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What to Order at the Best Restaurants in Denver

Lobster mac 'n' cheese, foie gras oysters, soup dumplings, pasta carbonara & so much more
October 6, 2014
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by Lori Midson

When visiting the top-rated restaurants in Denver (according to voters in the Zagat survey), you’re faced with a tempting swell of options. These 10 classic spots, which boast Zagat food scores of 27 or higher, serve signature dishes worthy of a trademark. Here's our guide on what to order the next time you go.

Rioja

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Artichoke tortelloni

James Beard Award-winning chef Jennifer Jasinski won't ever unleash a menu that doesn't include her artichoke tortelloni (an uproar would ensue): pockets of pasta filled with artichoke mousse in a white-truffle brodo with shavings of queso de mano and sprigs of chervil ($18.50 full portion / $11.50 appetizer portion).

1431 Larimer St.; 303-820-2282

Mizuna

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Lobster macaroni 'n' cheese

From day one, the sweet and meaty Maine lobster tails elevated chef Frank Bonanno's macaroni 'n' cheese — rich with butter, cream and mascarpone cheese — to cult status ($21).

225 E. Seventh Ave.; 303-832-4778

Sushi Sasa

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Foie gras oysters

Yes, the sushi is unassailable at Wayne Conwell's showboat, but the pomp-and-circumstance oysters with a blot of seared foie gras and a quail egg command a legion of junkies ($36).

2401 15th St.; 303-433-7272

ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro

Zagat Food Rating: 27
Must-Order Dish: Soup dumplings

While chef Lon Symensma's reverence to innovative Asian cuisine hits all the right notes, ChoLon's beautiful soup dumplings, their wiggly-jiggly centers an eruption of sweet onions, steaming juice and melted Gruyère, may be the best single bite in the Mile High City ($10).

1555 Blake St.; 303-353-5223

Luca

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Burrata

Credit serial chef-owner Frank Bonanno for making cheese heads swoon with his handcrafted burrata, an impossibly creamy centerpiece wreathed with multicolored heirloom tomatoes, a splash of 20-year balsamic, garlic fettunta and a liberal swipe of pesto Genovese ($14).

711 Grant St.; 303-832-6600

Barolo Grill

Zagat Food Rating: 27
Must-Order Dish: Duck

From the moment owner Blair Taylor opened the doors to his Piemontese Northern Italian stalwart in Cherry Creek North, patrons have gone grabby for the duck. While the incarnations have changed over the years, chef Darrel Truett's latest rendition — red-wine-braised duck with roasted garlic potatoes and seasonal vegetables — may be the best yet ($29).

3030 E. Sixth Ave.; 303-393-1040

Root Down

Zagat Food Rating: 27
Must-Order Dish: Devils on Horseback

It's impossible to eat just one of Root Down's date-and-goat-cheese-stuffed Peppadew peppers, wrapped in crisp serrano ham and drizzled with smoked paprika-sherry gastrique. So do what everyone does: order two plates ($9).

1600 W. 33rd Ave.; 303-993-4200

Fruition

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Pasta carbonara

Nothing that emerges from chef-owner Alex Seidel's kitchen is ever ordinary, and his pasta carbonara — handmade cavatelli, house-cured pork belly, a six-minute egg and broth fragrant with Cacio Pecora (sheep's-milk cheese handcrafted at Seidel's farm) — is nothing short of extraordinary ($12).

1313 E. Sixth Ave.; 303-831-1962

Sushi Den

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Tan Tan Men Ramen

Considering that Sushi Den has its own dedicated ramen chef, it's no surprise that the spicy tan tan men ramen noodle bowl, the broth of which is studded with pork and made from fish flown in daily, is the dish that really bowls over crowds (small: $13; large: $16).

1487 S. Pearl St.; 303-777-0826

Z Cuisine

Zagat Food Rating: 27
Must-Order Dish: Cassoulet

Z Cuisine's hearty, comforting cassoulet pairs Hudson Valley duck-leg confit with pork belly, andouille-style shoulder house sausage, heirloom white beans, bacon ragout and wilted leaves of chard and kale.

2239 W. 30th Ave.; 303-477-1111

lodo
larimer square
italian food
denver
root down
cholon
french words
fruition
sushi den
mizuna
luca d'italia
signature dishes
rioja
z cuisine
barolo grill