Best Mediterranean Restaurant 2023 | Bosphorus | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Mark Antonation

Some of the best Turkish food around can be found at a strip mall in Englewood. The family-owned and -operated Bosphorus serves huge portions at extremely reasonable prices. Dig into tender lamb shish kebabs, juicy stuffed grape leaves and freshly sliced lamb and beef gyros on puffy pitas, and pair it all with strong Turkish coffee. There's limited seating for dine-in, so takeout is the safest bet, but if you do manage to snag one of the few tables, you'll get to enjoy the best feature of Bosphorus: its attentive and hospitable staff, which is willing to go to any lengths to make you feel like family.

Courtesy of Chef Zorba's

Chef Zorba's resides on a calm and tree-shaded block of Congress Park. Locals have been dining here since 1979, and when Karen LuKanic bought the spot in 2018, she kept many of Zorba's traditional dishes, while also making some modern updates to the space. One tried-and-true staple is the chicken-lemon-rice soup, also known as avgolemono, which has a refreshing lightness from the citrus while still being filling and hearty enough to battle even the most stubborn hangover.

Denver diners mourned the loss of the eight-year-old Beast + Bottle when it shuttered in Uptown after its building was sold in 2021. But the loss stung a lot less when Paul and Aileen Reilly — the brother-and-sister duo behind the now-closed eatery — moved a new concept with a similar mission into the Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver. Unlike their former space, this eatery is open all day, serving breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, but like Beast, Apple Blossom focuses on responsible sourcing. It takes inspiration from regions all over the country, serving dishes like housemade spam, Paul's Southern-style fried chicken, a French dip made with confit duck leg, and grilled swordfish from Santa Barbara.

Molly Martin

Capitol Hill neighbors who'd frequented Potager since it opened in 1997 were worried when founder Teri Rippeto sold it in early 2019. But their fears have been allayed by the restaurant's continued dedication to locally sourced, seasonally driven ingredients under current owners Paul and Eileen Warthen and Nik Brand. Potager was a bellwether for a style of cuisine that's become almost cliché, but few new restaurants are as good or as devoted to simple, honest cooking with premium ingredients, and the back garden may be the most peaceful place in Denver to enjoy a meal.

Molotov Kitschen

This small eatery, which opened in January 2023, is rooted in chef Bo Porytko's Ukrainian family culture while doubling as a rebellion concept in the lens of global conflict. Its Eastern European comfort food is akin to a warm hug, even if the dishes themselves may be unfamiliar to most of us in the West. The menu offerings at Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails are gorgeous platings of homestyle fare like braised-duck dumplings in a ruby-red borscht made from smoked sour cherries, glistening pork pâté pelmenis, and beet grits with pork shank, all served alongside frozen infused vodkas and Austrian Rieslings. Porytko has created a lively atmosphere in which to share his personal history through lovingly curated family recipes. All of it seems to carry a simple message in a flaming bottle: "From Ukraine with love."

Molly Martin

The Culinary Creative Group is a powerhouse on the Denver dining scene; it's behind such heavy-hitters as A5 Steakhouse, Señor Bear, Mister Oso and more. At Bar Dough, the group's Italian eatery in LoHi, chef Russell Stippich and his team excel at consistently delicious and creative fare, from pizza and pasta to small plates that highlight seasonal ingredients. The restaurant's most recent makeover brought in moody tones, making it a striking date-night destination, but it's equally impressive when you're sipping an Aperol spritz at the bar during happy hour or indulging in the weekend brunch.

Best Non-Traditional Italian Restaurant



Ever since chef Cindhura Reddy and her husband, Elliot Strathmann, took over the Spuntino space in 2014, the menu has slowly evolved based on the chef's heritage and the couple's travels. What started as a restaurant dedicated to locally sourced, handcrafted Italian fare has now shifted, meshing those European techniques with flavors from India, a nod to Reddy's upbringing. This means the ever-changing menu might showcase malai kofta gnocchi with cashews and Indian-spiced tomato sauce, an entree of yogurt-and-spice-marinated cauliflower, or wild elk tartare with ginger, garlic and a toasted masala aioli. Diners will recognize plenty of other Italian dishes, too, such as fresh burrata di bufala, hand-rolled capellini, charcuterie and arancini, which comes spiked with another non-Italian ingredient, Hatch green chiles from New Mexico.

Molly Martin

This Englewood eatery may have debuted less than five years ago, but it has all the markings of a classic. The family behind Gallo is from Sicily and takes pride in regional inspiration, as seen in creations like the limoncello made with the addition of cream. The space is split between a bakery counter and a sit-down dining area complete with a full bar. As diners dig into savory sausage cannolis, chicken parm and lasagna Bolognese, the staff marches tray after tray of Italian cookies and lobster tail pastries over to the bakery counter, where you can load up on treats to devour at home.

Molly Martin

Since 1976, the family-owned Italian market and deli that is Carmine Lonardo's has been a community staple for an assortment of goods, including imported pasta of all shapes and sizes, olive oil, canned goods, frozen foods such as housemade sausages, and so much more. But this is one place where you should shop hungry, because it also has some of the best sandwiches around — huge, messy masterpieces made on freshly baked rolls that you can custom-order with that Italian sausage and a variety of other hot or cold meats.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed Casey Jones opened in Baker in May 2022, bringing yet another pizza option to an area where pies are plentiful. But the slices here are a standout, largely because of the skill and passion of pizza chef Mat Shumaker, a native New Yorker with some strong opinions, including a ban on ranch (though you can bring your own) and pineapple. Whole pies are available, but the slices — cheese, pepperoni or the chef's special of the day ($3-$5) — come out quickly and are loaded with melty mozzarella for some cartoon-worthy cheese pulls. Cowabunga!

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