Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Current Denver Dining Guide

Welcome back to another edition of my Current Denver Dining Guide. You can find the last one here and then the master list here (basically every single place in Denver that I've tried and liked). Are any of these your favorites? — xoxo darling, Hayden

Denver

AJ's Pit Bar-B-Que

This place is totally unsuspecting. A friend and I went before an event and you walk through this door into a beautiful dining room. You could host a wedding reception here if you like the barn aesthetic but live in Denver. The bbq was super good, but if you are a banana pudding traditionalist, skip that because they use lady fingers not wafers...although I thought it was an interesting texture. 

Aviano Coffee

In Cherry Creek, Aviano is a good option to stop in while your shopping or if you need to kill time (like me) before an event. They have solid wifi and the place is industrial chic. The cappucino wasn't bitter, so that's a plus too! 

The Bagel Deli

I need to go back here because I just stopped in to grab some bagels (which were pretty good) but they have everything you could ever want in their deli. Chocolate babka, latkes, etc. Plus, the restaurant looks good too. 

Barcelona Wine Bar

Perfect for a date night, Barcelona is a cool spot in RiNo serving up paella and tons of wine. Definitely get the ham & manchego croquetas, kuri squash hummus and spiced beef empanadas. It was one of those meals that I walked away from feeling super content.

Beet Box

A vegan coffee shop and bakery in north Cap Hill, Beet Box is a cute spot. The latte I had was really good — I couldn't even tell that it didn't have traditional cow's milk in it. The s'mores bar I had was not my favorite thing ever, but I think I'm just not meant to vegan (I'm super impressed with people who can be). I did love the marshmallow toasted on top. 

Black Eye Coffee Shop

A very aesthetic coffee shop in the Highlands, Black Eye is usually pretty packed but the coffee is good. 

Blue Pan Pizza

If you're a fan of Detroit-style pizza, this should be your go-to. They do awesome garlic bread covered in melted cheese on their homemade pizza dough and then the classic pepperoni pizza is perfectly crispy. We went to the Highlands location, which is absolutely tiny so expect to wait. On Tuesdays they have a good beer special too.

Breakfast on Broadway

A classic diner spot with an awesome sign (think a giant frying pan with eggs and bacon) on Broadway more toward Littleton, Breakfast on Broadway is a good spot for early Sunday mornings. It does get pretty packed around the brunch hours, but you can join the waitlist on Yelp before you get there.

Breakfast Queen

I was really surprised by this place! It's in downtown Englewood and you can park in the free parking lot behind, and walk through the back door. With the more basic meals you can either get toast or tortillas and that makes me real happy. I got scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes with tortillas so I could make my own breakfast tacos. The coffee is strong and everyone seems to know everyone early in the morning, which is fun.

Chocolate Lab

On the forefront of interesting dining, Chocolate Lab is an experience. Each dish is handcrafted to not just be about the taste but the presentation. Plus, they make their own chocolates in interesting flavors and they make some of the best hot chocolate in Denver. I would suggest food items but their menu changes fairly frequently so I'm not sure they'll have what I had when you visit.

Dang

This softserve place comes from the people behind Little Man Ice Cream and it's delightful. It's in Park Hill (my second favorite neighborhood in Denver) and it serves up different flavors of softserve with tons of toppings. I had the vegan peppermint in a cone with oreos and pretzel sticks and was incredibly happy. 

D Bar

My go-to for people who want amazing desserts in Denver. The whole restaurant is based around them, I've never had their actual food so I can't speak to that but their dessert menu is iconic. They do a "cake and shake" where you get a slice of chocolate cake and a small milkshake, a funfetti slice of cake with a mini sundae, a butterscotch pudding that I've had dreams about and some good hot chocolate.

Dos Santos

A cute taco place near downtown Dos Santos strength is honestly in their homemade choco taco...I kid you not. The taco is pretty good, but their salsa lacked a little flavor, so maybe skip the chips & salsa.

Esters Denver

Go for Sunday brunch! Their biscuits and sausage gravy is so good, it warms your insides and makes you feel incredibly content. They do an insane mimosa bar that I didn't get the chance to partake in but I'm definitely going back.

Gallo Supper Club

I haven't had a meal here, but I can speak to their baked goods. They do great cannolis, the pistachio is my favorite. 

HOJA

I love this little cafe off Pearl. It's really cute, kind of feels like it belongs in LA, with tons of natural light. The breakfast burrito is massive and has so many fun ingredients. Also, they do an iced coffee with orange that is so strange but so good. 

