Friday, May 10, 2019

My Current Denver Dining Guide












































So I've lived in Denver almost eight months now and in the process I've eaten at a lot of restaurants (but I still have a 13 page doc with more places to try) so I thought I would do Haute Table's Denver Restaurant Guide in installments this time — hopefully it's never as intimidating as Austin's. And then, when I've tried all the restaurants the Mile High City has to offer, I'll choose my absolute favorites and must-visits. What do y'all think? - xoxo darling, Hayden
P.S. I've organized it by neighborhood/community for easier findings.

Denver

One of the most beautiful coffee shops I've ever seen, Amethyst–Lakeside is a must-visit. If it's a sunny day, you'll want to spend all day near one of their big windows in a comfy seat with a good book. Plus, the chai is really good, and the owners are super nice.

Aung’s 

I had found Thai food I loved in Austin, so I was worried it would take me forever in Denver but it only took me two months! Aung's is seriously amazing their Pad Thai might be the best I've ever had, and when they say something is spicy, they mean it. Some of my mouth died a little bit — in the best possible way — after consuming their hot Panang curry.

Avanti 

One of the first places I tried in Denver, and where I took my photo to announce I was moving to Denver, Avanti is a great foodhall. They have two bars, two floors, a rooftop patio and tons of good food options. I'm currently loving Bistro Georgette for their ham and cheese sandwich — it's just like what I ate in Paris. Brava! Pizzeria is also great.

Azucar Bakery

If you are looking for a classic bakery, Azucar is it. This pink-walled Broadway spot has everything you could ever need. They do good empanadas, and their mini chocolate mousse cakes will make your heart speed up from happiness.

Bang Up to the Elephant

Halie introduced me to this really fun spot. It's incredibly aesthetically pleasing, so get your iPhone camera ready, but the food is really good too. Have the curry waffle fries,
because where else are you going to get that dish? Also, the cocktails are kind of insane but so fun.

Beatrice and Woodsley

This beautiful restaurant on Broadway is perfect for a special
occasion (it is Zagat rated after all). Or, if you want to go and not spend a ton of money, go for brunch! I had the Apple Pie Pancakes — they're served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream — and coffee and was so content.

Broadway Market

Most of Denver's foodhalls are really nice, kind of over-the-top, but Broadway Market reminds me of those earlier Maria Empanada stand because empanadas are some of my favorite foods. Halie liked Mother Tongue's falafel, and the real star is Miette et Chocolat with its to-die-for chocolate chip cookies.
versions. I call it industrial-chic it's black and white tile, and I love it. It feels like a foodhall. They have good wifi, and it's a great place to just chill on a Saturday afternoon. I like the

Brutal Poodle

Lindsey and I stumbled upon this spot after our original dinner plan backfired (three-hour waits are no fun, ya know?)
and we were so pleasantly surprised. With a name like Brutal Poodle, we really weren't sure what we were getting into, but the food is amazing! They do these mac & cheese dishes that are magnificent, and the chicken and waffles dish is great as well.

Chopper’s 

My Texas Exes chapter meets at Chopper's for our game-watching parties, but dang, they have good food too! We did brunch (that OU game is at 10am mountain time y'all) and it was great. I highly recommend the nachos.

Comida

Comida has a location in Stanley Marketplace, and it's great. They do an excellent happy hour on Tuesday (it's all day),
plus their watermelon jalapeño margarita is something I think about on the reg. The queso is also thick, which I prefer, and the chips are the perfect compliment. Oh, and the tacos are good — forgot to mention the most crucial part?

Cornicello

Cornicello is a great post-meal treat in the Milk Market. We had the birthday cake flavored gelato, and it wasn't sickly sweet. It's funny, as I get older the really over-the-top
birthday cake flavor holds no appeal, but this one is perfect...maybe it's the gelato. It reminded me of the Romeo and Juliet flavor of gelato Barnes & Noble used to have...anyone else remember a B&N Cafe before Starbucks took over?

