The 50 Best Restaurants in Denver

The results are in — who came out on top?
October 26, 2016
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by Zagat Staff

From the restoration of Union Station to the rise of River North, our top 50 reflect just how much the Denver dining landscape has changed. Read on for reviews and recommended dishes at the best restaurants in town according to you. (Note that there will be a separate Boulder list.) And be sure to check out the results of our just-released Dining Trends Survey

Fruition Restaurant
New American · Country Club · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.7

This Country Club "diamond" boasts a menu that reads "like a foodie romance novel" and brings to life a "seductive" approach to "garden-to-table" New American cuisine, by turns "rustic" and "ethereal" , "nuanced" and "startling" (and matched by a "well-thought-out" , "value" -oriented wine list); meanwhile, the "deft" manner of the "astute" staff makes even the "crowded" , "close quarters" seem "charming" – though getting into them at all can be "difficult" : "book far ahead."
Sushi Den
Sushi · Platt Park · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

"If you can't go to Tokyo" , this "homey" Platt Park "institution" "will do" – after all, "Denver's premier" sushi bar still "lives up to the reputation it's been building" since 1984, "thrilling your tongue" with "exquisite" raw fish, "perfectly battered tempura" and other Japanese specialties provided by a "courteous" staff; there's "always a line to get in" , but the "crowds" (and slightly expensive tabs) are worth it for a "true" dining experience.
Rioja
Mediterranean · Central Business District · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

The "passion" of chef/co-owner Jennifer Jasinski shows in every "meticulously thought-out" Mediterranean-inspired dish her "courteous" staff "presents like artwork" alongside an "extraordinary wine list" at this "cosmopolitan" "Larimer Square gem" ; though the "chic" space is always "justifiably jam-packed" , recent renovations have smoothed the "flow" of an experience that's not only "worth" the price, it just "gets better and better."
Acorn
American · River North Art District · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

“Get ready to share – and be wowed” by – “astounding” New American small plates with “huge flavors” “that light up your mouth” at this RiNo sibling of Boulder’s acclaimed OAK at fourteenth; though the somewhat “noisy” setting in “popular” “warehouse” -turned-marketplace The Source is “hipster heaven” , you’ll “never feel slighted” by either the “dynamic, attentive servers” or the “master mixologists” at the bar.
Izakaya Den
Japanese · Platt Park · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.4

The Kizaki brothers "know what they're doing" – and they've "done it again" with this "spectacular" Sushi Den offshoot in Platt Park offering the same "incredibly fresh seafood" for which the "mother ship" next door is famous, alongside an "uncommonly" "adventurous" selection of Asian-fusion small plates, all "served with aplomb” – and sake – by an "efficient" , "accommodating" staff; meanwhile, the "simply stunning" two-story setting, featuring a "heavenly" upstairs lounge with a retractable roof, is even "better" than that of its sibling, "without the waits.”
Palace Arms
Central Business District · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

"A top choice for impressing out-of-towners" or for "celebrating" over a "romantic anniversary dinner" , this "elegant" "grande dame" in Downtown's "legendary" Brown Palace Hotel "remains relevant" for its "outstanding" , often "daring" New American cuisine, complemented by a "superb" wine list; "ouch, the price is high" warn wallet-watchers, but those wistful for "fine dining as it used to be" – complete with "gracious service" against a "posh" , "old-world" backdrop – say it's "well worth the cost" ; P.S. jackets and reservations suggested.
Mercantile Dining and Provision
New American · LoDo · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

Alex Seidel (Fruition Restaurant) and his team have "another winner” in LoDo’s Union Station: by day, the “hip” , “high-energy” space functions as a European-style market offering “superb” sandwiches and “top-notch” coffees; by evening, the open kitchen prepares an “inspired” assortment of “complex, artfully executed” New American dishes, delivered (along with "delicious" wines and cocktails) by “agreeable servers who want you to feel welcome” – ensuring you "can't wait" to return.
ChoLon
Asian · LoDo · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.4

LoDo is "lucky to have" chef Lon Symensma, whose "talent is on display" in every "exquisite" Southeast Asian morsel (including "brilliant" French onion soup dumplings) that this "sleek" spot sends out of its open kitchen; fetched by "knowledgeable, efficient" servers and accompanied by "standout" cocktails, the "artistic" , "adventurous" small plates are "made to share" – and you may as well, since the "throbbing" noise level promotes getting close, while the prices, being "a little steep" , favor bill-splitting.
Barolo Grill
Italian · Cherry Creek · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

