Veggie tacos with dip on a plate at Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina, one of the best spots for food in Denver

Food in Denver (A Locals’ Guide to 33 Best Dishes to Try)

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!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

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!).

Green Chile

From Mexican to Italian cuisines, discover why Denver is obsessed 

A green chile on a bowl and a wrap on a plate at Cherry Cricket
Vegetarian green chile at Cherry Cricket, a long-standing Denver eatery

🍽️ Where to Find Green Chile: El Taco de México (Lincoln Park), The Bindery (Highland)

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.

Tacos

Arguably one of Denverites’ favorite foods

Veggie tacos with dip on a plate at Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina
Tasty veggie tacos at Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina

🍽️ Where to Find Tacos: Comal Heritage Food Incubator (Globeville), La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal (Five Points)

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. 

Empanadas 

Deep-fried or baked, they’re just as tasty

Empanadas and two glasses of Malbec wine in Lazo Empanadas
Empanadas and Malbec wine at Lazo

🍽️ Where to Find Empanadas: Maria Empanada (Platt Park, Central Park, and Highland), Lazo Empanadas (Ballpark, Central Business District, and Edgewater)

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. 

Palisade Peaches 

Locally-grown produce, highlighted in a variety of ways

View of Palisade Peaches on boxes

🍽️ Where to Find Palisade Peaches: il porcellino salumi (Berkeley), Apple Blossom (Central Business District)

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.  

French Toast

Fluffy brioche fresh off the griddle

French Toast with berries on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find French Toast: Denver Biscuit Co. (City Park, Baker, Berkeley, and Central Park), Snooze, an A.M. Eatery (Hale, Five Points, Union Station, and Hampden South)

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. 

Doughnuts

So many options for the sweet tooth

Colorful doughnuts displayed in Voodoo Doughnut
Several tasty picks at Voodoo Doughnut

🍽️ Where to Find Doughnuts: Voodoo Doughnut (Cheesman Park and Speer), Make Believe Bakery (Capitol Hill)

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. 

Dumplings

Two-bite treats made at authentic and fusion restaurants

Gyoza dumplings topped with fried garlic and scallions

🍽️ Where to Find Dumplings: ChoLon (Union Station), Star Kitchen (Athmar Park)

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.

Fried Chicken 

Whether Sichuan or Southern-style, it’s a juicy, crunchy favorite

View of The Ginger Pig sign outside the store
The Ginger Pig in Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood

🍽️ Where to Find Fried Chicken: The Ginger Pig (Berkeley), The Cookery at Myrtle Hill (Wash Park)

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. 

Rotisserie Chicken 

Seasoned and served in both cozy and upscale restaurants in Denver

View of whole Rotisserie Chicken

🍽️ Where to Find Rotisserie: Work & Class (Five Points), Hillstone (Cherry Creek)

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. 

Duck Confit

A French dish with a modern twist 

A duck confit on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Duck Confit: Bistro Vendôme (Union Station), Brasserie Brixton (Cole)

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! 

Rocky Mountain Oysters with dip on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Rocky Mountain Oysters: Buckhorn Exchange (Lincoln Park), Denver Stockyard Saloon (Elyria Swansea)

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. 

Burritos 

A Colorado staple enjoyed all hours of the day

People enjoying their meal in El Taco de Mexico
The extensive menu at El Taco de Mexico

🍽️ 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. 

Margaritas

Join the debate and decide who makes Denver’s best marg

Two glasses of margaritas and a snack on a plate in Kachina Cantina
Margaritas and more delicious bites at Kachina Cantina

🍽️ 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.  

Plantains

Starchy or sweet, this versatile fruit adds a punch of flavor

Arepa stuffed with plantains, black beans, and cheese
Venezuelan arepa stuffed with cheese, black beans, and plantains

🍽️ Where to Find Plantains: Quiero Arepas (Lower Highland), SuperMegaBien (Five Points)

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

Fried Rice

Elevated versions of this side dish are served all hours of the day 

View of fried rice on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Fried Rice: Hop Alley (Five Points), Onefold (City Park West and Union Station)

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.

Beef Tongue

Made upscale or authentic, this one’s for the adventurous eaters

Grilled beef tongue on a soft tacos with dip

🍽️ Where to Find Beef Tongue: Annette (Central Park), Machete Tequila + Tacos (Union Station, Cherry Creek, and Congress Park)

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. 

