Denver's Hard-to-Get-Into Spots

Enjoy your staycation
September 7, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Skip the notoriously long waits at these popular Denver spots and go when everyone's fled to the mountains for the weekend.

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.
Matsuhisa Denver
Sushi · Cherry Creek · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

"The holy grail" of sushi is found at these "outstanding" Nobu siblings whose "world-class" "haute Japanese" "feasts for the senses" are as "jaw-dropping" as the "astronomical prices" ; the "hip" , stylish surrounds feature lounges that host "raucous" bar scenes for the "young and beautiful" whose "every need" is met by the "savvy" staff.
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.
Eclectic · LoHi
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.2

There's nothing "macabre" about this "old mortuary" turned "hip" , "happening" eatery in LoHi, where "you'll definitely want to linger" either downstairs in the "hopping" dining room, upstairs in the "sultry" lounge with a Lite-Brite bar or on the "fantastic rooftop" boasting "phenomenal city views" – all while taking "a world tour" of "outrageously delish" Eclectic small plates; other pluses include the "fabulous handcrafted cocktails" , "personable" service and a happy hour that's "lively" enough "to wake the dead."
Work & Class
Southern American · River North Art District · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

Chef "Dana Rodriguez is a genius" say fans of the "hip, homey and high-quality" Southern–Latin American menu at this "happening" RiNo hot spot with "solid" service and "fair" prices; the "tight space" in an old shipping container makes for a "boisterous" , even "hectic" atmosphere – no doubt fueled by "stiff drinks" that go down "easy (perhaps a little too easy)" – but "do yourself a favor" and "get there early" to beat the crowds.
The Plimoth
New American · Skyland · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.3

"Small in size, but big in creativity” , this “elegant” Skyland “hideaway” has a "talented" team turning out an “exciting” , “frequently changing” roster of New American fare, while the bar pours “crafted cocktails” from a “smart” drink list; it does get "crowded and noisy” , but the "excellent service" is a plus (and "side-by-side" seats are often available for walk-ins), so go ahead and "take a date."
The Populist
New American · River North Art District · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

At this arty RiNo fixture, "inventive" , "tasty" Eclectic dishes and "wowing" tasting menus are served in a "social" atmosphere by a staff that really "knows the menu" ; even conventional types who consider the "interesting" vibe "a little too hipster" (and craft cocktails from the patchwork-copper bar "a bit overpriced" ) might enjoy the light-strung patio, which "feels like a beautiful get-together with friends."
Ramen · LoHi · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 3.6 · Service 3.8

“A line forms before it even opens – that says it all” about the popularity of this wee, "hip" destination for modern Asian fare in LoHi, showcasing chef-owner Tommy Lee’s “fresh, flavorful” ramen and “unique” , ever-changing roster of small plates; some fans fear the “prohibitive” wait times prove it’s a “victim of its own success” , but farsighted sorts “just plan for a leisurely evening and have a few drinks” on the patio – the list of craft beers, sakes and food-friendly wines is relatively extensive.
Breakfast · City Park West · $

Eggs every which way – poached atop a bowl of congee or soft-scrambled inside housemade tortillas – dot the globally inspired menu at this City Park West cafe and coffeehouse. The bright, airy setting features a bustling open kitchen, farmhouse-style furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows that open to a sidewalk patio.