The culinary scene in Denver has emerged as a major player in recent years as award-winning chefs are opening new restaurants and honing their craft in the Mile High City. The options don’t end at farm-to-table dives and high-end steakhouses. Denver has a restaurant to fulfill every craving, whether you’re in the mood for sushi or some deep-fried southern comfort food. The diverse city combines an array of flavors from across the globe, creating a melting pot of delicious plates and tasty bites that will have you coming back for more.
Restaurants by Craving
- 1. When You’re Craving a Classic Steakhouse Meal: A5 Steakhouse
- 2. When You’re Craving a Taste of the Middle East: Safta
- 3. When You’re Craving Cuisine from the Iberian Peninsula: Ultreia
- 4. When You’re Craving Southern Comfort: Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar
- 5. When You’re Craving Buffalo, Quail, or Rattlesnake: Buckhorn Exchange
- 6. When You’re Craving a Bacon-Forward Brunch: Bacon Social House
- 7. When You’re Craving a Seafood Feast: Water Grill
- 8. When You’re Craving Authentic Street Tacos: Tacos Tequila Whiskey
- 9. When You’re Craving the Freshest Hand Rolls: Temaki Den
- 10. When You’re Craving Wood-Fired Pizza: Jovanina’s Broken Italian
- 11. When You’re Craving Texas Barbecue: AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q
1. When You’re Craving a Classic Steakhouse Meal: A5 Steakhouse
Address: 1600 15th Street
A5 Steakhouse Menu
When the craving for a juicy NY strip steak strikes, there is no better place to visit than A5 Steakhouse. This lively establishment has been recognized as one of the top 10 restaurants in Denver, spearheaded by the head chef and sous chef duo of Heather McCormick and Aaron Kirschner. Through collaboration with local producers and ranchers who align with their values, the steakhouse provides quality meat that was sustainably raised.
The menu features traditional recipes with a modern twist, such as the macaroni & cheese croquettes and whipped potatoes, as well as the ultra-fluffy Japanese milk bread rolls. For main courses, the Japanese A5 Striploin served with veal ponzu is a must-try. The wine list is extensive, allowing diners to find the perfect glass to complement their protein-forward meal. Cocktails include Manhattans, Negronis, and Mojitos.
PRO Tip: Order your steak “Chef Max Style” which includes a portion of succulent roasted bone marrow.
2. When You’re Craving a Taste of the Middle East: Safta
Address: 3330 Brighton Blvd #201
Safta pays homage to the diverse and delicious culinary landscape of Israel while combining flavors from Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Morocco. This ever-evolving cuisine created by award-winning chef Alon Shaya is a cultural experience, centered around the delicious wood-fired pita bread that’s impossibly soft. The hummus commands an entire section of the menu, featuring a classic tahini-based dip with extra virgin olive oil, as well as decadent additions such as lamb ragu with crispy chickpeas and Maine lobster topped with flavorful saffron butter.
Diners will enjoy intimate lighting and private tables, with attentive service and consistent quality across the board. Main courses include a falafel plate, crispy eggplant served with house-made herbed goat cheese or half of a harissa chicken served with acidic charred lemon. Remember to save room for dessert, with classic options including a pistachio walnut baklava with a smooth pistachio labneh and a halvah semifreddo crafted with Turkish coffee granita and chocolate.
3. When You’re Craving Cuisine from the Iberian Peninsula: Ultreia
Address: 1701 Wynkoop Street #125
Located inside the historic Union Station, Ultreia features freshly procured seafood, creative cocktail recipes, and stunning Old World murals decorating the interior split-level space. The brainchild of James Beard award-winning chefs Jennifer Jasinksi and Beth Gruitch, diners can visit the Spanish region without ever leaving Denver. The European charm makes this restaurant one for special occasions or simply sharing tapas with a group of loved ones while creating lifelong memories.
You don’t have to be a gin lover to visit Ultreia but it certainly helps. The gin list is extensive, featuring brands such as Calamity Gin, The Botanist, Aviation Barr Hill 90, and Hendrick’s. Sangria is poured by the glass or tables can opt for an entire pitcher to share. Appetizers include bacon-wrapped dates and Marcona almonds and olives, as well as a rotating cheese menu. The main menu boasts options such as crispy pork shoulder with squash and celery root slaw and twice-baked winter squash with a crunchy pistachio dukkah.
