Linger restaurant in Denver

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Must-Try Restaurants

Denver is a metropolis of ever-evolving tastes, its forward-thinking dining landscape spangled with restaurants from gifted chefs whose culinary magnetism, passion and fortitude fulfill our city’s lust for great food. Wondering where you should eat right now? You’ve come to the right place. Also, check out the 26 Denver restaurants Michelin honored in their inaugural and highly anticipated Colorado-based guide. In addition to the great culinary options, Denver is known as a craft beer mecca. But where do you begin? The Denver Beer Trail will help you explore.

Thrilling new restaurants are popping up all over the city to fulfill our insatiable cravings for our next great meal. A gorgeous French bistro. A quirky Mexican spot with celebrity owners. Stunning spaces and creative fare. Every one of the restaurants below — a mix of new and tried-and-true — remind us that dining in The Mile High City has never been better. We hope you're hungry. 

Hot New Spots

Alma Fonda Fina

Denver is rich with chile-drenched burritos and enchiladas, but where can you find dishes like dry salsa-topped, agave-roasted sweet potatoes or carnitas where you get the whole crispy-skinned pork shank? Alma Fonda Fina, from chef Johnny Curiel, is a different sort of Mexican restaurant, one where you'll eat the most soulful, creative food in a minimalist terracotta-flecked environment, all while (hopefully) sipping on an avocado margarita rimmed with house-made black "Tajin." If you're feeling social, book a seat at the chef's counter, where you'll learn about all the ingredients and techniques going into your stunning plates. 

Sap Sua

When chefs Anna and Ni Nguyen opened Sap Sua in the summer of 2023, there was a lot of commotion. The East Colfax restaurant (it's behind Tattered Cover Book Store) was named one of Bon Appetit's most anticipated restaurants ahead of its debut, skyrocketing diner expectations. The modern Vietnamese spot has lived up to the hype, serving a nontraditional menu that takes inspiration from better-known dishes, just elevating them in a unique way. Standouts include the hamachi collar in a just-sweet-enough coconut caramel sauce and buttery shrimp cake topped with trout roe, but really the fun is in exploring the menu and being surprised by what you taste. 

Noisette

First, the obvious. Noisette is a stunningly beautiful restaurant, where brass candelabras hang from a circled ceiling and crushed velvet chairs pop against white walls. Where your foie gras and Dover sole arrive on antique floral plates and your sauvignon blanc in cut glassware. What may not be as obvious—at least until you take your first bite—is the insane level of skill in the kitchen. Husband and wife team Tim and Lillian Lu are creating some of the most nuanced, delicious French food in town, evident in both the fancier dining room and in the attached casual bakery. Don’t force yourself to choose between a dinner of exquisitely prepared duck and monkfish or a breakfast of quiche and croissants; this is a destination worthy of your day and night.

Koko Ni

Fusing together cuisine from more than one continent is Koko Ni (meaning "here" in Japanese), which found a fitting landing spot in the eclectic River North Art District (RiNo). You'll find produce exclusively from Colorado farms, a 10-course testing menu drawing inspiration from France and Japan, sustainable seafood from around the world and handmade pasta. It's hard to single out something specific from the menu because everything changes seasonally/daily, as it should in a perfect world. And one more thing. There's some serious talent behind this joint. Chefs Paul Qui and James Gnizak teamed up to pull off some striking dishes. Qui is a "Top Chef" champion and James Beard award winner while Gnizak is a local hero with experience at other top restaurants like Rioja and Mercantile dining & provision

Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails

If you can snag a seat at this tiny City Park restaurant—and it fills up fast, so definitely make a reservation—you’ll be rewarded with creative takes on Eastern European fare that will knock your socks off. Think: borscht, but without the beets (the beets are instead reserved for a red velvet blintz), kielbasa, but in terrine form and bison short ribs zinged up with spicy strawberry sauce. The cozy space matches that slightly-offbeat energy with kitschy décor of cuckoo clocks and retro propaganda. If it seems like Molotov is not your typical restaurant, well, it’s not—and that’s what makes it so refreshing.

