Eating Adventures

Can't Decide Where to Dine for Denver Restaurant Week? Let Us Help!

Mark Antonation
The Family Jones Spirit House is one of Denver Restaurant Week's newest participants.
Denver Restaurant Week is nearly upon us once again, with more than 225 restaurants signed up so far and more to be added before DRW begins on February 23 (it runs through March 4). Choosing the perfect spot to spend your $25, $35 or $45 (this year's price points; long gone is the $52.80-for-two deal) can be as daunting as, well, figuring out the Denver restaurant scene itself, which continues to spread like spilled wine across a tablecloth. Fortunately, many of the places on this year's roster coincide with Westword eateries included on our list of the best new restaurants of 2017; Eat Here, our lineup of the hundred restaurants we can't live without; and Drink Here, which poured out fifty more on the boozy side. We've shared 24 of our favorites that are participating in DRW below, with the price point that each restaurant is offering, along with links to menus where available (many have not yet been added to the website, but soon will be). Plan ahead and make reservations soon, because tables are snatched up quickly.
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Wine-stained deviled eggs at Bar Helix.
Mark Antonation
Bar Helix
3440 Larimer Street
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

“I’m creating the bar I want to go to and that my friends want to go to,” Bar Helix proprietor Kendra Anderson said when she was plotting her RiNo lair. She eventually unveiled a sultry spot that combines a high-echelon wine list with a top-notch cocktail program and drinking munchies that whimsically match highbrow to lowbrow flourishes — Pop Tarts with foie gras, for instance, and Pringles with caviar. Through her menu, Anderson touts a few pet causes: “soulmate” pairings of food and drink, Negronis, Champagne and wines from unusual regions. The quirky mix makes Bar Helix an easy stop for any drinker, and an exhilarating one for those looking to expand their palates and horizons.

Beatrice & Woodsley
38 South Broadway
$35, Restaurant Week Menu
Magical, whimsical, transporting: These are the words that have been used to describe Beatrice + Woodsley since the fairy-tale dining room debuted on Broadway in 2008, the vision of restaurateurs Kevin Delk and John Skogstad. The experience of stepping from the gritty reality of Broadway into a woodland fantasy where a lumberjack seeks out his beloved (and leaves behind timbers and chainsaws as proof of his passage) is topped only by the food itself, which early on foretold the rise of a new kind of cuisine in Denver, one where local ingredients and clever combinations come in waves of small plates.

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It doesn't get much more French than Bistro Vendôme.
Bistro Vendome
Bistro Vendôme
1420 Larimer Street
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

Bistro Vendôme rises above kitschy French shtick with an alluring menu and warm hospitality typical of the restaurants run by chef Jennifer Jasinski and business partner Beth Gruitch. Timeless classics like onion soup, steak frites and escargot vie for attention alongside more modern, seasonally driven creations, giving guests plenty of options. Despite its Larimer Square location, the bistro maintains its charm as a hidden secret surrounded by brick walls, ivy and shady trees; the garden seating is lovely in the summer. Whether you’re stopping for some happy-hour bubbly or a brunchtime croque madame, Bistro Vendôme is as close as you’ll get to Paris in the heart of Denver.

500 East Alameda Avenue
$45, Restaurant Week Menu
In a neighborhood better known for convenience stores and takeout Chinese, Greek and Thai, chef Olav Peterson and his wife, Melissa Severson, have carved out a reputation for avant-garde cuisine with an eye toward seasonality. Never pretentious or unapproachable, Bittersweet’s offerings instead delight with discovery while remaining grounded in familiar flavors. Thai, Mexican, Italian and French influences broaden the palate of garden-fresh dishes, enhanced by a stellar wine list and more than a few food-friendly beers hailing from everywhere from Colorado to Belgium and beyond. A summer seat on the patio surrounded by tomatoes and chiles ripening on the vine is as treasured as a fireside table in the winter; both come with an incredible basket of house-baked bread.

Citizen Rail
1899 16th Street
$35, Restaurant Week Menu
Hotel restaurants don't have much of a reputation for inventive, chef-driven fare. But those who have enjoyed meals at Panzano in the Hotel Monaco, less than a mile from Citizen Rail, know that its owner, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, isn't content to offer bland tourist fare to please the masses; rather, artisan food production — like the handmade bread and pasta — is more the norm. That's the case at Citizen Rail in the Hotel Born, too, led by executive chef Christian Graves, who moved to Denver from San Diego, where he was in charge of another Kimpton restaurant. The heart of the restaurant is an open kitchen with several wood-burning grills, where everything — from dry-aged steaks to cocktail garnishes — is kissed with flame and smoke. But behind the scenes, a larger kitchen holds a butchering room where whole animals are brought in and broken down, providing cuts typical of steakhouse slates but also leaving room for oxtail, lamb sausage, rabbit loin and a decadent burger made from fresh-ground short rib and brisket. Yes, it's a meat-lover's paradise, but it's also so much more.

