“Best New Restaurants” has long been one of 5280’s most popular cover stories, and this year’s installment, which begins on page 52, will be no exception. Food editor Amanda M. Faison has assembled a list of eight new hot spots that serve everything from casual comfort food to wildly inventive culinary creations.
But in a year in which we’re celebrating this magazine’s 20th anniversary, it’s tough not to also think about the many great restaurants that have come and gone through the decades. In many ways, these restaurants serve as a kind of social history of the Mile High City.
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If you were here in the 1970s, Glendale was the center of the area’s nightlife—a fact recognized by Elvis Presley, who once flew from Memphis in the middle of the night for the Fool’s Gold Loaf sandwich from the Colorado Mine Company on East Virginia Avenue. Across town, Lafitte’s offered fine dining on Larimer Square, which only a decade earlier had been saved from the wrecking ball by preservationist Dana Crawford, while over on Colfax Avenue, Tante Louise was beginning a 30-year run as the city’s special-occasion favorite.
In the 1980s, a new generation of restaurants emerged that tried to keep pace with a Denver that was flying high on oil money. There was Dudley’s on Sixth Avenue, Cliff Young’s and Mike Berardi’s on 17th Avenue, Cafe Giovanni on Market Street, and City Spirit Cafe on Blake Street.
By the 1990s, Cherry Creek North had taken over as the city’s dining hub, boasting such long-time favorites as Bistro Adde Brewster, Mel’s Bar and Grill, and the Fourth Story, which sat atop the Tattered Cover Book Store’s also now-shuttered First Avenue location.
Around the start of the new millennium, Denver’s tastemakers shifted to Lower Downtown and Highland. For me, the signature restaurant from that era was the short-lived Adega Restaurant & Wine Bar on Wynkoop (now home to Venice Ristorante & Wine Bar).
We’d love to hear your memories of Denver restaurants from days gone by and learn what eateries are your current favorites. During the month of March, we’ll be collecting your tributes: Whether you upload a photo to Instagram and Twitter or share your favorite date restaurant on Facebook, use the hashtag #5280EatsOut. We’ll share some of your picks on 5280.com throughout the month.
We get it. You love food. You gobble up our annual guide to the best new eateries in Denver (see page 52), spend oodles of time searching through our restaurant guide on 5280.com, and wait expectantly for our weekly Table Talk newsletter.