Don’t know where to take your date? Take that special someone to one of these sweet spots in a ‘hood near you, and you might just end up taking ‘em to one of Denver’s best breakfast spots the next morning, too.
It’s hard to find a more romantic setting in the middle of the city, plus you can bring in your own picnic (don’t forget the wine). And during the holiday season, flowers in bloom are replaced with blossoms of light making this a year-round winner on date night.
It’s hard to find a criticism of this Denver hotspot. Ever since it opened in mid-2014, Leña has been lauded for its warm hospitality and fresh Latin cuisine, which means that even if your date sucks, you know the service and ceviche won’t.
You can catch dinner and a show without having to switch venues. And while it may be one of the trendiest restaurant/bar/music venues in town right now, owner Justin Cucci has paid homage to the space’s history as a brothel/peep-show/adult bookstore with a sexy theme that’s sure to get the conversation heading in the right direction.
Pizza, pasta, and impressive specials like the seared scallops with savory apple galette are sure to please basically anyone (with taste buds), but Trattoria Stella is also a neighborhood classic for another reason: it’s only two blocks from Denver’s largest park, so it’s easy to extend a date that’s going well with a nighttime stroll.
Because anyone will like you once you’ve bought them a flight of ice cream. Do you need any more reason than that? If you do, there’s also a guarantee you’ll fall in love... with its new fall flavors like pumpkin pie that’s made an actual whole pumpkin pie (made from the owner’s mom’s recipe).
It’s the cooler younger sibling of those wine & painting places. Upstairs Circus has reinvented the “arts and crafts” outing with projects like custom leather koozies and flasks, wooden six-pack carriers, and a distressed-wood Colorado flag. And yes, there’s a full bar too.
You may not be ready for an actual trip to San Diego together, but you can practice at this beachy establishment. There’s a patio complete with fire pits that create some ideal mood lighting, shareable food like fried oysters, and over 100 tequilas to end any date night tension.
Stir Cooking School (address and info)
This neighborhood is packed with popular eateries, but teaming up to cook food together makes for a way better date than trying to get to know each other in a noisy restaurant. And you’ll earn some cooking skills that are sure to come in handy during dates to come.
Soft steamed buns, decadent lobster ramen, and a churro ice cream sandwich. Food doesn’t get much sexier than this.
Grandma’s House (address and info), Declaration Brewing (address and info), Fermaentra (address and info), and Platt Park Brewing (address and info)
If you’re on a date in Denver, there’s a good chance your companion is into craft beer. Since this corner of Denver recently got an influx of new options for quality brews, a mini brewery tour is the way to go. Especially when it also includes old-school Nintendo games at the purposely kitschy Grandma’s House.
Your date will be impressed from the moment you pull up. From the outside it looks like a quaint little house transported from the tropics, and inside you’ll find some of the tastiest Cuban food in Denver. The only thing you need to worry about is whether to get one mojito, or a pitcher of them.
Using coupons on a date is a quick way to come across as a cheapskate. Instead, head to Americatus on Tuesdays from 5-10pm for its “date night” special: a bottle of house wine, two entrees, and a dessert for just $60.
Esquire Theatre (address and info)
Dinner and a movie… blah. Dinner and a movie at the Esquire… yes! It’s got a super-central location near plenty of restaurants/bars, and an old-school, Art Deco charm that will make you look cooler than you probably are. Not to mention the fact that catching an indie flick, or a cult favorite like Rocky Horror Picture Show, will lead to much better after-movie conversation than the kind a typical big screen, special effects show can spark.
Clyfford Still Museum (address and info)
This museum is small, so you’re not committing to hours of artsy explorations, but what is there (all of the artwork that was part of Still’s estate) will give you and your partner in amateur art criticism plenty to talk about.
The upstairs balcony was made for date night. With lights hanging from above, you can have a real-life Lady and the Tramp moment over some pasta and wine. Plus there’s zero pretension here and the atmosphere is cozy, which makes it easy to relax and enjoy the real focus of the night: your date.
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1. Denver Botanic Gardens1007 York St, Denver
2. Leña24 Broadway, Denver
3. Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, Denver
4. Trattoria Stella3201 E Colfax Ave, Denver
5. High Point Creamery215 S Holly St, Denver
6. Upstairs Circus1500 Wynkoop St, Denver
7. North County94 Rampart Way, Denver
8. Bones701 Grant St, Denver
9. Grandma's House1710 S Broadway, Denver
10. Declaration Brewing2030 South Cherokee St, Denver
11. Fermaentra1715 E Evans Ave, Denver
12. Platt Park Brewing1875 S Pearl St, Denver
13. Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar1173 Delaware St, Denver
14. Americatus New-World Italian2449 Larimer St, Denver
15. Shells and Sauce2600 E 12th Ave, Denver
Sitting on a luscious 24 acres of gorgeous gardens and plant life, DBG aims to educate and conserve the natural habitats and wildlife of the area.
