Where to Eat in Denver Right Now
Indulge a little.
Saying 2020 was a tough year for Denver restaurants is a colossal understatement. While we have lost some longtime favorites, many others have pivoted their way to 2021 and we’ve even gotten some fresh new choices for Mile High eating and drinking. Now that we’re living in a COVID-era culinary scene, options for how you enjoy the best eats in town abound too. From indoor dining (which recently returned) to pick up, delivery, and outdoor options like campfire-heated patio tables and even yurts, there are a ton of ways to support your favorites while taking a night off from doing the dishes. So go ahead, indulge in one of Denver’s biggest bloody marys, take a night off for tacos and an outdoor concert, and check out the options at Denver’s newest food hall. 2020 is over, so let’s eat (and eat damn well).
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: After years of providing Polish comfort food via their food truck, Katherine and Jeremy Yurek opened Baba & Pop's Pierogi Kitchen & Bar on Colfax Avenue in March 2020.
The food: Obviously, pierogi are the number one draw and are available frozen for at home Polish feasts as well as in the restaurant. Flavors range from traditional potato and cheese to chile relleno and tomato basil, but pierogi definitely aren’t the only reason to come here. They also have a full menu for dinner and lunch, plus an under-the-radar Sunday brunch featuring possibly the biggest bloody mary in town loaded with fried chicken kabobs, potato and cheese pierogi, kielbasa, charred jalapeño, bacon, pickled veggies, and cheese curds. Yeah.
The cost: Packaged pierogi ar sold by the dozen for $14; menu items range from $9-$14, and that massive bloody is $48.
How to order: They are open for dine-in and also offer online ordering for pickup and delivery.
The gist: Restaurateur and Chicago native Jared Leonard has brought a trio of concepts to Denver (see also Grabowski’s and AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q) since moving to the Mile High including this spot which started at The Source before moving into its new permanent digs in late 2020.
The food: Nashville hot chicken launched in Chicago and being served in Denver… yeah, it’s a bit of a roundabout journey, but once you taste this spicy, crispy goodness, it won’t matter how these tasty morsels made their way to your mouth. The menu is simple: Choose from tenders, a sandwich, or a quarter dark. Add on a couple sides and pick your heat level—options range from naked to x-hot. Don’t forget the extra napkins.
The cost: Sides are $3-$5, chicken is $9-$10.
How to order: Order online for pickup and delivery.
The gist: Another Chicago concept that’s made its Denver debut, this pizza spot’s got Instagram-worthy outdoor dining vibes covered with fire pits, twinkle lights, plenty of seating, and of course, an actual camper.
The food: The menu’s main feature is the lineup of tavern-style pies with loads of topping options that cover every possible pizza craving. You can also opt for calzones, salads, soups, brunch items on the weekend, and a variety of “happy-tizers” for sharing including burrata, wings, taquitos, and more. Basically, ideal drinking food which is perfect since they’ve also got a loaded booze selection with cocktails, wine, and local beers.
The cost: Pizzas come in three sizes and range from $10 - $34, other main items are $9 - $15.
Junction Food & Drink
The gist: The Mile High is no stranger to food halls but in 2020 the trend continued with the opening of this endeavor, the first food hall south of downtown.
The food: There are currently six concept open and serving eats with six more slated to open soon. Along with the in house bar, you can choose from options like sandwiches and salads from Mr. Miners Meat and Cheese, wraps and bowls from Shawarma Shack, and sashimi, rolls, and ramen from former Sushi Den chef Soon Choi at Ebisu Ramen and Sushi.
The cost: Most full meals land in the $8 - $12 range but there are a ton of options from smaller snacks to larger items like full sushi trays and charcuterie board.
How to order: The food hall is open for in person ordering and you can also order pickup and delivery online.
Number Thirty Eight
The gist: Located in a former neon factory, this spot named for Colorado (the 38th state in the Union) is built for après style vibes with space for outdoor entertainment with rotating tap rooms and four kitchens.
The food: The current selection of eats comes from the Street Feud concept which takes inspiration from cuisines all over the world to create a culinary mashup of flavors. This includes three styles of ramen, a trio of loaded fries topped with everything from kimchi to peanut sauce, and a lineup of tacos and bao buns that you can mix and match.
The cost: Menu items range from $5 - $16.
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 Wolf's Tailor
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.
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 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.
The food: Delicate, hand-folded chili garlic wontons with the proper spicy kicks have quickly become this food truck’s signature item, but your best bet is to order (at least) one of everything on the menu. Wong often experiments with new items, kimchi fried rice, Chinese baked coconut buns, and scallion pancakes.
The cost: An order of five chile garlic wontons is $8, other dishes typically range from $8 - $12.
How to order: Follow the truck on Instagram for the latest schedule and ordering options—currently you must pre-order for pickup and items typically sell out extremely quickly.
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.