The Family Jones Spirit House is one of Denver Restaurant Week's newest participants.EXPAND
The Family Jones Spirit House is one of Denver Restaurant Week's newest participants.
Mark Antonation

Can't Decide Where to Dine for Denver Restaurant Week? Let Us Help!

Denver Restaurant Week is nearly upon us once again, with more than 225 restaurants signed up so far and more to be added before DRW begins on February 23 (it runs through March 4). Choosing the perfect spot to spend your $25, $35 or $45 (this year's price points; long gone is the $52.80-for-two deal) can be as daunting as, well, figuring out the Denver restaurant scene itself, which continues to spread like spilled wine across a tablecloth. Fortunately, many of the places on this year's roster coincide with Westword eateries included on our list of the best new restaurants of 2017; Eat Here, our lineup of the hundred restaurants we can't live without; and Drink Here, which poured out fifty more on the boozy side. We've shared 24 of our favorites that are participating in DRW below, with the price point that each restaurant is offering, along with links to menus where available (many have not yet been added to the website, but soon will be). Plan ahead and make reservations soon, because tables are snatched up quickly.

Wine-stained deviled eggs at Bar Helix.EXPAND
Wine-stained deviled eggs at Bar Helix.
Mark Antonation

Bar Helix
3440 Larimer Street
720-449-8587
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

“I’m creating the bar I want to go to and that my friends want to go to,” Bar Helix proprietor Kendra Anderson said when she was plotting her RiNo lair. She eventually unveiled a sultry spot that combines a high-echelon wine list with a top-notch cocktail program and drinking munchies that whimsically match highbrow to lowbrow flourishes — Pop Tarts with foie gras, for instance, and Pringles with caviar. Through her menu, Anderson touts a few pet causes: “soulmate” pairings of food and drink, Negronis, Champagne and wines from unusual regions. The quirky mix makes Bar Helix an easy stop for any drinker, and an exhilarating one for those looking to expand their palates and horizons.

Beatrice & Woodsley
38 South Broadway
303-777-3505

$35, Restaurant Week Menu
Magical, whimsical, transporting: These are the words that have been used to describe Beatrice + Woodsley since the fairy-tale dining room debuted on Broadway in 2008, the vision of restaurateurs Kevin Delk and John Skogstad. The experience of stepping from the gritty reality of Broadway into a woodland fantasy where a lumberjack seeks out his beloved (and leaves behind timbers and chainsaws as proof of his passage) is topped only by the food itself, which early on foretold the rise of a new kind of cuisine in Denver, one where local ingredients and clever combinations come in waves of small plates.

It doesn't get much more French than Bistro Vendôme.EXPAND
It doesn't get much more French than Bistro Vendôme.
Bistro Vendome

Bistro Vendôme
1420 Larimer Street
303-825-3232
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

Bistro Vendôme rises above kitschy French shtick with an alluring menu and warm hospitality typical of the restaurants run by chef Jennifer Jasinski and business partner Beth Gruitch. Timeless classics like onion soup, steak frites and escargot vie for attention alongside more modern, seasonally driven creations, giving guests plenty of options. Despite its Larimer Square location, the bistro maintains its charm as a hidden secret surrounded by brick walls, ivy and shady trees; the garden seating is lovely in the summer. Whether you’re stopping for some happy-hour bubbly or a brunchtime croque madame, Bistro Vendôme is as close as you’ll get to Paris in the heart of Denver.

Bittersweet
500 East Alameda Avenue
303-942-0320

$45, Restaurant Week Menu
In a neighborhood better known for convenience stores and takeout Chinese, Greek and Thai, chef Olav Peterson and his wife, Melissa Severson, have carved out a reputation for avant-garde cuisine with an eye toward seasonality. Never pretentious or unapproachable, Bittersweet’s offerings instead delight with discovery while remaining grounded in familiar flavors. Thai, Mexican, Italian and French influences broaden the palate of garden-fresh dishes, enhanced by a stellar wine list and more than a few food-friendly beers hailing from everywhere from Colorado to Belgium and beyond. A summer seat on the patio surrounded by tomatoes and chiles ripening on the vine is as treasured as a fireside table in the winter; both come with an incredible basket of house-baked bread.