"Yes, I'll have that – and oh, I'll have that" respond fans of the "dreamy” Northern Italian menu at this Cherry Creek “standard-bearer" that's "innovative" too, tended by servers for whom “diner satisfaction is paramount” in an "elegant" yet "cozy" setting suited to "romance" ; the “extensive” , “exceptionally interesting wine list” only enhances the “special-occasion” aura (though granted, so will the “not inexpensive” bill).
Luca
Italian · Capitol Hill · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.5

Another of Frank Bonanno's "successes" , this "fine-dining" "destination" on Capitol Hill turns out "imaginative" Italian "plates of beauty" paired with equally "fab" wines by an "excellent" staff in a "quaint and inviting" space; of course, it also delivers "expensive" checks, but they're "worth every penny" when "romantic" evenings are in order.
Cafe Brazil
Brazilian · Berkeley · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

"Incredible" , "authentic" Brazilian cuisine, including "brilliant seafood" , keeps folks coming to this "festive" "tropical vacation" – complete with "laid-back" service, "spot-on caipirinhas" and a "world-class selection of top-shelf rum" – in Berkeley Park; it's all a bit "kitschy" for a few "meat-and-potatoes" types, but the "loyal" crowds "speak volumes" , among them couples who consider it their "special date place."
Sushi Sasa
Sushi · LoHi · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

"Accomplished" "rock star" chef-owner Wayne Conwell’s "exotic" , "superb sushi" tastes so "fresh-off-the-boat" , you'll think you're dining "by the ocean" and not in LoHi at this "consistently outstanding" Japanese “go-to” ; "you'll certainly pay for the pleasure" , but “it seems right for what you get” – including an "artfully minimalist" , “intimately lit” atmosphere and "helpful" , “friendly” service.
Mizuna
French · Capitol Hill · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.7

"Culinary genius" Frank Bonanno's "polished" New American cuisine, "designed to let the beautiful tastes and colors" of the "outstanding ingredients" "shine" through, makes fans of this Capitol Hill "masterpiece" "dizzy with glee" ; sure, its "prices aren't for the parsimonious" and the seating is "cheek by jowl" in its "intimate" confines, but with an "impeccable" floor team and a "stunning" wine list, it'll still "sweep a first date off [their] feet."
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
Steakhouse · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

"Perfectly cooked" chops with all the "amazingly prepared" trimmings are a given at this "typical but very attractive high-end steakhouse" in Greenwood Village, as is an "extensive" wine list and an "impeccable" staff to assist you with it; that it's "pricy" also goes without saying, but considering the "fancy" dining room is "always buzzing with activity" , it seems no one who comes "to be seen" minds.
Pho Duy Restaurant
Vietnamese · Westwood
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

Devotees "dream" about these Vietnamese slurp shops where the "fantastic" pho "starts with a meaty broth" and just gets better from there, with a "generous serving of noodles" and a "large plate of herbs" ; there's "nothing fancy" about the slightly "cramped" setups, but the tab's "affordable" and you'll leave "utterly stuffed."
LAO Wang Noodle House
Noodle · Westwood · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.1 · Service 3.5

Some of the "best soup dumplings outside of Shanghai" , the "most amazing potstickers" and other Chinese-Laotian "craveables" have proven "addictive" to the cult followers willing to "wait and wait" for a table at this "no-frills" Westwood strip-mall "classic" ; in their eyes, the married owners who "play both staff and chefs" "are a hoot, so don't be offended" by their "unpredictable" service – the meal is "worth" it.
US THAI CAFE
Thai · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.4

Fire-breathers flock to this "authentic" Edgewater Thai "hole-in-the-wall" where the "delicious" but "killer-hot" curries and stir-fries can lead to "tears" and a "burning tongue" (the spice-shy should request mild, as even "medium is too much for most" ); less hot is the "nonexistent atmosphere" , but at least service is "fast" and it's "fun to watch them cook your food" in the meantime (or you could just "do takeout" ).
Tables
New American · Park Hill · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.4

"Hidden away in Park Hill" , this neighborhood "magnet" "deserves top billing" for its "creatively delectable" , upscale New American dishes courtesy of a "personable" couple and their "extra-special staff" ; filled with charming "old tables" , the "cute" , "funky" space spells "comfort" to "family and friends" – though if you want to be "labeled a complete genius, take a date here on a summer night" for an alfresco rendezvous.
Land of Sushi
Sushi · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

