Food in Denver ranges from authentic global cuisines to modern interpretations. Some of the best eateries are humble food trucks, while others are ritzy establishments with romantic ambiance. No matter the meal you’re after, you’re likely to find it in the Mile High City.
I’m a Denver local that’s enjoyed the area’s food scene on many, many occasions.
Whether you’re visiting or a Denverite yourself, trying Denver’s local food should be on every Denver bucket list. To help you out, I created this list! I’m sure you’ll find something to eat that will make you hungry!
Table of Contents
- 33 Best Denver Food & Dishes to Try
- Green Chile
- Palisade Peaches
- French Toast
- Fried Chicken
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Duck Confit
- Rocky Mountain Oysters
- Fried Rice
- Beef Tongue
- Handmade Pastas
- Mac and Cheese
- Pickled Mustard Seeds
- Hot Dogs
- Truffle Fries
- Whole Fish
- Ice Cream
- Craft Coffee
- FAQs About Denver Food
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33 Best Denver Food & Dishes to Try
👉 Pro Tip: Check out the popular Downtown Denver Food Tour on Viator for a fun way to try several of Denver’s foods at once (and meet other travelers and foodies along the way!).
From Mexican to Italian cuisines, discover why Denver is obsessed
If you’ve spent any amount of time touring the food scene in downtown Denver, you know our obsession with green chile. From fast food spots to upscale eateries, it’s a staple in our Mexican cooking — and surprisingly, Italian cuisines, too.
Try the smothered burrito at El Taco de México, or the green chile-topped Mexican hamburger at La Fogata. How about a slice of pizza at The Greenwich, served with a side of green chile? Or savor green chile-infused risotto, topped with grilled calamari at The Bindery.
Arguably one of Denverites’ favorite foods
There are so many incredible taco joints in Denver, it could be a guide in itself. But a few must-visit eateries include Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina and Comal Heritage Food Incubator. Also, check out Comida at The Stanley Marketplace, known for their griddled tacos. La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal is another favorite, famed for having the best al pastor tacos in town.
Deep-fried or baked, they’re just as tasty
For the longest time, Maria Empanada has been my go-to spot for this Argentinian comfort food. Their fresh ingredients and variety of options have made them a favorite destination on South Broadway. They also have locations in the Central Park and Highland neighborhoods.
However, there are a couple of other Denver restaurants giving Maria a run for their money. On a top-rated Denver food tour, I discovered Lazo Empanadas. Their baked empanada dough resembles flakey phyllo dough, creating a lighter, healthier snack. Work & Class is another must-try eatery, specializing in blue corn empanadas.
Locally-grown produce, highlighted in a variety of ways
From late June to October, the tiny town of Palisade blesses the rest of Colorado with its sweet, juicy peaches. The stone fruit is celebrated in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. Try the Palisade peach, basil, and chile sausage sandwich at il porcellino salumi. For dessert, head to Apple Blossom and try their Palisade peach crisp with bourbon ice cream.
Fluffy brioche fresh off the griddle
From dog-friendly patios to bottomless mimosas, Denverites have several reasons to love brunch. Denver Biscuit Co. adds another motive to the list with their to-die-for biscuit french toast. Say yes to the optional fruit compote and house-made whipped cream.
For more french toast favorites, don’t sleep on Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. Whether you prefer your “French Toast Neat” or the wild “Funky Monkey French Toast,” enjoy fluffy brioche fresh off the griddle. Bonus: if you’re gluten-free, they offer plenty of french toast options for you, too.
So many options for the sweet tooth
Lucky for those with a sweet tooth, bakeries are some of the best restaurants in Denver. Doughnuts glisten behind the glass cases at Voodoo Doughnut, a spot famous for cereal-topped creations.
Jelly Cafe serves up tasty mini doughnuts, and vegans will be delighted by the baked options at Make Believe Bakery. For an elevated take, try Brasserie Brixton’s ricotta doughnuts with miso caramel.
Two-bite treats made at authentic and fusion restaurants
Denver’s take on dumplings ranges from traditional methods of cooking to unique fusion flavors. The latter is especially true at ChoLon, a restaurant known by many for its french onion soup dumplings.
For something more authentic, visit Star Kitchen and Lao Wang Noodle House. Both are found off Federal Boulevard in the Athmar Park neighborhood, an area known for its collection of Asian eateries and shops.
