Denver is a hub for chef-owned, neighborhood restaurants that always impress. These top Denver restaurants show off the city’s most cutting-edge and up-and-coming culinary talent, not to mention the abundance of local products in the nearby area. Denver diners will be wowed by these upscale, epicurean eateries, and the city’s recently progressive food scene in general. And then there's the ambience. From gastropubs to a beautifully restored train station, there's plenty to admire.
This Capitol Hill restaurant is a popular destination spot for visiting politicos, and for good reason. Table 6 creates an ambience that is warm and elegant without being overdone. And then there's the food. The varied menu includes everything from comfort food starters (like sloppy joe sliders and tater tots with chorizo and picked peppers) to thoughtful main plates (like duck confit with cherry sage vin and maple smoked pork loin with oat risotto), and Sunday brunch (which features the popular chèvre chantrelle bread pudding).
Rioja was the start of celebrity chef Jennifer Jasinski's transformation of Larimer Square with her award-winning restaurant concepts. The Mediterranean-themed eatery is well-known among Denverites for its fresh ingredients and regularly rotating specials, homemade pastas, extensive brunch menu and thoughtful pastry program. Rioja's house-made doughnuts have caught the media spotlight and made several national best-of dessert lists. In 2013, Jasinski received a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Southwest.
A unique, eclectic, contemporary bar and grill in Denver's River North (RiNo) Art District. Located within The Source, Acorn boasts chef/owner Steven Redzikowski's eclectic, contemporary American cooking in an approachable, family-friendly format, alongside beverage director/owner Bryan Dayton's ingredient-driven cocktails.
Another Larimer Square gem, Troy Guard's TAG serves "continental social food." The menu, inspired by his Hawaiian roots, includes a medley of several different Asian cuisines prepared with Colorado ingredients. Among the many sharable plates at TAG are wok charred edamame, goat enchiladas and caramelized butterfish. Daring customers should order omakase, a chef-selected multi-course meal that demonstrates TAG's eclectic menu.
Many know Euclid Hall as Denver's best restaurant for food and beer pairings, and many others know the restaurant for its off-the-wall menu items, including an entire section called "Because We Can." But what most don't know about Euclid Hall is how approachable the food is. The helpful, non-pretentious staff at Euclid Hall is delighted to give guests the skinny on elevated dishes like bruléed center cut beef marrow with sherry gastrique, pad thai pig ears and foie gras by the ounce. Also notable at Euclid is the house-made hand-cranked sausages, and an entire menu section dedicated to poutine.
The well-traveled executive chef Lon Symensma fuses several international cuisines at his modern Asian bistro, ChoLon. Upon opening, ChoLon was a James Beard Finalist for Best New Restaurant in America, and has since received many local accolades for best restaurant and best chef in Denver. What's especially exciting about ChoLon is its thoughtful presentation of already thought-provoking dishes: Try the pork belly buns with sesame honey glaze, beef tartare with tapioca puffs, or the duck fried rice served with farro and a poached egg.
Whether it's for lunch, brunch, happy hour or evening drinks, customers are never disappointed in this hidden Highland neighborhood gem owned by Keith Arnold and Stephanie Bonin. The locally sourced, seasonal menu at Duo is always impeccable. Not to mention the restaurant's rock star pastry program that often falls under the radar.
Mizuna, chef-owner Frank Bonanno's flagship restaurant, is the place to go when you're looking for upscale New American cuisine matched with exceptional wine selections. Incredibly knowledgeable servers here can recommend wines to pair with menu items like Burgundian escargot with French onion soup, lobster mac and cheese or veal sweetbreads.
WORK & CLASS
Work & Class is a casual, full-service restaurant located in Denver's River North (RiNo) neighborhood, driven by the motto, "a square meal, a stiff drink, and a fair price." The restaurant goes on to describe itself as "a tribute to the working class" where they strive to create an atmosphere that is "unpretentious, fun, and a bit irreverent."
It doesn't get more classically Colorado than Elway's. With locations downtown at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and in the Cherry Creek neighborhood, this steakhouse group offers surf ‘n turf at its finest -- everything from hand-cut prime steaks to Colorado rack of lamb, and from fin fish to crustaceans. Don't miss the specialty lounge menus that sport elevated bar food and an extensive wine list. And if you're headed to the airport, go early. Elway's has another location at Denver International Airport.
SECOND HOME KITCHEN + BAR
Another Cherry Creek restaurant worth visiting is Second Home Kitchen + Bar inside of the JW Marriott Hotel. The chic space and thoughtful menu make for an upscale experience, while the approachability of the food and the service make it anything but pretentious. Try a flight of deviled eggs, chicken and waffles, brick oven pizzas, Mile High meatloaf, or matzo ball soup. Don't miss the Sunday Pajama Brunch that serves DIY Bloody Marys and bottomless mimosas.
With a focus on local, regional, and farm-fresh ingredients, Coohills restaurant and bar is reminiscent of what you might find on the streets of Europe. The open kitchen and modern interior underscores Coohills style and community feel. Diners can tuck in at an intimate table for two or more, or enjoy the outdoor terrace for a spirited drink with one of Denver's only beautiful views of the mountain sunset. From crudo salads, homemade breads and cheese, to pate selections and warm duck leg confit, the menu reflects the best and freshest foods from each season.