Casa Bonita

When the 50-year-old Mexican restaurant reopened in summer 2023 under new owners Matt Stone and Trey Parker (aka the creators of “South Park”), there was, to put it lightly, some hullaballoo. Casa Bonita is a beloved Colorado icon, after all, a family-friendly destination for any sort of celebration that warrants gorilla-suited cliff divers and sopaipillas. Would the guys preserve the pink palace’s peculiar charm? Would those cliff divers, the roaming mariachi bands and Black Bart’s Cave survive their Hollywood facelift? And, above all, would the food—which had never been known for being especially tasty—finally be great? The answer to all of those burning Casa Bonita questions is yes—Casa Bonita is back, and it’s better than ever. Especially the menu, which is under the direction of chef Dana Rodriguez, a James Beard nominated chef known for taking simple, fresh ingredients and turning them into culinary magic.

Hey Kiddo

With a name like Hey Kiddo, you can probably guess that this is a fun restaurant. But besides all the playful touches—a shaken rice dish served in a lunch box; drinks that go beyond the colors of the rainbow; heck, there’s even a secret bar, OK Yeah, in the back—Hey Kiddo serves up serious food and drink. From the talented team behind The Wolf’s Tailor, Bruto and Basta, the menu is full of unexpected but carefully considered dishes, like house-made bucatini with fermented black bean sauce that packs in-your-face levels of flavor and a wagyu short rib in a sweet pear soy glaze that eats like a steak. This isn’t the place to come for a quiet dinner for two, but if you’re looking for a side of quirk and spirit alongside an excellent meal, this is the spot.

Lucina Eatery & Bar

Perhaps more than any dish on the syllabus, the congri y maduros — sea-salted plantains, black beans and rice with sofrito, fresh herbs and a splash of citrus — channels Erasamo “Ras” Casiano’s Latin American and Spanish roots. Casiano, along with business partner Diego Coconati, opened Lucina Eatery & Bar in Park Hill, its warm and fashionable atmosphere marked with potted foliage, boldly whimsical floral wallpaper and mid-mod stools and chairs. Along with the black beans and rice, consider the superb paella, a weekend-only marvel that might showcase mahi-mahi, mussels, blue oyster mushrooms, chorizo or piquillo peppers. And don’t overlook the beverage scroll, a spirited ballad of alluring cocktails, wines and beer.

Glo Noodle House

It’s always slurp season at this West Highland ramen parlor where besotted enthusiasts pile in for all species — including offbeat ones — of the thick Japanese noodle soup: smoky miso and bacon confit; the ferociously brain-penetrating Deathwish; shrimp and pork tantanmen; lemon-glazed chicken shoyu (soy); prime rib shoyu; roasted mushroom ramen laced with chile jam; and kimchi Bolognese mazemen. But while the human race could quite possibly exist on ramen alone, Glo, a buzzy space with kaleidoscopic paper-lanterns, exquisite plateware, a hand-painted mural of a skull spewing noodles, must-see bathrooms (truly) and a frolicsome outdoor patio, also produces intoxicating small plates, skewers and cocktails, including the standout Seven Samurai, a union of bourbon, vermouth, passionfruit, egg white foam and a twist of crushed peppercorns.

Local Favorites in The Mile High City

Comal

Yes, Comal Heritage Food Incubator serves wonderful, scratch-made huevos rancheros, chicken biryani and Mexican Coke-braised carnitas that are reason enough to visit the breakfast- and lunch-only spot's new digs in RiNo's ArtPark. But there's so much more to this fast-casual joint than great food. It's a restaurant with a mission, doubling as a social enterprise that trains immigrant and refugee women from countries like Syria, Mexico and Venezuela for careers in the food industry. The earn-while-you-learn model means that the women get money and experience to open their own food businesses while diners get legit food from the women's home countries. A true win-win. 

The Wolf's Tailor

When Michelin awarded a coveted star to The Wolf's Tailor at its first Denver ceremony in September 2023, diners collectively went, "Well, duh." The Sunnyside restaurant has been collecting awards and fans since it opened in 2018, pushing the boundaries of even chef Kelly Whitaker's wild imagination. Think Japanese-Italian fusion (but in the best possible way), zero-waste, entrust-tasting menus, house-milled grains and Robata grills. There's a lot going on here, and it's all deliciously mind-bending. Wherever you score your reservation is a win, but if you can get a table in one of the private patio tents (don't worry; they're heated), your night will be that much more unforgettable. 

Watercourse Foods

Home of the Power Waffle and Mushroom Cheesesteak, it's one of the best places to find plant-based foods in the city. Watercourse Foods is Denver's original vegan comfort food place and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. The cocktail menu is huge, including some zero-proof options. There are a few things you won't find here: artificial colors, preservatives and hydrogenated fats. Their business model is to properly nourish the community. 