Honey Hill

A cute coffee shop in Park Hill with gelato, I like this place for reading a book or just getting some work done. 

Linger

Located in an old mortuary, Linger is a big Denver restaurant. A friend and I somehow got in for an hour inbetween seatings on a Friday night. The menu is an ecelctic mix of African, Asian, European and more. We had a fried chicken bao bun, where the bun was perfectly fluffy. And some pad thai that, wasn't spicy enough for me, but was flavorful. My favorite dish was the Chicken B’Stilla Bites which have almonds, labneh, harissa and a pomegranate-celery salad. They make a mean Paloma and give you a popcorn doused in an interesting mix of spices instead of bread. 

Maggie & Molly's Sweet Life

A classic bakery with modern flare, Maggie & Molly's sour cream sprinkle cookie is one of my favorites — just a perfect chewy, crispy confection. Also, their mint chocolate brownie could solve some of the world's problems I think. 

Melted

A new pop-up in the Source foodhall, Melted does some strange flavors of softserve in pretty cones. We had the thai bun, which is kind of a sweet hot dog bun with ice cream and condensed milk. We've discovered we don't love bread and ice cream but the flavors of the ice cream were delightful and refreshing. 

Mercantile

Maybe my new favorite restaurant in Union Station, I love this place for lunch. Now, if I have extra time I will stop in here before boarding the train to the airport so I don't have to buy an expensive meal at DIA. Their fried chicken bahn mi is good in every way possible. Crisp bread, crunchy chicken, flavorful sauce, snappy veggies...so good. Plus, the place is just super cute inside. 

Milk Market: Bao Chica Bao, Mano Pastaria, Salt & Grinder Salumeria

I call Milk Market the fanciest foodhall in Denver because it just feels dressed up. I had been before to try the hot chicken, gelato, coffee and breakfast spot but I recently went to the three above for dinner. The pork bao buns are where it's at at Bao Chica Bao. Get a mixed plate at Mano Pastaria, the roasted bell peppers are goooood. At Salt & Grinder have the cheese plate, there was this soft, spreadable cheese that I was obsessed with and the bread is good! 

Nixon's Coffee

A place with multiple outposts, Nixon's is your classic coffee shop. Skip a chai and get a hot chocolate, because that stuff is great. 

Novo Coffee

I went to the one on Sixth and it's just a cute lil coffee shop. There's only street parking, so plan ahead, but I got a table on a Saturday morning, so I think that bodes well. They have good wifi and the latte wasn't bitter! 

Olive & Finch

O&F has two locations, I went to the one in Cherry Creek for an early breakfast and was super happy. You order at the counter and they have a French flare. Mainly this is important because you can get a Cafe au Lait and a beinget as one of your sides.

Parsley

Oh my laawwwwd. I have thought about this sandwich from Parsley for months...also the smoothie was good too. The spicy turkey has halfroasted turkey, roasted green chiles, sun-dried tomato, roma tomato, organic red onion and an olive oil vinaigrette. It's so good, it's spicy but flavorful and I loved it so much. The place is cute, it closes pretty early so it's really open for lunch and takeaway in the evening. 

Pinwheel Coffee

While I haven't had coffee at this Highlands establishment, they do great seasonal drinks. We had a ginger hot apple cider that was so good. 

Quiero Arepas

I'd never had an arepa before I visited this spot in Platt Park but I loved it. The one I had, had shredded chicken, black beans and a bit of cheese but was so warm on a cold day that I will be going back ASAP. 

Reunion Bread Co.

A Bon Appetit 10 Best New Restaurants winner, Reunion makes solid baked goods. We got a loaf of sourdough and it was gone real quick.

SeƱor Bear

One of my favorite restaurants in the Highlands, their do this spicy potato dish with melted cheese and I think about it frequently. The empanadas are a nice buttery, flaky pastry too. In December they'll do a Christmas pop-up where they do special drinks for the holiday season. 

The Market

An excellent place for iced coffee in downtown, they also serve up a classic, cheap breakfast. And there are just so many goodies along the walls and in nooks-and-crannies of the shop. 

Tokyo Premium Bakery

Such a great early Saturday morning spot! It's more like a European bakery where you get a tray (or a box) and pick your pastries out yourself. All of the dough was flaky perfection and I highly recommend the chocolate banana tart. 

Twin Dragon

My favorite Chinese spot, thus far, is in the Englewood area, right on Broadway. It's super unsuspecting, so don't accidentally drive by it. But they have the best Kung Pao Chicken I've had, it was spicy like I asked for it and the people working were really nice. 