Cosmo’s Pizza

I was introduced to Cosmo's after a very bad dinner...to the point we had a second meal...so I thought it might have been the circumstances that made me think it was phenomenal pizza. But then I went back and no, it's the pizza itself. If you're anywhere near downtown drive over to this spot (they have a parking lot) and get a slice with the spicy ranch. It's so worth it.
Probably the most Instagrammed food in Denver, Denver Biscuit is pretty good. I'm from the South so I'm a little more judgy of biscuits than I probably should be, but they are good. Get the cinnamon roll because that thing is a delight.

Devil’s Food Bakery

Devil's Food is what you want in a coffee shop/bakery. It has
a great aesthetic, plenty of seating, outlets, wifi and is on one of the cutest streets in Denver. Get a ginger cookie because it is the size of your head and sit with a book and enjoy. Then, walk down the street and do a little shopping before you head home.

Devil’s Food Cookery

I did a Sunday brunch here in December and fell in love. This is the restaurant portion of the bakery above. There can be a wait, but it goes by quickly  — the place is tiny so you would
expect it. We ordered a ton of stuff, and all of it was good. I would recommend the croque madame and the ratatouille. I wouldn't suggest for a huge group of you and your friends, but for two people it is perfect.

el Camino Community Tavern

A fun place for happy hour + dinner mid-week with your friends, el Camino has a good vibe and delicious queso. Get the queso and chips for the table and then get the queso mac and cheese for yourself. You might go into a food coma, but it will be so worth it.

Frozen Matter

As soon as the best friend landed on her most recent trip, it was time for dessert. I had read about Frozen Matter so we stopped in and we were not disappointed. The ice cream is so good! The staff are incredibly nice, and they do some fun concoctions. I highly recommend the marshmallow cloud topping...because it is a cloud of marshmallow and that is wondrous. They also do a sundae with a literal waffle in it...so yeah, it's great.

Gozo

Ooo, Gozo. This place has splendid food. I met Halie one night...be forewarned finding parking in this area of Broadway is almost impossible on a Friday night (sorry again for being so late Halie!)...and we loved the food. I had the pork and chorizo meatballs, served with the creamiest polenta and a delicious sauce, and it was the definition of cozy. I want to go back on a snowy...okay maybe not snowy because I don't drive when it snows, but chilly night in January and eat that dish with a glass of red wine.

Green Russell

The best friend is a speakeasy kind of gal. I'm more fluid in my bar options — I like a brewery,  a speakeasy or a dive but I know her, so we decided to try this fake pie shop in Larimer Square the last time she was here. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable, Hannah told them what she likes, and they made her a custom cocktail. I had a signature, and it was great — the menu changes a bunch so it will just depend on when you go. The food looks phenom, but the kitchen had closed five minutes before we got there so I can't give you a definitive answer. I will say, my only complaint is it is a little loud...probably because it is adorably tiny and underground.

Hops & Pie

I often think that Lauren, Blair and I's friendship is like those girl power movies where they are all out to dinner and drinks in NYC, and cool music is playing over a montage of them laughing...you may think I'm insane, but it's true. Every time we get together, we end up staying at a restaurant for three hours, and my face hurts when I have to leave. And one of my favorite places we've done this was Hops & Pie...aka one of my favorite pizza places in Denver. It's in a cool neighborhood, has a parking lot and puts mashed potatoes on pizza...yep. It's glorious.

Ice Cream Riot

Ice Cream Riot has crazy flavors, cereal milk anyone?, but my favorite thing is the Pop-Tart ice cream sandwich. Let me say, I don't even like Pop-Tarts...in fact, I kind of hate them. But there is something about the texture of soft ice cream and a crunchy Pop-Tart that just goes well together. I loved it. I will say, the shop itself doesn't have a lot of aesthetic so if you are looking for a photo head outside to take a shot with their logo. Also, parking can be a little hard to find, but I would say it'd definitely be worth it for the sandwich.

Illegal Pete’s

Blair and I tried this a few weeks after I moved to Denver and it is the more local Chipotle...and yes, I know Chipotle started here. You walk through the line and pick your stuff, but the best part is the full bar. Get a marg, they are strong & big and a cup a queso, and you'll be set.

Imperial

A pretty good Chinese spot off of Broadway with a cool atmosphere. I took my food to-go — Liz and I had plans to veg out with Love Island — but I would totally go again to experience the whole place.

