Whether you’re headed out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late-night bite, consider this your go-to guide to the most delectable food—and drink!—in Denver and beyond.

Rise & Dine: Denver’s Best Breakfast Sandwiches

Hi Rise owner Doug Anderson’s superb breads and bagels anchor the extensive menu of breakfast sandwiches at this Ballpark spot. In particular, the Uncle Gary’s delightful marriage of a fried egg, Canadian bacon, caramelized onions, fontina, and tangy honey mustard on a house-made English muffin is one for the books. 2162 Larimer St, 303-296-3656

Looking for a fancy breakfast sandwich? Go elsewhere. Congress Park staple Under the Umbrella Cafe and Bakery has served simple, cheap, and reliably satisfying options to hungry Denverites for years. Our favorite is the Shannon: scrambled eggs, spinach, tomato, onion, and pepper jack cheese on a bagel. 3504 E. 12th Ave, 303-256-0797

If you’re craving an East Coast–style breakfast, look no further than Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen. The Jersey Boy extols the classic combo of a rich egg bagel, runny-yolk fried egg, Taylor ham, American cheese, and ketchup. Grab a few napkins and dig in. 725 E. 26th Ave, 720-440-9880

Moxie Eatery on Broadway has become one of our mainstays since it opened nine months ago. The sherry-vinaigrette-drizzled bacon Gorgonzola breakfast beauty (served on an English muffin) isn’t traditional, but thanks to its balanced flavors, don’t be surprised if it becomes a regular fixture in your morning routine. 70 Broadway, Suite 150, 303-524-9236

The breakfast sandwiches at Highland’s charming Wooden Spoon Cafe & Bakery are the stuff of dreams. House-baked brioche—pillowy, rich, and slightly sweet—cradles fluffy eggs and the toppings of your choice. We always return to the tasty combo of sausage, tomato, and cheddar. 2418 W. 32nd Ave, 303-999-0327

Rise & Shine Biscuit Cafe
Rise & Shine Biscuit Cafe. Photograph courtesy of Rish & Shine Biscuit Cafe

Rise & Shine Biscuit Cafe offers house-made breakfast sandwiches that make getting out of bed worthwhile. Choose the Goldsboro, a freshly baked biscuit heaped with salty country ham. Add scrambled egg and cheddar cheese to round it out. Douse with hot sauce to taste. Enjoy. 5126 W. 29th Ave, 720-855-0540

At $7.25, the sautéed wild mushroom breakfast sandwich from Justin Brunson’s Masterpiece Delicatessen may not be the cheapest in town—but it’s certainly among the most delicious. Choose a Rosenberg’s bagel or an English muffin as the base, and ask for the egg cooked over medium. The earthy, nutty mushrooms add an indulgent touch. 1575 Central St, 303-561-3358; 1710 Sherman St, 303-832-5555

The Sammie Bing Bing at Taxi’s Black Black Coffee employs a supermarket throwback—Boursin cheese—to terrific effect. The creamy herbed spread mingles with an organic fried egg, a swipe of chipotle aïoli, arugula, and your choice of avocado or meat (go for bacon) on a squishy brioche bun. 3459 Ringsby Court, 720-595-1708

Carbon Cafe & Bar
Carbon Cafe & Bar. Photograph by Aaron Colussi

If you count a McDonald’s McMuffin among your guilty pleasures, then you have to try the Golden Arches sandwich from Carbon Cafe & Bar. A fresh brioche doughnut (from Habit Doughnut Dispensary next door) is split and served with bourbon-blueberry jam, a fried egg, caramelized Spam, American cheese, and tater tots. Healthy? Not quite. Delicious? Oh yes. 1553 Platte St, 720-428-8565

Diners We Love

For early risers—and those who detest waiting in line for brunch.

