30 Dishes & Drinks That Scream Summer in Denver

By Ruth Tobias
May 19, 2014
By Ruth Tobias  |  May 19, 2014

Summer in Denver is certifiably gorgeous - but we found 30 dishes, drinks and treats that will make it even better. Some are classics year in and year out; others are brand new and ripe for the picking. Scroll down below our list for a slide show of our picks, then have a field day trying them all. And be sure to check out our new Best Summer Ever page often over the next 10 weeks - we'll be bringing you the season's best eating and drinking straight through Labor Day. 

1) Athenian Experience at Volta Mediterranean Restaurant 16) Manok Sa Gata at A Taste of the Philippines
2) Ballpark Blondie at Trillium 17) Mules at ViewHouse
3) Barbecue at Wayne's Smoke Shack 18) Not Your Average Fruit Cake Bombe at High Point Creamery
4) BLT at Vert Kitchen 19) Pabellón Arepa at Quiero Arepas
5) Brandade Fritters at P17 20) Pig-Ear Nachos at Los Chingones
6) Burger Night at Marczyk Fine Foods 21) Pig Roast at Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill
7) Crab Boil at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar 22) Pineapple-Habanero Margarita at Comida
8) Hot Dog at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs 23) Popsicles at Aiko Pops
9) Double Dip at Sweet Action Ice Cream 24) Sangria Blanco at Gozo
10) Fried Chicken at The POST Brewing Co./GoodBird Kitchen 25) Smoked-Trout Corn Dog at Black Crow
11) Hawaiian Kajiki at Rioja 26) S'mores at Elway's Cherry Creek
12) Kaffir Lime Wheat at Denver Beer Co. 27) Soba Noodles at Domo
13) Korean BBQ Tofu at Vesta Dipping Grill 28) Tacos at La Calle Taqueria y Carnitas
14) Kurt's Mile-High Malt at Wynkoop Brewing Company 29) Tiger Wings at Ace Eat Serve
15) Lobster Roll at The Corner Bar 30) Yakitori at Bones
  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Athenian Experience at Volta Mediterranean Restaurant

    Juicy grilled lamb and chicken kebabs, crunchy-tender falafel over tzatziki and chunky, earthy-sweet walnut skordalia form the basis for this lovely Boulder Greek eatery's sampler. But there’s always a special little treat in there too - a small mound of meltingly tender beef cooked with onions, for example, plus olives, pickled onions, cucumber slices and pita wedges. Bonus if you enjoy it in the fountain-graced courtyard. 2480 Canyon Blvd., Boulder; 303-938-8800

  • Ballpark Blondie at Trillium

    Don’t wait for someone to take you out to the ballgame. Let Ryan Leinonen's Ballpark kitchen treat you instead to its concession stand-inspired goodie: a peanut-laced blondie garnished with caramel corn, pretzel-infused whipped cream and beer in the form of Russian Imperial Stout ice cream. 2134 Larimer St.; 303-379-9759

  • Photo by: Christopher Cina

    Barbecue at Wayne's Smoke Shack

    Texan-made, textbook-smoked ribs and brisket, sold by the pound with all the fixings from 11 AM until they run out - that's just the way barbecue should be, and that's the way it is at this strip-mall smoke shack. 406 Center Dr., Superior; 303-554-5319

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    BLT at Vert Kitchen

    Ripe tomatoes are the heart of a well-made BLT, thick-cut bacon its soul and crisp lettuce its health - but at this Wash Park sandwich shop, generous slices of fresh mozzarella add pizzazz. 704 S. Pearl St.; 303-997-5941

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Brandade Fritters at P17

    One bite of Mary Nguyen's salt-cod fritters, set atop vibrant tomato-piquillo pepper chutney and lemon aïoli, will whisk you off to some outdoor cafe in a French-Mediterranean seaport. 1600 E. 17th Ave.; 303-399-0988

  • Burger Night at Marczyk Fine Foods

    Friday-night cookouts have become beloved neighborhood traditions at both branches of the Marczyk family’s gourmet grocery, drawing a boisterous all-ages crowd of chowhounds all summer with burgers featuring house-ground Niman Ranch beef, City Bakery brioche buns and lettuce and tomatoes from GrowHaus. Park Hill: 5100 East Colfax Ave., 303-243-3355; Uptown: 770 E. 17th Ave., 303-894-9499