Water Grill

Courtesy of the Southern California coast, this high-end fish and seafood chain is reeling in Denverites with its impeccably luxurious décor, ice-luminous raw bar, squeaky-clean aquariums, powerhouse wine list and tank-to-plate showstoppers. The LoDo addition is the kind of restaurant where everything — and we do mean everything — has been meticulously thought out to create an orchestrated experience that’s perfectly emblematic of the modern fish house. Begin with a platter of shucked oysters or the char-grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes, roasted tomatoes and niçoise olives; splurge on the wild Norwegian red king crab or a whole fish of wild New Zealand pink bream; and celebrate the occasion (or no occasion at all) with the bells-and-whistles croissant-and-brioche bread pudding crowned with salted ice cream drizzled with caramel.

Toro Latin Kitchen + Lounge

Chef and prolific restaurateur Richard Sandoval (Tamayo, La Sandia and Avon-based Maya) introduces a progressive and eclectic wave of global flavors at Toro Latin Kitchen + Lounge, the newest food destination inside the classy Hotel Clio in Cherry Creek. Sandoval’s menu, absent culinary guardrails, latches on to ingredients from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Asia, Japan and Venezuela, a melting pot of flavors that translates to dishes that dazzle on the plate and the palate. Contemporary banquettes and dark-wood tables share space with hand-painted bull murals (“toro” means “bull” in Spanish and “tuna” in Japanese), private tequila lockers and a dedicated ceviche bar from which dishes like the aji amarillo ceviche with hamachi, mango and cucumber, emerge. An open-air patio, softly lit with strands of white lights and decked out with tables and swanky lounge furniture, is a hotspot for happy hour. Get the smoked swordfish dip and a mercado margarita with jalapeño-infused tequila, passion fruit and hibiscus-rosemary foam.

Carmine’s on McGregor Square

Flanked by Coors Field, this 28,000-square-foot entertainment emporium in the Ballpark ‘hood is an intersection of lofty living residences, a swanky boutique hotel, retail shops, office space, an outdoor plaza, bars and cafes, a Colorado Rockies Hall of Fame experience, a food hall and Carmine’s, a contemporary-chic lunch and dinner restaurant specializing in family-style plates of Italian-American obsessions. Much like the original Carmine’s — a staple in the Speer neighborhood since 1994 — the new iteration is all about abundance and celebrating that abbondanza with friends and family. The tables, sheeted with brown butcher paper, double as a blank canvas for kids who want to doodle (each table comes with a cup of crayons) and servers who use those crayons to scribble your order. While there are menu boards scattered throughout the labyrinth of muraled dining rooms, the servers are more than adept at helping diners navigate the syllabus of appetizers, salads, side dishes, pasta, risotto and chicken and veal dishes. Just remember: Everything here is on the big side, and desserts are no exception. Still, it’s worth leaving a spot in your stomach for a splash of the housemade limoncello.

The Greenwich

If you’re in a New York state of mind, start spreading the news: A slice of the Big Apple landed in the River North Arts District (RiNo), and you most definitely want a piece of the pie. The Greenwich, named for the beloved bohemian neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, doubles down on its inspiration and influence, channeling New York at every turn, whether it’s cocktail names (The Bowery, Gramercy Park and Summer in the Hamptons), the New York-centric books, photographs, prints, murals or magazines that bedeck the bi-level space, or the industrial-hip aesthetics. Race for a reservation to explore the menu, too, which trumpets infallible wood-oven-blazed, sourdough-crusted pizzas and a brilliant plate of char-swatted swordfish puddled in a chile-laced broth bobbing with cannellini beans. More to love: the roasted carrots mated with lemon-smooched tahini and haloed with candied pistachios. The gratification is in the details.

Chez Maggy

Hotshot Michelin-starred French chef Ludo Lefebvre put his pulse on Lower Downtown (LoDo) with the opening of Chez Maggy, the sophisticated and modern brasserie that’s a focal point of the ritzy Thompson Denver hotel. Flip through Lefebvre’s digest of French-influenced dishes and go straight for the foie gras miso soup with fava beans, kombu and English pea consommé. Pine nuts and whipped goat cheese buoys the roasted black seabass, while the mind-and-stomach-boggling knife-and-fork burger a la Française is torpedoed with pickled mustard seeds, beer-braised onions, smoked mayonnaise, American cheese and a cascade of peppered gravy. The result of Lefebvre’s creations, coupled with a robust (and mostly French) wine and cocktail compendium, easily equates to one of the most exciting restaurants in the city.

