Dining in Denver

For the first time ever, we rank the top 25 restaurants in the region. Plus: Denver's best chefs and dining trends.

March 2010

21. The Kitchen

If the goal of a restaurant is to serve the community, then the Kitchen is a resounding success. This Boulder spot thrives on the shared experience—community tables, a give-and-take approach of supporting local farmers and ranchers, and the shared dishes that punctuate the weekday happy hour. Every day, the crowds of loyal patrons that gather for Hugo Matheson's soulful dishes (heirloom squash farrotto and pan-seared haddock with pecan spaetzle) illustrate how, in six short years, this eatery has come to define Boulder dining. 1039 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-544-5973, www.thekitchencafe.com

22. Barolo Grill

Cherry Creek
Blair Taylor's Barolo Grill maintains a level of service rarely matched. The northern Italian eatery—as well known for its signature duck dish as its celebrated wine program—welcomes with service that's sharp, confident, and eager to guide you through chef Brian Laird's rustic cuisine. 3030 E. Sixth Ave., 303-393-1040, www.barologrilldenver.com

23. Venue

The mark of a great chef is the ability to anticipate: to foresee tastes, trends, and what diners really want. Such is the case at Venue, where chef James Rugile creates simple and unpretentious dishes with rich flavors and textures. His cuisine is the mark of a steady hand—and an active mind. 3609 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-0477, www.venuebistro.com

24. Black Cat

This cozy nook of a restaurant doesn't have a bad table—but it does have a great one. Nab the seats overlooking Black Cat's kitchen window and you're privy to all the action. You'll watch as ingredients (many of which come from chef-owner Eric Skokan's farm) are finessed into composed dishes. Don't be tempted to skip over the appetizers—it is here that we think Skokan's cuisine is the most finely tuned. 1964 13th St., Boulder, 303-444-9110, www.blackcatboulder.com

25. Olivéa

Over the winter, the Mediterranean flavors of Olivéa have sustained us. We taste Spain in chef and co-owner John Broening's smoky patatas bravas, Italy in the duck meatballs with creamy polenta, and France in the caper-studded tuna crostini. Supplement any of these dishes with the house-cured charcuterie or the dynamic pork belly with tangerine glaze and lentils, and rejoice in an Uptown restaurant that challenges and educates with each bite. 719 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-5050, www.olivearestaurant.com