Unravel Coffee

Off Holly, not far from Cherry Creek Unravel is a good aesthetic coffee shop. They have plenty of seats and on a Saturday afternoon it wasn't busy. Their wifi is solid (I could watch football live on it) and the baristas are aggressively nice. 

Wendell's

A tiny breakfast restaurant on Tennyson, Wendell's is cramped on a Sunday morning but the waffle is worth the visit. Plus, their font is amazing...I love it. 

White Pie

A pizza spot I recommend to most people White Pie is near downtown. It's a nice thin crust and they make this thing called a rosemary puff, basically pizza dough cookies with a buttery sauce and it's one of the best things I've ever eaten.

Lakewood

Abrusci's Fire & Vine

Right near my office, Abrusci's a nice place for a date night or friendship dinner. We tried the pasta, which was fresh and flavorful. I love the outdoor patio, with its modern fireplaces. 

Blue Sky Cafe

My favorite "work lunch" place, is Blue Sky in Denver West. In a sea of chains, this one shines through. Everything is fresh, they lean healthy and you can get breakfast the whole time they're open. Weirdly my favorite entree is a salad (very rare for me). It's the Crispy Southwest Bowl — tortilla chips, greens, black beans, pepper, corn, honey chipotle, cilantro, pepitas and ranch. The pancakes also look good, so I need to go try those. To me this place is like a local Le Peep/First Watch. 

Brew Culture Coffee

Right off West Colfax, Brew Culture is one of the only "Instagram-friendly" shops in the Lakewood area. It's cute inside, they have good wifi and their wifi is strong. There's also a brewery I've yet to try next door, so if you want to start with coffee and end with a beer, you can! 

Cafe Jordano

One of my favorite Italian places in Colorado, Cafe Jordano is that local Italian place you see in movies. The whole staff seems like family and their pasta is fresh. I love their ravioli because it comes with a meatball and that thing is the most flavorful meatball I've ever consumed. 

Colorado Cookie Company

Like Great American Cookie Company but not in a sketchy mall, CCC serves up the regular flavors plus unique seasonal flavors. I went in the fall to try their pumpkin spice and it didn't disappoint. 

CREAM

If you're looking for Instagramable desserts, CREAM in Belmar is a good go-to. They do ice cream sandwiches with warm cookies and fun flavors. Plus, they'll do ice cream tacos and donut sandwiches.

Edgewater Public Market (Gyros King)

Denver's newest food hall, and probably the most casual is Edgewater. It's in a warehouse, so not a ton of atmosphere (which I like), but there are a bunch of communal tables, a good bar and lots of options for everyone in your life. We tried Gyros King and I was pleasantly surprised. It was a good gyro and I would for sure go again.

Farmhouse Thai

So, Aung's is my favorite Thai restaurant in Denver BUT Farmhouse Thai is a close second. The benefit of Farmhouse is their Crab Rangoons may just be the best I've had in Colorado. Their Panang Curry lit me up in the best way possible, and it wasn't even Thai hot. 

Pierogies Factory

If you like pierogies, which how could you not? This is kind of the go-to place in Denver. I like their schnitzel, which you can get with a few pierogies on the side. They also have a gelato shop inside the store and you can purchase frozen pierogies to-go.

Tstreet Roadhouse

In Belmar, Tstreet had been on my list for a super long time and when we walked in I remembered why. The interior is super well designed, and feels quite fancy for Lakewood. I had their nachos, which are massive and the mixture of cheeses is delightful. The drinks looked good too. 

Littleton

Acres

Acres confuses me, but in a good way. It's off Broadway and it's fancy but casual at the same time. The Beef Cheek Empanadas are A+ and I highly recommend the Bruce's Biscuits, which come with a honey butter second to none. 

City Donuts

If you want to support a local donut shop in Littleton, City Donuts is a great option! They have tons of different flavors but their chocolate iced with sprinkles is my favorite. It's like a fluffy sugary pillow. 

Grande Station

Right near the RTD line in downtown Littleton, Grande Station is a good local spot. A friend and I went for dinner and it's the kind of place that can be nice if you want it to be or casual. They do great drink specials and breakfast most days. I had the Southwest Chicken Salad, basically it's covered in cheese and that makes me happy. Julia had the Station Prime sandwich, which is basically a whole ribeye for fairly cheap, so a super good deal. 

Ground Up Coffee

Whenever I need an iced latte and don't want to go far from my apartment or need a pick-me-up on the way home from work, I'll go to Ground Up. I've never sat down to test out their wifi, but they are super friendly and their coffee isn't bitter. 