Jelly Cafe

A good stand-by near the capitol and DU, they do really good donut holes that make for a good appetizer. Jelly has that classic, colorful dinner, like Kerbey in Austin and it is a great place to start if you are touring downtown Denver.

Lou’s Hot Naked

In the Milk Market, Lou's Hot Naked is a nice place to get dinner before seeing a show downtown. The bestie and I
enjoyed a sandwich — get the food waffle fries — but I will say, if you want it hot, don't get medium...we weren't sure of the spice level, and the medium left us wanting more. Milk Market has tons of seating, but I liked sitting at the bar and interacting with the staff.

Lula Rose General Store

If you are looking for a place to take cute Instas...this is it.
Located in an old gas station...I think?...they have a pink La Marzoco, great lighting, friendly people and just a cool aesthetic overall. I had a great cup of coffee, sat by one of the big windows and read my book; it was so peaceful on a Tuesday afternoon.
Next Door is a chain in multiple states, but I think it started in Boulder, so it's like eating at a local spot...right? Anyway, the food is pretty good it's a nice place to grab a sandwich if you need to catch a train to the airport. They do a good happy hour and a pretty good marg.

Nuggs

Home of Taco Tuesday — that's right the ice cream taco — Nugg's is a classic ice cream spot on East Colfax. I 10/10 recommend the ice cream taco because it isn't over the top. They only put one scoop, so it's a nice treat without being over-the-top. Also, Caroline's Birthday Cake is a great flavor! 
I've discovered one of my favorite parts of Denver is the neighborhood restaurants. I don't know how their zoning works...because they would never have had this in Fort Myers, but I love it. Park Burger in Platt Park is a perfect example of an excellent neighborhood spot. They have good burgers, a nice alcohol selection and good vibes. It's an ideal mid-week date night spot or a place to meet up with friends to dissect your date...

Poka Lola

This is one of my favorite bars in downtown Denver because I like that is is part of the Dairy Block, but still maintains its own identity. It can be pretty crazy on a Saturday night but if you start your evening here, you won't have any issues. It's got a cool atmosphere, and their signature cocktails are very photogenic.

Rosenberg’s Bagels

Bagel lover here, telling you that Rosenberg's is totally worth the hype. The downtown location is in a historic building and does fill up on a Sunday morning, so go early. But you should be able to find a seat if you are eating in. The Everything (aka the best bagel in the world) was the perfect balance of spices and crunchiness. They don't toast bagels, but they don't need to because their so fresh they're still warm.

Sera’s Ramen Collective

Lauren is a Ramen lover, I think she has tried almost every
ramen shop in the greater Denver area, so when she said Sera's was the best, I believed her. And their flavors are superb. It's located in the Highlands, and you have to go down a skinny alley to get there, but I would highly recommend. 

I don't know how I discovered Spinelli's, but I had some time to kill before an event, so I was looking for a new place to try. It's a classic neighborhood market, complete with gourmet foods and really nice staff. But the true stars are the sandwiches; I can genuinely say the Jerry's Classic (Genoa salami, Capicola, smoked ham, provolone, roasted red peppers and house dressing on a ciabattini roll) is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. Those red peppers were a spectacular addition to the whole thing...I want one right now, dang it! Grab a Topo out of the fridge and sit on their sturdy wooden tables inside, or if it's a beautiful day grab the metal table outside and people watch in the bougie Park Hill Neighborhood. 

Sushi Den

As an avid reader of Kristen Ashley's Rock Chick series, I knew I wanted to try Sushi Den when I moved out here. And it did not disappoint. The atmosphere screams cool...but that Denver cool where you don't feel out of place for wearing jeans. And even on a Thursday night, the wait wasn't too bad. We had a seat at the bar so we got to see the chefs making our sushi and we loved it. I don't remember the exact dishes we got but everything was really fresh, and it is just a fun night-out spot.

Sweet Cooie’s

Ahhh, the classic Instagram friendly ice cream spot the bestie and I love so much. Sweet Cooies kind of feels like you've stepped onto the set of Mad Men with mod furniture, turquoise walls and lots of gold accents. But holy moly, the Gooey Cooie. Basically, a warm brioche bun is stuffed with ice cream of your choosing, drizzled with royal icing and covered in toppings of your choosing. It is gooey and delicious and everything you could ever want. I want to go back and try more of their ice cream in a cool cone or try their chocolates. It is owned by Little Man Ice Cream so if you like that, you'll love this.