PRO Tip: Friends fans will delight in the Chandler Bing cocktail, a combination of Juniper Jones Gin, pear simple syrup, and brandy.
4. When You’re Craving Southern Comfort: Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar
Address: 1650 Wewatta Street
Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar Menu
Chef Eric Gabrynowicz is bringing a revival of Southern comfort cuisine to the Rockies. Inside this roomy 3,000-square-foot restaurant, guests will face the difficult decision of choosing between any of the appetizing options on the menu. Reimagined classics, such as chicken and waffles and southern small plates meant to be shared are designed to bring a table together and encourage lively conversation. The scratch-made menu is seasonally updated while keeping the staple recipes as a foundation.
Start with some homemade biscuits, fried green tomatoes, or a tasty cast iron pimento cheese dip. Entrees include shrimp and grits with chorizo and a creole sauce, as well as spicy fried chicken and mac-n-cheese waffles with buttermilk ranch to cut through the heat. Go the traditional route with eggs Benedict or a hearty breakfast platter of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. The bourbon peppercorn glazed meatloaf is sweet and savory and it pairs nicely with The Debutante, a vodka cocktail with hand-crafted lavender lemonade.
PRO Tip: Save room for dessert! With mouthwatering options such as banana pudding and brown butter pecan pie, you’ll want to grab a tasty treat for the table or to go.
5. When You’re Craving Buffalo, Quail, or Rattlesnake: Buckhorn Exchange
Address: 1000 Osage Street
Buckhorn Exchange Menu
The Buckhorn Exchange is Denver’s oldest restaurant and it’s not difficult to see why it’s been around since 1893. Guests should treat their dining reservations as an experience and a trip down a historic Wild West past. The establishment was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1972 and now doubles as a western museum and a restaurant. Guests have included President Theodore Roosevelt and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.
Not for the faint of heart, the interior is decorated with a 500-piece game collection that includes deer, moose, giant buffalo, and mountain sheep. The menu features more traditional fare, such as Rocky Mountain oysters and grilled duck breast, as well as unique offerings like fried alligator tail and marinated rattlesnake. There are also buffalo tenderloin steaks, elk medallions, quail, and Cornish game hens for those wanting to branch out a bit but not quite to the reptiles. If you’re not too full, finish off your meal with a slice of hot dutch apple pie or a decadent rocky road brownie.
6. When You’re Craving a Bacon-Forward Brunch: Bacon Social House
Address: 2434 W 44th Avenue & 2160 S Broadway
Bacon Social House Menu
With two Denver locations and another in Littleton, Bacon Social House is proving the popularity of the delicious crispy slices of heaven. This brunch-only spot features endless opportunities to upgrade classic breakfast dishes with smoked bacon, as well as unique flavor combinations such as bourbon chocolate. The signature bloody mary menu showcases bacon vodka and jalapeño tequila for a spicy kick. The cocktail menu continues this creative endeavor with a bacon-infused bourbon old fashioned and a breakfast shot that comes with a slice of bacon on the side.
Brunch plates include pancakes, huevos rancheros, and bacon shrimp and grits with a crispy polenta cake. Believe it or not, there are even vegetarian-friendly options available such as the boozy French toast with challah bread, fresh berries, and bourbon caramel. Those wanting to lean into the bacon craze, however, can opt for the signature bacon flight that includes 6 rotating flavors.
7. When You’re Craving a Seafood Feast: Water Grill
Address: 1691 Market Street
Water Grill Menu
Water Grill offers an elevated seafood dining experience, with extensive raw bar offerings and a commitment to sourcing only the highest quality seafood within landlocked Colorado. Begin your seafood-centric meal with an aperitif, best enjoyed over ice. If you’re wanting to pair a cocktail with your meal, there is a thoughtfully curated list of drinks including the Market Street with vodka, strawberries, lemon, and tarragon and a Kentucky Preacher with bourbon, lemon, elderflower, and honey.
Appetizers include clam chowder with applewood smoked bacon and crispy calamari with a cilantro-mint sweet chili sauce. The main courses are mouthwatering, featuring fish and chips, Mexican swordfish, and an array of shellfish and tasty sides. The mac and cheese with a seven cheese sauce is a popular choice, as well as the maple roasted carrots and grilled broccolini. All seafood is seasonally sourced and the menu is prone to changing frequently in line with the tides.
