The Essential Denver Holiday Dining Survival Guide

From high tea to haute dinners, here's where to celebrate the holidays
December 3, 2015
by Lori Midson

Whether you're celebrating Christmas Eve with the in-laws, hosting a blowout office party or planning a festive dinner with your dream date, Denver has numerous options for feasting and drinking during the holidays. Here are our top picks for toasting the season.

Christmas Eve Revelry

Along with offering its regular dinner menu of French favorites, Bistro Vendôme chef Adam Branz is channeling his inner Julia Child with a prix fixe dinner that includes recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The four-course feast, priced at $50 per person, parades French onion soup, salade niçoise, beef bourguignon and, for dessert, gâteaux Paris. All items will also be available à la carte. “Christmas Eve is the perfect night to honor the woman who brought French cooking to America through her cookbooks and TV series," says Branz. Reservations: 303-825-3232.

At Argyll Whiskey Beer, chef Joe Seeds is marking the eve of Christmas with a $25 three-course dinner. There will be roast beef with au jus, scalloped potatoes and green beans with chorizo in addition to the pub's regular menu. The bar will pour libations until 2 AM, and offer celebratory specials on wine, cocktails and beer. Reservations: 303-847-0850.

Toast the spirit of the season with modern Mexican cuisine and cocktails at Tamayo, which is featuring a $26 carne asada holiday menu that includes marinated grilled skirt steak, sweet potatoes and chorizo gratin, tomatillo chipotle sauce and cilantro chimichurri; the regular menu is available too. Reservations: 720-946-1433.

If you want to leave the bright lights of the big city, head to Boulder to make merry at Oak at Fourteenth, where guests will be treated to a multicourse menu — including an amuse of king crab toast, and a sweet finale of baked chocolate mousse with mint-chocolate shortbread and peppermint ice cream ($75 per person). Reservations: 303-444-3622.

Il Posto, Andrea Frizzi's terrific Uptown Italian, reserves Christmas Eve for its yearly Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner, a procession of five savory dishes and dessert for $90 per person. Don't wait to book reservations; the wildly popular extravaganza sells Reservations: 303-394-0100.

Festive Hot Spots to Take Visiting Family

If you want to show off your culinary prowess and introduce your out-of-town family to Denver's newest hot spots, we recommend Rebel for wonderfully innovative cooking from chefs Bo Porytko, Dan Lasiy and Kyle Foster, and Bar Dough (pictured). It's a night of sensational Italian dishes and oak-wood-fired pizzas from rock star chef Max MacKissock and his Downtown skyline — and the city's holiday lighting displays — convene on the rooftop patio with a cocktail.

Where to Host a Holiday Bash

Rather than succumbing to a ho-hum holiday party in your office cafeteria, book a bash in Panzano's stunning wine cellar (pictured), which accommodates up to 50 merrymakers while featuring exhilarating Italian cuisine from chef Elise Wiggins. Other jovial restaurants to consider: the upstairs "Bird's Nest" at Acorn, which seats 40; the upper level bar at Los Chingones, a convivial gathering place that peers over the Denver skyline; the gorgeous private dining room at steakhouse Guard and Grace; or the lovely, low-lit atrium at Bistro Vendome, which has the capacity to accommodate 32 for dinner and 40 for receptions.

Christmas Day Meals

Whether you arrive by caravan, a sleigh, horse-drawn carriage or Uber, Elway's Downtown, the signature restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton, guarantees a warm welcome and a full belly. The Christmas menu, served from 11 AM–10 PM, is $75 per person ($35 for kids 12 and younger) and kicks off with a glass of bubbly, squash soup, Wagyu beef New York strip with Yorkshire pudding, roasted marble potatoes and petite vegetables. End the evening on a sweet note with the housemade pomegranate cheesecake. Reservations: 303-312-3107.

At EDGE Restaurant & Bar, the classy in-house restaurant at the Four Seasons, chef Simon Purvis is featuring a three-course menu (guests have a choice of three starters, three entrees and three sweets) for $75 per person ($30 for kids under 12) from 11 AM–10 PM. The bar is offering champagne and wine specials too, including endless sips of Dom Perignon for $250. The kitchen also promises to send you out the door with take-home treats. Reservations: 303-389-3343.

Hipsters, foodies and Jewish grandmothers consider Chinese food a Christmas tradition. Queue up for dim sum and more at Super Star Asian (pictured), which is informal enough to laugh like a bowlful of jelly (no one cares), while exotic enough to unleash your adventurous side. Between bamboo steamers full of plump dumplings and aquariums stacked with lobsters, there's a phenomenal showboat of choices to satisfy every craving.

Where to Eat Out for Hanukkah

There's a reason why the The Bagel Deli, a Hanukkah tradition, was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: it's got the best Reuben in the Mile High City, along with legit latkes and matzo-ball soup. For unassailable New York–style bagels (pictured), head to Rosenberg's and sink your jaws into a chewy bagel smeared with cream cheese and crowned with capers, tomatoes, onions and gravlax.

Where to Dine and Drink in Union Station

After a few hours of shopping at Union Station (hit up the Tattered Cover for books and 5 Green Boxes and Bloom for whimsy gifts), kick back with a beer at the Terminal Bar or a cocktail at the Cooper Lounge, a stunningly appointed hideaway on the second floor that also struts elegantly prepared dishes from chef Lon Symensma. Alternatively, book a coveted seat at the chef's counter at Mercantile Dining & Provision, where chef-owner Alex Seidel and his kitchen squad showcase a profoundly seasonal menu that hits all the high notes, or check out Stoic & Genuine, a dazzling seafood shrine that boasts the talents of chef Jorel Pierce.

Tea Time

Partake in the long-standing tea time tradition at the Hotel Boulderado every Saturday and Sunday between now and Christmas. The annual ritual takes place in the historic grandeur of the hotel’s mezzanine, where, against a backdrop of live music, servers trot out English loose-leaf teas served in china pots coupled with housemade scones, pastries and tea sandwiches. It's $32 for adults are $24 for children aged four–14; tots under three are free.

The holiday decorations —  poinsettias, a towering Christmas tree and gingerbread houses —  at the Brown Palace Hotel (pictured) are reason enough to step inside the regal lobby, which is where afternoon tea is served daily from noon to 4 PM. The steaming pots (choose from herbal, black, green and specialty teas) are accompanied by scones paired with Devonshire cream and preserves, savory finger sandwiches and a decadent selection of tea pastries. Pricing starts at $36 for adults and $14.50 for kids under six.

Ditch the Family for Date Night

Enlist a babysitter and sneak away for a romantic date night at The Plimoth, The Populist or To The Wind Bistro, all of which turn out simply terrific food amid intimate backdrops, or ease into the cozy confines of Williams & Graham, the Occidental or the funky New Orleans–style bar at Finn's Manor (pictured) for a soul-warming winter sip courtesy of the city's top bartenders.