There is something inexplicably magical about a restaurant. On any given occasion – one may experience palpably predictable or delightfully dumbfounding dining. After all – palates were intended to be played with. In the distinctive and often, delicious world of food writing, approaching any flavor-fueled situation is typically an exciting endeavor. From a Rosenberg’s bagel, perfected by replicating New York City water – to an immaculate feast of exotic fish at Foraged – Denver’s dining scene has spoiled us, fiercely.
Putting alliterations and verbal pageantry aside – the harsh reality at the moment is that the restaurants which inspire elaborate sentences and emotions alike are experiencing an unprecedented downfall. The diffusion of COVID-19 has become a devastating reality that threatens the restaurant industry as a whole. While a global pandemic has forced every beloved eatery in Colorado to temporarily shutter its doors and ban in-house dining – the delectable domiciles which were once celebrated for their ambiance and appetite-induction have swiftly switched gears.
Now, your favorite foodie destinations are preparing dishes to comply with social distancing practices. Subsequently, these locales desperately need your support. So while you attempt to digest the mouthful of adjectives and dismal facts defining the restaurant industry at this time – let some of Denver’s food writers “curry your favor” with mouthwatering takeout recommendations.
Denise Mickelsen, Food Editor, 5280 Magazine
How to order: Daily, 11:30 a.m–9 p.m., call ahead for curbside pickup or free neighborhood delivery (for orders over $30): 303-433-0949 or order online here
The Lowdown: Sure, I live near City Park on the east side of Denver, but I would drive to Highland to get take-out at Spuntino any time. My family did just that this past weekend and, while it was bizarre not to stay and eat inside Spuntino’s charming, cozy dining room, our dinner was fantastic. The way chef-owner Cindhura Reddy enhances classic Italian dishes with South Indian flavors is extraordinary, and unlike anything we make when we cook at home. It was such a treat! Five of us polished off more food than I care to admit — risotto, cannelloni, cappellini, arancini, sous chef Austin Nickel’s incredible merguez-style (local) lamb sausage, pakora-fried vegetables with peanut-cilantro chutney, mango panna cotta, zeppole — and loved it all. But don’t overlook the “Giardino” dish on the dinner menu: Gobi 65-style roasted cauliflower with little polenta cakes, tamarind-glazed squash, and crunchy peanuts. The Spuntino team is going all-out with their take-away options, too, opening for lunch (hooray!) through dinner, every single day, and offering a full menu, including panini and pints of housemade gelato.
Patricia Kaowthumrong, Assistant Food Editor, 5280 Magazine
Where: Mercantile Dining & Provision, Uncle, Pho Dry
How to order: Call Mercantile at 720-460-3733, Uncle online here or call Pho Duy at (303) 937-1609
The Lowdown: One of my favorite spots to grab a bite near the 5280 office is Mercantile Dining & Provision (the fried chicken bánh mi and fried pickle spears on the lunchtime menu are to die for). Also, every time I order any of the ramens on the menu for pick-up at Uncle (the chile pork and chasu are my go-tos at the Highland outpost), I’m always amazed at how perfectly they turn out at home, thanks to the restaurant’s thoughtful packaging. And speaking of noodles, my family’s all-time favorite carry-out spot is Pho Duy on Federal Boulevard; we’ve been picking up containers of the no-fuss joint’s soul-warming Vietnamese noodles and broth for as long as I can remember. Order the large beef rice noodle soup with rare steak, brisket, flank steak, tender, and tripe, and don’t forget to add fresh basil and lime; I promise you won’t regret it.
Rebecca Treon, Food Writer, multiple outlets
Where: Cochino Taco and The Ginger Pig
How to order: Call (720) 573-6174 for Cochino Taco and here for The Ginger Pig
The Lowdown: I am so glad to be a small part of Colorado’s restaurant and dining industry. I have been lucky enough to know the most passionate, creative, hard-working people in the business. People have many choices in their careers — this is their calling. For so many everything changed overnight and things seem bleak. But know, my friends, that as soon as this has passed (and it will) we will be out in force to support you…to eat, drink, tip, and repeat. And you WILL bounce back — know that you are loved. You have been through hard times before — but you got this. I have so many places I’m love in town and am craving. We’re a high-risk household, so we can’t order out for now, but we are supporting efforts to treat first responders to a delivered meal from a local restaurant during their shift. We’re ordering from Cochino Taco and Ginger Pig. We’re also buying gift cards from places we love not in town that we will visit: Jimmy’s in Aspen, Bin 707 in Grand Junction, Four in Colorado Springs.