Surprise – this "relatively undiscovered gem" in a Centennial strip mall represents "the crème de la crème" of Japanese cuisine with its "artful presentations" of "quality" sushi set against a bustling yet "comfortable" backdrop; given that it's also a "good value" , "you couldn't ask for more" from the "prompt" , "exceptionally helpful" staff.
Phở 95
Vietnamese · Mar Lee · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.3

Slurpaholics are "elated" by the "enormous portions" of "rich and gingery" "pho perfection" at these "excellent" Vietnamese "go-tos" where the kitchen "does a good job" on the whole menu; "amazing value" is another reason the "casual" , "small spaces" are always bustling with "overwhelming crowds" , but "go more than once and you're remembered – become a regular and you're family."
Star Kitchen
Chinese · Athmar Park · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.3 · Service 3.8

You'll need "a group" to try all the "delicious" , "authentic" varieties of dim sum (served till 3 PM) at this Chinese "favorite" in Athmar Park – which may explain why the cavernous, unadorned dining room is so "crowded" ; come evening, the "efficient" staff offers full table service and a seafood-centric Cantonese menu, which is especially "great if you go with someone who really knows" the language as well as the cuisine.
Cafe Prague
Cafe · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

You'll "leave with a full stomach and a smile on your face” say fans of the "excellent" Central and Eastern European fare (schnitzel, goulash) at this Morrison "find" ; “courteous" service only adds to the "quiet" , old-world atmosphere, which is all the quainter when you’re "sitting on the patio.”
Pizzeria Locale
American · Speer · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

An offshoot of the Neapolitan smash hit in Boulder (from Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson), this light, bright chain is a far more streamlined affair, with counter service, a smaller menu and wines on tap. Of course, the thin-crust pies – coming out of a specialized oven in minutes flat – remain true to inspiration (with a couple of American twists here and there), capped off by the famous butterscotch budino.
Masterpiece Deli LoHi
Deli · LoHi · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.0

Right down to “amazing housemade" condiments, "only the best ingredients find their way between slices of fabulous bread" at this pair of "artisan" delis; answering the clamor for "more seating” – and shorter lines – at the cheery but small LoHi flagship, the Uptown offshoot offers much more room to savor what fans dub “the greatest sandwiches in Denver” (plus beer and wine).
Panzano
Italian · Central Business District · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.5

"Consistently" "scrumptious" Northern Italian fare – including "superb" freshly baked breads and "imaginative" gluten-free options – is the draw at this "casually elegant" Downtown "jewel" in the "trendy Hotel Monaco" ; an "incredible" staff "flat-out rocks" , "treating all ages and appetites appropriately" , and "not-to-be-missed" happy-hour "bargains" only add to the "pleasure."
Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen
Bagel · Five Points · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.6 · Service 3.8

“Finally” sigh “New York transplants” , Denver's got a “real-deal” deli in Five Points (and a sibling in Aurora's Stanley Marketplace) turning out “light, chewy, fresh” bagels that “taste just like the ones from the city” , plus “wonderful” “fish smoked in-house” , “quality pastrami” , “heavenly potato salad” and more; some may “miss the attitude behind the counter” , but most kvetch about one thing only: often “the line is literally out the door” (good thing “it moves” ).
Tag Restaurant
Eclectic · Central Business District · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

While "it's difficult to peg" the "unexpected" , "unreal" “small-plates extravaganza” – matched by ”off-the-wall" cocktails and wines "you won't find” elsewhere – at this New American LoDo “favorite” , it’s proof that chef-owner Troy Guard has retained his "magic" touch while expanding his dining empire; service is “excellent” , and if the sharp-edged, brick-walled dining room filled with "upbeat pop music" is "noisier than a train station" , well, that's the (admittedly "pricey" ) cost of "cool" , so "dress hip" to fit in.
Root Down
American · LoHi · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

From the "adventurous" , "farm-fresh" New American plates that "won't cost an arm and a leg" to service that "bends over backwards" against the "cool-funky" backdrop of a "converted filling station" , "everything is done extremely well" at Justin Cucci's "high-energy" hall of postmillennial "hippiedom" in LoHi – so it's no wonder you'll need "good luck getting in" ; P.S. there's a newer offshoot in Denver International Airport's Terminal C.
Vert Kitchen
American · Washington Park West · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.9

