The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
Highlands Ranch is undergoing a food-fueled renaissance of sorts, with new outposts of Postino Wine Bar, Prost Brewing, and Lazy Dog cropping up in the suburb in the past year alone. And it’s a good thing, too. The metro district (which isn’t technically a city, but a 22,000-acre “master-planned community” founded in 1981) has more than 100,000 residents, and has been named one of the fastest-growing areas in the country—all culminating in a hunger for better fare. Here, check out 11 of the best spots to grab a bite in the ’burb directly south of I-470.
The three-week-old Postino Highlands Ranch, with its retro-chic decor (see: brown-and-orange striped wallpaper, yellow velvet couch, and board-game-adorned feature wall), offers a funky reprieve from the area’s sea of cookie-cutter chains. Here, suburbanites gather ’round the thoughtfully curated wine list and shareables like smoked salmon served with whipped feta cheese and assorted mushrooms with lemony labneh. Grab a seat on the shady patio lined with bright-orange banquettes, and make sure you visit for the daily happy hour, when glasses of grapes are just $6 until 5 p.m. 1497 Park Central Dr., Highlands Ranch
DTC-based entrepreneur Jim Beatty opened Zell’s this past July to bring European-inspired crêpes to the suburbs. Breakfast varieties come with your choice of bacon, ham, or bruschetta mixed with eggs, and for lunch, we like the thin pancakes filled with ham, brie, and fig preserves. Of course, there’s a sweet crêpe for any preference, from seasonal peaches and cream to the classics: Nutella, banana, and strawberry. Order ahead or watch the team make your selection to order on the traditional round griddles. 2229 Wildcat Reserve Parkway, Ste. A4, Highlands Ranch
Lazy Dog is a chain, yes, but with four of its 45 locations located in Colorado, this California-based bar and eatery feels like it’s part of the family—and a sprawling Highlands Ranch site is the newest member. The multi-page menu can be daunting until you realize that it’s all about comfort food, with soul-pleasing plates like chicken pot pie, pot roast with mashed potatoes, and a burger menu eight dishes deep. There’s even a new orange Tang-infused margarita and take-home, frozen TV dinners that deliver an extra hit of nostalgia. 43 Centennial Blvd., Highlands Ranch
This 11,000-square-foot, lager-lovers paradise has, hands-down, the busiest patio in town, with dozens of community picnic tables, lawn games, a stage, and ample heaters for cool-weather dining. While half-liters and liters of Prost’s notable German brews are the draw, there’s also a hearty menu of wursts and schnitzels to make a meal out of your visit. Try the Biergarten burger, topped with butterkäse cheese, beer-braised onions, German mustard, and cranberry sauce. 53 Centennial Blvd., Highlands Ranch
Highlands Ranch got its first Indian restaurant in early 2021 with the addition of Highland’s Indian Cuisine, a destination for masalas, biryani, and tandoor-fired offerings from around the subcontinent. Start with an order of juicy, steamed chicken momos before moving on to a bevy of traditional curries from the chef’s specialties menu. We like the tangy, onion- and tomato-sauce-based sweet potato masala and the fish korma, which is cooked in a light, cashew-based sauce. 9344 Dorchester St., Ste. 101, Highlands Ranch
The original brewery outpost of the Grist family of pubs (which now includes two themed cocktail bars in Lone Tree and Baker) is tucked into a quiet office park where imbibing seems like a fireable offense. But the comforts of a perfect neighborhood watering hole—a massive central bar, garage-door-accessible patio, ample TVs looping sports, and a wellspring of craft brews—make you forget where you are. Pick your dram and pair it with a snack from the in-house kitchen, which prepares pub grub like fried cheese curds, barbecue pulled-pork sandos, and burgers. 9150 Commerce Center Circle, Ste. 300, Highlands Ranch
The southernmost location of Abo’s Pizza delivers eats for any appetite—especially a hearty one—with a fount of dough-based pleasures going well beyond the famous New York–style slices (which are available à la carte if you dine in). Go for giant calzones made for sharing, butter-drenched garlic knots, and honey-garlic-glazed meatballs. The pizza list runs deep, and you can (and should) order a half-and-half pie to try two varieties at once. Heat seekers: Go for the Inferno, which, with its spicy Italian sausage, chorizo, and seed-in jalapeños, lives up to its name. 2229 Wildcat Reserve Parkway, Ste. A1, Highlands Ranch
Of the four locations of Los Dos Potrillos along the I-470 corridor, the Highlands Ranch outpost may be the most beloved, with its breezy rooftop patio, labyrinthine dining room, and generous weekday happy hour (4–6 p.m.), when 16-ounce margaritas are just $5. Mexican comforts abound, but we like a hearty bowl of tableside-prepared guac and the communal Taquiza platter, where up to four guests can top their own street tacos from a field of carne asada and adobada, chicken, nopales, and onions. 35 Springer Dr., Highlands Ranch
Located on the southwest side of town, Little Holly’s Asian Cafe serves pan-Asian delights from Thai curries to bento boxes to Peking duck. While the generous portion sizes make any of the $14 to $26 entrées a bargain, we recommend dining in for lunch, when most everything is under $11, including the Yushan chicken with carrots, broccoli, and peas wok-fried in a dark and tangy soy-based sauce. The price even includes egg drop or hot and sour soup and a crispy egg roll. 2223 W. Wildcat Reserve Parkway, Highlands Ranch
This 17-year-old Irish pub in Highlands Ranch Town Center is a lively place to grab a pint and a plate (best enjoyed on the rooftop patio, if it’s open). Fish and chips and bangers and mash—made with Tommyknocker beer sausages—are evergreen on the menu, and slow-roasted prime rib is served Friday to Sunday while it lasts. But the real draw is what’s behind the black-painted, Irish-style bar: an impressive lineup of Irish, Scotch, and single-malt whiskeys alongside imported suds like Guinness, Smithwicks, and Stella on tap. 9352 Dorchester St., Highlands Ranch
No culinary tour of Highlands Ranch would be complete without stopping at Honey B’s Macarons, a specialty boutique that crafts more than 80 flavors of the meringue-based confections using classic French techniques. The current lineup includes temptations like pink peppercorn and violet-cassis flavors alongside tried-and-true parfums such as rose, red velvet, and orange dream. You can also indulge in alcohol-infused macarons, like the coffee ganache variety speared with a pipette of Bailey’s Irish Cream. 40 Springer Dr., Highlands Ranch