Hogback BBQ

This one is really off-the-beaten-path in Littleton, I had never been in this part of town until I sought Hogback out. But, ooo, is it good! Highly recommend the egg rolls (asian cabbage, smoked pork, cheddar cheese and a spicy Thai sauce). The Original Porker, a pulled pork sandwich on toast with roasted hatch green chilis and melted pepper jack cheese, has the perfect kick. 

in-TEA

This is one of my favorite places in downtown Littleton, it feels like it could be in Gilmore Girls...except tea instead of coffee. The vibe is cozy, with window seats deep enough to fully sit criss-crossed. They have tons of different chais (my favorite tea) but they have pretty much every tea you could imagine. Plus, wifi!

Latke Love

This might be the place I suggest the most in Littleton. It's in a cute house, off of Littleton Blvd. Latke Love serves up traditional Jewish delicacies but I think their latkes with homemade apple sauce are the best dish. They taste like home, super warm, crunchy, salty, now I want them. 

Nella's Frozen Yogurt

Like all of the chains but with a local feel, Nella's is a classic froyo shop. They have tons of flavor options and of course, all the toppings. 

Saucy Buns BBQ

Maybe the best mac & cheese I've had in Colorado and some really good baked beans, weirdly the meat came in last. But that doesn't mean in isn't good too. Saucy Buns is in the same building as the Elvis Theater and it's tiny but so worth a visit. The employees are also super nice! 

Solid Grounds Coffee

This place is huge! And has wi-fi and would be great if you need to sit down and get some stuff down. It has that camp out vibe because it's so big. It kind of reminds me of Mozarts in Austin. I had a latte and it was smooth as can be, not bitter at all! I recommend going for breakfast at Duffeyroll down the street and then coming here for coffee.

Toast

Located at the entrance to Downtown Littleton, Toast is always packed. I was so pleasantly surprised and happy with my trip there. I thought it would be your classic diner, not that there is anything wrong with that, but it's so much more. They are incredibly creative with their food, I had the honey chicken biscuits smothered in black pepper gravy and wanted to try one of the epic pancakes. 

Tommy's Subs

Okay, for anyone who has ever lived/been in Florida and tried a Publix Sub, this shop is the closest thing in Denver I've found to them. They put this pepper jelly on all their sandwiches that is absolute heaven. I think about this sandwich a lot...and my co-worker is also obsessed.

Aurora

Black Pearls

When I first moved to Denver I saw this place all over Instagram, and their desserts do not disappoint. If you're a bubble tea lover, head over here or if you like kooky milkshakes it's your spot. 

Mojo Coffee

This is in the back of an Ethiopian grocery store, which is super fun to explore as well, and their Napoelon cake is one of the better versions I've had in Denver. Plus, the coffee is good, not too bitter. 

Sertinos Coffee

This place kind of, not totally, reminds me of the coffee shop in Friends (I am not a Friends fan, but I know about Central Perk, okay?). It just feels incredibly cozy and everyone is nice. If you are over in the greater Aurora area, it's a good stop.

Arvada

Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet

I found this place when I was making my masterlist of restaurants I wanted to try when I first moved here, then I read an article about it and then, finally, I visited. And it doesn't disappoint. First of all, it's in a really pretty spot and it does look like a chalet. And second of all, the pastry case is MASSIVE. They pretty much have everything you could ever want. I tried a cookies & cream brownie and it was perfectly moist and crisp at the same time...maybe not the best description. But I 10/10 recommend. 
One night I was headed to the airport for a late flight and I
parked at the Arvada RTD parking garage but wanted to try a new restaurant and not pay airport prices so I stopped into Lloyd's. It's a good classic sandwich shop with some actual atmosphere if you end up eating in.

Golden


Tributary Market & Drinkery

If you love an intimate food hall, this one is for you. It's right off the main street in Downtown Littleton and while it's the smallest food hall in the Denver-area, it's one of my favorites. I have only been once but I tried two restaurants and I would go back in a heart beat. Fringe Pizza makes the classic neapolitan-style pizza with their own homemade crusts. It's a very easy pizza to end up eating the whole thing...as we did. Also, Thai Kun (a favorite of mine in Austin) now has a Colorado outpost here! Their beef panang curry has so much flavor and depending on the day may make you cry.

Centennial


Crumbl

I'm a cookie lover, they are my second favorite dessert (second only to ice cream) and Crumbl does cookies well. The aesthetics are amazing and the cookies come out warm. The frosted animal cookie was buttery perfection.

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