PRO Tip: To top off an ocean-rich meal, order the chocolate espresso ganache cake with a luxardo cherry sorbet or the warm caramel bread pudding.
8. When You’re Craving Authentic Street Tacos: Tacos Tequila Whiskey
Address: 3300 W 32nd Avenue & 1514 York Street
Tacos Tequila Whiskey Menu
Chef and owner, Kevin Morrison, has started what some may call a taco mini-empire in Denver. Beginning from a food truck, this brick-and-mortar restaurant combines the deliciousness that is often associated with a street taco pop-up and the consistency of a well-equipped kitchen. Tacos Tequila Whiskey was named one of the top 50 new restaurants in the nation by Bon Appétit Magazine.
Whether you’re in the mood for freshly made chips and guac or a couple of margaritas after the end of a long week, Tacos Tequila Whiskey has you covered. They also have an extensive list of small-batch tequila and whiskey if you want to shoot it straight or in a cocktail such as a paloma or mule. As for the tacos, there is an assortment to choose from, including carnitas with crispy roasted pork and pollo agave with fried chicken. Grab a churro (or two) and a slice of tres leches before settling the bill.
PRO Tip: Choose from a range of house-made salsas for your tacos, including a classic pico de Gallo, a tropical pico with mango and cucumber, a roasted tomatillo sauce, and the diablo option for those who like it hot.
9. When You’re Craving the Freshest Hand Rolls: Temaki Den
Address: 3350 Brighton Blvd
Temaki Den Menu
Temaki Den was founded by Toshi Kizaki, who also created Sushi Den. This sleek new addition is a no-frills hand roll and aburi sushi bar that professes to be a more approachable alternative to the higher-end sushi experiences while upholding its older sibling’s legacy of quality and ultra-fresh ingredients. The hand rolls are generously filled and assembled in view of the diners.
Meals can begin with a warm miso soup or a crisp seaweed salad, before moving on to the main course. Featuring options such as a 3, 4, or 5 roll set — guests can excite their palates with salmon, blue crap, red shrimp, negihama, and negitoro. End the meal with a lightly sweet dessert such as mochi ice cream or a house panna cotta. Sake is served by the glass, though the more popular option is to opt for the “Taste of Sake” flight that includes three 2 ounce pours. There is also a Japanese whisky flight that allows guests to explore the tasting notes of the bold spirit.
10. When You’re Craving Wood-Fired Pizza: Jovanina’s Broken Italian
Address: 1520 Blake Street
Jovanina’s Broken Italian Menu
Jovanina’s is run by a husband and wife duo and represents a fresh, modern take on Italian food with a Colorado twist. The best representation of this twist is the elk bolognese with a mascarpone ricotta whip. Other hand-made pasta dishes include the pomodoro and the frutti di mare with lobster and mussels. The cast iron roasted chicken and gnocchi dumplings can easily be split between two, saving room for a slice of olive oil cake or an affogato for a sweet caffeine boost.
The menu also features wood-fired pizzas, crafted with both local and regional ingredients that are seasonally available. With the help of an imported Valoriani wood oven, the perfection of Italian pizza comes to Denver. Stick to a classic with a margherita or try a bianco slice or Jovanina’s specialty fennel sausage pizza with smoked mozzarella and caramelized onions.
PRO Tip: The restaurant has a full bar, as well as an innovative absinthe program. Order your favorite glass of red or try a specialty cocktail such as the Swiftwalker, a combination of orange vermouth, gin, grapefruit liqueur, and pineapple and celery shrub.
11. When You’re Craving Texas Barbecue: AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q
Address: 2180 S Delaware Street
AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q Menu
Sometimes, nothing quite hits the spot like a half pound of smoked brisket with a heaping serving of mac & cheese and a side of potato salad. AJ’s brings the flavors of Texas smoked BBQ to Denver, with options ranging from burnt ends, pulled pork, Texas sausage, and beef ribs. Everybody knows that good sides can make or break a barbecue, which is why AJ’s serves up custard filled cornbread, pit beans, truffle mac & cheese, and homemade banana pudding.
Meat is priced per half pound and is served fresh off the Texas Post Oak wood-fired smokers. Once you’ve ordered, the meat will be sliced or chopped in front of you before being wrapped or placed on a tray. Diners can combine to their heart’s delight, throwing down beef, poultry, and pork onto the same plate. It’s all bound to be demolished in record time.