There are a literal million restaurants, dives, bars, breweries, and food tucks in and around the 303. Whether you’re touching down in Denver for a weekend of epic skiing, an annual event, or to participate in the plant-based economy (read weed), you’re going to need sustenance.
As self-proclaimed foodies, we’ve been to
all most of Denver’s hot spots. So we’ve compiled a list of the best eateries and drinkeries and listed them below. You’re welcome.
How to navigate this heroic guide: We’ve split the list between:
- Walkable places (aka you’re staying right downtown)
- No-so-walkable places (aka you need a car)
Whatever your sitch, you’ll be able to stuff your face and/or get your drink on with the finest.
Whatever your sitch, you’ll be able to stuff your face and/or get your drink on with the finest.(If you’re only interested in the drinking portion of this post, go straight to the bottom.) Let’s get to it.
Restaurants for Those Staying in Downtown Denver
Ballin’ on a Budget
Ian’s is the best pizza, which we feel sorta bad about because they’re not a Denver original (shout out to Wisconsin). But sorry, we’ve tried Colorado-local shops and most just can’t compare. This joint is across from Rockies stadium and open late each night for your munchies—whatever form those happen to come in.
Get the macaroni and cheese pizza, a slice of their monthly special, and a Ziploc baggy with puppy chow. You’ll wake up tomorrow feeling fab.
We crave sandwiches, like, once per day, and if you’re looking for the best downtown ‘wich shop, go to Backcountry Deli. No seriously. Don’t go anywhere else.
Backcountry has bomb bread plus unique combos. Everything’s under $10 and they have breakfast too.
Get the Pilgrim (roasted turkey, Muenster, seasoned stuffing, cranberry chutney, romaine lettuce, and mayo). Or if you’re in a healthy mood (whatever that means), get the Sherpa (grilled eggplant, asiago, sweet roasted red peppers, tomato, romaine lettuce, and garlic mayo).
Crave Real Burgers
If you want a burger, head to Crave Real Burgers near the Denver Performing Art Complex. Crave slings what we call “fancy burgers.” Their toppings and combos are creative, assuming you call grilled-cheese-sandwiches-in-the-place-of-regular-buns creative.
PS that’s called the fatty melt. Order it with pride.
They also do adult milkshakes; ice cream, toppings, with a choice of cordial. Here’s the boozy shake menu. Tell them we sent you.
This is our throwin stacks section-- aka you’re going to spend some quiche at these restaurants. If you’re lacking funds, head up to Blackhawk and play some craps; you’re def gonna win this time.
ChoLon’s kitchen is viewable from 16th street. We like this because it means their food prep and cooking is an open book, no frozen or canned junk here.
Their sweet onion dumplings are their own food group; half dough, half soup, a little sweet, mostly savory. These little pockets of happiness need to be eaten. If you go here and they’re sold out, just leave. Try again tomorrow.
We’re not going to talk about Vesta Dipping Grill’s food because its honestly not important. You come to Vesta to slather your already-delish food in a variety of sauces. So many sauces.
If you just want to experience the sauces, stop by for happy hour; you can grab simple pita (it’s all you really need) and five sauces for less than $10.
On an unrelated note: Shout out to the person who started calling seasoned mayo “aoli.” You did us all a solid.
Restaurants Just Outside of Denver
Taking the light rail is easy. Here’s the schedule.
Ballin’ on a Budget
If there was a Denver pizza place that could complete with Ian’s, it’s probably this one. Kaos is equally adorable and delicious. Thin crust and simple toppings paired with all the twinkle lights you could ask for, this place is cute as a button. You can also get drunk on the cheap if that’s what you’re going for.
Our recommendation: Get there before 7pm and enjoy a $2 beer (they offer more than standard domestics) or half-off bottle of wine. Then order the Wild Mushroom pizza; pesto, mushrooms, shallots, and caramelized onions.
You can get here by car or by light rail, just get off at the Louisiana stop and walk southwest to South Pearl Street.
Denver Biscuit Company
The Denver Biscuit Co. is a brunch joint that serves butter in the form of “biscuits.”
They are only open for breakfast and lunch so make sure you plan accordingly. Their two locations reside just outside the Denver downtown; there is one on South Broadway and another on Colfax. If you’re in Denver in the summer, you also might be able to catch their food truck.
“Sushi in a landlocked state? Yeah right.”
Ugh, we get super tired of hearing this sentiment all day every day from visiting Californians. It’s called a plane, people.
Most joints, including Izakaya Den fly their fish in everyday from the coasts. That’s how we got countless sushi restaurants that are quite good, Izakaya being one of our favs.
This restaurant is a two-story, jungle-inspired oasis, and if you have the option to sit upstairs, do it. Order hot sake, Sapporo, a shot glass, cup, and an extra pair of chop sticks. Even though this place is on the fancier side, they get down.
Izakaya is just a quick drive south of downtown Denver, and like Kaos Pizzeria can be reached by the Louisiana St. light rail station.
Second Home Denver
The Second Home Kitchen + Bar has a cool vibe for being in Cherry Creek. If you want to do some shopping but get hungry half way through, step inside the JW Marriott lobby, where Second Home resides. You’ll be treated like a king. Try the fried chicken & waffles with Stranahan’s whiskey syrup. They also have a good selection of veg-friendly eats.
This is a 15-minute drive from downtown Denver; drive south on Speer til you run into a massive and congested shopping area.
Drinking in Denver
Please drink responsibly, etc, etc.
Infinite Monkey Theorem
If you like wine, go here.
Infinite sources most of their grapes from the western slope of Colorado. Their urban winery and taproom is deep in the industrial part of Denver, more specifically RiNo. From downtown, it’s a long walk, but you’ll pass by local art galleries and startups in the neighborhood.
They also do tours for $25; you get ~5 tastes of wine (good pours). It’s a great way to kill an afternoon.
If you love whiskey (and let's be honest, who doesn't love whiskey in Colorado?), go here. These guys do tours for just $11, so even those on a limited budget (hand raise) can drink with the best. If you’re staying downtown, get on the light rail southbound and get off at Alameda station.
Beer in Denver
If you like beer, you’re in the right city. Head to any brewery in Denver. Really. We can’t choose a favorite.
If you want to sit outside, choose Denver Beer Co or Ratio. If you want to experience cider beers only, check out Stem. If you want to see one of the largest craft breweries in Denver, go to Great Divide.
Check all the others out here. It’s common for Denverites and visitors alike to do brew crawls where you hit up multiple breweries in one day. If you decide to do this, beware of sucking down too many IPA- they’ll get you.
So that’s our comprehensive guide to eating and drinking in Denver. There are tons of other bangin’ spots that we SO would have included. But we got hungry. Sorry.
If you are looking for a hotel, Beau Django’s has connections that can help you get killer deals on rooms. See what deals we have available. If you are planning to be in Denver for an event, check our concert ticket offerings; we work hard to keep prices affordable even for sold-out shows.