Over the last year, Denver has boomed with new and exciting restaurants, including French fare, Mexican cuisine and bespoke dining experiences you have to book months in advance.
No matter what you’re in the mood for, one of these five recently opened venues will hit the spot and remind you that there’s more to the Mile High City than just mountains and craft beer.
Snag a seat, if you can, to the most exclusive dinner party in town, hosted by the team behind popular casual joint Call — Beckon. Call. Get it? — that uses the same venue as this nighttime extravaganza.
Chef Duncan Holmes leads the dinner, which only seats 18 people at an intimate chef’s counter. The prix fixe meal varies by the season, the position of the moon (for example, February’s feast is dubbed “Snow Moon”) and the chef’s whims, ensuring every dining experience proves unique.
Most of the cuisine follows fare based on European, Scandinavia and American cooking. This four-night-a-week, multi-course affair is a prepaid, ticketed event, so reserve a spot as soon as you can.
Zocalito Latin Bistro
Though you might not always think of Mexican fare as high-end food, the way chef and owner Michael Beary does it makes dining at this downtown spot a real luxury.
Thanks to years of honing his skills in Mexico’s Oaxaca region (also known as the “Land of the Seven Moles”), the talented toque brings authentic, flame-grilled flavors to Colorado in dishes like skirt steak drenched in famously rich negro mole, fire-roasted tomato salsa with lime-tinged chips, and Oaxacan mozzarella- and chorizo-stuffed rellenos (poblano peppers).
Before opening this location of Zocalito in December 2018, Beary ran the restaurant in Aspen. The view may have changed, but the flavorful cuisine and vibrant alebrijes (brightly colored Mexican folk sculptures) adorning the space remain the same.
If you need a place to rest your head after one too many margaritas, simply stroll across the street to check into Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Denver, a great spot to book a post-dinner spa treatment and sleep off the meal.
Jovanina’s Broken Italian
Nothing warms you up quite like a romantic Italian meal, and this downtown destination doesn’t disappoint. Beat winter’s chill with one of the wood-fired dishes, such as ember-roasted carrots and housemade fennel-sausage pizza.
There’s also a delightful and ever-changing heirloom pasta list featuring such Colorado staples as elk bolognese or bone marrow mixed with Parmesan and garlic.
Pair your indulgent feast with a craft cocktail like the Seelbach (bourbon, housemade curacao, bitters and prosecco) or a lovely glass of Au Bon Climat chardonnay.
As you dine, soak in the candlelit ambiance and note the tall ceilings and industrial machinery that tips a hat to the building’s past as a 19th-century cigar factory. The area has come a long way since then, something you can observe as you saunter down the street to the nearby Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Denver to sleep the rest of night away, full and satisfied.
Fine French food has never been much of a thing in the Mile High City, but the team behind this newly opened 15th Street venue wants to change that. Chef and co-owner Max MacKissock has created a menu of unpretentious dishes that pays homage to his French heritage, like black cod with smoky bonito butter and cheesy potatoes dauphinois.
Order the regularly changing five- or seven-course prix fixe meal or pick your dinner à la carte. Additions such as seared foie gras, Black River Osetra caviar and Périgord truffle add to the opulence, though the artful plating and attention to detail prove lavish enough on their own.
The drink menu also speaks to the finer things, thanks to the meticulous palates of husband-and-wife duo McLain Hedges and Mary Allison Wright, both of Denver’s The Proper Pour and RiNo Yacht Club. It showcases an impressive list of French wines, worldly spirits and beautiful cocktails.
Chef and restaurateur Lon Symensma knows his way around a kitchen, and with his latest downtown venture, the talent really shows off his elegant side.
Well-prepared by chef Jeff Stoneking, the cuisine here is European inspired with a bent toward Mediterranean. So, expect to see items like cauliflower crème brûlée with golden raisins, pine nuts and crispy capers; wagyu beef tartare encased in smoke along with gaufrette chips and Osetra caviar; and French onion short ribs, a nod to the popular sweet onion soup dumplings served at Symensma’s nearby upscale Asian restaurant ChoLon.
Crystal chandeliers deck out the 60-seat space, adding even more brilliance to an unbelievable experience.