It's Worth Getting Sloppy For This Grilled Cheese Taco
Best for late-night slices and cheap beer
A black sheep amid the show-ponies of South Broadway, this place is the rec room you dreamed about as a wee child: foosball and pinball, rad murals and graffiti, late-night hours, and plenty of beer including $1 PBR’s anytime. Also, thin-crust pizza by the slice or the 19-inch monster, ranging from classics, to daily specials with fanboy names (Vader, Army of Darkness), to flashes of stupid genius like the Munchy Mango. The standard is vegan, but you can (and should) get it with cheese, which mingles with peanut sauce, chopped mango, sugar-roasted jalapeños, and green onions for a creamy, sweet and savory, weirdly meaty instant addiction.
Best for margherita pizza
With nothing but a wood-fired mobile oven and a couple feet of workspace in the shadow of the 16th Street clock tower, David Bravdica built a Downtown dining destination on the strength of a proper, almost flaky crust topped with quality ingredients. So you can just imagine what he and his crew are doing now that they have a new location, in the sensational food hall Avanti. Actually, you don’t have to imagine since you can go down there (right now) and get some pizza, including their tribute to the perfect pizza, a classic margherita (which is only $5 on Mondays).
West Highlands & Congress Park
Best for Detroit-style pies
Yes, this place serves other kinds of pizza (you'll find New York, Italian, and Chicago-style pies on the menu), but that's not what you're here for. The specialty from award-winning pizzaiolo Jeff "Smoke" Smokevitch is the addictive Detroit-style pies which transform often-trashed crust into the cheesy, caramelized highlight of your pizza eating experience. Pair it with a Colorado craft beer and give yourself a pat on the back for being so damn smart with your life decisions.
Best for flaky, crunchy thin crust
Is the world full of sleek, celebrity-owned pizza parlors with money-burning ovens and a runway ready staff? The kind with a Bob’s Big Boy statue on the roof, a legendary dive bar that doubles as a spare dining room next door, and the nicest, most on the ball employees ever to give slackers a good name? Not so much. In fact, this is the only one we know of. Pro tip: order your thin, crispy pie at the adjacent PS Lounge, where your first drink always comes with a shot on the house. And ask for the Spinaci with red sauce, which adds light, bright tang to the mix of spinach, Kalamata olives, mozzarella, and Romano.
Best for insanely creative toppings
It’s across the street from Coors Field and it’s open past last call. What more could you ask for from a pizzeria? Glad you asked. You could ask for a thick crusted pie topped with the kitchen sink -- pasta, black beans & rice, specialty combos like fish & chips or brats & kraut, or their famous mac & cheese pie. You name it. You could also ask for housemade dipping sauces like green chile ranch, and side salads with 40 different ingredients. And beer. And chocolate-peanut butter Chex Mix for dessert. Essentially, this Wisconsin-based cult favorite will deliver, no matter what you're looking for.
Best pizza to pair with a craft beer
The weekly specials never fail to intrigue, whether inspired by a rueben with corned beef, Swiss, and Thousand Island dressing; Midwestern comfort with shaved beef and cheese curds; or Thanksgiving dinner with acorn squash and maple walnuts. But this two-hit wonder also counts itself among Denver metro’s best beer bars, with 20-plus taps devoted to local, geeked-out, and rare (not necessarily in that order) brews.
City Park West
Best pizza for date nights
This suave wine bar with live music (nearly) nightly is the perfect spot to head to when you’re trying to impress. Come for dinner and try the White Buffalo with mozzarella, Italian sausage, caramelized onion, oregano, pecorino, and truffle oil atop a pillowy yet crackling pecan wood-fired crust. Then come back for Sunday brunch, when the luscious mascarpone, bacon, and maple syrup pie obliterates your average pancake platter. And you can trade your lawnmower fizz for a nice big Italian red or an amaro-based cocktail while you’re at it.