Citizen Rail
1899 16th Street
303-323-0017

$35, Restaurant Week Menu
Hotel restaurants don't have much of a reputation for inventive, chef-driven fare. But those who have enjoyed meals at Panzano in the Hotel Monaco, less than a mile from Citizen Rail, know that its owner, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, isn't content to offer bland tourist fare to please the masses; rather, artisan food production — like the handmade bread and pasta — is more the norm. That's the case at Citizen Rail in the Hotel Born, too, led by executive chef Christian Graves, who moved to Denver from San Diego, where he was in charge of another Kimpton restaurant. The heart of the restaurant is an open kitchen with several wood-burning grills, where everything — from dry-aged steaks to cocktail garnishes — is kissed with flame and smoke. But behind the scenes, a larger kitchen holds a butchering room where whole animals are brought in and broken down, providing cuts typical of steakhouse slates but also leaving room for oxtail, lamb sausage, rabbit loin and a decadent burger made from fresh-ground short rib and brisket. Yes, it's a meat-lover's paradise, but it's also so much more.

Double take: celery root soup, not cappuccino, at Concourse.
Double take: celery root soup, not cappuccino, at Concourse.
Danielle Lirette

Concourse Restaurant Modern
10195 East 29th Drive
720-550-6934
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

Concourse debuted in April as the third Denver restaurant from chef/restaurateur Lon Symensma, after ChoLon and Cho77. The Stapleton eatery represents a bridge between Symensma's past and future; the menu is dotted with international influences but defies easy categorization. "The one word I wanted it to be is 'sexy,'" the chef explains. And "sexy" is the right word to describe the style of Concourse, with its undulating dining-room ceiling made from seventy curvaceous wood slats, its sleek tile surfaces in blacks and whites, and its brass and gold finishes that add elegance to every nook and cranny of the space. The menu, overseen by chef/partner Luke Bergman, feels equally thought out, with a concise roster — only seventeen dishes appear on the dinner menu — left as a single list, not broken down into appetizers, mains or sides. Although European technique is evident in emulsions, reductions and vinaigrettes, the chef says he avoided the overuse of butter and cream, instead relying on "aggressive but not heavy flavors."

Duo Restaurant
2413 West 32nd Avenue
303-477-4141
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

A dozen years seems like a lifetime in LoHi years, and that’s how long Duo has been keeping the neighborhood wined and dined. Under the guidance of owners Keith Arnold and Stephanie Bonin, Duo has somehow always managed to feel fresh and classic at the same time, even in its early days. Exposed brick, shabby-chic decor and a simple menu unadorned by ego-driven feats of gastronomy aren’t what’s sexy these days, but a consistent philosophy and respect for both staff and customers are things that never go out of style. Earlier this year, Arnold and Bonin instituted a 2 percent living-wage service charge to help kitchen employees make ends meet, but even before that, the restaurant had a loyal employee base, something that regulars notice and love.

Tabbouleh lettuce wraps at El Five.
Tabbouleh lettuce wraps at El Five.
Danielle Lirette

El Five
2930 Umatilla Street
303-524-9193
$45, Restaurant Week Menu

El Five isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience. Perched on the fifth floor of a new building in LoHi, the restaurant — run by the group behind Linger and Root Down — commands breathtaking views of downtown and the mountains. But the views inside the walls are just as mesmerizing. People are everywhere — down corridors that lead to view-drenched dining rooms, standing, sitting, ordering drinks, saving seats, sharing steel pans of paella, laughing and leaning in across velvety booths to be heard over the primal thump of a dance beat. Gleaming black surfaces reflect light from the wraparound windows, and a mosaic of hundreds of hexagonal mirrors make a kaleidoscope of faces and beams of light. The menu skews toward tapas, so everything is meant to share, from lamb sausage with hummus to patatas bravas to matzoh-ball soup dumplings. Don’t be shocked by the paella prices: Those steel pans of crisped rice loaded with rabbit confit or seafood are also designed to feed the table.

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen
1317 14th Street
303-595-4255
$25, Restaurant Week Menu

Sausage, beer and a little craziness: That’s the recipe for success at Euclid Hall, the third restaurant in Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch’s stable. Pig-ear pad Thai and duck poutine came at a perfect time in the evolution of Denver’s dining scene, when restaurant-goers were bored with the standards and seeking thrills. How else to explain why blood sausage has remained a house specialty since opening day back in 2010? But seven years later, the vaguely Germanic beer hall is still taking chances — and still making new fans with bar food for a fearless generation.