  • Crab Boil at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar

    Technically, you can book Jax’s feast of crab, crawfish and shrimp, plus andouille sausage, potatoes and other veggies, at any of its four branches year-round. But we can’t fathom a shellfish boil without plump ears of summer corn. Boulder: 928 Pearl St., 303-444-1811; Fort Collins: 123 N. College Ave., 970-682-2275; Glendale: 650 S. Colorado Blvd., 303-756-6449; LoDo: 1539 17th St., 303-292-5767

  • Hot Dog at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

    Pick a dog, any dog, at Jim Pittenger’s Ballpark joint, one of the few in the country that truly earns its claim to widespread fame. You want reindeer, rattlesnake, elk or pheasant? You got it - and while toppings run the gamut from wasabi aïoli to roasted cactus, the obvious summertime choice is Coney Island-style chili with mustard and onions. 2148 Larimer St.; 720-746-9355

  • Photo by: Christopher Cina

    Double Dip at Sweet Action Ice Cream

    Sweet Action didn't garner national acclaim with plain old vanilla. The Baker scoop shop just keeps the ingenious seasonal flavors coming, from fresh basil, blueberry pie, sweet corn and grilled jerk pineapple ice cream to lemon iced tea and creamsicle sorbet. 52 Broadway; 303-282-4645

  • Photo by: Mona Esposito

    Fried Chicken at The POST Brewing Co./GoodBird Kitchen

    You shouldn't let a week go by, never mind a whole summer, without a bucket of fried chicken from Old West-meets-Deep-South hot spot POST Brewing/GoodBird Kitchen. And don't forget the buttermilk biscuits, black-eyed peas or a pint of oyster stout, either. 105 W. Emma St, Lafayette.; 303-593-2066

  • Photo by: Christopher Cina

    Hawaiian Kajiki at Rioja

    Pack your bags for this one, and bring your beach gear: for the next several weeks, Rioja’s featuring Hawaiian blue marlin (kajiki) against the bright, breezy backdrop of Thai-style green curry with coconut rice, green papaya and crystallized ginger. 1431 Larimer St.; 303-820-2282

  • Photo by: Christopher Cina

    Kaffir Lime Wheat at Denver Beer Co.

    Kaffir Lime Wheat was one of the first releases to put this Highland brewery on the map; three years and many expansions later, Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford still draw summer's session drinkers to their picnic tables with the "boldly refreshing porch pounder" - alongside other favorites like the Incredible Pedal IPA and Graham Cracker Porter, now both available in cans. 1695 Platte St.; 303-433-2739

  • Korean BBQ Tofu at Vesta Dipping Grill

    We're loving chef Brandon Foster's meatless homage to Korean barbecue, which showcases marinated, grilled tofu against a playful palette of accoutrements: jasmine rice, banchan-style veggies and your choice of three signature dipping sauces. The house recommends Indonesian chile, jalapeño ponzu and lemongrass sweet-and-sour, but we bet peanut and miso beurre blanc would fly too. 1822 Blake St.; 303-296-1970

  • Photo by: Christopher Cina

    Kurt's Mile-High Malt at Wynkoop Brewing Company

    The protagonists of the wonderful story behind Wynkoop’s Novo coffee-laced Vienna-style lager are none other than Kurt Vonnegut, Governor John Hickenlooper - and you, if you can get your hands on some of this small-batch seasonal before it’s gone until next year. 1634 18th St.; 303-297-2700

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Lobster Roll at The Corner Bar

    Along with a spiffy makeover and an expanded patio, Hotel Boulderado's classic watering hole has a fine new menu going. This cold lobster roll is a not-to-be-missed highlight at only $15, boasting generous chunks of claw meat mixed with lemon-Old Bay aïoli and a confetti of bell peppers, celery and scallions, all stuffed into a house-baked and buttered rosemary-garlic roll. 2115 13th St.; 303-442-4560

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Manok Sa Gata at A Taste of the Philippines

    Filipino-born dynamo Kathy Gietl built her mobile kitchen on her mother's recipes, so she's got the tropical savor of the island nation's cookery down pat, from manok sa gata - a rich yet soothing chicken-coconut stew - to evocatively spiced lumpia (beef egg rolls) with sprightly sweet-and-sour sauce. Follow her route on Twitter

  • Mules at ViewHouse

    An enormous, indoor-outdoor triple-decker built for game-day mayhem, Ballpark’s ViewHouse has just installed nine groovy cabanas for kicking back and catching the action over, among other things, your choice of eight twists on the classic mule - from a barrel-aged version to a paloma hybrid. 2015 Market St.; 720-878-2015

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Not Your Average Fruit Cake Bombe at High Point Creamery

    This brand-new scoop shop in the Hilltop/Crestmoor neighborhood makes the rare dessert that's as yummy as it is beautiful - the Not Your Average Fruit Cake Bombe, featuring a layer of orange meringue sandwiched between salted-caramel and blueberry-lemon ice cream. 215 S. Holly St.; 720-420-9137

  • Pabellón Arepa at Quiero Arepas

    Stuffed with shredded beef, black beans, fried sweet plantains and mozzarella, the arepa de pabellón in a handmade masa pocket is just one of many classic Venezuelan street snacks that has earned Quiero Arepas such a devoted following (follow the food truck here). 

