We support most gameday traditions (tailgating, face painting, even foam fingers), but a subpar $8 hot dog isn’t one of ’em. With such a winning roster of restaurants to choose from in Denver, it’s time your pregame grub got an upgrade. Whether you’re en route to cheer on the Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies, Avalanche, or DU’s Pioneers (all in season this month), let us improve the experience with these suggestions for stadiumside meals.

When you’re at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, go to:

Chili Verde

2311 Federal Blvd., 720-287-2296, chiliverdedenver.com

The white tablecloths at this eatery, just west of Jefferson Park, are the first indication that the authentic cuisine, lifted from the southern Mexico state of Puebla, is a far cry from pedestrian combo plates.

Eat this: Grab a mezcal margarita and pony up $3 for chips and a trio of salsas (you’ll want a vat of the spicy roasted chile variety). Then dig into regional specialties like the nuanced chile en nogada—a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with beef, raisins, almonds, and plantains—drizzled with a creamy walnut sauce and crowned with pomegranate seeds.

When you’re at Pepsi Center, go to:

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen

1317 14th St., 303-595-4255, euclidhall.com

What happens when a Wolfgang Puck alum gets her hands—or knives, rather—on pub fare? Find out at Euclid Hall, where James Beard Award–winning chef Jennifer Jasinski has given beer-hall grub a gourmet makeover.

Eat this: Stop by before a Nuggets or Avs game—or after, since the kitchen is open until at least midnight every day—for indulgences such as fried cheese curds, duck poutine, and hand-made sausages (we recommend the juicy short-rib kielbasa). To best experience the meaty menu’s breadth, team up with an adventurous group of tasters willing to share plates of brûléed marrowbones and pad thai pig ears.

When you’re at University of Denver’s Magness Arena, go to:

Ashbury Provisions

2043 S. University Blvd., 303-282-5485, asburyprovisions.com

One look at this year-old watering hole’s beer list, and you’ll be happy the arena is within walking distance. Choose from 24 expertly selected brews from the likes of Massachusetts standout Spencer Brewery or local favorite Crooked Stave. If you want a less-than-crooked walk to the arena, Asbury’s got an impressive range of low-
alcohol (but still interesting) brews too.

Eat this: Noshing options include a spread of jars filled with house-marinated olives, bacon jam, and seasonal pickles and the opulent PJC burger, a beef patty topped with cream cheese, caramelized onions, and a sweet-spicy pepper jam.

When you’re at Coors Field, go to:

Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza

2129 Larimer St., 303-296-7000, marcoscoalfiredpizza.com

While pizza and wings might seem played out, this Larimer Street restaurant knocks these game day snacks out of the park. Order a masterfully crafted Neapolitan or New York-style pie and work up an appetite as you watch the skilled pizzaiolos at work in the open kitchen, where they gracefully pull the perfectly melty, just-this-side-of-charred pies from the blazing hot coal-fired oven.

Eat This: You can’t go wrong with Marco’s Italian-inspired wings, which get their lemony flavor from a marinade of limoncello liqueur. Served with focaccia bread and grilled Vidalia onions, you might want to make a meal out of these—but then you’d miss out on the pizzas, which run the gamut from classic to inventive (like the Pistacchio, which comes sauced with pistachio cream in lieu of the traditional tomato purée). Try the Toscana, topped with milky mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, proscuitto di Parma, and arugula for a fresh take on a pre-game ritual.

—Inset photos courtesy of Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen; Kelsey Montague; Ashley Davis Tilly

This article was originally published in 5280 October 2015.
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.