Denver's in the midst of a dining boom, but when it comes to choosing a restaurant for out-of-town parents or older guests, you might want to look past your new faves. That's because trendy spots in RiNo, Union Station and the Source will likely elicit the same reaction that your music used to: That's too loud! Turn it down! Problem is, you can't turn down the volume in a shipping container.
So we've come up with a list of fifteen places where older relatives might have a better time. Most are dinner venues, but we've included a few spots for daytime dining, in case you need a place to eat after a Black Friday trip to the mall or museum. Wherever you eat, keep in mind that the earlier you go, the quieter the dining room will be and the easier it will be to hear. So if you do find yourself making reservations for 5 p.m., keep that joke about early-bird specials to yourself. And remember that you can always ask to be seated at a quieter table; some restaurants have sections that are better suited to conversation than others.
15) Devil's Food Bakery & Cookery 1020 South Gaylord Street 303-733-7448
Skip the crowded brunch when you're with family and head to this quaint Old South Gaylord eatery for a charming dinner -- labeled "supper" on the menu -- in a setting where mom and dad will feel right at home. Vintage kitchen appliances even make up a portion of the decor.
14) Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar 650 South Colorado Boulevard 303-756-6449 The latest Jax is big and bright, with a variety of seating options that should work for just about any party. And the fresh seafood will have visitors from either coast swooning with homesickness.
13) Palettes 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway 303-534-1455 After a stroll with the family through the Denver Art Museum, a stop for lunch at Palettes is just the ticket. With art-themed special menus and a quiet dining room that matches the ambiance of the DAM, Palettes paints a pretty picture for visitors to Denver.
12) Racines 650 Sherman Street 303-595-0418 From pasta to stir-fry, Mexican to meat-free, there's something for everyone on the menu at Racines, a go-to choice in Denver for the past thirty years.
11) Humboldt 1700 Humboldt Street 303-813-1700 When Humboldt moved into the former home of Strings last year, the restaurant's management team knew that, like Strings, it would have to appeal to the neighborhood and make everyone feel welcome. Humboldt not only succeeded in those goals, it also gave Denver our Best Burger for 2014.
10) North Italia 190 Clayton Lane 303-941-7700 During the day, North Italia is popular with ladies who lunch, and who do so over leisurely meals of salads, pizzas and pasta. At night, the dining room glitters through its floor-to-ceiling windows, making it a perfect spot to bring a visitor who craves a little sophistication.
9) Argyll Whisky Beer 1035 East 17th Avenue 303-847-0850 "We wanted to create a gastropub that...reflects the way the Brits eat today," Robert Thompson said when he introduced Argyll 2.0. But it's the way we want to eat, too, with a smart menu served in a welcoming setting.
8) Glaze by Sasa 1160 Madison Street 720-387-7890 Teaming one of Denver's top sushi masters with a bakery known for circular cakes was a stroke of creative genius. Glaze by Sasa takes full advantage of the skills of Sushi Sasa owner Wayne Conwell and baum-cake expert Heather Alcott, and should keep the out-of-towners entertained.
7) OAK at Fourteenth 1400 Pearl Street, Boulder 303-444-3622 Oak was designed as a neighborhood place, with award-winning craft cocktails, a menu tilted toward sharing, and a wood-burning oven that lends a rustic flavor to meats and vegetables and fills the restaurant with a cozy campfire smell...in the heart of downtown Boulder.
6) Mizuna 225 East Seventh Avenue 303-832-4778 Mizuna was chef/owner Frank Bonanno's first restaurant. Impeccably serviced by a thoroughly professional floor staff, Mizuna is a comfortable neighborhood spot that draws crowds (and these days, cooks) from across the country. It's small, charming and an ideal eatery for meeting with friends and family. Keep reading for five more places that are good for parents.
5) Potager 1109 Ogden Street 303-832-5788 Chef Teri Rippeto's little garden restaurant is a longtime favorite of Denver's better chefs, mostly because the place never, ever disappoints. The kitchen is one of the best-educated in town when it comes to the notion of cooking and eating in concert with the seasons. If you want to give your guests a true taste of Denver, Potager is the place.
4) Panzano 909 17th Street 303-296-3525 This is not your usual hotel restaurant. Chef Elise Wiggins and her team at Panzano have as their motto "Chi mangia bene, viva bene" (Those who eat well, live well), and you can certainly live it up in the elegant, yet comfortable dining room that specializes in perfectly prepared northern Italian cuisine.
3) Barolo Grill 3030 East Sixth Avenue 303-393-1040 barologrilldenver.com As Barolo Grill prepared to enter its third decade, owner Blair Taylor made some changes at his Piedmontese restaurant, a longtime monument to fine dining. He gave the interior an update and, under the direction of a new chef, the menu has been updated, too. Taylor's work paid off: After two decades in business, Barolo has not only reaffirmed its relevance to the Denver dining scene, but is evolving into an even better restaurant.
2) Rioja 1431 Larimer Street 303-820-2282 Beth Gruitch and chef Jennifer Jaskinski opened Rioja in November 2004 to unprecedented fanfare -- fawned over by the press, loved up on the foodie message boards, packed from the start almost every night of the week. And it's just gotten better over the past decade. Take your family to Larimer Square for the lights and the shopping; then stop by Rioja for food that wins raves around the world.
1) Elway's 2500 East First Avenue 303-399-5353 While your father gazes at all the John Elway memorabilia, your mother can appreciate the rest of the decor: The dining room at the original Elway's is sumptuous - not so much clubby as sleek and classy -- and the service is warm and professional. And even if your parents aren't into steak, they'll find plenty that's satisfying on the expansive menu.
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