Pete's Kitchen
Pete’s Kitchen. Photograph by Sarah Boyum

Pete’s Kitchen began feeding the hungry masses in 1942, and beef-and-lamb gyro has been a house specialty ever since. Pete’s serves it any way you like: in an omelet or breakfast burrito, as any number of sandwiches, or as a plate. Each and every iteration is downright tasty. 1962 E. Colfax Ave, 303-321-3139

Lancer’s Diner is a neighborhood haunt worthy of a visit. The from-scratch menu is lengthy, but favorites include crêpes with a cream-cheese-and-berry filling paired with hash browns and bacon or sausage. It’s a balanced, bountiful plate that goes down easy. 2991 W. Evans Ave, 303-936-4007

Cherry Creek’s Zaidy’s Deli offers exceptional Jewish deli–style fare and a down-to-earth vibe. Try a different kind of breakfast sandwich that’ll fill you up for hours: two massive latkes encasing smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, red onion, and tomato. 121 Adams St, 303-333-5336

Cozy DJ’s Café is the kind of spot where regulars chat with their servers throughout their meals. The menu tempts across the board, but give the spicy chorizo stew a try: Packed with sausage crumbles, potatoes, and tomatoes and topped with slices of baguette and a wobbly poached egg, it’s a bowl of warm-you-to-your-toes goodness. Multiple locations

No list of area diners would be complete without the Denver Diner. This stalwart reopened in 2015 after extensive repairs due to a fire, and we’d argue that the refabbed—yet still classic—space is all the better for it. Fortunately, staples like biscuits and gravy and creamy milkshakes haven’t changed a bit. 740 W. Colfax Ave, 303-825-5443

When it comes to classic greasy spoons, Breakfast King in the Overland neighborhood rules. Settle in among regulars for the legendary Texas country-fried steak, a tender, 11-ounce behemoth laden with gravy and crowned with two eggs. 1100 S. Santa Fe Drive, 303-733-0795

Anytime (And Kid-Friendly) Eats

When the will to cook just isn’t there, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight places you can go to feed yourself—and the little ones—well without resorting to a drive-thru.

For multiple unique dining options, a party-loud atmosphere that’ll absorb the kids’ ruckus, and a full bar for Mom and Dad, head to Highland’s Avanti Food & Beverage. There, children can choose from pizza (Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada), pasta (Chow Morso), and burgers (American Grind), or branch out with arepas (Quiero Arepas) and beef shawarma (Souk Shawarma). 3200 Pecos St, 720-269-4778

River and Woods, a six-month-old Boulder restaurant from chef Daniel Asher and Josh Dinar, welcomes families with a collection of games and books sure to keep little ones occupied. The menu follows suit, particularly at brunch, when it offers Cap’n Crunch cereal with a from-scratch cookie as one option but also has French toast and specialty pancakes. For a grown-up guilty pleasure, go for the decadent mac and cheese at dinner. 2328 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-993-6301

Four Friends Kitchen is a Stapleton family go-to with its playful vibe, locally sourced breakfast and lunch fare, and ample distractions for young hands, including Etch A Sketches in the dining room and yard games on the rooftop. Best bets include the grits with spicy andouille sausage and red chile sauce (for you) and PB&J waffles or mac and cheese with grilled hot dog slices (for them). 2893 Roslyn St, 303-388-8299

Between its kid-friendly eats and fast-casual service, Brider is something like a frazzled parent’s best friend. Adults can sip Across the Atlantic cocktails—bourbon, Bénédictine, Lillet Rouge, bitters, honey—and nibble on the sweet potato and avocado salad, while even the pickiest of offspring will be pleased with the pint-size plate of meatballs with polenta. 1644 Platte St, 303-455-3084

Steuben’s. Photograph courtesy of Steuben’s

Retro-homey Steuben’s is a go-to for adults thanks to its renowned cocktail program and well-executed classics such as lobster rolls, fried chicken, and pot roast. Parents will also appreciate its health-conscious kids menu: All entrées come with three finger-friendly fruit-and-veggie sides (think cucumber slices with ranch dressing, edamame, and berries). 523 E. 17th Ave., 303-830-1001; 7355 Ralston Road, Arvada, 303-830-0096

