Gone are the days of the Rocky Mountain oysters. This is where Colorado lamb, the palisade peach and always flowing, high-quality beer stay. From the latest in cooking-focused concepts to up-and-coming neighborhoods, this guide will take you to the true essence of Denver food.

From a not-entirely-secret beer scene to fantastic craft spirits and a booming list of restaurants taking on influences from around the world, there’s a little bit of everything in Mile High City. Despite its reputation as a cross-border commuter in the US scene, diners here will have a hard time finding a white tablecloth restaurant with a snooty attitude. There are many kitchens in Denver that are incredibly good to eat, but great restaurants like New York and Los Angeles have almost none of the constipation.

Denver and its surrounding satellite cities are often referred to as the “Napa Valley of Beer”. To really understand the alcohol scene here, order a Sauer from TRVE in the Baker district and visit the tasting room in the Leopold Bros. Spirituosenpalast. (5285 Joliet Street). If you want to enjoy the best of Mexican dishes, head to El Taco de Mexico and order the Chilirelleno Burrito, which is always smothered. And don’t miss the new generation of food halls: Denver Central Market, Union Station, Stanley Marketplace, The Source, Zeppelin Station, Avanti, Denver Milk Market, and Broadway Market, with more on the way, among others.

Eater Denver has maps for almost everything, giving you information on the top places and restaurants in the Denver area. We’ve selected the best spots on our most popular maps so that time-hungry eaters can prioritize which places to visit.

Denver Central Market should be high on every visitor’s bucket list. Denver Central Market

Hot restaurants:: The latest additions to this list of hot spots are Gattara and Daughter Thai Kitchen & Bar.

Essential restaurants:: If you need to narrow down the Essential 38, head to Annette for the hottest new American cuisine, Frasca Food and Wine for a stunning Italian dinner, and the two-decade-old Potager for an authentic farm-to-table experience. Do you feel like local Chinese in a funky setting? Immediately run to Hop Alley.

bars:: Check out Williams & Graham, a must-have and highly acclaimed speakeasy run by barman Sean Kenyon and B & GC, no matter how secretive a Cherry Creek spot, getting a reservation yourself is an adventure. Looking for the hot new spots? Start with Suite 6A by Death & Co in the Ramble Hotel or Lady Jane in LoHi.

Pizza:: Wood-fired pies are casual and precise at Cart Driver in RiNo (Prosecco on tap also for your pizza factories). White Pie to take you back to New Haven; and Pizzeria Locale from the Frasca Food & Wine team in Boulder if you are in the area.

Ice cream:: If you’re not planning on an ice cream tour, use Little Man’s original cream jar for the full experience, Sweet Action for unique flavors and a nice vegan selection, and Sweet Cow (there are multiple locations) for a neighborhood favorite.

coffee:: The coffee roasting game and artisanal coffee scene are great, especially in places like Crema, where the breakfast rolls are delicious too, and Huckleberry, with their music-loving getaway in the highlands.

beer:: When it comes to major breweries, Black Shirt Brewing is a gem in the RiNo neighborhood, Avery rocks in Boulder, and New Belgium is a grand shrine sourced just a short drive up the street in Fort Collins.

Those parts of the city that are constantly growing and evolving are the ones that every self-styled food person needs to know well – with everything they need to eat and drink in each one.

RiNo:

Hipsters, artists, and technicians, young and old, flock to this formerly industrial neighborhood that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Drinks across the street in Bar Fausto won’t disappoint, nor will conveyor belt rolls in Sushi Rama, live jazz in Nocturne, or a late night burger in Meadowlark Kitchen. This neighborhood has one of the highest brewery concentrations in the city. So use Ratio Beerworks and Our Mutual Friend Brewing. The latest hotspots can be found in the Call for Breakfast, the Source Hotel for dinner and the Ramble for drinks.