The Family Jones Spirit House
3245 Osage Street
303-481-8185
$25, Restaurant Week Menu

Some distillers claim to solicit bartender feedback when tweaking their spirits, but none are quite so entwined as the team at the Family Jones, where a copper still whirs on the mezzanine as drinkers gather for sips and snacks in the lounge below. Master distiller Rob Masters lets the bar team drive his creations as he builds out the basis of a cocktail program that uses only spirits made in-house. This in turn begs creativity from the bartenders, who serve classics and house specials built without relying on, say, vermouth. The best part? You don’t have to appreciate the geekery to enjoy the drinks — or the food, which you definitely should not skip.

Il Posto takes spaghetti to a new level.EXPAND
Il Posto takes spaghetti to a new level.
Danielle Lirette

Il Posto
2601 Larimer Street
303-394-0100
$35,
Restaurant Week Menu
When Andrea Frizzi moved Il Posto from its cubby on East 17th Avenue to a sleek bi-level cube in RiNo, we held our breath: Would the new address be a good home for this restaurant's semi-chaotic charm? We needn't have worried. Il Posto 2.0 presents some of the team's best cooking yet, from new meditations on its always-stellar risotti to a masterful pappardelle with pork ragu to a showy and delicious beef tallow candle (impossible at the old address, says Frizzi, because there just wasn't enough space to make candles). And despite its more grown-up vibe, this space is infused with the old Il Posto magic: Frizzi bobs around frenetically kissing the cheeks of friends and strangers alike, wine from an expertly curated list pours freely and easily, and the energy of the kitchen spills out from an open window beneath a sign that suggests sending the cooks a six-pack...of Jack Daniel's. As a bonus, Il Posto now has one of the best tables in Denver, a second-level corner seat that looks out on the Denver skyline. Trying to impress someone? Request it.

Jax Fish House
650 South Colorado Boulevard, Glendale, 303-756-6449
1539 17th Street, 303-292-5767
$35, Restaurant Week Menus: Glendale and LoDo
Sip, slurp and shuck your way to shellfish bliss at Jax, the fish house and oyster bar that Dave Query launched in Boulder in the ’90s; he soon launched the concept in Denver, and it’s since gone beyond Colorado. Built around seafood and specializing in shells, each Jax offers grilled and fried oysters in addition to an excellent oyster happy-hour deal, which turned the LoDo location, in particular, into a boisterous post-work beacon. Once you’ve had your fill of the mollusks, though, don’t miss the rest of the menu, which is geared toward sustainably caught fish and changes seasonally.

The Kitchen
1530 16th Street
303-623-3127
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

When it opened its doors on the west end of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall in 2004, the Kitchen had ambitions. Kimbal Musk and Hugo Matheson envisioned creating a gathering place that would draw from local farms to give diners well-executed but simple dishes — comfort food, but lighter, healthier and better sourced. Musk and Matheson took their mission to the Boulder community, too, engaging with school gardens to teach kids where food comes from. That first Kitchen has since spawned an empire that includes additional outlets of the original concept, plus the faster, more casual Next Door chain and the wood-fired Hedge Row. As the company grows, it plants the seeds of change in the communities it enters, setting up partnerships with local schools and farms before it breaks ground. The ambition of that first place still burns, though: Musk and Matheson are intent on upending the American food system, using the power of their eateries to do it.

Linger
2030 W. 30th Avenue
303-993-3120
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

First came Root Down, chef Justin Cucci’s uber-hip eatery built in a former service station in LoHi. While the reclaimed and upcycled decor and worldly small plates, many of them vegetarian, blew minds back in 2008, they did little to prepare us for Linger, which opened three years later in the Olinger Mortuary building. An international menu mapped out by continent (complete with crackly Indian dosas, hangover ramen and German currywurst) and a theme to match the surroundings (cocktails listed on toe tags, tables built from gurneys, water served in apothecary bottles) made Linger stand out immediately. Although development has blocked much of the splendid view from the rooftop bar/deck, Linger’s continued dedication to sustainable practices and carefully sourced ingredients have kept the restaurant at the top of the list of dining destinations in this city.

