Denver abounds with Mexican holes in the wall, chain eateries, steak joints, and even a few bison joints, and the restaurants in LoDo and Cherry Creek become more like those in Los Angeles and Manhattan every year. Below, I’ve listed primarily independent restaurants, unique to this area and a cut above others in their price ranges.
If you'd like to get a taste of several restaurants, Culinary Connectors (tel. 303/495-5487; www.culinaryconnectors.com) leads walking tours of Denver on Friday and Saturday afternoons, as well as other tours in both Denver and Boulder. Pricing is typically $99 per person.
Downtown -- In addition to the options listed here, there are a number of great breakfast spots in the downtown area. Snooze, 2262 Larimer St. (tel. 303/297-0700), is a great breakfast and lunch spot in the Ballpark neighborhood, serving delicacies like pineapple upside-down pancakes and bison meatball subs. Established in 1942, Pete’s Kitchen, 1962 E. Colfax Ave. (tel. 303/321-3139), is a prototypical urban diner, with checkerboard floors, a breakfast bar, booths, plenty of local color, and killer breakfast burritos. Pete’s is open 24 hours on weekends, making it a favorite of the barhopping crowd. And there is perhaps no more remarkable value-oriented restaurant than the nonprofit SAME Cafe, 2023 E. Colfax Ave. (tel. 720/530-6853), where there is no cash register: Customers pay donations of their own choosing for a healthy lunch. The socially conscious proprietors are committed to alleviating hunger and promoting healthy eating for all.
Outside Downtown -- For burrito aficionados, the world’s first Chipotle is located near the University of Denver, at 1644 E. Evans Ave. (tel. 303/722-4121).
Casa Bonita -- If the kids aren’t concentrating on the tacos, the puppet shows, high divers, fun house, and video arcade will enthrall them.
Wynkoop Brewing Company -- With a dining area separate from the bar, this pub and restaurant has a loud, bustling atmosphere and plenty of kid-friendly menu options.
A Good City for Green Chile Fiends
Green chile (green chil-ay) n. a fiery-sweet stew made of chile peppers and other ingredients, often but not always including chunks of pork, tomato, and onion. Denver’s eateries serve bowl after bowl of good green chile, stuff that ranges from merely spicy to flat-out nuclear. If you have a serious weakness for a bowl of green (as I do), here are six hot spots in the Mile High City, in no particular order:
1. Brewery Bar II, 150 Kalamath St. (tel. 303/893-0971): Inconspicuously nestled in a warehouse district, the Brewery Bar serves some of the hottest green chile in Denver. It also happens to be some of the tastiest. There are also two Brewery Bars in the south suburbs.
2. El Tejado, 2651 S. Broadway (tel. 303/722-3987): This locals’ favorite in the southern reaches of the city serves a unique thick green chile plate as well as some of the best authentic Mexican dishes in the Rockies.
3. Jack-N-Grill, 2524 N. Federal Blvd. (tel. 303/964-9544): Sweet and typically served in a bowl with beans, Jack Martinez’s green chile is excellent, as is his red. There is a second location in Littleton.
4. Las Delicias, 439 E. 19th Ave. (tel. 303/839-5675): A Denver tradition, Las Delicias serves some of the city’s best green chile from its downtown location among its four metro-area eateries.
5. Little Anita’s, 1550 S. Colorado Blvd. (tel. 303/691-3337): Relatively new in Denver, this longtime Albuquerque eatery offers wicked green chile from a strip mall in southeast Denver and three other metro-area locations.
6. Lime, 1414 Larimer St. (tel. 303/893-5463): Almost too hip for its own good, Larimer Square’s Lime eschews pork for chicken and dresses up the bowl with tortilla strips. Defying tradition tastes pretty good.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.