Whether Sichuan or Southern-style, it’s a juicy, crunchy favorite
There’s no one style to prepare fried chicken in the Mile High City. Find Korean, Japanese, and Chinese-style fried chicken at The Ginger Pig. The popular food truck is now a permanent restaurant in Berkeley, one of Denver’s best neighborhoods.
You’ll find a Southern take at The Cookery at Myrtle Hill, served proper with waffles and sausage gravy. Meanwhile, Denver Biscuit Co. piles its buttermilk fried chicken high on mouthwatering breakfast sandwiches.
Seasoned and served in both cozy and upscale restaurants in Denver
At Work & Class, Latin American and homestyle Southern cuisines are celebrated and shared. When ordering the whole bird, the Lemon Pepper Brown Butter Rotisserie Chicken is a feast for the family. Pair this with your choice of sides ranging from fried plantains to smashed potatoes.
Hillstone takes a sophisticated approach to rotisserie chicken, seasoning the dish with crushed herbs and apricot glaze. Either way, you won’t walk away hungry.
A French dish with a modern twist
In case you’re unfamiliar with the French dish, duck confit consists of cured duck legs that have been slow cooked in duck fat. The whole bird is used to create this traditional meal, but in true Denver fashion, our chefs take a modern approach.
Bistro Vendôme serves the silky, tender meat with picked Palisade peaches. Brasserie Brixton takes inspiration from Asian cuisine, pairing duck with radish cake, sweet soy, and chili.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Surprise — this dish ain’t seafood!
Here’s one of Colorado’s fun facts: rocky mountain oysters ain’t seafood. Though these deep-fried bull testicles aren’t a locals’ everyday staple, they’re a unique dish to try when in Denver. Wash ‘em down with a beer at Buckhorn Exchange and the Denver Stockyard Saloon.
A Colorado staple enjoyed all hours of the day
🍽️ Where to Find Burritos: La Abeja Restaurant (Capitol Hill), Kiké’s Red Tacos (West Highland)
Killer Mexican food is around just about every corner in Denver. Locals’ favorites include the all-day breakfast burritos at La Abeja Restaurant. The chile relleno burrito at El Taco de Mexico is another must-try (remember Denverites’ obsession with green chile?) Kiké’s Red Tacos is a food truck go-to, serving authentic burritos with a bright bottle of Jarritos.
Join the debate and decide who makes Denver’s best marg
🍽️ Where to Find Margaritas: Kachina Cantina (Union Station), My Neighbor Felix (Lower Highland)
The best margarita in Denver is up for serious debate. However, many in Denver would agree that Kachina Cantina is a stand-out establishment. Bonus: it’s set in the ultra-trendy Dairy Block micro-district in Lower Downtown, one of the best places to stay in Denver.
Those who like their margaritas flavored should head to My Neighbor Felix. Here, you’ll find classic mango and spicy options, plus unique creations like frozen strawberry banana. For the best value on a house margarita, Asaderos on the border of Denver’s Westwood neighborhood is tough to beat.
Starchy or sweet, this versatile fruit adds a punch of flavor
Savory and sweet plantains are celebrated in the Mile High City. For most locals, the first spot that comes to mind is Quiero Arepas. They’re known for their Venezuelan cornmeal cakes stuffed with a variety of ingredients, plantains included.
Snack on plantain chips and rum cocktails at Cuba Cuba Cafe and Bar. Or savor fried plantains with pineapple salsa at SuperMegaBien. Their Ropa Vieja small plate, consisting of plantains and Cuban-style slow-braised beef, is another favorite.
📚 Related Reading: From pasteles and mofongo to amarillos and pastelón, plantains are a staple in Puerto Rican Food.
Elevated versions of this side dish are served all hours of the day
Using unique, flavorful ingredients, Denver restaurants love to elevate this humble side dish. Try the bacon and kimchi fried rice at A5 Steakhouse, or the bone marrow version at Hop Alley. Onefold turns the dish on its ear, serving it for breakfast alongside duck fat fried eggs.
👉 Pro tip: Don’t stop at the fried rice when visiting Hop Alley. Turnip cake with black garlic sauce and hot Sichuan chicken are other dishes that make it one of the best restaurants in Denver.
Made upscale or authentic, this one’s for the adventurous eaters
Though maybe an obscure pick, one of the most raved-about dishes in Denver is the grilled beef tongue and marrow toast at Annette. Topped with a pickled carrot relish and coriander cream, it’s a deliciously unusual shared plate that will have you wanting to try the entire menu.