Best for fast-casual pies
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the masterminds behind Boulder's Frasca Food & Wine and Chipotle Mexican Grill met to discuss their plot for world domination. But you’ll get the gist of it by being a human at the counter of their pizzeria franchise: these guys mean fast-casual gourmet business. Acting as streamlined versions of the full-service Boulder flagship, the Denver outposts of Pizzeria Locale offer the same knockout Neapolitan-style pies -- including the Mais with crème fraîche, ham, and corn -- in a fraction of the time, along with beer or wine on tap, a couple of salads, and the famous butterscotch budino for dessert.
Best for wood-fired pies
Getting squeezed and jostled like cargo in a shipping container -- because you’re actually in a shipping container -- is all part of the fun at this ode to the roadside cafes of Italy. The other part of the fun? The airy, bubbly, truly amazing pizza. Be it the namesake pie with sausage, kale, and red pepper flakes; the littleneck clam with pancetta, toasted garlic; or their seasonal pie which features a rotating bounty of toppings.
Best for garden fresh gourmet pies
No other spot feels as homey as Kaos -- and that’s because the building is a 100-year-old brick cottage complete with quaint garden patio where you can order these artisanal pies when the weather warms up. Everything here is done by hand, and ingredients are sourced from local farms and ranches, and even from neighbors who have a bit too much garden bounty on their hands. Go for one of their tried and true favorites like broccoli & tater, but be sure to also check out their ever-changing seasonal specials.
Best for New Haven-style pies
You’re asking what is “New Haven-style” right now aren’t you? Think thin, slightly charred crust in a rustic, asymmetrical shape. Also think incredibly tasty and served in a trendy space that features highlights like a chandelier made from over 1,000 wine bottles. White Pie was started by the same brothers that brought us Dos Santos; Kris and Jason Wallenta, who were inspired by the “pies” (not pizzas) they ate growing up on the East Coast. Don’t miss the Porky Porkorino with red sauce, mozzarella, sopressata, pickled chiles, and hot honey. And if you need a second, go for the eponymous White Pie with crème fraîche, mozzarella, garlic, bacon, crimini mushroom, and an egg on top.
Best for Neapolitan pizza
Mark Dym, who owns Racca’s (formerly Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza) along with his wife Kristy Latorraca Dym, wanted to make the perfect pizza, so they headed straight to Naples (pizza’s beautiful birthplace). They’re now the only Colorado restaurant that’s been certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, which is basically the international authority on authentic Neapolitan pies. You’ll want to head to Racca’s for combos like the Piemont, topped with fresh mozzarella, pecorino sardo truffle spread, mushrooms, prosciutto di Parma, and basil.
Best new pizza in Denver
OK, so there are other pizzerias on this list that do a charred crust -- and do it well -- but this new spot that just opened in late June has already developed a cult following thanks to the pies being made in their wood-fired pizza oven. Cooked at 900 degrees, each 14-inch pizza (they come in one size only) features a crust specked with black and a lingering smoked flavor. Add toppings like Palisade apples, bacon, Tillamook Cheddar, smoked mozzarella, and spicy honey (aka the “Bobbin For Apples”) and you’ll find yourself making excuses to head to Lakewood to try the whole menu.
Best deep dish
Is it authentic enough to please born and bred Chicagoans? It might be. Especially if you’re into loads of toppings layered with sauce and cheese. If you’re not eating in, your pie will arrive unsliced, because otherwise deep-dish overflow is a real threat. But sliced or unsliced, crust filled to the brim with toppings like locally made Polidori sausage and Tender Belly bacon, Mile High Giardiniera, Italian beef, and much, much more deserves your full attention and empty stomach.
Best pizza you’ll get in a food hall
Located in the Denver Central Market surrounded by plenty of tempting options, Chef Andrea Frizzi’s (the chef behind high-end Italian favorite Il Posto) Vero stands out. The pizza cooks in just two minutes, so you won’t have to wait long to enjoy choices like the Agrodolce with fresh mozzarella, speck from Alto Adige, roasted garlic, white onion, arugula, and a white balsamic glaze. Plus you can pair your pizza with other treats from the market including cocktails from Curio and ice cream from High Point Creamery. This stop is a win/win all around.