Broadway has continued to capture the essence of Denver along its vast stretch of asphalt and concrete, changing with the times in certain spots while remaining steadfastly rooted in the past in others. The food reflects that, too, with great restaurants in hidden pockets of Englewood and on trendy blocks where the city's young and hip go to play. From time-honored Thai to ultra-modern small plates, Denver's most iconic north-south thoroughfare has it all. Here are the ten best restaurants on Broadway, in alphabetical order.
3999 South Broadway, Englewood
Acres might be one of metro Denver's most underappreciated restaurants — except by Englewood neighbors, who have discovered the charms of the cozy dining room and the allure of the small but tempting menu. Not to be missed are "Bruce's Biscuits" (flaky buttermilk pillows) and the mac-and-cheese gnocchi, but daily specials on the chalkboard also keep the regulars coming back. A chef's supper series on the last Sunday of every month might be the perfect way for newcomers to check out what could soon be their favorite new find.
Taco Tuesday is huge, but next time try these sopes at Adelitas.
Adelitas Cocina y Cantina
1294 South Broadway
Brian Rossi, who's managed Mexican restaurants across town, finally opened one of his own in 2013: Adelitas Cocina y Cantina. The colorful, casual spot specializes in traditional Mexican fare with a focus on Michoacán. The fresh, housemade chips come with three salsas, one of them an avocado crema and another an incredible tomatillo, and there plenty of other appetizers, too, including sopes, chavindecas, tamalitos and queso fundido with chorizo or soyrito. The lengthy menu offers a wealth of entrees in meat, seafood and vegetarian varieties; you can get most of them with red or green chile (which is vegetarian) – or some of both. The service is friendly and the drinks are strong, with house margaritas a bargain at five bucks during happy hour. Don't miss Taco Tuesdays, one of the most popular weekly events in town. Just be prepared to get there early or settle in for a long wait.
The enchanting B&W ushered in a new era of fine dining on Broadway.
Courtesy of Beatrice & Woodsley
Beatrice & Woodsley
38 South Broadway
Yeah, it's got a goofy backstory — and trees in the dining room. But get past that and get a table. Beatrice & Woodsley — the third restaurant from the partners behind Two-Fisted Mario's and Mario's Double Daughter's Salotto — remains one of the best eateries on Broadway, and certainly the most remarkable. From a menu that takes ridiculous chances to a room that has an almost gravitational draw, this is a place that has to be experienced to be understood.
Cho77 gets the whole package right.
42 South Broadway
Over the past two years, chef/restaurateur Lon Symensma and chef Ryan Gorby's take on a Southeast Asian market stall has trotted out a range of traditional Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indonesian dishes that burst with exotic flavors without ever becoming intimidating. Grab a seat at the bar and dive into Thai coconut curry, steaming pho or potent stir-fries from searing-hot woks just a few feet away. Standout dishes in the past have ranged from a playful bacon-egg-and-cheese ramen to Indonesian octopus laksa to bao mi buns, a clever mash-up of Chinese and Vietnamese sandwiches. You're always in for something fun from the ever-shifting menu.
Chowder Room follows the seasons for the best available seafood.
560 South Broadway
The Chowder Room is a little slice of small-town coastal life right on one of Denver's busiest thoroughfares. The service is warm and gracious, the decor is homey while still displaying a seafaring theme requisite of seafood shops, and the menu from chef/co-owner Matt Stein is affordable and sensible, though not without a few fun surprises (ask about daily and weekly off-menu specials). For a few sparkling oysters, a butter-dripping fillet or a solidly constructed sandwich stuffed with cod, salmon or seasonal treats like lobster or softshell crab, there's no better stop for the price. And don't forget the namesake chowder: Classic New England-style leads the way, but the kitchen offers many variations depending on seasonal availability and the chef's whim. In a sea of glitzier fish houses around town, the Chowder Room is a safe harbor.
Gozo is still hot on Broadway.
30 South Broadway
The Italian- and Spanish-inspired Gozo opened in the South Broadway storefront that was once home to Deluxe and Delite in 2014. The two spaces were merged into a big, whitewashed room with a chef’s counter that faces the wood-burning oven, a long bar and two cozy seating areas. While Gozo has seen its share of changes over the past three years, new owners Curt Sims and Pam Savage are steering the restaurant back to its original course with flavorful Mediterranean cuisine in a casual setting, with the original manager and chef back to hold things steady.
Leña is one of the shining stars of Broadway's restaurant scene.
The "ñ" makes all the difference for Leña, a smart Latin bistro on South Broadway. The name is the Spanish term for firewood, and a smoky flavor permeates much of Leña's menu. The roster, which draws from Mexico and South America, features hard-to-find regional specialties like tlacoyos and Peruvian potatoes alongside simple cuts of meat from the grill. A full bar stocked with South American spirits like pisco makes the cross-continental journey a smooth one. Latin American restaurants are heating up the Denver scene this year, but Leña was ahead of the game when it opened three years ago.
Maria Empanada is another Broadway restaurant that started life in another part of town.
1298 South Broadway
This Argentinean cafe and bakery sports sports gleaming white tile, a high-end espresso machine and enough pastry-case square footage to properly display the many empanadas, tortas and desserts being baked up in chef/owner Lorena Cantarovici's kitchen. Empanada varieties follow a traditional Argentinean pattern; each plump pastry has its own shape based on the filling. Thick wedges of tarta, like a savory, deep-dish pie, come loaded with spinach, mixed vegetables in cheese or mushrooms and leeks. For a little eye-rolling indulgence, the perfect alfajores (sugar-dusted sandwich cookies) come in two sizes, the smaller of which can be popped in your mouth like an Argentinean prescription to perk up a dreary day.
At the Post, you can order your fried chicken regular or Nashville hot.
The Post Chicken & Beer
2200 South Broadway
Everyone loves hot chicken and cold beer, right? Abso-clucking-lutely. The Post Chicken & Beer, a spin-off of the Post Brewing Co. in Lafayette, is counting on it. With its slimmed-down menu, this is the Post's little sister (or baby chick, as it were). But the crunchy, juicy, perfectly cooked fried bird is the same, down to its original gluten-free formula and pan gravy. The beer list has been condensed, too, but still offers Post brews as well as a daily slushie.
Kow soi with crunchy noodles and toasted chile oil at Taste of Thailand.
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Taste of Thailand
2120 South Broadway
Taste of Thailand has been crowded almost since the day it opened in 1994, when Noy and Rick Farrell decided to see what Denver thought about eating real Thai food, unaffected by latitude or cultural drift, as well as a the "flu-shot soup" that's become an annual tradition for regulars and neighbors. In June 2015, Taste of Thailand moved to South Broadway from its longtime home in Englewood, but the Farrells are serving the same garden-fresh cuisine — plus a few new tastes — at its new location.
Watch for the best bars of Broadway later this week.