Washington Park West neighbors squeeze in for "innovative" gourmet sandwiches, salads and soups at this wee lunch-and-brunch counter, where "even meat lovers will be amazed" by the daily vegan options (all "organic" , local and "well worth" the price); a charming back patio eases the pressure on limited seating in warm weather, and a tidy selection of wine and beer doesn't hurt either.
Shanahan's
Steakhouse · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

"Nothing less than awesome" , this "update" on a "'Mad Men'–style" steakhouse "gets it right" with a "menu that challenges your self-control" , as the kitchen's "outstanding" "attention to presentation" warrants "ordering more and more" – and the "wonderful" , "detail" -oriented staff is happy to help; while the "large bar" is "packed" with "high-profile people" , a seat on the patio "makes for a very relaxing evening" – so long as you "bring a wad of money" (or make sure "someone else is paying" ).
D Bar Denver
American · Five Points · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

Originally, the 'D' stood for 'dessert' – but now that celebrated pastry chef-partners Keegan Gerhard and Lisa Bailey have moved their cafe to sleeker, more spacious digs complete with a full bar, coffee counter and sunny patio, this Uptown "must-do" is an all-around "divine" "delight" from lunchtime till "late" (weekend nights), "excelling" at savory dishes and sandwiches in addition to the "fantastic" signature Cake and Shake and other "to-die-for" sweets; service that "shines" further ensures you "indulge yourself" to the max.
Azitra Restaurant
Indian · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

"You'd never guess a gem like this could exist in a strip mall" in Broomfield, but the "thoughtfully prepared, elegantly plated" Indian food you'll find here shines bright, and the wine list is "surprisingly well-picked too" ; "fast, accurate" service ensures it's "popular for local business lunches" , while the handsomely modern decor works for neighborhood date nights – but it's a "great value" either way.
Cart-Driver
Pizza · River North Art District · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

It's a "small space" with "counter ordering and tiny tables" , "but once you bite into the pizza, you'll forget all that" since this "fun" , "cool" , autostrada-inspired RiNo hangout manages to turn out "fabulous" wood-fired pies, "delicious oysters" and "downright tasty" drinks in a converted shipping container; with "amazingly quick" service and patio seating too, fans "love the whole concept."
Queen of Sheba Restaurant
Ethiopian · Park Hill · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.3

While the setting is "modest" , "amazing" , "authentic" Ethiopian fare awaits at this "superior" "family" -run storefront in Aurora, where the "sweet" , "beyond-talented" chef-owner oversees a "friendly" staff, and prices are easy on the wallet too.
The Kitchen
American · LoDo · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

Having “set the standard” for the “farm-to-table experience” in Boulder, this “lovely” , “ecologically minded” “institution” “still delivers” on the promise of “elegant” yet “wholesome” seasonal American dishes paired with “fantastic” wines by a “helpful” , “professional” staff; though no less “trendy” , the LoDo offshoot has “its own personality” (not to mention a raw bar), as does the Fort Collins branch with its “neighborhood feel.”
Potager
New American · Capitol Hill · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

Teri Rippeto "was doing seasonal farm-to-table menus far before they were cool" and "continues the tradition" at this upscale Capitol Hill dinner spot, turning out "quirky, lovely" and "delicious" New American food in an "airy" , "busy" dining room leading to a "romantic" garden patio; the staff makes "excellent recommendations" , which means that "you can never go wrong" here – so long as you "come early to nab a table."
Beast + Bottle
New American · Uptown · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

"Great for brunch" but "even better for date night" , this "cute" Uptown "gem" is "warm and cozy" with a "locally sourced" New American menu that's "cool" and "imaginative" , paired with "wines and cocktails that are out of this world" ; though not inexpensive, it's "fine dining" that delivers "consistently good value" , bolstered by a "knowledgeable" , "personable" crew.
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
Hot Dog · Ballpark · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.2

Owner Jim Pittenger goes “light years beyond” your “ordinary hot dog” to sling “spectacular” , “exotic-game” links (like rattlesnake, reindeer and wild boar) smothered in “brilliantly bizarre” toppings and paired with local beers at this “down-to-earth” biker-themed joint in Ballpark; fans can “get their hound on” till late on weekends – once they get past the “long lines” , that is.
Solera Restaurant & Wine Bar
New American · Hale · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

At this long-standing Hale "hideaway" , "talented" chef-owner Goose Sorensen takes you on a "culinary odyssey" with Spanish- and Mediterranean-influenced New American dishes and "wonderful" wines delivered by an "attentive" crew; the "elegantly" appointed, "softly lit" dining room and "lovely garden" flush with "trees and flowers" further encourage you to "leave bustling Colfax behind."
Super Star Asian Cuisine
Chinese · Athmar Park · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.8