Sweet Cow

I had seen Sweet Cow all over Denver but hadn't visited until recently. But ohmlord, I have been missing out! Lauren and I went to the one in the Highlands, which was packed on a Saturday night but so worth the wait in line. I had the Hammonds Peppermint Bark — yes, the Hammonds candy company!! — in a pretzel cone and I was in heaven. The ice cream was super creamy, and the saltiness of the cone was a perfect mating.

Sweet Ginger

The best friend and I tried Sweet Ginger after a night at our favorite speakeasy and instantly fell in love. When she visited in April we went again...we just love it so much. Plus, the staff are so sweet. It's in a basement portion of Cherry Creek North, so it can be a little hard to find, but once you're there, the atmosphere is great and getting it to-go is also super easy.

Syrup

Syrup seems to be a Denver breakfast classic. They have three locations around Denver-proper. A friend and I visited the Cherry Creek version, which is a little odd because it's kind of in a basement. But they do a great job getting natural light in and the s'mores pancakes are phenomenal (plus, highly Instagramable).

Terminal Bar

I tell everyone who comes to visit to check out Terminal Bar. You cross of Union Station but also get great beer options (and good cocktails) in a cool setting with great food. I like the grilled cheese and the pretzel knots with beer cheese. But I haven't had a bad meal. You can eat in the main hall of the station or, if you go during lunch especially, you can eat in the actual restaurant, which has an awesome atmosphere.

The Inventing Room Desserts

A seasonal-delight is how I would describe The Inventing Room. It re-opens in June, so get ready. But basically their whole concept is insane but delicious, desserts. I went to their donut pop-up and had a unicorn donut that was not only photogenic but really good!

The Whiskey Biscuit

I really like this neighborhood spot on Broadway. They have awesome alcohol options — yes, a whiskey flight is on the menu — and the food was good too. Plus, the atmosphere is just warm, and you feel like if you went more than twice, you would know the staff and have a good relationship.  

54 Thirty

So...we all love a rooftop bar, right? Right. Well, this one is a great rooftop, but the best friend and I went on a Friday night and hated the vibe. The roof itself is great, really classy, excellent margarita, strong pours...but the vibe was not us. Everyone was just super dressed up, seemed like they were trying really hard to be noticed — which is fine, but that isn't our vibe, and it doesn't really fit the vibe of Colorado. I love that I can wear jeans everywhere in this city, and at this bar you feel way more out of place. Love the view though, and I would go back for an afternoon visit when people aren't trying to do whatever cool people do on a Friday...we all know I'm a self-proclaimed grandma. 

Lakewood

Cafe Ole

This little spot near where I got my Colorado driver's license has really good coffee and comfy seating. I don't know about the wifi because I just took my book, but I would recommend it instead of going to a chain.

Casa Bonita 

Okay, it seems like Denverites are in two camps about Casa Bonita, ones that absolutely detest it and ones who see it for the kitschy glory. I'm here for it. It reminds me of the Mexico ride at Epcot combined with the Rainforest Cafe and just a whole lot of childhood fun. The roomie and I went on a Wednesday, so it wasn't crowded — no line, but apparently, it gets nuts on the weekends. I would say it's a photography paradise because you have cliff divers, a waterfall, sopaipillas (the best part of the meal) and more. It's just so much fun if you accept it for what it is and go along for the ride.

Granny Scott’s Pie Shop 

After a particularly stressful Monday, I stopped at Granny Scott's, not sure what to expect. But holy cow, this pie. It is worth every penny. You kind of have to look to find the building, but get a slice of the grasshopper once you're there.

Great Harvest 

My favorite food is bread, so when I walked into Great
Harvest and they had a "bread bar" for sampling I might have lost myself a bit. They do really nice sandwiches, baked goods and I highly recommend a loaf of their cinnamon chip or challah bread — you won't regret it. 
This is that classic small-town ice cream parlor you grew up going to. Brightly colored walls, what seems like miles of buckets of ice cream and plenty of cone options. One of my
friends and I have been twice because it's halfway between us and the ice cream is just so good! Get the Tin Roof in a sugar cone, and you won't be disappointed.