A5 Steakhouse

Just one in an armory of terrific restaurants umbrellaed under the Culinary Creative Group, A5 Steakhouse is restaurateur Juan Padro’s LoDo-based interpretation of the all-American steakhouse. But A5 distinguishes itself with retro-cool elements — a living fern wall behind the island-themed bar, for example, and conscious transparency via the steak segment of the menu, wherein every cut of steer is bookended with the name of the farm or ranch whence it originated. And even the steaks themselves reveal surprises. Where else can you find a bavette, tri-tip, Japanese striploin and Denver steak on the same menu? If you’re looking for cliched creamed spinach or creamed corn, know, too, that chef-partner Max Mackissock doesn’t roll that way. Instead, starters and sides tilt toward season-intensive ingredients, innovative preparations and groovy rifts on familiar favorites. To wit: In lieu of traditional crab cakes, behold Mackissock’s “crabby toast,” a striking medley of Jonah crab jumbled with cucumbers and yuzu kosho aioli straddling a custardy Japanese-style French toast topped with togarashi-dusted potato chips. A poster child for a reimagined steakhouse experience, A5 is a splurgy date spot with swooning ambiance, first-class service, superb steaks and a brilliant wine and beverage list.

Tavernetta

From James Beard Award-winning luminaries Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, owners of Frasca Food and Wine — Boulder’s lauded Northern Italian temple of gastronomy — comes Tavernetta, a regional Italian restaurant based at the boot of the Kimpton Hotel Born Denver, prime real estate that overlooks the train platform of Denver Union Station. The superb menu reaches deep into salumi, cheese, antipasti, sensationally prepared fish and meat plates and breathtaking pastas that seesaw between lamb ragù with rigatoni and saffron-intensive bucatini enrichened with uni butter and trout roe. The classy space, graced with a fireplace lounge, a trio of patios, a centerpiece open kitchen and pasta station that buzzes with activity and walls mounted with Slim Aarons portrait photographs showcasing Italians on ritzy holidays, suggests a lost world of wine-soaked lunches and dinners and sojourns to fantastical faraway places.

Safta

Alon Shaya’s dazzling Denver restaurant, situated inside The Source Hotel's culinary marketplace in the River North Art District (RiNo), has racked up an avalanche of accolades, all of them hard-earned and well deserved. His modern ode to Israeli cooking is composed, confident and pure, his flavors precise and pronounced. Pita bread, for instance, sounds deceptively simple, but the charred pillows of puffed dough that emerge from the wood-fired oven are remarkable. So, too, is the hummus with lamb ragù, the smoky baba ghanoush, the vibrant Moroccan carrot salad and the impossibly crisp eggplant, the spheres crested with herb-specked goat cheese and tomato sauce. The space, befitting the food, is light, airy and modern, its fixtures and furnishings a mix of communal tables, a long, L-shaped bar overlooking the open kitchen, art and drinkware inspired by Shaya’s grandmother and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Denver skyline and mountain peaks. Like everything else here, the wines, many of which are from regions that are often overlooked (think Hungary, Greece and Israel), merit praise.

Jax Fish House

There may not be a more passionate restaurateur than Dave Query, who ignited — and demystified — Denver’s seafood scene with the opening of this oceanic restaurant and oyster bar in LoDo that has since spawned offshoots across Colorado and beyond. From its rambunctiously energetic vibe, offset by a subtle nautical theme, to its fiercely seasonal menu of sustainable seafood sourced from passionate purveyors, it’s a fin-tastic favorite for slurping pristine oysters, although the rest of the menu—towering seafood platters, plump king crab legs, fresh lobster, creamy clam chowder, spaghetti tangling with fresh clams and Alaskan halibut—is every bit as crowd-pleasing, as are the spirit-forward cocktails and compelling wines and craft beers, many of which are brewed at The Post, a Lafayette-based fried-chicken restaurant and brewery also owned by Query.

