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With more than 250 restaurants participating in this year’s Denver Restaurant Week, it can be intimidating to narrow down which spots to hit during the hectic event, which kicks off on February 23 and runs through March 4. Like last year, restaurants have priced their multi-course menus in three distinct price tiers ($25, $35, and $45 per person), meaning that it’s easier than ever to find something that fits your budget. But what about a restaurant that fits your personality? We’ve narrowed down our favorite spots for every kind of Denver diner.
For the romantic
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
Elegant Avelina’s comfy cushioned seating, sultry curtains, and soft lighting set the mood for a romantic couple’s night out. Executive chef Joshua Oakley (who trained in France with Michelin-starred chefs, not too shabby). Many restaurants create special menus that you can get during regular service for restaurant week, but Avelina has chosen a different route. General manager Karen Pence says that Avelina has chosen all of its most-popular items off its regular menu for its restaurant-week diners to try. One thing you won’t find on Avelina’s three-course menu? Dessert. “We have so many savory things on our menu that we love, so we wanted to make sure people had a chance to try them,” Pence says. Don’t fret—diners still can expect a sweet surprise bite to finish out the meal. 1550 17th St., 720-904-6711
Menu highlights: grilled lavender boudin blanc; confit octopus; braised pork shoulder with creamy grits
For the carnivore
This four-year-old Ballpark restaurant is known for its fantastic steaks (as a matter of fact, it nabbed 5280’s Editors Choice selection for Best Steak in Denver in 2016’s Top of the Town). If there’s ever a good time to get a sampling of Butcher’s Bistro’s locally sourced meats, it’s during restaurant week, when you can score a real bargain. Take it from us and try out the classic steak frites (prepared with your choice of one-pound boneless ribeye or six-ounce shoulder clod)—either way you’ll be in carnivorous heaven. 2233 Larimer St, 303-296-2750
Menu highlights: pig head with caper aïoli and micro greens; grilled short rib served with sweet potato, peppercorn relish, Zinfandel glaze, and picked veggies; classic steak frites with your choice of cut
For the Denver history buff
Neighborhood: Washington Park
Campus Lounge has been a University Boulevard mainstay for more than 40 years. Owner Dan Landes (of City O City, Make, Believe Bakery, and Watercourse fame) updated the menu and gave the place a face-lift after purchasing the joint from (now deceased, RIP) University of Denver hockey star Jim Wiste in 2016. Between the new vegetarian-friendly menu, the restored neon sign, and the classic cocktails (try the Campus Lounge martini, made with local Leopold Bros. gin), this spot is definitely worth a visit for a taste of Denver history. 701 S University Blvd, 720-535-7021
Menu highlights: deviled eggs with pickled beets; sesame fried cauliflower; apple crisp made with pink lady apples
For the social butterfly
Neighborhood: North Capitol Hill
Between dietary restrictions and picky eaters, finding the perfect restaurant week spot to accommodate a group of diners can be a pain. Luckily, four-year-old D Bar has you covered with choices galore. (Five or more options for most courses!) So go ahead and round up a group of your pickiest friends—everyone’s going to be happy with this selection of modern comfort food. 494 E 19th Ave, 303-861-4710
Menu highlights: crispy Brussels sprouts with honey-Sriracha glaze; bacon mac and cheese with buttermilk fried chicken; salmon and beet salad; the famous Cake and Shake
For the hip foodie
If you haven’t gotten a chance to visit Denver’s first distillery-restaurant (opened in November), you’re in for a treat. The gorgeous, plant-bedecked space is home to an on-site micro-distillery and a small-but-mighty kitchen that turns out incredible bites. Don’t miss the Jones Park Swizzle, a cocktail made using Family Jones Rum, mint, lime, and bitters. Can’t get a reservation in the cozy space? Try out one of Edible Beats restaurant group’s other Denver favorite, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, known for its cheeky decor and the building’s, uh, colorful history as a peep show house and adult bookstore. 3245 Osage St., Unit A, 303-481-8185
Menu highlights: braised pork cheek pozole with tangerine salsa; roasted cod with clam stuffing; crispy brownie dumplings with banana ice cream
For the sophisticated gourmet
If you haven’t visited Vesta in a few years, now is the time to return. In 2016, executive chef Nicholas Kayser revamped the menu and the restaurant dropped “Dipping Grill” from the name. We think that the 21-year-old eatery has never been better. “At Vesta, we really stick to our focus during Denver Restaurant Week—serving bold, sexy food from a menu that embraces seasonal, fresh ingredients,” Kayser says. “We appreciate that we’ll serve many diners new to Vesta and we want to showcase our menu as we normally would.” The seasonal menu is full of standouts like the truffled mushroom hash, made with hon shimeji mushrooms and chock full of veggies like cauliflower and kale. The intimate dining room make Vesta the perfect place to settle in, take your time, and drink a few rounds (we suggest the Barrel-Aged Negroni, made with Family Jones’ Gin). 1822 Blake St, 303-296-1970
Menu highlights: Bolognese campanelle with whipped lardo and house-made ricotta; chicken tikka masala with juniper-infused Jasmine rice; Vietnamese coffee bar dessert