Colorado’s Best Restaurants, Food & Drink Brands
There is no shortage of reasons to come to Colorado, and there’s even more reasons to stay. Some of the best (and most delicious) reasons are the blossoming restaurant, food and beverage brands that make our great state home.
Restaurants & Food
Bacon Social House
If you live north of I-25, chances are you or your friends have been here. Known for its buzzing atmosphere, great food and house-infused bacon bourbon, Bacon Social House has been a staple in the Sunnyside neighborhood since it opened in 2015. It’s become so popular, in fact, that they are slated to open locations in Littleton and Westminster soon. Although it might seem like a typical burger joint, the food is a cut above the rest – especially the bacon flight.
Beast + Bottle
Rarely does a chef enjoy as many personal accolades as Chef Paul Reilly. He most obviously showcased his talents when he and his sister opened Beast + Bottle in 2013. With an American farm-to-table focus, Beast + Bottle is a unique restaurant that takes pride in minimizing waste. The owners have partnered with over twenty local vendors to bring in the best ingredients, all sourced from Colorado. Thanks to their skill, the team has created a truly marvelous seasonal menu to dazzle their patrons.
Created after Place Vendôme in Paris, Bistro Vendome has recreated a little piece of Parisian paradise off of Larimer Square. It’s best for date nights or business meetings where you want to impress; neither the food or the wine list will disappoint. In an industry where restaurants change faster than the seasons, this one has been well established in Denver for ages.
Around the corner from Work & Class, Cart-Driver is located in its own shipping container. A fantastic little spot with some of the best wood-fired pizzas, oysters, antipasti and, of course, Prosecco on tap. It’s a great place to catch Happy Hour or enjoy a quick bite with a friend. The concept is inspired by Southern Italy’s villages, which were connected with a horse-drawn cart. These connections empowered people to share food, a drink or a story. That is exactly what you will find here.
The iconic Cherry Cricket still resides in its original location. Purchased in 1950, the famous Cherry Cricket sign, which stands out like a sore thumb, has marked this dive burger bar for more than 60 years. After a kitchen fire in 2016 that closed the restaurant down for 5 months, Denverites were worried that it would be pushed out of the posh Cherry Creek district. However, Cherry Cricket made its triumphant return in April 2017 and has subsequently opened a second location in the Ballpark district, which tends to be just as packed as the original.
Opened to rave reviews in 2016, this Italian haven is the work of the co-owners, brother-and-sister team Paul and Aileen Rielly. Based on the co-owners and chef’s self-guided food tours of Southern Italy and Rome, Coperta holds true to the Italian standards for classic dishes such as Cacio e Pepe and Gnocchi. Named for the word “blanket” in Italian, the owners strive to recreate the warm, inviting atmosphere that they themselves experienced all over Italy. Minus the scooters and cobblestone streets, this restaurant is as close to Rome as you can get without hopping on a plane. Buon Appetito!
Domo stands out among the best of Denver’s Japanese culinary offerings. Built to feature a secluded Japanese garden and attached museum, this restaurant is as authentic as fans of Japanese food and culture can get this side of the Pacific. Great for lunch or dinner, Domo can make you feel like you have arrived in a whole new world.
El Five is certainly a contender for the best new restaurant in town. Denver has been long overdue for a tapas-inspired menu; fortunately, this restaurant takes you to the Middle East, Gibraltar, and Spain all at once. With an edgy, eclectic décor you won’t really notice because the views from either side of the restaurant (urban or mountain) is breathtaking. This is a great place for a girl’s night out, that new date you’re trying to impress or happy hour cocktails on a Friday.
Another successful enterprise from Jennifer Jasinski, Euclid Hall offers a German beer hall experience with food to match. It’s a great place to catch up with friends over a pint while ordering decadent poutine or the locally, in-house made sausages (don’t miss out on the sides and their selection of mustards). While most of the menu is meat heavy and fried (sorry vegans and vegetarians), it’s delicious, unique comfort food that you’ll have to waddle home to walk off.
Finally, we have a food bazaar in Denver! Located in the heart of RiNo with an indoor/outdoor cocktail bar, Finn’s Manor hosts some of the best food trucks in Denver, as well as an always-rotating lineup of vendors. This is a great destination spot, perfect for a rendezvous.