Little Man Ice Cream Cornerstone Flats

Salmon:

The view from the El Five tapas joint on the fifth floor is unbeatable anywhere in town. The salads and pastas at Bar Dough make this one of the hottest in town, along with the trendy ramen-haunted Uncle next door and the nearby pan-Latin American party SeƱor Bear. Some of the best roast chicken in town can be enjoyed on the roof of the Low Country Kitchen, and Old Major is a great choice for premium meats and sausages. At the Avanti F&B Food Hall, the new Bistro Georgette and Rotary booths are the newest favorites, and the Bindery is a great choice for brunch or dinner. A little off the beaten track, Spuntino is a cute stop to enjoy Italian food and homemade amaro.

Larimer Square Courtesy Visit Denver

Mud:

Before there was LoHi and RiNo, there was Lower Downtown nicknamed LoDo, which has resurfaced as a food and drink hub in recent years. Two areas concentrate a large amount of what every food-crazy person should visit: Larimer Square, where local classics like Rioja and Osteria Marco operate; and the transportation hub’s Union Station, where visitors can dine at James Beard Awarded Mercantile Dining & Provisions, enjoy a fireplace spritz and cicchetti from Tavernetta, or enjoy a gin, tonic and tapas from Ultreia. Another neighborhood highlight is ChoLon, a Pan-Asian restaurant that serves both lunch and dinner.

Steubens Uptown Steuben’s

Uptown:

Uptown is one of Denver’s best walkable areas and a popular place to eat and drink, mostly along 17th Avenue. Ten-year-old new American diner Steuben’s and its sister ping pong hall and Ace Asian restaurant offer fun, casual experiences with an energetic atmosphere, while the new American Beast + Bottle and its sister are a must for an intimate dinner or brunch that Restaurant Coperta is equally delicious for southern Italians. The nearby Olive and Finch is a popular spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner and baked goods.

Naughty

Chef Elise Wiggins serves a wood-fired pizza at the Cattivella Ryan Dearth / Eater

Aurora and Stapleton:

Stapleton and Aurora are two of the most exciting places to dine in Denver right now. From the former airport to the wasteland to the developed community, Stapleton now has eateries like the stunning Concourse Restaurant Moderne and Cattivella. Just down the street at the entrance to Aurora, Stanley Marketplace attracts diners from across the city with food ranging from popular local empanadas to the best new restaurant in the area. Keep walking this area and there are even more sneak spots to discover.

The Denver omelette::

This isn’t something you should eat, but if you’re curious, it’s an omelette stuffed with diced ham, onions, and green peppers.

Edible::

Pot-laced candy, brownies, and other foods courtesy of (almost) everything-marijuana laws in the state. Buy from Life Flower Dispensary or LivWell.

Rocky Mountain oysters::

Also, nothing to “eat” during your visit to Colorado is a dish made from testicles obtained from bulls, pigs, or sheep. If you really want to give it a try, head to the iconic Buckhorn Exchange.

Big Red F.::

Chef Dave Query’s mini-empire is one of the most transformative restaurant groups in the region with enduring power and a distinguished reputation. These include the Jax Fish House (multiple locations), but also places like Lola, Centro, and the Post Chicken and Beer now open in Denver.

Frasca::

Frasca Food & Wine is a sought-after travel destination in Colorado. This upscale bouldering dining room is what we mean when we talk about teaching with no excuse. Indeed, thoughtful staff is what sets this northern Italian bolthole apart most from many others. That and the Friulano wine and the cuisine that take the niche to a completely new level.

The Kizaki brothers::

The owners of Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and OTOTO, Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, are some of the city’s most respected restaurateurs who are committed to the highest quality sushi. For more than three decades they have built an excellent reputation offering Denverite’s traditional and creative fish preparations in an environment that is constantly improving.

Make reservations in advance

Mercantile Dining & Provision, Annette, Tavernetta, Corrida, Beckon, Safta, Suite 6A

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The counter with 17 seats in the Beckon Restaurant Adam Larkey / Eater

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Union Station Farmer’s Market Ashton Ray Hansen