Best Diner 2023 | Hits the Spot Diner | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Molly Martin

Denver's diner scene has dwindled in recent years, but it's certainly not dead, as evidenced by this eatery that claims to make "the fastest egg in the West." Founded by Manuel and Trish Gatsiopoulos in 2011, the aptly named Hits the Spot is more than just a speedy fix. The rotating pie cases are filled with tempting options, and the counter seats offer a view of the tasty plates coming through the kitchen window, from pancakes and cinnamon-roll French toast to pork chops and breakfast burritos smothered in the diner's excellent (and gluten-free) green chile.

Danielle Lirette

Late-night food is hard to come by in the Mile High these days, and 24-hour joints are even rarer, but the pancake-flipping neon chef above Pete's Kitchen remains a beacon on East Colfax for those who need to sate their hunger in the darkest hours of the night — on weekends, at least, when the eatery keeps the grill hot all day and overnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Owned by the Contos family since 1988 — and bearing the name of patriarch Pete Contos, who passed away in 2019 — Pete's satisfies like no other, whether you're there for a gyros omelet, a burrito smothered in green chile, or just a burger and fries.

Best Addition to the 16th Street Mall

Little Finch

The 16th Street Mall has long gotten a bad rap — and sometimes for good reason — but that's (finally) beginning to shift as more local business owners opt to open new concepts along the stretch that runs from Union Station to Civic Center Station. In 2023, chef Mary Nguyen, the owner of Olive & Finch, introduced its sister concept, Little Finch, a welcoming all-day cafe that's the perfect place to post up with a laptop while enjoying a pastry and espresso, meet with friends for happy hour or take down a healthy lunch — and everything in between.

Michael Emery Hecker

Entering its fourth year in business, Edgewater Public Market offers a variety of food, drink and retail vendors to satisfy a wide range of visitors. The convenient and easy layout allows patrons to grab a Belgian-style beer at Barquentine Brewing Co. or a cocktail at Roger's Liquid Oasis (which offers all-day happy hour on Mondays) before deciding which food stall to hit. From tacos and empanadas to Ethiopian and Greek fare, the market hosts an appealing assortment, including its newest addition, Black Box Bakery, which offers truly out-of-this-world pastries. Beyond the eats, you can check other to-dos off your list, too, like getting a haircut at True Grit Grooming or a new tattoo at Ink Den.

Chris Byard

Maria Rangel officially launched her food truck, Maíz, in May of 2021. Rangel's love of gorditas inspired her to make a big life change, transitioning from her work as an EMT to the food business to share her passion with the community. Even more inspiring is that Rangel had to overcome a fraudulent food truck fabricator before she could embark on her new career. With her struggles now in the past, she's focused on her food, using fresh corn masa to make a variety of deep-fried gorditas inspired by her mother-in-law's recipe, with fillings like chorizo and potato, corn and squash, and eggs and cheese. Rangel also delivers a big punch with her stellar green chile, and all of her dishes are gluten-free. Find out where to get in on this goodness through Instagram or on the truck's website.

For twenty years, Tom Messina ran the 24-hour Tom's Diner in this Googie-style building on East Colfax, but he nearly sold it in 2019 to developers before a few members of the community launched a petition to get historic designation for the building. Messina eventually got on board, reimagining the space as a Palm Springs-inspired cocktail bar. As part of the makeover, the outside area at Tom's Starlight, including most of the former parking lot, has been transformed into a Capitol Hill oasis, complete with an artificial turf-covered lawn area, fire pits, tiki totems, private cabanas, fountains and more.

Jonathan Shikes

Located in LoHi, Zuni Street Brewing has welcomed patrons and their beloved four-legged companions for the past six years. The brewery boasts a massive open-air front patio and enclosed back patio with picnic-style tables that accommodate large groups and ample room for furry friends. Beyond being extremely welcoming to canines, Zuni Street delivers tasty suds and hosts a weekly roster of some of the best food trucks around, as well as a regular live-music schedule. So if you find yourself walking your pooch in the area, drop in for a craft beer pit stop.

Kristin Pazulski

When City Park Tavern reopened in 2020 on the City Park Golf Course, it gave guests one of the best views of the city, period. Originally at the corner of York Street and 26th Avenue, the tavern-slash-clubhouse moved to a higher point on the slanted course, with a fifty-seat patio. While snacking on pub fare like nachos and burgers, diners can enjoy a nearly 180-degree view of the Rockies, the Denver skyline and the sweeping green golf course leading to the stately spires of Saint Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church. In rough weather, they can still take in the scene from inside the restaurant, which has floor-to-ceiling two-story windows that face west.

Mark Antonation

A piano bar that has been open since Prohibition ended, Charlie Brown's has hosted all sorts of colorful characters over the years. While you can't go wrong bellying up to the bar, it's the expansive patio that beckons those who are driven to scrawl prose into worn notebooks or type furiously in the glow of a laptop screen. Cigar and cigarette smoke wafts through the air, drinks are cheap, service is fast and friendly, and there are plenty of outlets to keep all your technology charged while you sip away afternoons that turn seamlessly into evenings at the longstanding landmark.

Molly Martin

David Right began making and delivering ice cream via Instagram with his business partner, Josh Siege, during the pandemic. The venture quickly gained a following for its creatively named concoctions, which are super-rich and creamy thanks to a housemade base and flavors that are loaded with mix-ins, most of which Right also makes himself, including Oreo toffee, "almost-too-salty" caramel and ooey-gooey butter cake. After a couple of moves, Right Cream made the right call, and now serves pints, scoops, cones and sundaes next to Denver Beer Company's Downing Street location.

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