Frasca has been a Boulder institution since it opened. Known for their northern Italian food, the restaurant takes its name from the Italian word for an informal, friendly gathering place. Frasca works to create a space where people can meet, share a meal and savor a bottle of wine. Other restaurant offerings by its owners include Tavernetta in Denver and Pizzeria Locale in Boulder.
It all started with a hike and an “AHA!” moment after the founder – Lara – couldn’t find healthy snack options in the grocery store. Lara created five initial recipes that launched the company into conception. In its first year alone, Lärabar sold one million bars. In 2008, General Mills purchased Lärabar for an undisclosed amount, but Lara still advises on brand strategy, vision and communicating the brand to its consumers.
Almost a hole in the wall, if you didn’t know Lazo Empanadas was there, you might miss it. This little Argentinian gem is a family-run establishment that serves empanadas. These little dough pockets are filled with meat, cheese, or veggies. Lazo Empanadas offers a choice of fifteen fillings.
Denver’s only “eatuary”, Linger is located inside the old Olinger’s mortuary. This restaurant kept the décor dark and death-themed touches to give it an amusingly macabre ambience. Serving globally-inspired small plates and home to a fantastic rooftop patio with a stunning views of downtown, it’s unlike any other restaurant in the city.
Another one of Troy Guard’s hits, Los Chingones opened at the end of 2013 in what was then only an early iteration of the RiNo district. Now one of the grounding restaurants along that strip, Los Chingones has expanded to DTC and Stapleton. There’s even a forthcoming Colorado Mills location! Creative tacos, great appetizers and a focus tequila make this place a can’t-miss option. Check out the patio and stay for a few hours, either to soak up the sun before a baseball game or during an evening out.
Mercantile Dining & Provisions and Fruition
Fruition Farms makes both Mercantile Dining & Provisions and Fruition absolutely necessary stops for any food-lovers in Denver. Both of these restaurants focus on Farm-to-Table cuisine, most of it sourced from their own farm. From their initial “cheese-making adventure” 6 years ago, the creamery has now blossomed and the products have landed on menus of top restaurants around Denver. With Fruition opening in 2007 and Mercantile in 2015, they are both still some of the hottest reservations in town. You won’t be disappointed!
Leaning into the concept of “neighborhood sanctuary,” Mister Tuna has set the bar for an upscale, urban oasis in RiNo. Inspired by the chef’s childhood in Hawaii grilling with his father, Troy Guard wanted to create a sense of “Ohana,” which means family in Hawaiian. The lovingly crafted cocktails match the industrial décor, and the well-traveled wine list complements the seafood-heavy menu.
A quaint little spot off 18th Avenue, Onefold offers international eats with a Denver twist. All their ingredients are sourced locally, including cage-free eggs, Tender Belly bacon and an array of sweets from La Fillette Bakery. While this restaurant is always busy, they encourage ordering before sitting down. Don’t miss the Bourbon-spiked Vietnamese Iced Coffee – it’s heaven!
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
Ophelia’s is the third installment by the fantastic chef Justin Cucci. Set inside what was once an old brothel in Denver, the sultry feel of this restaurant and live music venue lends itself well to a magical evening or weekend brunch. The food is comforting and delicious, and the courses invite you to expand your culinary horizons. The crafty cocktails make this place a great start or end to your night.
The initial restaurant offering from Justin Cucci after his move from Florida, Root Down birthed the foodie scene in Denver way back in 2008 when it opened in a former gas station in LoHi. Root Down boasts both some of the best food and best sustainability practices in Denver. The building itself is 75% reclaimed, reused and recycled materials. They have a 4000 sq. foot garden in the middle of city where they grow 20% of their own seasonal vegetables for use, and they have partnered with 55 local ranchers, farmers and food artisans to support responsible food sourcing. If that wasn’t enough, the restaurant is powered 100% by wind energy. Busy any night of the week, reservations are recommended as this continues to be a staple dining experience in Denver.
There is nowhere else that compares to THE best pancakes in Denver. Whether it’s their pancake of the day, their seasonal offering or their gluten-free choices, Snooze does not disappoint in any aspect of breakfast and brunching. With a line out the door (at every location) every day of the week, it’s no wonder this restaurant has proven its worth and expanded across four states.
Built by two worldly travelers with various recipes collected from faraway places around the globe, Stowaway aims to create a nourishing space, with good company. They serve foods that comfort and work to build a sense of shared community. Stowaway creates an environment that allows you slow down and engage with others, with our senses and most of all, ourselves.