The Bindery

Chef, owner, culinary instructor and sojourner Linda Hampsten Fox oversees this dazzling LoHi market, bakery and restaurant that looks as though it could have been transported from Manhattan. By day, the high-ceilinged, sun-streaked dining room, awash in a minimalist white and black color palette, functions as an on-the-go stopgap for caffeine-jolted java drinks, housemade pastries, breakfast bites, sundries and sandwiches, while the ambitious dinner menu is a globetrotting homage to Fox’s culinary jaunts around the world. Slide a stool up to the chef’s counter, where the air is fragrant from the wood-burning grill in the exhibition kitchen and sip a lovely herbaceous cocktail while enjoying statement plates of smoked rabbit pie punctuated with pecans, the Spanish octopus tostado and risotto kissed with the scents of green chile.

Annette

Caroline Glover, Denver’s most recent James Beard Foundation award winner, vacillated before unleashing her beloved small-plates restaurant in the sprawling Stanley Marketplace in Aurora. But since its debut, the petite nirvana of culinary excellence has knocked the socks off just about everyone who's set foot inside the plant-filled space puddled with sunshine. Named one of Bon Appetit’s “Best New Restaurants of 2017,” Annette embodies everything you could possibly want from a dining experience: an elevated casual vibe, fresh ingredients that are never manipulated, full-throttled flavor combinations (beef tongue with pickled carrot relish; pork schnitzel drizzled with adobo vinaigrette; pork tenderloin and tetra squash), a wood-burning grill that permeates the air with perfumed smoke and a small but enormously satisfying wine scroll. Glover also grows many of her ingredients on a plot at a nearby community farm, which means every dish is steeped in seasonality. 

Mercantile Dining & Provision

Kitchen magician Alex Seidel, a 2010 Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chef” and 2018 James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southwest, unleashed a head turner in Denver Union Station when he opened Mercantile in 2014 with an artisan market, barista station, chef’s counter, two patios, sky-reaching ceilings, a spice treasury and enviable wine library. Think of Mercantile as a culinary museum: a hallway of jarred spices, dried fruits, nuts and legumes that double as pantry items for the kitchen intersect with burlap-topped canning jars full of things pickled and preserved. The market’s charcuterie and cheeses are bait for rediscovering why we love pig parts and duck parts and anything that you can smear on a crusty sourdough loaf of bread, while dinner plates like the bucatini carbonara showcase Seidel’s mastery of pasta. And if you’re jonesing for an incredible burger, this is the magnum opus.

Denver Central Market

River North Art District (RiNo) locals are spoiled rotten by the terrific combination of culinary concepts at this high-spirited food-and-drink emporium grandstanding eleven ace vendors, including Vero Italian, Culture Meat & Cheese, Tammen’s Fish Market and Temper Chocolate and Confections. If you crave caffeine, swing by Crema Bodega for a pick-me-up cappuccino, and when the clock rings in cocktail hour, snag a seat at the bar at Curio for a boozy Manhattan, negroni or boulevardier. The 14,000-square-foot space also highlights brilliantly graffitied outdoor picnic tables painted by local artists.  If you’re flying in or out of Denver International Airport, look for the market’s second (and smaller) outpost on the A Concourse.

Guard and Grace

Chef and restaurateur Troy Guard has been blazing culinary trails in Denver for more than a decade, and while his first trail of restaurants spotlighted modern Asian cuisine, Guard and Grace bucks bok choy for beef — scarlet slabs of well-marbled flesh served in testosterone-restrained surrounds offset by a handsome bar, spacious chef’s counter and elevated, crescent-shaped booths stretched throughout the dining room, its windows overlooking the downtown Denver skyline. The menu is a grand ecosystem of land and sea: beef tartare, glistening oysters, crab legs and lobsters; and grill-etched steaks, including Wagyu and grass-fed, dribbling with juice. A towering, glass-enclosed wine cellar displays upwards of 4,000 bottles, many of which are also available by the glass.

Rioja

Rioja, a celebrated modern Mediterranean and Spanish restaurant, cemented the stardom of James Beard Foundation best chef winner Jennifer Jasinski, whose exuberant restaurant, complete with a transparent kitchen, copper-topped bar and chef’s counter, transformed Larimer Square into a bona fide dining destination that’s universally worshipped for its polished aesthetics, season-intensive dishes, plate artistry, hand-crafted pastas (the artichoke, goat cheese and white truffle tortelloni is exemplary), extensive brunch menu and thoughtful pastry program (including a fantastic house-baked breadbasket). It’s a cult favorite of local and national celebrities, the food cognoscenti and just about everyone else who appreciates true culinary artisanship coupled with imaginative cocktails and a meaningful, well-edited and adventurous wine album that spotlights bottles from Spain and Portugal. Dually jaunty and formal — depending upon the occasion — Rioja remains one of the top restaurants in the city.