"Authentic" dim sum that fans deem "equal to San Francisco's" is served pretty much "all day, every day" at this "reasonably priced" Chinese fixture in Athmar Park, buzzing with an "attentive" staff that steers "typical" pushcarts around the strip-mall storefront; it's usually "packed" , so "get here early" to avoid a wait, or come for dinner and "go out with a full belly and a happy smile."
Domo Japanese Country Food Restaurant
Japanese · Lincoln Park · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.1

"Rustic farmhouse decor" – think "tree-trunk tables" and "tree-stump seats" – sets the stage for "delicious" , "authentic Japanese country cuisine" that's definitely "not typical sushi" at this "Denver classic" in Lincoln Park; though the surroundings outshine the service, prices are "fair" and the whole package delivers a "cultural escape from the ordinary" , especially if you visit the on-site museum and "sit in the garden on a nice evening."
New Saigon Restaurant
Vietnamese · Athmar Park · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

"Take your tongue on a trip to Vietnam" at this decades-old Athmar Park "favorite" where the "million" "reasonably priced" menu selections – including "fresh" , "excellent pho" – pack "irresistible" , "layered" flavors; the "no-nonsense" digs are definitely "not for fancy folk" , but the loyal "crowds" "only judge it" by "what counts."
Stoic & Genuine
Seafood · LoDo · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

An "impressive" oyster roster and other "creative" , "savory" seafood dishes make a splash at this "gourmet" sibling of Rioja, Bistro Vendôme and Euclid Hall in LoDo's Union Station, enhanced by "knowledgeable" service and cocktails from the "amazing" granita bar; while "beautiful" , the high-ceilinged yet narrow space can get "a little cramped" , and so can your budget (it's "terribly expensive" for "small" portions), but some opt to "sit out on the patio, people-watch and enjoy a good happy hour" for a real "treat."
Old Major
New American · LoHi · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

“Everything you want in fine dining and everything you want in comfort food all at once” can be yours at this New American “carnivore’s nirvana” in LoHi, especially if you “love pork – it’s everywhere” thanks to the in-house butchery program, and it’s “prepared to perfection” ; tabs are on par with the "special" experience, and while “hipsters will feel right at home” amid the “overly bearded” crowds sampling “fun, tasty cocktails” , the "attentive, knowledgeable staff” keeps it "welcoming" for all.
Ellyngton's
American · Central Business District · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

"To feel pampered" by "exceptional service" , the "expense-account crowd" gathers at this daytime American fixture in Downtown's legendary Brown Palace Hotel for "power breakfasts" and "business lunches" amid "elegant" surroundings; though "the menu isn't imaginative, the food is excellent" – perhaps especially on Sundays, when the champagne brunch buffet makes for a "very special treat.”
China Jade
Chinese · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.1

Some of "the best Chinese in Denver" turns up at this Aurora strip-mall locale specializing in "outstanding" , "spicy" Sichuan cuisine best tempered by cold beer; the space is humble compared to the food, but tabs are "cheap" and the "service isn't bad" either.
Hops & Pie
Pizza · Berkeley · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

If you "never thought mashed potatoes could be good on a pizza" , wait till you get a load of the "unique toppings" at this Berkeley pie parlor and taproom, which also dishes up "tasty" salads, "huge, delicious" Rice Krispies treats and more while pouring a "wonderful assortment of craft beers" ; "knowledgeable" service and special deals enhance the "laid-back" , "local feeling."
Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar
Cuban · Golden Triangle · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

Bringing the Golden Triangle about "as close to Miami" as it can get, this moderately priced neighborhood standby has been dishing up "delicious" , "authentic" Cuban food "for years" in a conjoined pair of colorful old bungalows staffed by "excellent" servers who "keep the mojitos coming" ; P.S. the ever-growing quick-serve offshoot, Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria, is also worth "visiting regularly."
The Bagel Deli & Restaurant
Jewish · Virginia Village · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.3 · Service 4.2

This "longtime, family-run" purveyor of "Jewish soul food" at "fair prices" – including "soothing" chicken noodle soup and "homemade corned beef that will drop your jaw" – comes "as close to a New York deli" as Virginia Village can, right down to the "frantic" vibe; though a few kvetch that "if you're looking for decor, you won't find it" – unless "old-school booths" and "fading photos" count – it'll "satisfy your needs" when you can't get to "bubbe's table."