Angelo’s Taverna is made for families, especially if the ones in charge like oysters. Bivalves come on the half shell or chargrilled with four flavoring options (the original, with garlic butter and pecorino, is our favorite). Young diners will happily dig into half portions of the homemade pastas and pizzas on the menu. 620 E. Sixth Ave., 303-744-3366; 6885 S. Sante Fe Drive, Littleton, 720-532-1389

At Punch Bowl Social, parents need not worry about keeping the kids entertained. With bowling, vintage arcade games, foosball, and plenty of other fun available, they’ll never want to leave. And thanks to celeb chef and culinary partner Hugh Acheson’s crave-worthy menu—which ranges from grain bowls to mini grass-fed burgers—you won’t, either. 65 Broadway, 303-765-2695

Dio Mio
Dio Mio. Photograph by Aaron Colussi

Parents of pasta-loving children, hear this: Dio Mio in RiNo is the fast-casual restaurant you’ve been waiting for. Not only can you order a well-crafted cocktail or affordable glass of wine, delightful small plates, lunchtime sandwiches, and pastas for yourself (squid ink spaghetti with pork belly and kimchi, anyone?), but the counter-service vibe is so relaxed that your kids will feel at home, too. Plus, the homemade cacio e pepe topped with crushed pink peppercorns might just inspire them to expand their noodle toppings beyond butter and cheese. 3264 Larimer St, 303-562-1965

Denver’s Best Hot Dogs

Whether you’re nine or 99, there are times when a good old-fashioned hot dog is just the thing. When the craving strikes, head to one of these classic spots.

Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs’ caramelized onions and cream cheese topping combo is a Denver favorite. But we suggest shaking things up on your next visit with a fiery El Diablo: tomatillo green chile salsa, Sriracha-lime mayo, and smoked bacon bits on your choice of dog. 2148 Larimer St, 720-746-9355

While you’re putting away the cheddar-cheese-, jalapeño-, and barbecue-sauce-topped Bronco Billy dog at Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, take a minute to check out the tables, which are covered with photos of the owner and his family (Grandpa Billy included). 2445 Larimer St, 303-284-2714

With just one guy acting as the cashier, cook, and waiter at this small Arvada stop, Jiffy’s Hot Dog Deli still nails it when it comes to delivering excellent service and tasty specials such as the European: German sausage, sour cream, mustard, grilled onions, sweet peppers, and sauerkraut on a deli roll. 10370 Ralston Road, Arvada, 303-423-8083

Mile high Vienna Stand
Mile High Vienna Stand. Photograph courtesy of Mile High Vienna Stand

You can’t have a Chicago dog without the signature fixings—a pickle spear, a tomato wedge, Chicago-style relish, onions, yellow mustard, sport peppers, and celery salt on a poppy-seed bun—and that’s just the way Mile High Vienna Stand serves them. Multiple locations

The standout chili cheese dog at Chicago Mike’s Beef & Dogs in Centennial delivers piping-hot cheddar cheese sauce and bean-free chili that’s good enough to scoop up with a spoon. 11405 E. Briarwood Ave, Suite 900, Centennial, 720-773-2333

We can’t decide if it’s the friendly staff, the soft, fluffy buns, or the addition of red onions and mustard on the NY Coney Style Dallas Dog (which comes with shredded jack cheese and chili con carne) that makes dining at Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs such a treat. You tell us. 3525 E. Colfax Ave, 303-333-7627

What’s For Dinner?

If a splurge is in order, this is where to go.

Matsuhisa’s $45 bento box with sushi is a double-decker beauty. Although available only during lunch, it’s bountiful enough to count as dinner, too. We can’t stop thinking about the beef teriyaki version, which comes with miso soup, a tuna sashimi salad, the chef’s choice of nigiri, Nobu’s famous miso black cod, and rock shrimp tempura dressed in a creamy, spicy sauce. 98 N. Steele St, 303-329-6628

For a refined celebration, afternoon tea at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa is unsurpassed. There are varying levels of indulgence that range from $36 to $128 per person (the latter price includes Champagne), but all come with high-end teas, scones with cream and preserves, delicate finger sandwiches, and exquisite pastries. 321 17th St, 303-297-3111