Laura Young, Food Blogger, New Denizen Blog
Where: Hop Alley, The Wolf’s Tailor, Call, Annette, La Popular
How to Order: Follow the links below
The Lowdown: It’s an understatement to say that the coronavirus situation has made for a very scary and tumultuous time for the restaurant industry at large. However, if there is a bright spot in all of this, it’s been restaurants like Hop Alley, The Wolf’s Tailor, Call, and Annette hunkering down and spinning up pickup and delivery operations. This has been a boon for foodies who love dining at these places but hate the struggle of having to secure a dinner reservation weeks in advance. It’s all the glory of eating critically-acclaimed food combined with the comfort of sitting cross-legged in front of the TV in your sweatpants as you dine.
On the other hand, visiting local spots that were part of my pre-COVID-19 takeout rotation has been rewarding in a different way. Popping into La Popular and putting in my regular order of a smothered rice and bean burrito to-go makes it feel like it’s just a normal day. In times that feel so strange, anything I can do that feels completely routine is a great source of happiness (not to mention the burrito is 100% delicious).
Allyson Reedy, Food Writer, Denver Post and multiple outlets
Where: Chang Thai/Ganesa Thai
How to order: Call (303) 464-9888
The Lowdown: Chang Thai (sometimes called Ganesa Thai, because this isn’t one of those slick city restaurants with a fixed name) is my go-to for takeout up here in Broomfield. Thai-born Jaruwan “Tong” Corazza makes my favorite bowl of massaman curry, and my kids love the mild pad see-ew.
Ruth Tobias, Food Writer and Editor, multiple outlets
Where: Misfit Snackbar, Stueben’s and Spuntino
How to order: Call (303) 353-4207 for Misfits, go here for Stueben’s or call 303-433-0949 or order online here for Spuntino
The Lowdown: Given how often Bo Porytko changes his offerings at Misfit Snackbar inside Middleman, I’m thinking it’ll be the perfect place for takeout — you couldn’t possibly ever get bored with the chips and dip of the day or crazy-creative sandwiches inspired by country-fried steak or mapo tofu. Plus it’s drinking food extraordinaire, which is presumably what we all need right now. We also all need classic comfort food, and Steuben’s is in my hood, so that’ll be happening. Finally, Spuntino’s menu of panini to go looks fabulous. You could almost get used to this (but don’t!).
Grace Boyle Knapp, Senior Director of Business Innovation Development at National Restaurant Association & blogger at Grace(full) Plate
Where: Snarfs, Black Cat and Summit Tacos
How to Order: For Snarf’s go here, for Black Cat go here and for Summit Tacos go here
The Lowdown: We’re big proponents of #TheGreatAmericanTakeout and #CarryoutWednesday! Here are some of what we’ve been enjoying (or plan to enjoy):
Snarfs sandwich delivery. Our neighborhood shop is so consistent and fills us right up.
Black Cat launched their Provisions delivery or pick-up in Boulder – we received delicious bags of fresh farm greens, polenta, spanakopita and fingerling potatoes. While grocery stores are empty or packed with people, bring the fresh farm right to your door!
Summit Tacos is providing delivery or pick-up Tuesday – Saturday from 12-7 p.m. You order everything online and payment is handled on their website to avoid in-person transactions. If you pick up, they’ll walk it to your car. I suggest their Paloma to-go for $4 and their street-style tacos are just $2 per. For tacos try the carnitas with repollo and jalapeno or for something different the Nopalito, cactus plant sauteed with onions and pico de gallo. One of my favorite appetizers is their esquites, street corn with mayo, lime, butter and Cotija. Can’t go wrong!
Brittany Werges, Editor-in-Chief, 303 Magazine
Where: Onefold, Blue Pan Pizza and Cart-Driver
How to Order: Go here for Onefold, here for Blue Pan Pizza
The Lowdown: Onefold’s breakfast tacos are insanely good. Made with handmade tortillas, griddled cheese and crispy hashbrowns — it’s honestly a struggle to not eat these tacos every day. I’ve also had them delivered several times and they always hold up. Additionally, their barbacoa tacos are to die for and everything on the menu is now only $8. When it comes to pizza, Denver is so lucky to have Blue Pan. The internationally recognized and award-winning joint offers an indulgent “Detroit-style” deep-dish pizza that’s characterized by its square shape and crispy edges. My favorite is the Brooklyn Bridge that took home first place in the international pizza challenge in 2014 for its pepperoni, sausage and ricotta pie. But if I really wanted to splurge, I’d call up Cart-Driver. One of my favorite things to eat in the entire world is their clam pizza.