Housed in a former furniture store, Leña serves dishes that seamlessly weave together the flavors of Latin America. Expect dishes in forms you already know but with an extra level of innovation: empanadas with green plantain dough and poblano, goat tacos, and chicken chilaquiles. While Leña isn't a tapas bar per se, small plates are the go-to order, and most groups (at least the ones who know what they're doing) end their meal with a shared plate of gooey chocolate pelotas fritas made with yucca flour and served with a glass of horchata.
Given a midcentury gas station, Justin Cucci built the retro, subtly roadside-themed Root Down; given an old mortuary, he designed Linger to put the “fun” in “funerary.” Then he got hold of a former-bordello-turned-porn-shop. So yeah, you bet this sprawling two-story restaurant, lounge, and music venue revels in every louche touch, from nudie posters to black-velvet curtains to bars constructed from pinball panels and Jäger bottles. (As for the “dildos in the window,” Cucci’s still considering -- fingers crossed.) There’ll be funk, country, and hip-hop acts to catch on the downstairs stage. Kung fu flicks to watch on the giant movie screen. Lip-synch battles to wage. But here’s the funniest part: amid all the shenanigans, the kitchen’s keeping it classy, what with delicately smoked bay scallops and miso-bacon ostrich burgers and porter-teriyaki duck wings to soak up your Sex Machines. (That’s the name of a cocktail. Or is it?)
This vibrant venue boasts authentic Italian fare and a charming patio along Colfax Ave. Popular selections include the truffled asparagus spaghetti and the creamy sausage rigate.
Opened by a husband-and-wife duo, High Point dishes up %100 homemade treats, with their specialty being the bombe, a French-style ice cream "cake", made up of different flavors of ice cream molded together, one at a time.
Arts, crafts, and a full bar? It doesn't get any better than this.
North County brings California to Colorado with a seafood-heavy menu and Mexican favorites including tacos. The restaurant also has an extensive wine and liquor list, because you need tequila with your fish tacos.
Two words: lobster ramen. (Well, also "escargot potstickers," but that’s another story.) The first restaurateur in town to see the Momofuku train coming, Frank Bonanno opened his chic noodle bar back in 2008, when that miso-fortified, beurre blanc-slicked, edamame-studded, clawmeat-topped creation became an instant smash hit. Since then, Chef John DePierro has added his own signature -- a Southwest-style bowl with green chiles, braised pork shoulder, hominy, jalapeños, and queso fresco -- to the menu while keeping seasonal tricks such as spinach-chipotle ramen up his sleeve.
This is just like your Grandma’s house, that is, if your Grandma let you and your friends brew beer in her living room as she knitted sweaters for the tap handles. In addition to their own house brews, many other beers you've never tried find their way on tap in the form of rotating “guest” selections that aspiring beer makers are allowed to brew and then sell on the premises. Cheek pinches and hugs not provided.
When you staff a couple of dudes with PhDs, you’re bound to get some Breaking Bad (Brewing Bad?)-quality product. Top-notch Kölsch, stouts, ambers, pale ales, and pilsners are all available (and consumed) in their sunny 2,000sqft tap room, where glass garage doors give way to an airy beer garden when the weather permits.
Fermaentra opened in its doors in 2014 and has since been hydrating the Mile High City with its 24 craft beers made on-site.
Creative brews like Tropical Snow Dance, Astronaut Amber, and Madagascar Dream are just few of the seasonal beers that this place has on tap.
On the outside, this place looks just like a doll house. Inside, however, is a full-scale restaurant that serves some of the best, most authentic Cuban cuisine in Denver.
This Rino spot is home to what is absolutely some of the best homemade pasta in Denver, and if that's not for you then order a few of the small plates or an entree.
Tucked away in Congress Park, Shells and Sauce is the ideal remedy for a pasta craving. The neighborhood Italian-American joint has two indoor dining rooms, an open kitchen, ample rooftop seating (because who doesn't love their pasta with a panoramic view of the park?), and an impressive wine cellar. The space is filled with light wood and big windows, embodying something of a family dining room, while the chefs are on display as they grate parmesan onto fresh tortellini. The house-made pastas are drenched in everything from tabasco ragu and pesto cream sauce to jalapeño sausage alfredo, not to mention the vast assortment of added cheeses. While there are plenty of meat and fish entrees available, and a variety of hearty Italian salads as well, it seems only natural to order shells and sauce at Shells and Sauce.