Mizuna is a mainstay for special-occasion dinners, but we’d argue that it’s also one of the city’s preeminent cocktail destinations. Barman Austin Carson nails fanciful takes on the classics. One example: his verdant and refreshing $12 version of the mojito, which features Don Q Cristal, fresh spearmint (from owner Frank Bonanno’s garden), matcha tea, melon, and lime. 225 E. Seventh Ave, 303-832-4778

Izakaya Den
Izakaya Den. Photograph courtesy of Izakaya Den

Lobster is a classic indulgence, and nowhere is the crustacean tastier than in the heavenly ramen ($13 to $16) at Izakaya Den. Lobster shells and red snapper bones lend the stock rich flavor, while lobster-and-tiger-shrimp-filled dumplings up the ante. Snappy noodles and fresh scallions round out the flavorful bowl. 1487-A S. Pearl St, 303-777-0691

Barolo Grill’s wine list is 115 pages long (there are bottles stored in almost every corner of the restaurant and even across the street). For a special bottle on a special night, consider the 2005 Prinsi Barbaresco Gaia Principe ($149), all plum and black licorice, which the staff discovered on its annual summer pilgrimage to Piedmont, Italy. 3030 E. Sixth Ave, 303-393-1040

The quickest way to feel like a VIP at the new Breckenridge Distillery Restaurant is to order the $128 caviar service ($140 with vodka) for two. It’s all pomp and circumstance—the caviar tin gleams like a jewel, the bowl beneath glitters with ice, and a mother-of-pearl spoon feels delicate in your hand—met with the crispiest of potato chips and crème fraîche. Sip an ice-cold shot of vodka (pinky up, of course) with each bite. 1925 Airport Road, 970-771-3251 —Amanda M. Faison

“Omakase” translates roughly to “trust the chef,” which is what you’ll do when you settle in for Sushi Sasa’s nine-course feast. Chef Wayne Conwell dives deep into Japanese-Italian fusion with dishes such as pecorino-dusted halibut and crisp veggies with a bagna-càuda-esque anchovy, miso, and olive oil fonduta. It’s an unforgettable experience that’s worth the $120 per person. 2401 15th St, Suite 80, 303-433-7272

Foie gras—or fattened goose liver—is a polarizing ingredient, but no one can dispute the deliciousness of the foie-gras-topped Shroom Luva at Tap and Burger. This $22 indulgence features a beef patty, sautéed mushrooms, Emmental cheese, white truffle aïoli, and shavings of the liver on top. 2219 W. 32nd Ave, 720-287-4493; 1565 N. Raleigh St, Unit 100, 720-456-6779

Edge Restaurant
Edge Restaurant & Bar. Photograph by Aaron Colussi

You can score a mighty fine piece of beef at plenty of steak houses around town. But when only the finest 30-ounce wagyu tomahawk will do, head to the Edge Restaurant & Bar inside the Four Seasons. There, you can slice into a perfectly marbled, pecan-wood-grilled steak for a cool $125. Ask for the Stranahan’s Whiskey butter sauce on the side. Four Seasons Hotel, 1111 14th St, 303-389-3343

The City’s Hidden Gems

Does the truism that cabbies know all the best places hold up in the ridesharing era? We took a fleet of Lyfts to find out; based on our drivers’ recommendations, the answer is “yes.” —Ruth Tobias

Luis, our driver, came to Denver from the Yucatán, so when he told us to try a Sinaloan seafood joint, we took his word for it. Our faith was rewarded. From “molcajetes” (mortars overflowing with seafood, meats, cheese, and sauces) to wacky Mexican-style sushi, El Coco Pirata’s menu is worth exploring. Start with an outrageous michelada garnished with oysters, shrimp, and carne seca; next, try the cevichelike “botana pirata” (pirate’s snack) full of abalone, snail, and octopus. All are served by the Spanish-speaking staff with great cheer. 3325 W. Alameda Ave, 303-934-4133