Colin Wrenn, Food Writer, 303 Magazine
Where: Restaurant Olivia
The Lowdown: I am excited to explore Olivia’s takeout menu. Particularly the short rib French dip ($12) and one of the take-home pasta kits ($35)
Caroline Kennedy, Food Writer, 303 Magazine
Where: Yak & Yeti
How to Order: Go here
The Lowdown: This brewpub offers a wide range of delicious Indian fare. My favorite thing to do is order the vegan mixed vegetable curry and the chicken tikka masala and mix them together. The flavors go together so well and it’s great having the mix of veggies and meat. Oh and you can’t forget the garlic naan. Get two orders of it, trust me.
Kristina Vasquez, Food Writer, 303 Magazine
Where: Zocalito Bistro
The Lowdown: This well-established bistro offers true Oaxacan inspired dishes even through the temporary closures. Zocalito is offering curbside pickup and delivery solely through the restaurant — no third parties needed. My favorites are the hearty chicken tortilla soup with sweet kernels of corn, thick cuts of tender chicken and crunchy tortilla strips on top or the crispy pork loin tacos — it’s the smoky mole sauce that makes it hard to imagine going eight weeks without them. If you live within a mile or so of the restaurant there’s no charge for delivery.
Christine Vasquez, Former Editor, Nourish Food Magazine
Where: Stowaway, Fruition, Annette, Noble Riot, Hop Alley, El Chingon, The Preservery and Ash’Kara
How to Order: Follow the links below
The Lowdown: Stowaway: This spot is really something special run by a husband and wife team, and I can’t imagine Denver without it. Don’t miss the Japanese asa-gohan, or the dukkah eggs with trout. They’re also offering their fantastic fruit bread by the full or half loaf.
None of us thought we’d ever see the day that we could get carryout from what’s largely considered the best restaurant in Denver. But, dreams do come true. You can get short-rib, lasagna or roast chicken each for $20, which is a stunning deal, all things considered. They’re also doing a few salads, sides and chocolate chip cookies by the 1/2 dozen. And wine. From one of the best lists in the city.
It’s hard to go wrong when a James Beard-nominated chef is making you burgers. On homemade English muffins, no less. You can get bouillabaisse to-go. Bouillabaisse! The deviled eggs are a must-order. They also do specials that are truly special.
A wine bar that quickly and cleverly pivoted to Noble Fry-It — a carryout fried chicken spot — they’re a perfect example of how places are getting creative in their response. They recently added a few sandwiches to their expanded menu, including the Video Conference Sandwich, the How Many Times Can I Walk My Dog Sandwich and The Apartment Is Very Clean Now Sandwich. Sandwiches, with a side of humor. Just what we all need at a time like this. They have a lot of wine available, too.
This spot has one of the best atmospheres in the city, so while that’s greatly missed at the moment, the next best thing is carry out. Must-orders include the la zi ji (Chinese fried chicken), duck rolls, and if they still have the foie gras fried rice at the time of publication, well, you know what to do.
A family-owned spot from a multi-generation north Denver family, they do Mexico City-inspired food from a quaint house on Tennyson. Must-orders are the Abuelita’s chicken enchiladas, shrimp tacos and the shrimp and scallop ceviche. This is some of the best salsa verde in Denver, as well.
This spot offers wholesome food and a diverse menu, and also added grocery. Everything is good here, and if you can get karaage and toilet paper in one stop, I consider that a win. Their salted chocolate chip cookies are not-to-be-missed.
The hummus and baba ganoush here are something spectacular, and that you can get these through carry out is nothing less than a community service. Their pita is puffy, authentic and delightful, as well.
Sam Farmer, Food writer, 303 Magazine and multiple outlets
Where: Rosenberg’s, AOI Izakaya & Sushi, Arcana, Il Pastaio, Mount Everest Cuisine, Rosetta Hall
How to Order: Follow the links bellow
The Lowdown: I have a weird love affair with Rosenberg’s. In fact, I live in downtown Boulder and am not joking when I say that I will drive to Five Points for a Rosenberg’s bagel sandwich, but will not go to South Boulder for a party. This is especially the case now that social distancing is in effect. My order is consistent – Ronnie’s Favorite ($15) on an egg bagel. It has Scottish smoked salmon which I double up on, whitefish salad, dill cream cheese (I substitute it with Hatch green chile cream cheese) and cucumber. Pair that with a full dill pickle, side of kale salad and an orange juice. This may actually be what I would order as my last meal, ever.
In Boulder, I would recommend anything (literally, anything) from AOI Izakaya & Sushi, Arcana or Il Pastaio. Also – I have ordered from Mount Everest Cuisine, weekly, for years. The typical lineup includes baigan bharta, aloo saag and some tikka-masala-situation (hot) – burn-your-face-off-hot. Rosetta Hall also has an amazing selection of vendors offering pick up and delivery. Bonus: They are selling booze for the best prices I have seen thus far.