Your Newcomer's Guide to Denver

Everything you need to know about living in—and exploring!—the Mile High City.

April 2016

—Photo by Dan Saelinger
—Illustrations by Chris Philpot

Ready, Set, Dine

The city’s food scene has exploded over the past few years, so you’ll never want for a great meal. But where to start? We recommend visiting these 10 restaurants and bars during your first year to discover the true flavors of Denver.

Try: The Cherry Cricket
For: Juicy burgers topped with all manner of delectable toppings. This 70-year-old spot has managed to hold onto its laid-back feel even as the surrounding Cherry Creek neighborhood has become more highfalutin.

Try: Williams & Graham
For: Handcrafted cocktails—let the bartender use his or her imagination—in a speakeasy setting at the best bar in America (so named at last year’s Spirited Awards).

Try: Work & Class
For: One of the finest examples of the city’s new generation of restaurants—a dazzling mash-up of low-key ambience and perfectly executed dishes (American and Latin, in this case)—in the very hip RiNo ’hood.

Try: Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs
For: A surprising menu of sausages, including elk jalapeño cheddar, at the Ballpark brick-and-mortar location of one of Denver’s first—and most popular—food carts.

Try: El Taco De Mexico
For: An introduction to Denver’s authentic Mexican food scene. This is where any longtime resident will point you when asked for his go-to south-of-the-border spot; he’ll also tell you to try the fried pork tacos.

Try: Acorn
For: The chance to try a creative selection of shared plates (think oak-smoked bone marrow and one of the best kale salads in town) at Denver’s most-buzzed-about restaurant, located in the Source, the city’s first artisan food market.

Try: Guard and Grace
For: A modern take on a Denver classic—the steak house—from Troy Guard, one of the Mile High City’s most celebrated chefs.

Try: The Cooper Lounge
For: Grown-up cocktails served on silver platters and bartenders who shake your hand, all inside the beautifully renovated Union Station.

Try: Frasca Food and Wine
For: A master-sommelier-crafted wine list, a prix fixe menu devoted to the comforting foods of Friuli, Italy, and a seamless evening out in Boulder at a restaurant that consistently ranks among Colorado’s best.

Try: Casa Bonita
For: The experience of watching cliff divers (seriously) perform next to your table at a you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it restaurant known more for its appearance on South Park than its food. (Speaking of, limit your order to margaritas and sopaipillas.)

—Photo by Carmel Zucker

Questions about the Menu

Denver’s culinary heritage is a bit thin, but familiarize yourself with these local dishes. these special Denver dishes.

Mexican Hamburger
What It Is: A cheeseburger rolled into a bean burrito and smothered in green chile (another local favorite).
Where To Dig In: The Original Chubby’s, 1231 W. 38th Ave.

North Denver Cannoli
What It Is: Forget dessert. This is old-school Denver-speak for a dough-wrapped Italian sausage (think: pigs in a blanket).
Where To Dig In: Lechuga’s, 3609 Tejon St.

Rocky Mountain Oysters
What It Is: Not seafood. These are deep-fried bull, pig, or sheep testicles. And, yes, some people find them delicious.
Where To Dig In: The Fort, 19192 CO 8, Morrison, 303-697-4771