“It’s one of the last remaining authentic Irish pubs” in town, said ex-firefighter Rick about Clancy’s Irish Pub, open almost continuously since 1973. We’ll gladly vouch for its old-school charm, which stems from the inlaid wood floors, multiple bars, and Emerald Isle memorabilia that fills the space. The kitchen does a proper job with across-the-pond classics (hearty beef stew, savory bangers and mash) as well as updates like the delightful corned-beef-and-pastrami Irish Castro (based on a Cubano). 7000 W. 38th Ave, Wheat Ridge, 720-456-7320

“All the time,” Kyle said when we asked if riders ever grill him about restaurants. One of his go-to recommendations is Cafe Brazil, a festive South American fixture in Berkeley, because “it’s got great atmosphere, it’s genuine, and it’s something different for Denver.” We couldn’t agree more. Start in the bar with a rum flight and (free!) happy hour tapas, then move on to a feast centered around robust stews, including the famous mixed-meat “feijoada completa.” 4408 Lowell Blvd, 303-480-1877

Welton Street Cafe
Welton Street Cafe. Photograph courtesy of Welton Street Cafe

Ironically, Ricardo learned about Welton Street Cafe, a low-key Southern and Caribbean soul food sanctuary, from a passenger “who told me it had incredible food made from scratch.” So it has for years, including some of the city’s finest fried chicken and catfish as well as seven different kinds of Jamaican-style patties. 2736 Welton St, 303-308-0860

Sustainable Seafood: Fish You Can Feel Good About

With all the seafood on local menus, you’d never know Colorado is landlocked. While that’s great news for fish lovers, it’s also a worldwide trend that’s worrisome for the long-term health of our oceans. Diners need to do their parts: Ask restaurants if they serve sustainably caught fish; look to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and Marine Stewardship Council for ocean-friendly options and partnering restaurants; and check out these local spots for their sensational, sustainable seafood.

Fish N Beer
Fish N Beer. Photograph courtesy of Seesaw Creative

Diners at Troy Guard’s RiNo eatery, Mister Tuna, have been smitten with the brown-butter king crab since day one, with good reason. The combination of sweet Alaskan king crab (a good choice, according to Seafood Watch), seasonal local fruit (apples now, Palisade peaches come summer), brown butter, and Hawaiian black lava sea salt is impossible not to love. 3033 Brighton Blvd, 303-831-8862

The name of Kevin Morrison’s new RiNo restaurant, Fish N Beer, hints at the simple pleasures found within. From grilled oysters to wood-fired Icelandic arctic char with salsa verde, chef Aniedra Nichols’ concise menu lets the flavors of the responsibly sourced seafood shine through. 3510 Larimer St, 303-248-3497

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. Photograph courtesy of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar


Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, under executive chef Sheila Lucero, has made responsible sourcing its mission since the first Boulder location opened in 1994. Three more Colorado spots and one Kansas City outpost later, it’s still going strong: Jax was the first Colorado restaurant to be certified by the Seafood Watch, and Lucero is also on its task force. What does that mean for diners? There are plenty of sustainable options on the menu, and the mussels, in particular, are plump and delicious. Multiple locations

If you’re leery of farm-raised fish, allow the specimens at Silva’s Fish Market to change your mind. Owner (and Sushi-Rama chef) Jesus Silva sources from environmentally friendly aquaculture outlets. These farms raise fish in low-pollutant waters and eschew antibiotics, hormones, and poorly sourced feeder fish. The results are fantastic. Just order the salmon ceviche—made with farmed Verlasso salmon, red onion, coconut, and citrus juices—and you’ll taste what we mean. The Denver Central Market, 2669 Larimer St, 303-353-2995, denvercentralmarket.com

Shrimp is notoriously difficult to farm responsibly, and wild-caught specimens from nondomestic sources are questionable at best. But you can still get your fill thanks to Jennifer Jasinski’s thoughtful sourcing of sweet, wild Mexican shrimp at Stoic & Genuine. Find them in her deconstructed paella or served straight up, chilled, and ready to peel and eat. Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop St, 303-640-3474

