Best Neighborhood Market 2022 | Pete's Fruits & Vegetables | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Molly Martin

When the shelves at the big grocery stores went bare during the pandemic, small neighborhood markets became lifelines for many. But Pete's Fruits & Vegetables had already been just that for the Hilltop neighborhood for over forty years. Under the watchful eye of two generations of the Moutzouris family, Pete's stocks top-quality produce and local packaged products (Sweet Action ice cream, the Real Dill pickles, Tender Belly bacon); it also operates an on-site butchery and offers prepared meals with a Greek flair. We're particularly enamored of its feta bar, bacalao (salted cod) and Greek pastries (and booze). And the baklava that's sold at the register is nearly impossible to pass up.

Danielle Lirette

While Denver has lost some of its classic diners since the beginning of the pandemic (RIP, Breakfast King, Denver Diner and Tom's Diner), the pancake-flipping neon chef above Pete's Kitchen remains a beacon on East Colfax. Owned by the Contos family since 1988 — and bearing the name of patriarch Pete Contos, who passed away in 2019 — it satisfies like no other, whether you're there for a gyros omelet, a burrito smothered in green chile or just a burger and fries. And you can stop in at all hours (at least on weekends), when it's one of the only 24-hour options in town.

Courtesy Romero's K9 Club & Tap House Facebook page

Romero's is serious about pleasing your pooch while providing a safe and clean atmosphere for humans. Some restaurants allow dogs on the patio, but this Lafayette beer bar takes the time to register dogs before they're allowed in the leash-free outdoor beer garden. It really is a club, with passes that can be purchased for a day, month or year; there's a temperature-controlled pavilion for on-leash furry friends, as well as a humans-only indoor bar. Even better, you'll find a stellar craft beer list and bar snacks for both you and your faithful companion.

Molly Martin

The only thing better than sipping a glass of Lambrusco and noshing on Joy Hill's sourdough-crust pizzas is enjoying both on its patio. Located at the back of the restaurant's upper level, it's technically a rooftop patio — though at only two stories up, it's not going to trigger anyone's fear of heights. It does, however, offer an unobstructed view of the Rockies. Snag a seat at sunset for the ultimate colorful Colorado experience.

From the Hip Photo

Size does matter. Located on the roof of the new Catbird Hotel in RiNo, the Red Barber boasts (nearly) 360-degree views from its perch six stories above the city. And while there are many other rooftops in town with both city and mountain views, this one has 3,300 square feet of open, inviting space in which to sip cocktails, enjoy bites like wings with Caribbean hot sauce and Korean beef hot dogs, and play a game of cornhole. Comfy couches are prime spots for lounging, or opt for the grassy picnic area or a spot near a fire pit — there's even amphitheater seating for live music performances. This is basically the ultimate backyard, in the sky, staffed with bartenders.

From your morning coffee run to lunch meetings on the patio and evening cocktails at Curio Bar, Denver Central Market is an all-day destination for all things delicious in the heart of RiNo. Its eleven vendors sell everything from pizza, raw oysters and charcuterie boards to ice cream and gourmet chocolate — but this isn't just a place for dining in. The vendors here also offer baked goods, meats, specialty foods and pantry items for home use so that you can pick up dinner essentials while grabbing a lunch sandwich to go.

Molly Martin

Housed in a circa 1860 grain mill overlooking Clear Creek, the airy Golden Mill food hall also boasts a rooftop patio with views of Coors Brewery. But even without the ambience and ample seating, this would be a prime destination for food and drinks. On the ground floor, the self-pour tap system makes for easy access to a well-curated list of beverage selections, and there are several stalls with options like fried chicken sandwiches, barbecue and tacos. Upstairs you’ll find a hidden gem: Sushi Sora, which serves some of the best sushi in metro Denver.

Penelope Wong

Since quitting her executive-chef job of twenty years, practicing her dumpling skills for the better part of a year, building out a food truck and launching Yuan Wonton in late 2019, chef Penelope Wong has been serving some of the best food on wheels — and in Denver, period. Through the pandemic, she navigated ways to deliver her much sought-after dumplings and other specials safely, moving to a pre-ordering system with pick-up times. Now she's back to more regular services, with customers happily waiting in line for whatever Wong's got on the menu that day. The pro move is to order one of everything so you don't miss out on anything.
Danielle Lirette

While a lot of kids' menus offer chicken fingers, cheeseburgers and grilled cheese, Acova — often lauded for the whimsical names on its roster — gives these staples real flavor. Save for the pasta dishes, each freshly made meal comes with a side of homemade chips, cut veggies, fruit or regular or sweet-potato fries, as well as the knowledge that you're not just feeding your little ones, but also giving back to the community: For every item ordered off the kids' menu, Acova donates $2 to a local children's charity, which changes each month.

Molly Martin

Carmine Lonardo's, a family-owned Italian market and deli, has been around since 1976, and it's way more than a sandwich shop. The cozy shop's shelves are lined with imported pasta of all shapes and sizes, olive oil, canned goods, frozen foods like housemade sausages and so much more. Still, the sandwiches — huge, messy masterpieces loaded onto freshly baked rolls, which you can custom-order with that Italian sausage and a variety of other meats in hot and cold varieties — are unbeatable, and reason enough to visit.

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