New York Bagel Cafe

As we know, I'm kind of obsessed with bagels, so I like that there is a place pretty close to my apartment where I can get my fix. It's a cute spot, and the staff is kind.

Paciugo

Located in Belmar, Paciugo is a hidden gem. It has really good coffee and even better gelato. Plus, the staff is super
nice.

Pizzeria Lui

I spotted this little place in Lakewood on Instagram one day and immediately put it on my list. Lakewood can be kind of barren for locally-owned restaurants, so I was really excited. The place has great lighting, a good craft beer selection and tons of pizza options. And the pizza...oh my, my mouth drools a little remembering how good it was. And they have spicy honey — which is worth its weight in gold. If you live in the southern Denver area, this is a great restaurant to meet friends on a weeknight for laughs and drinks. 

Taste of Denmark 

The roomie introduced this to me, and I simultaneously love her for it and hate her for it. I love her because they have the best baked goods in Denver...I haven't tried enough to really say that but holy cow; these are really freaking good. I hate her for it because now every Sunday I want to hop in my car and go get a whole box of the aforementioned pastries. I like going, picking up a bunch and eating them the rest of the week...or the same day...depends on my mood. You can also eat them there before you head out on a Saturday morning hike in some of the nearby open spaces.

The French Press 

This place gets insane on a Sunday morning but oh is the food worth the wait. It's in the Lakewood Belmar area — kinda like The Gulch or Coconut Point but Denver-vibes and the kitchen serves up this biscuit dish covered in cheese that makes you want to drool on your table.

Littleton

Born 2 Bake

My favorite place to take my laptop in downtown has great lighting, delicious baked goods and good coffee (and excellent eggnog chai during the holiday season). The owners are incredibly sweet, and you just feel good about spending a Sunday morning there.

Breckenridge Brewing

When I was about to cry from the most stressful week of my life (should I TM that?) I got an email from Liz, my now
roommate. So Breck Brew holds a lot of happiness for me, I found an apartment that I loved in the parking lot, I met one of my good friends for the first time by the fireplace, I spent St. Patrick's Day and other occasions here. The brewery is beautiful, with a gorgeous dining room and cool outdoor space that is insane on a summer day. They even have a popsicle stand some weekends that I cannot wait for now that the snow has stopped. The bbq options on the menu are delicious, and the beer is good too. I highly, highly recommend.

Dirt Coffee Bar

This very aesthetically pleasing coffee shop off of Littleton's main thoroughfare helps a great cause and has delicious coffee. The breakfast burrito is also something to taste test. I would suggest going early in the morning if you want parking because it gets pretty insane. My only thing is the wifi is a little sketchy so come prepared with a book too.

Enchanted Grounds

If you are a gamer...of any kind...Enchanted Grounds was made for you. I go for the solid wifi and good coffee — they have a La Marzoco. Every time I've gone there have been tons of people playing various games, discussing the gaming community and more.

Las Delicias 

Las D is a Denver classic, been around for over 40 years, and they do pretty good Tex-Mex. The one in Littleton is a classic joint, with great service and delicious chile rellenos

Le Peep

Le Peep is my go-to for breakfast in Littleton. It's near my apartment; I love the vibe — it's always packed — they have fun seasonal dishes and their iced coffee is A+.

Lucile’s Creole Cafe

There are many Lucile's in the Denver-area, but I've only been to the Littleton version, which sits right on the water in a cool yellow house. The inside vibe isn't exactly what you'd expect, but they do some amazing biscuits...they look like pillows. Plus, you can get beignets, which make everything better.

Riize Coffee

I recently discovered this coffee shop in a kind of industrial part of Littleton (south of downtown), but it is so cute inside, they have great wifi and I love the amount of outlets/seating options. The lady who was working was super sweet, and I loved their many chai latte options — I'm a spicy girl myself. The coffee bar is highly Instagramable as well.

Shawarma Mediterranean Grill

A fast-casual spot in south Denver, Shawarma has phenomenal spicy hummus. The folks who run it are really nice, and on a Friday night, it can get pretty crazy in there.

