A5 Steakhouse
Molly Martin

Denver has spent years trying to shed its cowtown reputation — which includes trending away from steakhouses toward a much more diverse culinary scene. But A5, which opened in 2021 in the former home of Morin, takes the classic steakhouse and infuses it with a modern sourcing ethos as well as fun, retro vibes. The result is a spot that feels anything but stuffy, thanks in large part to a menu from chef Max MacKissock that includes not only high-quality steaks — including the must-order Japanese wagyu striploin — but also updated takes on such classic steakhouse fare as a wedge salad with crispy guanciale and a crunchy seed mixture, and a beef tartare katsu sandwich with a perfectly soft-boiled quail egg tucked inside.

Bastien's Restaurant
Mark Antonation

With its iconic sign, sunken bar and mid-century aesthetic, Bastien's is a holdover from times past — and we wouldn't have it any other way. The family-run business dates back to the 1930s, but the current incarnation was constructed in 1958. That sign touts its famed sugar steak, but there are twelve preparations to choose from. And whether or not you splurge on a full steak dinner, nothing beats sipping Colfax dirty martinis delivered by friendly servers who've been working at this classic for years.

Columbine Steak House & Lounge
Erik Rangel

When Columbine Steak House won Best Steak House — Low End in the very first edition of Best of Denver in 1984, the joint was already 23 years old. And after 61 years in business, not much has changed, thankfully. The dining room is packed at lunch and dinner with people noshing on steaks cooked to order and served up with a side salad, a slice of Texas toast and a buttered baked potato — which you can get for under $20 if you opt for the sirloin or New York strip. Nothing on the menu is over $30, but don't forget to bring cash: Credit cards are no good here (though there is an ATM on site).

Right Cream
David Right

A pandemic success story, Right Cream got its start when David Right began making and delivering ice cream via Instagram with his business partner, Josh Siegel. The idea quickly gained popularity thanks to Right's creative flavors and commitment to quality — he makes his own ice cream base and loads up his pints with mix-ins, all of which he makes from scratch. An ever-rotating array of flavors with fun names like Jason Mochamoa (coffee-steeped ice cream with coconut fudge gooey buttercake "chonks" and caramel swirls) and Clark W. Griswold (cream cheese vanilla bean ice cream with Ritz cracker toffee, strawberry jalapeño jam and candied pecans) keeps customers guessing as to what's coming next.

Magill's World of Ice Cream

Ice cream can be so overpriced these days; what was once an affordable post-soccer game treat for kids has become the culinary equivalent of cold gold. But Magill's is the exception. With a nostalgic vibe from decades ago, Magill's offers a heck of a lot of ice cream that won't require that you break the bank or fork over lots of cold, hard cash. For added fun, go on a summer day and enjoy your ice cream outside on the benches, licking up the Magill's experience.

The Inventing Room Dessert Shop

There's ordering from a menu, and then there's interacting with the menu — which is what Ian Kleinman's dessert bar is all about. Inspired by the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory film, the chef has incorporated a slew of science tricks to make ice cream freeze right before your eyes, candy dry out and become light as air, and liquid chocolate transform into edible modern art. All of this happens by using liquid nitrogen, compression and freeze-drying technology and applying the techniques to sugar. Here, a sweet is never just something you pick from a menu; rather, it's a full experience for the senses. Currently the shop is open by reservation only, and dates and times for the Inventing Room's "Sugar Science" demonstrations can be found online.

Apple Blossom
Molly Martin

A great hotel restaurant not only serves guests of the venue, but it becomes a destination for local and visiting diners, as well. Such is the case with chef Paul C. Reilly's latest venture, Apple Blossom, which he runs with his sister, Aileen Reilly, and her wine-expert husband, J.P. Taylor Jr., in the Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver. The restaurant is a culmination of chef de cuisine Russ Fox's work at the team's other spot, Coperta, as well as the recently shuttered Beast + Bottle. The food on the Apple Blossom menu is approachable but with an elevated twist, which is reflected in dishes such as the chicken-fried duck livers and handmade pasta laced with uni.

When you're bowling, sometimes French fries and a slice of frozen pizza will have to do. But at Holiday Lanes, a Lakewood bowling alley and billiard room since the '50s, the in-house Elbow Room offers not only the usual suspects, such as mozzarella sticks and onion rings, but also calzones, patty melts, country skillets and even weekend breakfast. Our favorite part of the lineup, however, is the Tex-Mex lineup. Crispy chiles rellenos, hearty green chile and chimichangas the size of Paul Bunyan's forearm are popular enough to bring in hungry visitors who have no intention of hitting pins. With a menu this deep, there's no way you can strike out.

Best Tex-Mex Chili
Molly Martin

While green chile may rule in Denver, the Tex-Mex chili reigns supreme at Sam's #3, a local chain of diners with a pages-long menu of Greek, American and Mexican staples. The origins of Sam's date back almost a century, and while the original closed over fifty years ago, the Armatas family opened another downtown eatery on the same block in 2003, with additional outposts in Aurora and Glendale. All of them serve the Tex-Mex chili, a combo of Sam's pork green chile and its red, Coney-style chili, ladled in a cup or bowl over pinto beans, topped with cheese and diced onions, and served with a large, warm flour tortilla. Though green chile purists may bemoan this move, one bite and you'll understand the crossover appeal.

El Taco De Mexico
Molly Martin

El Taco de Mexico is a beloved institution that has been serving Mexican eats in Denver for 36 years, a fact that was honored in 2020 when it won a James Beard Foundation America's Classics Award. Much of that success can be attributed to its green chile, which stands out in a city saturated with the stuff. Fans flock here from breakfast through dinner for burritos, huevos rancheros and chilaquiles all smothered in the deeply flavored, dark-greenish-brown-hued chile verde. A carnitas burrito blanketed in it is a must, but you should also get a large side order on its own, served up in a Styrofoam cup with or without pork, to stash away for a fix long after your burrito has been devoured.

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