Handmade Pastas

Italian cooking at its finest, paired perfectly with seasonal ingredients

People enjoying their food outside the Tavernetta
Tavernetta, one of Denver’s most posh Italian restaurants

🍽️ Where to Find Handmade Pasta: Tavernetta (Union Station), Restaurant Olivia (Washington Park)

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.  

Lamb

An Italian pasta dish, Israeli kebabs, and more globally-inspired plates 

Lamb kebabs and a flatbread on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Lamb: Safta (River North), Three Saints Revival (Union Station)

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. 

Pizza

Colorado, Detroit, and New-York style, plus authentic Italian

Sliced Classic Margherita pizza on a plate at Marco’s Coal Fired
Classic Margherita pizza at Marco’s Coal Fired

🍽️ Where to Find Pizza: Beau Jo’s (Arvada, Lone Tree, Evergreen, and Idaho Springs), Marco’s Coal Fired (Five Points and Englewood)

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. 

Beer

Denver is a mecca for craft breweries 

The author holding a glass of beer in Wynkoop Brewing Company
Cold beer and pool tables at downtown’s Wynkoop Brewing Company

🍽️ Where to Find Beer: Wynkoop Brewing Company (Union Station), Odell Brewing (Five Points and West Colfax)

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 on stainless bowls

🍽️ Where to Find Mac and Cheese: Mizuna (Speer), Post Oak Barbecue (Berkeley)

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. 

Burgers

Delicious whether from a high-end eatery or fast food joint

Beef burger with bacon and egg, and a fries on the side

🍽️ Where to Find Burgers: My Brother’s Bar (Lower Highland), Crown Burgers (University Hills)

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

🍽️ Where to Find Pickled Mustard Seeds: Chez Maggy (Union Station), Ultreia (Union Station)

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. 

Hot Dogs

Everything from creative to classic versions

A balanced meal on a tray from Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs
A balanced meal from Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

🍽️ Where to Find Hot Dogs: Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs (Five Points), Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs (City Park)

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. 

Truffle Fries 

A classic side dish, with or without dairy

Truffle Fries with dip on a tray

🍽️ Where to Find Truffle Fries: Watercourse Foods (North Capitol Hill), 5280 Burger Bar (Central Business District)

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.

Wine 

Vintages from around the world

The author's husband during their date in CRÚ Food & Wine Bar
My husband and I on a date at CRÚ Food & Wine Bar

🍽️ Where to Find Wine: CRÚ Food & Wine Bar (Union Station), Guard and Grace (Central Business District)

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. 

Bruschetta

Sweet and savory combinations 

View of Bruschetta on a wooden board

🍽️ Where to Find Bruschetta: Postino (Lower Highland and Baker), The Kitchen American Bistro (Union Station)

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.  

Paella

Enjoy parties on the patio and a variety of combinations

Preparing a Spanish Paella in Denver

🍽️ Where to Find Paella: Lucina Eatery and Bar (South Park Hill), Barcelona Wine Bar (Five Points)

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. 

Whole Fish

Pick ‘em clean to the bone

Roast dorada with vegetables and lemons

🍽️ Where to Find Whole Fish: Fish N Beer (Five Points), Water Grill (Union Station)

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. 

Sushi

Served proper at two of Denver’s best restaurants

A set of sushi on a wooden board

🍽️ Where to Find Sushi: Sushi Den (Platt Park), Uchi Denver (Five Points)

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. 

Pho

Authentic and flavorful Vietnamese comfort food

A couple eating a Pho in Denver

🍽️ Where to Find Pho: Savory Vietnam Restaurant (Athmar Park), Phở 95 Vietnamese Restaurant (Mar Lee)

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. 

Ice Cream

Sandwiches, flights, milkshakes, and more

The author holding a cup of "Cookie Monster" from Milkbox Ice Creamery in Union Station
“Cookie Monster,” the daily special at Milkbox Ice Creamery in Union Station

🍽️ Where to Find Ice Cream: Little Man Ice Cream (Lower Highland), Milkbox Ice Creamery (Union Station)

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. 

Craft Coffee

No corporate chains here, just well-poured cappuccinos and cortados

A cup of cortado at Dandy Lion Coffee Co.
A cortado served at Dandy Lion Coffee Co.

🍽️ Where to Find Craft Coffee: Dandy Lion Coffee Co. (Northeast Park Hill), Hudson Hill (Capitol Hill)

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. 

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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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