The Alley

If you are a margarita consumer like me, The Alley is a great spot for you in downtown Littleton. They have so many flavors, including a prickly pear, which we all know brings out the Texan in me. The food truck out back serves up tacos, and they usually have live music. Have four or five margs like a friend, and I did, and you'll end up singing "Redneck Woman" far too loudly with the band.

Tony’s

I shop at Tony's more than my bank account likes...but their pre-prepared meatballs, freshly baked bread, brownies and cheese selection just real me in. Plus, they usually have something I can't find anywhere else...like chicory coffee.

Walter’s 303 Pizza Publik House

The best friend found this place after we were starving from hiking...this happens quite frequently to us, so we took off our muddy shoes and basically sped over. I had never heard of Walter's until she found it, but oh my goodness their crust is SO good. Like I may have had dreams about it since then. The spot is in an unsuspecting strip center near downtown Littleton, but you walk in, and the place is nice and the staff are even nicer. I think it would be the perfect, movie-moment, neighborhood pizza joint for anyone.

Aurora

Annette

If you are super into the aesthetics like me, have brunch at Annette. It's in Stanley Marketplace — a foodhall in Aurora — but the restaurant has its own space and that 10am light streaming through the windows is beautiful. Did I mention if you order coffee, it comes in a Le Creuset press?! Debora and I loved the food, it was all so good.

Root Down in DIA

If you are looking for something that isn't a fast meal, Root Down is the place to go. Their food is delicious — I had a meatball bahn mi that was A+ — but they also have a good wine list and these really nice tables if you're traveling by yourself, like I always am. It's a treat-yo-self kind of airport meal, and I like that.

Three Little Griddles

You have to travel a pretty good distance to this one if you don't live in south Denver, and the wait on Sundays can be pretty steep, but the griddles are worth it. I highly recommend the ebelskivers (seasonal donut holes) as an appetizer before you enjoy the savory pancake...yeah, it's amazing.

Highlands Ranch

Honey B’s Macarons 

I'm a macaron connoisseur, we can blame it on my 16th birthday trip to Paris or my fairly successful attempts at making them, but basically, I'm judgy. So, I didn't have the highest expectations of Honey B's but was I WRONG. These things were as good, if not better (scandalous), as Ladurée. Plus, the box is adorable they come in, and you can take classes!

Kneaders

This spot is similar to Panera, but you feel more at home and less chain-y. I especially like to stop in during the holiday season where the shelves are brimming with baked goods. They also do a good breakfast.

Mici Italian

A fast-casual Denver chain, Mici, is just good when you need to meet a girlfriend and vent about your love life...you know what I mean? They do great pasta, but the gelato is truly where it is at. I would highly recommend placing an order, grabbing it to-go, taking it home and watching a movie with a bottle of TJ's two-buck-chuck.

Arvada

Rheinlander Bakery

Back when I was going through the most stressful week of my life, as I've decided to call the week I spent in Denver
buying a car, searching for an apartment I could afford, buying furniture for aforementioned apartment, being incredibly sick with a cold, going to my first five days of work and being incredibly stressed out in general, my fam visited Rheinlander. This bakery on Arvada's high street transports you to a German bakery back in the 1400s — but with modern technology. The cookies are delicious, and that apple strudel is to-die-for. Go during the holiday season for the most festive feels you'll ever get.

School House Kitchen

Debz had flown in, and we met at Schoolhouse because it was between us. I had no idea what to expect and let me tell you, they go hard on the school theme. But it's fun. I had the chicken and waffle skewers, which turned out to be like corn dogs but 1000 percent better?

Steuben’s

One of my favorite Denver-area restaurants, Steuben's does not disappoint. It's basically up-scale diner food, but it's done so right. Their Nashville hot chicken was just as good — if not better (sorry Nashville) than what I had this summer. Plus, they do breakfast all day and have homemade Choco Tacos. There is one in uptown Denver, I haven't been, but I love that the one in Arvada is in an old diner that they renovated to make it look straight out of the '70s. 

The Cereal Box 

The best friend and I love a cereal restaurant, so when we saw that downtown Arvada was home to one, we immediately put it down to visit — and it doesn't disappoint. They have so many different options, I like to go with a pre-created concoction but you can make your own, and they do some pretty crazy milkshakes. 

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