Best Chicken Wings 2023 | King of Wings | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Linnea Covington

There's a reason we were salivating for Eddie Renshaw and Evan Pierce's King of Wings to open up again after a December 2021 kitchen fire and permitting delays forced it to pivot to smashburger pop-ups to stay afloat. But while Snipeburger was a hit (and one the owners plan to bring back), the chicken wings are simply the best around. Each order gets grilled — adding a deep, smoky essence and a charred caramelization to the skin — before being doused in one of ten sauces, including Thai BBQ, bourbon Buffalo or tangy gold. Visit the now-reopened Wheat Ridge location, which doubles as a taphouse, and watch for a second location to open in Golden soon.

Noble Riot

Noble Riot in RiNo is one of Denver’s best wine bars, especially if you’re into sipping — and talking about — fun, funky fermented grapes with a bunch of equally enthusiastic vino lovers. That may not sound like the kind of place you’d also hit up for fried chicken, but Noble Riot serves up a seriously good take on the classic, with a thick, crackly crust that also happens to be gluten-free and pairs perfectly with a glass of sparkling Le Monde Ribolla or a light and airy Grüner Veltliner.

Courtesy The Post Chicken & Beer

Back when Big Red F had Lola, it introduced an unusual brunch entree for a Mexican coastal seafood spot: a great chicken-fried steak smothered in chorizo gravy. Today the space that was once home to Lola is one of the Big Red F's Post Chicken & Beer, but Lola's great chicken-fried steak remains a hallmark of the brunch menu. The gravy is now the more traditional, but still tasty, country kind that comes with all the actual chicken dishes, but here it accompanies Texas toast, brunch potatoes, an over-easy egg and collards.

Molly Martin

The fast-casual Gaia Masala & Burger offers straight-up Indian dishes, a smattering of Mediterranean entrees like falafel and shawarma, and a handful of burgers. But dig deeper into the menu and you'll find the really exciting stuff: neon-orange tikka masala cheesesteaks; a burger topped with mint, cucumber and tikka masala sauce; and (our fave) cheesy masala fries served plain or piled with a choice of chicken, lamb or cheesesteak. The best part? You can dig into these loaded fries until 2 a.m., as Gaia is one of the few Denver eateries open 'til the wee hours.

Molly Martin

Atomic Cowboy, Fat Sully's and the Denver Biscuit Company make up a three-in-one concept that has grown to seven locations and is known mainly for towering biscuit sandwiches and giant slices of pizza. It also serves up an unexpected item known as the Lights Out Burger. And it's perfect: Two smashburger-style patties, aged American cheese, housemade pickles, a layer of minced onions and a tangy burger sauce are all loaded onto a garlic butter-toasted brioche bun. The resulting burger is greasy in all the right ways and completely impossible to put down until every drippy bite is gone. It also rings in at just $8.95, and is an even better deal during happy hour, when the price drops to six bucks.


The green chile cheeseburger at Steuben's has been on the menu since Josh Wolkon opened the restaurant in 2006, and there's no plan to ever change that. The original inspiration came from a manager at the now-closed Vesta Dipping Grill, who tapped into his New Mexican roots to bring a taste of his childhood to the Denver spot, adding chopped Hatch green chiles and American cheese to the beef patty. The whole thing comes on a soft brioche bun, and you can add any combo of tomato, onion, mayo, lettuce and mustard. But even without the accoutrements, the balance of smoky chiles, melty cheese and fatty beef make this burger a winner.

Fellow Traveler

An understated facade and simple "FT" signage belies Fellow Traveler's airy, globally inspired interior, decorated with vintage world maps and pull-down images of iconic travel vistas to enliven the backdrop of your booth. The rotating food menu hosts transcontinental vegan delights, including a coconut curry aloo gobi, green chile chilaquiles, pineapple fried rice and a mixed street taco plate filled with the flavors of ingredients such as Thai curry-marinated tofu. The back bar is also an international affair, with deep dives into Mexico's mezcals, a Malört tasting flight and bottles of limoncello that are made in-house by co-owner Joe Philips and available for sale to take home.

Pit Fiend Barbecue

After the much-loved barbecue joint Owlbear closed in January 2022, a trio of friends, two of them former employees, took it over and reopened it as Pit Fiend Barbecue. Since then, they've been keeping the fire stoked in RiNo. While the Dungeons & Dragons-themed eatery kept some old favorites around, like Owlbear's Texas-style brisket and legendary mac and cheese, the new pitmasters excel at experimenting with barbecue traditions from around the world, bringing unique items such as ras el hanout lamb, vegan smoked mushrooms and a rotating sausage of the week to the menu.

Courtesy Wayne's Smoke Shack

On December 30, 2021, the Marshall Fire swept through Boulder County, causing massive destruction. Wayne and Sam Shelnutt, the husband-and-wife owners of Wayne's Smoke Shack, lost their homes; they lost a car, too. And while the building that held the business they had been running for nine years still stood, it suffered severe smoke damage. But just over a year later, Wayne's reopened, welcomed by its many fans who continue to line up on Fridays and Saturdays for a taste of its Texas-style 'cue. The relaunched joint also has an expanded market, where you can stock up on grab-and-go options, including frozen barbecue for easy at-home meals.

Molly Martin

In Northeast Park Hill, one block off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Blazing Chicken Shack II may look unassuming from the outside, but it's pure Southern-style hospitality when you walk in the door. Since 2015, Blazing Chicken has been serving up a menu filled with down-home staples, from fried chicken, catfish and gumbo to mac and cheese, collard greens and black-eyed peas. One must-order, though, is the perfectly seasoned oxtail-and-rice special, which is only available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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