Work & Class

Comfort foods of the Latin-American culinary canon is the calling card of Work & Class, a refreshingly free-spirited restaurant in the River North Art District (RiNo) from multi-time James Beard Foundation Best Chef nominee Dana Rodriguez, whose soulful cooking more than lives up to its ballyhooed billing. Driven by the motto, "a square meal, a stiff drink, and a fair price," the diminutive restaurant, which commands waits from the moment the doors open, proffers gratifying plates of red wine-braised short ribs, green coriander-roasted Colorado lamb and rotisserie chicken, all of which should be paired with a side dish: chickpea croquettes, fried sweet plantains or the smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese. There’s nothing particularly fancy about Rodriguez’s cooking, but sitting at the chef’s counter and indulging in the vanilla bean panna cotta or the caramel-glazed and ice cream-topped chocolate brownie is all the luxury you need. 

Table 6

Low-key, cozy and downright alluring, Table 6, a popular bistro in Alamo Placita, basks in captivating warmth and tender intimacy — both inside and on the captivating patio. The menu, galvanized by the seasons, is illustrated with starters like the tarragon-scented grilled quail with smoked mushroom bread pudding and artichoke conserve. Main dishes seesaw from lemon-ricotta ravioli dressed with local greens and mushrooms to the thyme-braised lamb shank matched with butter beans, olive relish and crumbled feta, a dish that deftly redefines American comfort food. Wash it all down with a glass of vino from the esoteric and accomplished wine list. 

La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal

Pozole is the name of the game at this festive Five Points experience steered by chef/owner Jose Avila, who grew up in Mexico City and — lucky for us — brought his culinary culture to The Mile High City. His pozole, of which there are five variations, is plumped with nixtamalized housemade hominy side-kicked with the requisite companions: cabbage, thin-sliced radishes, lettuce, lime wedges, potent white onions and, if you wish, avocado and chicharrones. The soft-lit pozoleria — the only one if its kind in Denver — pays homage to Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, with skulls and murals on the bricked walls, and the bar has a terrific cocktail program, most notably the madre facka with poblano agave, tequila, mezcal and a clever garnish composed of a lacy skeleton leaf procured from guava trees.

Café Brazil

To travel through the dishes that define Cafe Brazil, a charming South American restaurant from Mauricio Zorrilla and Tony and Marla Zarlenga, is to drift into a land of gypsy chiles and vibrant spices, fresh herbs and sweet plantains, passion fruit and prawns, swollen scallops and bacalhau, all beautifully harmonized in heartfelt ways that explain why the Berkeley neighborhood restaurant has such a loyal following. Against a backdrop of color and whimsy, high energy and contagious laughter, shots of rum and caipirinhas, diners socialize over plates of seafood Copacabana, a medley of shrimp and scallops in a lush coconut milk sauce and the moqueca de peixe, an irresistible stew-stained sunset with dende oil, scallops, shrimp and Portuguese bacalhau. Don’t miss the adjacent rum bar, a spirited hangout that grandstands one of the best rum collections—and rum cocktails—in the city.

El Taco de Mexico

"For truly amazing flavors, El Taco de Mexico is a must," wrote Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern, who visited the buzzing Art District on Santa Fe taco joint during a stopover in The Mile High City. El Taco de Mexico, he went on, is "Denver's quintessential taqueria," unleashing the "best menudo and tacos in the city." Locals wholeheartedly agree with that declaration, lining up morning, noon and night for the al pastor tacos specked with onions and cilantro, the chile relleno burrito smothered with a mind-blowingly good green chile and the menudo, Mexico’s antidote for hangovers. Make no mistake: It’s a dive with a yellow Formica counter and tattered booths, but it’s also the most beloved taqueria in town. And the fiery salsa is legendary.

Barolo Grill

Barolo Grill, a Northern Italian restaurant in Cherry Creek North, is for beautiful bottles of Barolo, Brunello and Barbaresco, sensually crafted pasta dishes and woodsy Barolo-style braised duck; for exquisite service, lush floral centerpieces and fine-tuned tasting menus sketched with experimental flavors bereft of borders; and for one of the loveliest dining rooms in the city, where tables are still sheeted with white tablecloths graced with polished silver and gleaming glassware. The lighting is gentle and warm, and the amorous table for two, snuggled against the glow of the fireplace, personifies classic romance. Put it on your date-night bucket list.

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