While Canadians might scoff at Denver’s merciful winter weather (34 degrees one day; 70 the next), we still experience a respectable number of bone-chilling days here in the Mile High City. On such occasions, we turn to a Québécois staple for sustenance: poutine.
Typically consisting of French fries, cheese curds, and a meat-based gravy, poutine—the Québécois slang word for “mess”—is comfort food at its finest. Here are a few can’t-miss local versions for you to warm up with this season.
Think vegans can’t hop on the poutine train? Wrong. City O’ City makes sure that plant-based eaters can enjoy a take on the dish that’s every bit as satisfying as the traditional mainstay. The thyme-scented vegan brown gravy at this Cap Hill standby is surprisingly rich and creamy thanks to the addition of cashew milk. Vegetarians can enjoy their fries topped with the requisite dairy cheese curds, while vegans will find theirs bolstered with melty dairy-free mozzarella.
Wallet Dent: $10
206 East 13th Avenue, 303-831-6443
Steuben’s is serious about recreating regional comfort foods, and its gravy cheese fries are no exception. Settle into a leather booth at this diner-esque spot for this appetizer plate, a mainstay at both the Uptown and Arvada locations. While this poutine-by-any-other-name doesn’t flaunt any fancy additions, its lightly broiled top adds extra crunch to the mix of fries, brown gravy, and oozing mozzarella cheese.
Wallet Dent: $8
523 East 17th Avenue, 303-830-0096; 7355 Ralston Rd., Arvada, 303-830-0096
Euclid Hall is elevating the Denver poutine scene with its three distinct takes on the dish. Whether you opt for the Latin-inspired “papas con mole” topped with local Corner Post Meats pork, spicy pepitas, cotija cheese, and cilantro or the the duck poutine with duck confit, cheddar curds, and a black pepper duck gravy, you can’t go wrong. Want to turn your ‘tine up a notch? Ask for the Fowl Play, which gilds the duck version with a sunny-side-up egg and foie gras.
Wallet Dent: $14.50 for “papas con mole” or duck poutine, $23.50 for Fowl Play
1317 14th Street, 303-595-4255
Located in the bustling Union Station neighborhood, the Pig & The Sprout is a restaurant that’s fit for both carnivores and plant-based eaters. As the name suggests, the dichotomous menu is split into two sections, and both the “Pig” and “Sprout” sides offer their own distinct poutine. The Pig’s meaty version is topped with tender pieces of smoked brisket, a gravy made from Asher Brewing Company’s organic Tree Hugger Amber Ale, white cheddar curds, and slivered scallions. On the Sprout side of the menu you’ll find the (vegetarian!) Hatch green chile poutine—seasoned fries loaded with white cheddar curds, scallions, stewed black and white beans, and slightly spicy green chile. Feel free to “brunchify” either order with the addition of two eggs.
Wallet Dent: $10 for the pig poutine, $8 for the sprout poutine, $3 to brunchify with two eggs
1900 Chestnut Place, 720-535-9719
Welcome to the oldest-standing restaurant in West Highland. Here you can experience poutine through a Denver lense. Mead St.’s popular Mexi-Poutine consists of house-made green chile, sour cream, and a four-cheese blend atop crispy fries. Akin to a spicy loaded baked potato, this dish is hard to stop eating. Enjoy your poutine at happy hour from 3-6 p.m. or as a late-night bite, and be sure to pair it with one of the bar’s 80-plus whiskey selections.
Wallet Dent: $10
3625 West 32nd Ave., 303-433-2138
Take in the Victorian-inspired pop art on the walls at this modern burger joint and sip on a local brew as you decide between the two unique poutine-esque options on the menu. Both the ginger-curry and the beer-mustard poutines—more akin to smothered fries than true poutines, we admit—are available as starters or side dishes, and both can be made with your choice of tater tots or French fries. While the curry poutine boasts a spicy ginger aroma and pleasant curry undertones, the savory beer-mustard poutine is our go-to.
Wallet Dent: $3.50 for ginger-curry or beer-mustard
4000 Tennyson St., Ste. 100, 303-862-9394
At LoHi’s Old Major, a focus on local agriculture and a nose-to-tail butchery program anchor the eclectic, New American menu; the lobster poutine is another reason the it’s worthy of a special trip. Built with crispy tater tots, gently sweet lobster gravy (sort of like a thick bisque), tender pieces of crustacean, and cheese curds, this head-scratcher of a dish actually works, and deliciously so.
Wallet Dent: $24
3316 Tejon St., 720-420-0622