The gastropub trend is a natural fit in Denver: laid-back, neighborhood atmosphere, creative spins on classic comfort food, and of course, craft beer and cocktails.
The following Denver joints get creative with the gastropub theme and invite you to kick back in a cozy booth and put yoruself in the hands of their inventive chefs and mixologists.
Steuben's Food Service
The retro-cool Steuben's was an early-come to Denver's gastropub scene, with an upscale 1950s roadside diner feel (it's located in a renovated auto garage) and inspired interpretations of classic American cuisine. Gleaming chrome, comfy booths, old-fashioned, friendly service and great food make Steuben's a must-visit dining destination.
MUST-TRY DISH: All-natural fried chicken with mashed potatoes, a biscuit and gravy.
MUST-TRY DRINK: The Scorpion Bowl, a concoction of rum, cherry vodka, pineapple juice, orange juice and cranberry juice, with Bacardi 151 Rum set on fire in the middle! (A good one to share with friends.)
DON'T FORGET DESSERT: The Wacky Apple is a caramel-dipped apple rolled in sweet crunch, served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
Don't let the fact that the owner of Ophelia's Electric Soapbox refers to it as a "gastro-brothel" put you off. He's playfully alluding to the building's colorful history as a brothel and peep-show parlor. Yet it's true that the same geniuses behind the wildly successful Root Down and Linger have transformed Ophelia's into a senuous escape from reality. You won't be able to stop staring at the decor (crushed-velour ottomans, neon-tinged lighting and senusal artwork) — nor will you be able to restrain yourself from the cuisine (wild boar sausages, octopus and chorizo flatbread, bison burger and dozens of sinfully good dishes with unpredictable ingredients).
MUST-TRY DISH: The Brothel Burger, an ostrich (yes, ostrich) patty with miso-glazed bacon and ponzu onions.
MUST-TRY DRINK: The Midnight Tryst, a swirl of rum, blackberry liqueur, lime, mint and activated charcoal.
DON'T FORGET DESSERT: Butterscotch pudding with banana cream, bourbon butterscotch sauce, walnuts and house vanilla wafers.
The Lobby - An Inspired American Grill
Named The Lobby because it's located in the former lobby of The Paris Hotel, this gastropub oozes hip sophistication — but somehow without a trace of stuffiness. Kick back on the sun-drenched patio (called one of Denver's best by Westword), soak in the wood and brick-paneled dining room, and enjoy the convivial, European cafe-style ambiance.
MUST-TRY DISH: Fried bleu cheese balls, in which bleu cheese and cream cheese are rolled together, beer-battered and fried (served with blueberry jam).
MUST-TRY DRINK: The Lobby Tini, which consists of vodka, triple sec and grapefruit.
DON'T FORGET DESSERT: Stranahan's Root Beer Float, a childhood favorite grows up when topped with Colorado whiskey.
Dine and drink surrounded by "steampunk" decor created using Stranahan's Whiskey barrels — which makes perfect sense given that the Rackhouse is located in the basement of the Stranahan's Distillery. Enjoy local art in the nearby Art District on Santa Fe, sip hand-selected Colorado microbrews and chow down on cuisine that turns traditional pub fare into culinary masterpieces.
MUST-TRY DISH: The Rack Burger, a double patty topped with three cheeses, bacon, whisky onions and barbecue sauce served on a challah bun.
MUST-TRY DRINK: Stranahan's Colorado whiskey taster for sampling several of Stranahan's finest.
Colt & Gray
Named one of Denver's 25 best restaurants by 5280 Magazine, diners can be sure that Colt & Gray's menu is stellar. But this gastropub's sense of style has been getting raves, too. Elle Decor singled it out in their recent Denver design overview. With a brick fireplace warming the relaxed environs, enjoy everything from a burger and a brew to lobster and high-quality vintage wines.
MUST-TRY DISH: Braised Colorado lamb shank, seared broccoli rabe, mascarpone polenta and gremolata.
MUST-TRY DRINK: The Three Vices mixes bacon-infused rye whiskey, angostura bitters, orange peel and maple syrup.
Argyll Whisky Beer
Focused on elevated British pub cuisine, European and Colorado beers and the largest whisky selection in the state, Argyll Whisky Beer blends modern dinning trends with Old World charm. You will find British pub favorites such as bangers and mash and shepherd's pie, along with modern fare such as roasted duck breast and Colorado Wagyu London broil.
MUST-TRY DISH: Lamb burger with yogurt cucumber relish, tomato jam and fries.
MUST-TRY DRINK: The Tuck & Roll, featuring 1792 Ridgemont Reserve bourbon, raspberry, lemon and mint.
Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill
True to its name, Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill combines the look of a traditional pub with the offerings of a modern downtown restaurant. The first eatery to open in the revamped Union Station development, Thirsty Lion offers a diverse menu, community tables, 52 beers on tap and a patio to enjoy the views.
MUST-TRY DISH: Bacon-wrapped barbecue prawns, with Newcastle barbecue sauce, Napa slaw and grain mustard vinaigrette.
MUST-TRY DRINK: Grapefruit and Basil Martini, a blend of grapefruit-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice, fresh basil, grapefruit bitters, lime and simple syrup.