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Pig-Ear Nachos at Los Chingones

    Chunks of deep-fried pig ears are just the icing on the cake of this Ballpark taqueria's addictively pungent nachos, also smothered in queso, pinto-bean dip, crema, crumbled chorizo and pickled jalapeños, plus chopped tomatoes and scallions. 2463 Larimer St.; 303-295-0686

  • Pig Roast at Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill

    On May 30, this old-time Capitol Hill treasure will hoist the first beast of the summer onto the spit - and then it’ll host its rollicking patio pig roast every Friday night through September, complete with happy-hour two-fers. 980 Grant St.; 303-860-1655

  • Photo by: Adam Larkey Photography

    Pineapple-Habanero Margarita at Comida

    We kneel at the altar of Comida’s bar whatever the quencher, from the Cabana with tomatillo and guava to the cheeky Colada. But the pineapple- and habanero-infused margarita delivers an especially swift kick in a shimmeringly vibrant shoe. Longmont: 721 Confidence Dr. Unit 1, 720-204-6455; RiNo: 3350 Brighton Blvd. Unit 105, 303-296-2747

  • Popsicles at Aiko Pops

    From its wee storefront on Old South Pearl, Aiko Pops turns out a sparkling array of juicy licks-on-a-stick that, at any given time, could include cucumber-sesame, strawberry-balsamic, lavender-lemonade or coconut-lemongrass. 1284 S. Pearl St.; 303-996-6400

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Sangria Blanco at Gozo

    No exploding-fruit bomb, the white sangria at blazing-hot new Mediterranean spot Gozo is subtle and sophisticated, combining gin, Vinho Verde, cucumber, lime, muddled grapes and cubes of cantaloupe and honeydew, plus a sprig of mint for fragrant measure. 30 S. Broadway; 720-638-1462

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Smoked-Trout Corn Dog at Black Crow

    You can't make this stuff up: Black Crow's turning out locally sourced, globally influenced eats like these delectable smoked-trout corn "dogs" with spicy rémoulade...from a trailer...parked on the patio of LoDo Mexican cantina Rio Grande1525 Blake St.; 303-623-5432

  • S'mores at Elway's Cherry Creek

    Leave it to Elway's Cherry Creek flagship to present you with your own little chocolate-ganache-filled hibachi for assembling s'mores. 2500 E. First Ave.; 303-399-5353

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Soba Noodles at Domo

    Though we are partial to the buckwheat noodles, whether chilled or warm and topped with tempura spears, as well as the to sashimi donburi, it actually doesn't much matter what you order at this Japanese retreat in Lincoln Park. What matters is that you do it in the koi pond-graced garden out back. 1365 Osage St.; 303-595-3666

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Tacos at La Calle Taqueria y Carnitas

    Alfresco atmosphere? Nada. Ice-cold beer? Nope. But does this Alameda counter joint make the most amazing street-style tacos you could ever hope to whisk home and wolf down in your own backyard? Affirmative. 1565 W. Alameda Ave.; 720-583-6586

  • Photo by: Taryn Kapronica

    Tiger Wings at Ace Eat Serve

    Though chef Brandon Biederman’s super-smoky, mahogany-bittersweet wings have been a signature since day one, they get extra love via $1 specials on Tuesdays - and they’ll get some company courtesy of guest chefs come June 29, when Ace Eat Serve hosts its colossal Wings & Whiskey wingding. 501 E. 17th Ave.; 303-800-7705

  • Photo by: Ruth Tobias

    Yakitori at Bones

    Now that the windows are open at Frank Bonanno’s tiny gem of a noodle bar in Capitol Hill, chef John DePierro’s working his special little grill to serve up equally char-crusted and juicy shrimp, chicken, pork and Wagyu yakitori with sticky rice and kimchi - plus whatever odds and ends strike his fancy on any given day, be it duck heart, pig stomach or quail (pictured). 701 Grant St.; 303-860-2929

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