stuckey.
The cost: A selection of cicchetti (small snacks) are $4-$8, starters are $13-$26, pastas are $18-$20, and entrees are $26-$46.
How to order: Order online for pickup or book a reservation for dine-in via Tock.