Over the past few years, Denver has blossomed with quality restaurants. From hip Asian spots to lauded steakhouses and elevated Colorado cuisine, you can now sample it all in the Mile High City. But in this growing sea of good food, where should one go? While these five places just nip at Denver’s offerings, each proves a tasty place to start.
Whether or not you are staying at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Denver, you will want to eat at the steakhouse nestled inside. Elway’s delivers some of the finest meat around, from a 7x wagyu steak to a rack of Colorado lamb and a buffalo rib eye. If you’re feeling extravagant, top your dish with Maytag blue cheese butter and add a lobster tail.
Sides are also worth making room for. But be warned: you may want the Brussels sprout hash, hash browns with caramelized shallots, garlic wilted spinach with herbed goat cheese and all of the rest.
The best part of the dining experience: once you are full, you can settle back into the large, plush booths or roomy arm chairs. The light is low and yellow, making the surroundings feel just as cozy as the food does.
One of the best reasons to book a table at Fire is because of its location; it’s right in the heart of downtown and flanked by the Denver Art Museum, Clyfford Still Museum and History Colorado Center. Stunning street views out of the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows are also reasons to visit.
In the kitchen, chef Chris Jakubiec churns out modern American cuisine such as beet and ricotta salad with lemon vinaigrette, roasted hearts of palm, and the throwback of a dish, steak Oscar, which features an angus beef filet topped with blue crab, broccolini and béarnaise sauce.
Come by for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or simply stop in for a happy-hour cocktail on the lovely roof deck. As a bonus, you walk through The Art, a Hotel to get to Fire, and the public space is filled with wonderfully unique works to admire.
While this Uptown joint might be new on the scene, chef Paul C. Reilly and his sister Aileen are not. The pair also owns the lauded new American spot Beast + Bottle. But with its latest venture, the duo has decided to leave the states behind and tap into the wonders of Rome and southern Italy. Start with a plate of luscious buffalo milk mozzarella, the perfect companion to a side of crisp Sienese peppers, pesto garganico and squash marmellata (marmalade).
Follow that with an order of Roman-style fried artichokes, a plate of housemade salume, and one of the fresh pastas (cacio e pepe — Italy’s version of mac and cheese — or Swiss chard and ricotta ravioli).
Next, the pollo allo diavolo (chicken, chili and picante oil) is a must-have for spice lovers. On the milder side, the agnello abruzzesse, otherwise known as lamb shoulder with mustard oil and sage, will also do the trick. As you relax in the rustic, laid-back eatery, you will also want to take advantage of the Italian wine list or try one of the superb cocktails.
When you step into the charming Capitol Hill house that hosts chef Alex Seidel’s Fruition, you will understand why you need a reservation. First of all, the space is small and intimate. Second, it’s one of the best places to try innovative, fresh and truly Colorado dishes. One way Seidel makes sure his food speaks to the area is by sourcing a lot of goods from his very own farm, Fruition Farms Dairy & Creamery, located about an hour outside of Denver.
The menu changes often, though, in the past, diners have enjoyed such selections as Creekstone Ranch beef carpaccio with golden chanterelles and black truffle vinaigrette, pan-roasted barramundi with caramelized potato gnocchi, and Maple Leaf Farms duck with savory pistachio olive oil cake and glazed beets.
Troy Guard is no stranger to the Denver food scene. Unlike the other places in the TAG Restaurant Group, however, TAG remains a fine-dining eatery with a menu that features dishes inspired by Colorado as well as Guard’s travels around the world. Dubbed continental social food, TAG’s dishes follow the seasons. On any given night, you may find such gems as the caramelized butter fish with lump crab and hon shimeji mushrooms; hand-pulled mozzarella with seasonal fruits; miso black cod with artichoke and yuzu kabayaki sauce; and an array of sushi rolls.
Located in LoDo, this hot spot requires a reservation if you want to hit it on the weekend or key dinner times. Also, while TAG proves upscale, you won’t find white linen decking out the tables. Instead, the Denver restaurant has a sleek, modern vibe with cherry-red leather booths, high-top seating and dark, intimate tables.