Lola's dining room is a getaway in the city.EXPAND
Lola's dining room is a getaway in the city.
Mark Antonation

Lola Coastal Mexican
1575 Boulder Street
720-570-8686
$45, Restaurant Week Menu

Yes, we know it’s odd that the city’s best chicken-fried steak is served by Lola, which added the words “coastal Mexican” to its name a few years back. But that’s just one of the reasons we love this restaurant, whose move to the renovated Olinger Mortuary in LoHi a decade ago helped turn the area into a hot dining destination. Other reasons to love Lola: the expansive tequila bar and delicious house margs, the tableside guacamole service, the taco-filled happy hour, the fresh oysters, the inventive specials, and the basement space that could be the best party space in town. Our favorite spot here, though, is the enclosed deck, a lovely place for a solitary drinker to soak up the last days of summer or a group of pals to fortify themselves against the wintry night ahead.

Mister Tuna
3033 Brighton Boulevard
303-831-8862
$35,
Restaurant Week Menu
Troy Guard has channeled his hybrid Pacific Rim/Mediterranean/Latin style through many venues since landing in Denver in the early 2000s. But at Mister Tuna, which opened in RiNo in 2016, it all comes together: his childhood in Hawaii, time under fusion powerhouse Roy Yamaguchi, and a career absorbing Rocky Mountain influences. The result is a smashing combo of wood-fired cooking where meats and whole fish absorb notes of smoke; raw and cooked seafood capturing the spirit of Hawaii and Japan; and a smattering of fresh-made pastas that convey the Southwest and Italy with equal aplomb. Add homages to Guard’s pop and mom (in the name and dining-room mural, respectively), and Mister Tuna feels like an eatery with a genuine heart.

There's always something porky at Old Major.EXPAND
There's always something porky at Old Major.
Scott Lentz

Old Major
3316 Tejon Street
720-420-0622
$45, Restaurant Week Menu

Pork was trendy and bacon sizzled everywhere when chef Justin Brunson opened Old Major in the up-and-coming LoHi neighborhood in 2013. But Brunson went beyond bacon, instituting a cured-meats program that followed difficult and time-consuming old-world methods. And while meat still stars on the plates — especially the continuously evolving Nose to Tail entree — served in the rough-hewn dining room that reflects the chef’s personality, respect is also given to seasonal produce and foraged ingredients. Old Major is named for a famous swine from the American literary canon, but the menu transcends pork with enough variety to make the restaurant a Denver classic.

Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
303-534-5855
$25, Restaurant Week Menu

Frank Bonanno followed up his posh Mizuna and Luca in Governor’s Park with Osteria Marco, a more festive Italian eatery in a basement space on Larimer Square. In 2007, things like burrata, housemade salumi and Sunday pig roasts weren’t part of the Italian-restaurant lexicon in Denver, but Bonanno made them household phrases, serving less common regional dishes alongside pizza and panini to help demystify the more esoteric side of the cuisine. Everything seemed to be ready for bare-hands eating, the food washed down with Italian beers and something called a Negroni. These days, Denverites swill Campari-based cocktails by the carafe and ask for the provenance of their white orb of burrata — all thanks in part to Osteria Marco.

Root Down
1600 West 33rd Avenue
303-993-420
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

When Root Down opened in an old garage in 2009, it immediately took off, establishing chef/owner Justin Cucci as one of the top restaurant design talents in the city. The conversion drew on automotive and blue-collar concepts without being cheesy: rolled-up garage doors, a bar top made from a bowling alley lane, mid-century modern flourishes, artwork that channels a car-focused past. In fact, Root Down looks so good that it would still attract people even if the food were an afterthought — but Cucci’s vision for his menu was just as assertive: The kitchen puts out such big-flavored mashups as carbonara risotto, ratatouille salad and a vegetarian charcuterie board. Drinks are similarly sexed up, and brunch here is one of the most popular in town, with dishes like Vietnamese almond pancakes and fried chicken with goat-cheese biscuits. The menu is particularly vegetarian-friendly; nearly half of Root Down’s dishes are either vegetarian already or can easily be modified.