Sushi Sasa is a great spot for sushi north of Wash Park. This restaurant has been around for the past thirteen years on Platte Street, serving LoDo and the Highlands area. Focusing on a fusion of cuisines and pulling from Italy, France and American cultures to blend into the Japanese menu, Sushi Sasa stands alone as a progressive East-meets-West culinary experience.
Tag Burger Bar
Nestled in the heart of Congress Park, TAG Burger Bar is a great spot to grab a burger and a beer. Open for brunch on weekends, this place is family-friendly and encourages sidewalk chalk art while parents sip on offerings from the over 20 beers on tap. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is cozy and the patio is open almost year round.
The fourth installment from Crafted Concepts and chef Jennifer Jasinski, Ultreia is a tapas-style bistro inside Union Station. Blending Portugal and Spanish influences from the Iberian peninsula, the word “Ultreia” loosely translates from Latin to mean “onward,” as shouted by pilgrims on their Camino de Santigo – a 1,000 year-old journey across norther Spain to Santiago de Compostela. The food here beautifully reflects the regions that inspires it.
Work & Class
Since its inception in 2014, Work & Class is pretty much always packed and hopping. Serving stiff drinks and good food at reasonable prices (which is what they want to be known for), Work & Class has become a veritable culinary institution. Offering one of the best spreads of Latin and American food in Denver, the menu focuses on small shared plates, slow cooked meats by the pound and curated cocktails. Set inside a shipping container, Work & Class has done something right, as they were successful enough to open a sister restaurant across the street in the Ramble Hotel. This restaurant, Super Mega Bien, focuses on Latin Dim Sum and just opened this year.
Brewing & Beverages
Four Noses Brewing Company
The inspiration was Guinness. The passion was beer. The result is a family-orientated brewing company that continues to experiment and create their own unique flavor based on their travel experiences and their four noses. Four Noses Brewing Company is famous for their “Rose” batches.
Avery Brewing Co.
From its humble beginnings, Avery is now synonymous with Colorado and Boulder. Within a year of opening, Avery’s Stout was winning awards at the Great American Beer Fest and these kinds of accolades only became more common as they brewery continued on its upward trajectory to the top of the craft beer world. Avery continues to push the envelope and evolve their systems to reduce waste, as well as build a symbiotic relationship with the City of Boulder’s wastewater system. They have also formed a multitude of non-profit partnerships.
Black Shirt Brewing Co.
Black is synonymous with rebels, rule-breakers, punks, and those that go against convention. Black Shirt Brewing is no different. It isn’t just a name, it’s their philosophy. This brewery fully believes in going against the grain, finding your own path and following the road less travelled. In a world inundated with new breweries, Black Shirt continues to actually create the good stuff, in the right environment.
Denver Beer Co.
Denver Beer Co. creates their beers for Denverites – we work hard, we play even harder, and we want a refreshing pint at the end of the day. A Bavarian-style space that allows dogs, board-games and socialization, Denver Beer Co. is one of those rare places that people put their phones down and connect with each other, drinking fantastic beer all the while.
Great Divide Brewery
Great Divide is one of the most decorated breweries in America and still calls the Denver Ballpark neighborhood home. Since 1994, they have been known for brewing great beer and their loyal fan base, even outside of Denver. Great Divide has enjoyed exponential growth that even enabled them to open a second location in the RiNo neighborhood.
Infinite Monkey Theorem
Wine in a can. Yup, Infinite Monkey Theorem did it first. Ben Parsons, the owner, master and oenologist, knows what it takes to build a successful urban winery. The tap room started on Santa Fe, but, when Infinite Monkey moved to their RiNo location in 2012, they became a destination in the neighborhood. Ben Parsons has lead the way for other urban wineries, but he was the first to have local legislation changed to allow Infinite Monkey to sell wine in a can (in Colorado and Texas only, sorry Utah!). He was also one of the first winemakers to can pear cider. Infinite Monkey still uses volunteers to help with their bottling and canning processes (the reward is free wine). Sign us up!
Stranahan’s has been distilling small batch, single malt whiskeys for over 10 years. The company was created by two unlikely friends who met when George Stranahan’s barn in Woody Creek caught fire. Jess Graber was one of the volunteer firefighters who responded, and the two quickly bonded over their love for a pour of a fine whiskey and their mountain surroundings. Using Rocky Mountain water and aged barrels, Stranahan’s Whiskey is known in Denver for their distillery tours and limited edition whiskeys that continue to tantalize connoisseurs.