Denver sushi lovers are lucky to have Bamboo Sushi at Avanti Food & Beverage—not only because its food is so tasty, but because it partners with nine environmental groups to ensure that its ingredients are sustainable. In fact, Bamboo is one of six independent U.S. restaurants (four are in Colorado) certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which puts its stamp of approval on the albacore tuna Bamboo serves as a delicate carpaccio with smoky cipollini onions, pickled mushrooms, Japanese sea salt, and ponzu. Avanti Food & Beverage, 3200 Pecos St, 720-269-4778, avantifandb.com

Bradford Heap, chef-owner of Wild Standard in Boulder, takes sustainability seriously. Exhibit A is his exclusive Yakutat Bay supplier of wild king salmon. The fish are hooked, caught, cleaned, and arrive at Wild Standard’s walk-in within 24 hours. This costly supply chain results in a $34 entrée price tag for diners, but the choice reflects Heap’s commitment; the fish is full-flavored and fresh as can be. You can order this carefully sourced salmon as long as the kings remain in the bay, hopefully through the middle of April. 1043 Pearl St, Boulder, 720-638-4800

Delectable Desserts

Nostalgia be damned. It’s time for a new sweet spot, so mix up your dessert routine with these delicious recommendations.

Bastien’s Restaurant takes America’s favorite dessert to another level. Here, skillet pies (cherry, apple, or peach) come in pools of sizzling cinnamon-pecan, brandy, or whiskey butter, respectively. Photograph by Aaron Colussi
If you like brownies…
Try Babettes Artisan Bread’s chocolate sables The Source, 350 Brighton Blvd, 303-993-8602.
If you like ice cream…
Try Snowlab’s Taiwanese-style shaved snow 4360 E. Evans Ave, 720-612-4546.
If you like pie…
Try Bastien’s à la mode skillet pies 3503 E. Colfax Ave, 303-322-0363.
If you like croissants…
Try Izzio’s kouign-amann The Denver Central Market, 2669 Larimer St, 720-381-0260.
If you like pudding…
Try Avelina’s coconut panna cotta 1550 17th St, 720-904-6711.
If you like macaroons…
Try Spinelli’s Bakery & Café’s five-layer bars 4628 E. 23rd Ave, 720-242-6048
If you like cheesecake…
Try Café Zuri’s Carmen cake 3718 W. 32nd Ave, 720-381-4567.
If you like banana bread…
Try D Bar Restaurant’s white chocolate–banana bread pudding 494 E. 19th Ave, 303-861-4710.

After-Hours Hot Spots From Those In The Know

A.J. Snowhite, bartender at the Squeaky Bean“The Wazee Supper Club pours more than 30 beers, and its Parmesan-garlic wings are the best.”

Austin Heidt, server/sommelier at Frasca Food & Wine, “I go to the Kitchen Upstairs for the grilled cheese with tomato soup; always add prosciutto.”

Ryan Rebhan, server at Mercantile Dining & Provision, “Illegal Pete’s feeds the majority of the hospitality crowd in this city; I end up there two to three times a week. Order a chicken bowl (pro tip: guacamole is free if you don’t get cheese and sour cream) and any Ratio brew from the bar.”

Gene Fereda, general manger at Old Major, “My late-night spot is Sputnik on Broadway for the killer Cubano and ghost-pepper-infused vodka shots!”

Gavin Berry, general manager at Del Frisco’s Grille“My team and I love the Milwaukee St. Tavern: great local beers and awesome loaded tater tots.”

Sasha Zhelyezna, general manager at Bar Dough, “I love the duck roll at Hop Alley, which goes so well with a glass of J.B. Becker Riesling.”

Andrew Stahl, restaurant manager at Coperta, “My favorite after-work meal consists of Hudson Hill’s Red Hook cocktail with the pork-and-bacon terrine.”

Evan Dale, server at Cho77, “Telegraph has really good, affordable wines, and I like going there for some late-night charcuterie.”

This article was originally published in 5280 March 2017.
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.