Discover Denver's hottest spots for breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, and much more.
—All photography by Aaron Colussi
Looking for a cool cocktail lounge, brunch, a hot spot, or, really, just about anything in Denver’s booming dining scene? We’ve got it right here, right now. You’ll never have to ask “Where should I eat?” again.
Consider this your ultimate 2016 dining checklist. Ready, set, go!
The Paella at Café Aion
The best way to dine at Café Aion is to order the good-for-sharing paella with chicken, mussels, and house-made chorizo. The kitchen nails the socarrat—that delicious caramelized rice crust at the bottom of the pan—every single time. 1235 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder, 303-993-8131, cafeaion.com
Thin-crust, wood-fired pizza might own the spotlight at Bar Dough in LoHi, but don’t skip the brassicas salad: roasted broccoli, pecorino, pumpkin seeds, apples, and brown butter vinaigrette. 2227 W. 32nd Ave., 720-668-8506, bardoughdenver.com
Nab Cafe Brazil’s Cazuela Colombiana, a prawn-and-chicken stew thickened with tomato broth, coconut milk, and the unlikely addition of Gorgonzola. The combination shouldn’t work, but it does—beautifully. 4408 Lowell Blvd., 303-480-1877, cafebrazildenver.com
We regularly drive across town for Buchi Cafe Cubano’s decadent café con leche, a highly caffeinated, highly sugared java made with full-fat steamed milk. It is, quite simply, heaven. 2651 W. 38th Ave. 303-458-1328, buchicafecubano.com
Secure a coveted table at To the Wind Bistro, and you’ll be rewarded with a bowl of Southern-style boiled peanuts. This messy, delicious freebie takes the place of bread and primes you for the meal ahead. 3333 E. Colfax Ave., 303-316-3333, tothewindbistro.com
Onefold has an entire menu of breakfast and lunch offerings, but we’re hard-pressed to order anything but the congee, a comforting, savory rice porridge topped with a poached egg and duck confit and stirred with green onions, soy sauce, and chile oil. 1420 E. 18th Ave., 303-954-0877, onefolddenver.com
O.M.F.G. taco at Dos Santos
Dos Santos’ O.M.F.G. taco—sushi-grade tuna, lime-cilantro aïoli, pickled onion, avocado, and cabbage tucked into a Bibb lettuce leaf—induces cravings so strong, we actually dream about the dish. 1475 E. 17th Ave., 303-386-3509,
Ototo’s menu is so wide-ranging (raw bar, grilled items, traditional Japanese small plates, ramen, and so on), it’s easy to overlook the marinated and grilled whole squid. Don’t. 1501 S. Pearl St., 303-733-2503, ototoden.com
No meal at Platt Park’s Makan Malaysian Cafe is complete without an order of roti—a pliable, almost crêpelike flatbread that can be eaten on its own, filled with scrambled eggs, or dipped into dishes like the kari ayam (curry chicken). 1859 S. Pearl St., 720-524-8093, makanmyfood.com
Perfectly shucked oysters are a given at Stoic & Genuine, but we’re especially enamored by the Genuine. This varietal, plucked fresh from the Washington coast and flown in daily, hits you with a full, unctuous, and briny flavor. Save the mignonette and signature granitas for other oysters—this one doesn’t need it. Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop St., 303-640-3474, stoicandgenuine.com
If you order just one thing at Hop Alley, make it the steamed eggplant. Served in a pool of spicy Szechuan bean sauce and topped with crispy garlic and a tangle
of bean sprouts and fresh herbs, this dish will be on your mind long after you’ve paid the bill. 3500 Larimer St., 720-379-8340, hopalleydenver.com
Delicious isn’t usually the word that comes to mind when describing the vegetable-centric, never-cooked cuisine of raw veganism. But Root Down’s four-course raw food dinners are eye-opening forays into just how tasty raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts can be. The menu changes monthly, but expect to be wowed by creative compositions like nori-wrapped veggie maki rolls with spicy nut sauce. 1600 W. 33rd Ave., 303-993-4200, rootdowndenver.com
There’s a reason Columbine Steak House & Lounge still attracts crowds after 55 years in business. The restaurant’s prices (and decor, for that matter) hark back to days gone by: A $13.95 New York strip steak meal comes complete with salad, a potato, and Texas toast. Whether you choose to dine in the lounge (which offers table service and a seriously awesome jukebox) or on the quick-service side, it’s an only-in-Denver experience you won’t soon forget. 300 Federal Blvd., 303-936-9110
Order the Brooklyn Bridge at West Highland’s Blue Pan Pizza and you’ll soon be hooked on Detroit-style pie. The stellar combination of pepperoni, Italian sausage, creamy ricotta, and pecorino atop a caramelized cheese-laced crust (the hallmark of this variety) is seriously addictive. Bonus: There are gluten-free pizzas too. 3930 W. 32nd Ave., 720-456-7666, bluepandenver.com
You’re not likely to find a tastier snack in Denver than Old Major’s sublime biscuit-ham sandwiches, available as a small plate at dinner. Two tender cheddar biscuits are slit in two, slathered with sweet red-pepper jam, and then piled high with shavings of house-smoked ham. The little sandwiches are sweet and salty—and will surely incite future cravings. Consider yourself warned. 3316 Tejon St., 720-420-0622, oldmajordenver.com
Domo Restaurant’s “donburi” (rice bowls) fall right in line with the Japanese restaurant’s simple country-style cuisine. Our lunchtime go-to is the shioyaki sake with lightly grilled salmon and shaved radish; it’s served with miso soup and three side dishes du jour. On sunny days, don’t miss dining in the manicured outdoor gardens. 1365 Osage St., 303-595-3666, domorestaurant.com
—All photography by Aaron Colussi