For a more classic take, head to one of the locals’ favorite Mexican spots. Machete Tequila + Tacos is a festive joint that serves lengua tacos. They’re even better with a chilled shot of house-infused pineapple tequila.
Italian cooking at its finest, paired perfectly with seasonal ingredients
When at an upscale Italian restaurant, expect nothing short of expertly-crafted, handmade pasta. Located in the Kimpton Born Hotel, one of the best hotels in Denver, Tavernetta is a stand-out choice. Here, tagliatelle is paired with Maine lobster, and lumache matches with pork sausage and summer greens.
At Dio Mio, try the baked fazzoletti with caramelized onions and swiss, or the cavetelli with roasted mushrooms and local Olathe corn. Restaurant Olivia offers more decadent plates, like french onion ravioli and ricotta gnocchi. Even better, all of their a la carte pastas are also available gluten-free.
An Italian pasta dish, Israeli kebabs, and more globally-inspired plates
Colorado lamb is a featured menu item at many restaurants in Denver. Tavernetta, the same upscale restaurant with handmade pasta, pairs its rigatoni with lamb ragù. Safta applies Middle Eastern inspiration, serving lamb kebabs and pomegranate braised lamb shank.
Seasoned with coriander and avocado salsa, Cantina Loca creates lamb tacos. Over at Three Saints Revival, their chef pairs lamb meatballs with parmesan polenta.
Colorado, Detroit, and New-York style, plus authentic Italian
Some of the best restaurants in Denver are pizzerias, and the city serves up several versions for every preference. Obviously, when visiting, you must try a Colorado-style slice, first created by Beau Jo’s. These “mountain pies” are served with a side of honey, perfect for dipping the pizzas’ thick crusts.
Blue Pan’s Detroit-style pizza is another popular option, available in Congress Park and West Highland. For an interesting take on New York-style, visit Redeemer Pizza on Larimer, known for its sourdough crust. And for the pizza purists, there’s Marco’s Coal Fired. Here, roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella cheese create the perfect Margherita pie.
Denver is a mecca for craft breweries
With what seems to be a brewery on every corner, Denverites consume beer like it’s water. In fact, so many options led me to write an entire guide on the best breweries in Denver.
TL;DR: Wynkoop Brewing Company, Odell Brewing, and Great Divide Brewing Company are a few personal favorites. Consider taking a Denver brewery tour to discover more of the locals’ go-to spots.
Mac and Cheese
Bold takes on an all-American classic
Mac and cheese is another American classic that Denver chefs love jazzing up. Upscale New American restaurant Mizuna serves a decadent lobster mac and cheese. Roaming Buffalo features a poblano version, and Post Oak Barbecue kicks up the heat with a jalapeño bacon mac. At A5 Steakhouse, crunchy mac and cheese croquettes kick off happy hour right.
Delicious whether from a high-end eatery or fast food joint
Some may argue that My Brother’s Bar serves the best burger in the Mile High City. Admittedly, the JCB, or jalapeño cream cheese burger, is tough to beat. Though the Mercantile Burger at Mercantile Dining & Provision competes. Simply topped with American cheese, grilled onion, lettuce, and pickle, it’s the top burger that twenty dollars can buy.
If you want a more affordable meal, check out Crown Burgers. Denver University students swear by their fast food goodness. The suburbs’ In-N-Out Burger locations are another great choice.
Pickled Mustard Seeds
Sweet and tangy with a unique texture
Denver culinary pros love to play with pickled mustard seeds’ tangy flavor and unique texture. Chez Maggy ups an American classic with their Burger a la Française. Smoked mayonnaise, beer braised onions, and pickled mustard seeds make this burger a far cry from the Kraft singles version you grew up with.
Ultreia takes this unique condiment a step further with their chicken liver mousse. Pistachio dukkah, pickled mustard seeds, and cherries come together to create a complex dish.
Everything from creative to classic versions
For Denver’s take on this all-American classic, head to Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs. Rattlesnake, reindeer, and more creative meats are piled with even more unique toppings, like roasted cactus and curry jam. They serve up tasty vegetarian options, too!
The Ginger Pig creates an interesting Korean-inspired hot dog. Find a green chile-topped version at Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs, or enjoy a good ol’ Chicago-style dog at Mustard’s Last Stand.