Spuntino's seasonal menu brings in Highland neighbors as well as destination diners.EXPAND
Spuntino's seasonal menu brings in Highland neighbors as well as destination diners.
Mark Antonation

Spuntino
2639 West 32nd Avenue
303-433-0949
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

Chef Cindhura Reddy and her husband, Elliot Strathmann, took over Spuntino from John Broening and Yasmin Lozada-Hissom in 2014, adding their own personal touches to the intimate Italian eatery. Today hand-rolled pastas and braised meats are the stars, while goat from El Regalo Ranch and creamy arancini (sometimes with Hatch chiles) have become signature items. At the bar, Strathmann has amassed a collection of Italian amari, the bitter after-dinner spirits (including several versions he makes himself) that give diners one more reason to linger. Spuntino is the neighborhood hangout that every neighborhood wishes it had.

Steuben's
517 East 17th Avenue, 303-830-1001
7355 Ralston Road, Arvada. 303-830-1001
Restaurant Week Menus: $35 at Uptown and $25 at Arvada

When Steuben’s shimmied into Uptown in 2006, it filled a void in Denver dining that the city hadn’t realized existed. Owners Josh and Jen Wolkon channeled the neighborhood diners so essential to communities of yesteryear, updating the concept for the modern world. So while Steuben’s offers classic American fare — cheeseburgers and fries, pot roasts and macaroni and cheese, milkshakes and egg creams — it’s honed the execution so that the dishes are nostalgic yet well made, with elevated ingredients. Even more elevated are such items as the skirt steak with chimichurri, excellent Nashville hot chicken, an award-winning green-chile cheeseburger, and a Boston-worthy lobster roll. A kid-friendly place that’s also friendly for adults, Steuben’s offered one of the first high-end cocktail programs in Colorado, and it continues to turn out perfect classics and fun inventions that match its vibe — loud, energetic and a little rock-and-roll. The second location, in Arvada, has more diner flavor, along with such breakfast fare as biscuits and gravy.

Stoic & Genuine
1701 Wynkoop Street
303-640-3474
$45, Restaurant Week Menu

With Rioja, Euclid Hall and Bistro Vendôme under their belts, Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch made it a foursome in 2014 with Stoic & Genuine, the oddly named but well-appointed seafood bar inside the refurbished Union Station. Gleaming oysters from both coasts, including special Stoic & Genuine varieties grown just for the restaurant, and crudos, ceviches and fillets draw seafood lovers with their unparalleled freshness, while playful interpretations of tuna melts, Reubens (salmon-based, of course) and other delights (like the miniature sand pails — complete with tiny spades — used as salt cellars) make for a lively lunch or a serious supper. Every detail is planned out, whether it’s the housemade sodas in happy-hour mixed drinks or the granitas in exotic flavors that top mollusks on the half shell. And for those looking for something a little more cowtown, the burger rates as one of the best in Denver.

Table 6 is back for Restaurant Week.
Table 6 is back for Restaurant Week.
Danielle Lirette

Table 6
609 Corona Street
303-831-8800
$35, Restaurant Week Menu
There have been many changes at Table 6 since the cozy eatery opened in 2004, but after Aaron Forman took over in 2008, you knew you could count on finding not just an excellent meal, but hospitality that imparts a true sense of belonging. While chefs have come and gone, the menu has remained eclectic and often whimsical, without ever seeming too clever for its own good. A surprising wine list, an amazing brunch and Forman’s stellar collection of ties and sport coats have endeared the eatery not just to the neighborhood, but to all Denver diners in the know, with barely a slip over the years.

Vesta
1822 Blake Street
303-296-1970
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

Vesta is a Denver icon, a pioneering LoDo restaurant that’s become a neighborhood staple. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t evolved: Last year, two decades after Josh and Jen Wolkon first opened the restaurant, they gave it a significant refresh, dispensing with the "dipping grill" theme that had anchored the concept and been part of its name. They kept the sleek interior, the dramatic bar and the focus on bold flavors, built from marrying global inspiration into one seasonal menu. Vesta’s well-honed food (which still includes a multitude of optional dipping sauces) means the restaurant remains special-occasion-worthy, but it’s also mellowed into a good place to find yourself on a weeknight with a bowl of cioppino and a glass of wine.

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