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Double take: celery root soup, not cappuccino, at Concourse.
Danielle Lirette
Concourse Restaurant Modern
10195 East 29th Drive
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

Concourse debuted in April as the third Denver restaurant from chef/restaurateur Lon Symensma, after ChoLon and Cho77. The Stapleton eatery represents a bridge between Symensma's past and future; the menu is dotted with international influences but defies easy categorization. "The one word I wanted it to be is 'sexy,'" the chef explains. And "sexy" is the right word to describe the style of Concourse, with its undulating dining-room ceiling made from seventy curvaceous wood slats, its sleek tile surfaces in blacks and whites, and its brass and gold finishes that add elegance to every nook and cranny of the space. The menu, overseen by chef/partner Luke Bergman, feels equally thought out, with a concise roster — only seventeen dishes appear on the dinner menu — left as a single list, not broken down into appetizers, mains or sides. Although European technique is evident in emulsions, reductions and vinaigrettes, the chef says he avoided the overuse of butter and cream, instead relying on "aggressive but not heavy flavors."

Duo Restaurant
2413 West 32nd Avenue
$35, Restaurant Week Menu

A dozen years seems like a lifetime in LoHi years, and that’s how long Duo has been keeping the neighborhood wined and dined. Under the guidance of owners Keith Arnold and Stephanie Bonin, Duo has somehow always managed to feel fresh and classic at the same time, even in its early days. Exposed brick, shabby-chic decor and a simple menu unadorned by ego-driven feats of gastronomy aren’t what’s sexy these days, but a consistent philosophy and respect for both staff and customers are things that never go out of style. Earlier this year, Arnold and Bonin instituted a 2 percent living-wage service charge to help kitchen employees make ends meet, but even before that, the restaurant had a loyal employee base, something that regulars notice and love.

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Tabbouleh lettuce wraps at El Five.
Danielle Lirette
El Five
2930 Umatilla Street
$45, Restaurant Week Menu

El Five isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience. Perched on the fifth floor of a new building in LoHi, the restaurant — run by the group behind Linger and Root Down — commands breathtaking views of downtown and the mountains. But the views inside the walls are just as mesmerizing. People are everywhere — down corridors that lead to view-drenched dining rooms, standing, sitting, ordering drinks, saving seats, sharing steel pans of paella, laughing and leaning in across velvety booths to be heard over the primal thump of a dance beat. Gleaming black surfaces reflect light from the wraparound windows, and a mosaic of hundreds of hexagonal mirrors make a kaleidoscope of faces and beams of light. The menu skews toward tapas, so everything is meant to share, from lamb sausage with hummus to patatas bravas to matzoh-ball soup dumplings. Don’t be shocked by the paella prices: Those steel pans of crisped rice loaded with rabbit confit or seafood are also designed to feed the table.

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen
1317 14th Street
$25, Restaurant Week Menu

Sausage, beer and a little craziness: That’s the recipe for success at Euclid Hall, the third restaurant in Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch’s stable. Pig-ear pad Thai and duck poutine came at a perfect time in the evolution of Denver’s dining scene, when restaurant-goers were bored with the standards and seeking thrills. How else to explain why blood sausage has remained a house specialty since opening day back in 2010? But seven years later, the vaguely Germanic beer hall is still taking chances — and still making new fans with bar food for a fearless generation.

The Family Jones Spirit House
3245 Osage Street
$25, Restaurant Week Menu
Some distillers claim to solicit bartender feedback when tweaking their spirits, but none are quite so entwined as the team at the Family Jones, where a copper still whirs on the mezzanine as drinkers gather for sips and snacks in the lounge below. Master distiller Rob Masters lets the bar team drive his creations as he builds out the basis of a cocktail program that uses only spirits made in-house. This in turn begs creativity from the bartenders, who serve classics and house specials built without relying on, say, vermouth. The best part? You don’t have to appreciate the geekery to enjoy the drinks — or the food, which you definitely should not skip.

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Il Posto takes spaghetti to a new level.
Danielle Lirette
Il Posto
2601 Larimer Street
Restaurant Week Menu
When Andrea Frizzi moved Il Posto from its cubby on East 17th Avenue to a sleek bi-level cube in RiNo, we held our breath: Would the new address be a good home for this restaurant's semi-chaotic charm? We needn't have worried. Il Posto 2.0 presents some of the team's best cooking yet, from new meditations on its always-stellar risotti to a masterful pappardelle with pork ragu to a showy and delicious beef tallow candle (impossible at the old address, says Frizzi, because there just wasn't enough space to make candles). And despite its more grown-up vibe, this space is infused with the old Il Posto magic: Frizzi bobs around frenetically kissing the cheeks of friends and strangers alike, wine from an expertly curated list pours freely and easily, and the energy of the kitchen spills out from an open window beneath a sign that suggests sending the cooks a six-pack...of Jack Daniel's. As a bonus, Il Posto now has one of the best tables in Denver, a second-level corner seat that looks out on the Denver skyline. Trying to impress someone? Request it.

Jax Fish House
650 South Colorado Boulevard, Glendale, 303-756-6449
1539 17th Street, 303-292-5767
$35, Restaurant Week Menus: Glendale and LoDo
Sip, slurp and shuck your way to shellfish bliss at Jax, the fish house and oyster bar that Dave Query launched in Boulder in the ’90s; he soon launched the concept in Denver, and it’s since gone beyond Colorado. Built around seafood and specializing in shells, each Jax offers grilled and fried oysters in addition to an excellent oyster happy-hour deal, which turned the LoDo location, in particular, into a boisterous post-work beacon. Once you’ve had your fill of the mollusks, though, don’t miss the rest of the menu, which is geared toward sustainably caught fish and changes seasonally.