A classic side dish, with or without dairy
For everyone’s favorite fancy french fries, head to Watercourse Foods, a vegan restaurant that doesn’t shy away from rich, decadent flavors. You’d never guess that their house-made parmesan is completely plant-based!
But for the dairy-lovers, many of Denver’s burger joints pour the parmesan on heavy. 5280 Burger Bar, Park Burger, and Highland Tap and Burger are all solid choices.
Vintages from around the world
Denver breweries may be more abundant, but the city’s wine tasting rooms are just as loved. Set in the charming Larimer Square block, CRÚ Food & Wine Bar is a personal favorite. Up the road within Union Station, Ultreia specializes in all-Iberian wines. Coperta in North Capitol Hill pours central and southern Italian vinos.
In the Central Business District, Guard and Grace display thousands of bottles in their tall, glass-enclosed cellar. In RiNo, Il Posto does similarly with their impressive wine wall.
Sweet and savory combinations
If you’re a wine bar-lover, Postino is another Denver eatery you won’t want to miss. Glasses of red and white are paired with impressive, Instagram-able bruschetta boards. Try the brie, apple, and fig; or the pepper jam with goat cheese. Also, over at The Kitchen American Bistro, the crab and avocado bruschetta is to die for.
Enjoy parties on the patio and a variety of combinations
Who would turn down an invite to a paella party? Every Wednesday through the summer months, Ultreia makes date night special with paella on the patio. At Lucina Eatery and Bar, their Friday menu features “Paella del Momento,” providing a unique dining experience with each visit.
If you’re craving paella on a different night of the week, Barcelona Wine Bar serves up three options anytime. Choose between vegetables, pork, or a mixture of seafood.
Pick ‘em clean to the bone
You may have heard the phrase “the whole enchilada,” but at Fish N Beer, we celebrate the whole fish. Here, patrons can watch their meal grill over a wood fire, then pick their local Alamosa bass clean to the bone.
Down the road at Water Grill, you can order a variety of whole fish entrées. These include the wild New Zealand pink bream, Massachusetts black sea bass, and Brittany Dover sole.
Served proper at two of Denver’s best restaurants
Despite its landlocked location, Denver delivers on incredible sushi restaurants. In fact, both Sushi Den and Uchi Denver rank as some of the best eateries in the Mile High City. By sourcing the highest quality fish and seafood, they create marvelous Japanese cuisine.
When visiting, try the crispy tuna at Sushi Den; and if you’re a vegetarian, the delicious grilled veggie maki roll. At Uchi Denver, the soft shell crab roll and salmon belly sashimi are crowd favorites.
Authentic and flavorful Vietnamese comfort food
It’s likely obvious at this point, but Asian fusion is big in Denver. However, when it comes to our favorite Vietnamese noodle dish, we like to keep things classic. Savory Vietnam Restaurant and Phở 95 are some of the top-rated spots in the city.
Sandwiches, flights, milkshakes, and more
On hot summer afternoons, nothing beats the spot more than a scoop (or two). Head to Annette for elevated ice cream sandwiches, or Nuggs Ice Cream for ice cream tacos. High Points Creamery features ice cream flights, and Little Man Ice Cream specializes in creative flavors. Inside Union Station, Milkbox Ice Creamery mixes up boozy milkshakes.
No corporate chains here, just well-poured cappuccinos and cortados
One of the things to know when visiting Denver is that the city is known for its cannabis culture. But if there’s any vice that competes, it’s caffeine. Denver craft coffee shops are abundant in every neighborhood, as locals turn their noses away from corporate chains.
Savor single-origin coffee and cappuccinos at places like Dandy Lion Coffee Co., Corvus Coffee Roasters, and Hudson Hill.
FAQs About Denver Food
Is Denver a foodie city?
Denver is a foodie city. From authentic international cuisines to unique creations, there are dozens of destination restaurants. Their incredible menus often feature happy hour specials, a great beverage list, and seasonal dishes, too.
What foods is Denver known for?
Foods Denver is known for include green chile, Colorado lamb, Palisade peaches, and craft beer. Mexican cuisine is also highly popular. Many restaurants offer tacos, burritos, margaritas, and more.
What food was invented in Denver?
Foods invented in Denver include the cheeseburger, shredded wheat, and the “Fool’s Gold” sandwich. Coors beer founded in nearby Golden is another area invention.
Thanks for reading this guide to the best food in Denver! For more can’t-miss eateries, take a look at our latest articles on the best restaurants, coffee shops, and craft breweries in the Mile High City.
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