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December 6, 2022

Eating out is about so much more than just what’s on your plate. It fosters connection, sparks curiosity and nourishes both the body and soul.

As Denver’s food scene continues to evolve, we’ve lost some longtime favorites — and each beloved spot that’s shuttered has served as a reminder to revisit those that remain. Add to that lineup a host of new spots from creative chefs and resilient operators who have persevered through myriad challenges, and this city becomes a more delicious place to dine every day.

These 100 restaurants represent the best of Denver’s eateries, from fine-dining stunners and cherished classics to hole-in-the-wall joints and exciting additions over the past year. (To be eligible for Eat Here, a restaurant must have opened by Labor Day 2022.)

So get hungry, dig in, and savor the restaurants we can’t live without in 2023. — Molly Martin 

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

The Denver Central Market

The Denver Central Market
From your morning coffee run to lunch meetings on the patio and evening cocktails at Curio Bar, this circa 2016 food hall is an all-day destination for all things delicious in the heart of RiNo. Its eleven vendors sell everything from pizza, raw oysters and charcuterie boards to ice cream and gourmet chocolate — but this isn't just a place for dining in. The vendors here also offer baked goods, meats, specialty foods and pantry items for home use so that you can pick up dinner essentials while grabbing lunch items to go. ($$)
2669 Larimer St., Denver, 80205

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

A5 Steakhouse

A5 Steakhouse
Molly Martin
While Denver was once known as a steakhouse town, that reputation gave way over a decade ago as the city tried to shed its cowtown image. But A5 is no step backward. Instead, it offers just the right balance of retro-inspired design elements with a modern approach to sourcing. A5 is primed for special occasions and blow-your-budget meals, but it’s also conducive to after-work drinks, so don't be intimidated by the "steakhouse" label. This is a place you’ll want to bite into, whether you’re looking for a porterhouse or just a properly made Manhattan. ($$$$)
1600 15th St., Denver, 80202

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Ace Eat Serve

Ace Eat Serve
Courtesy Ace Eat Serve
Ace owners Josh and Jen Wolkon, who also run Steuben’s, had a fast hit on their hands when they opened their ping-pong hall and pan-Asian eatery in 2012. The menu at Ace Eat Serve has just gotten better over the years, especially since chef Thach Tran joined the team, adding a Peking duck special, hearty noodle soups and new flavors from Vietnam, Thailand and China. ($$)
501 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 80203

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Adelitas Cocina y Cantina

Adelitas Cocina y Cantina
Adelitas won the hearts of Platt Park neighbors and South Broadway commuters with its raucous Taco Tuesdays and potent house margaritas that far surpassed the typical pre-mixed standard. But it hasn't rested on its tortillas; instead, the spot continues to present alluring dishes representing regional Mexican cuisine while building a jaw-dropping selection of tequila and mezcal bottles behind the bar. Adelitas stands as proof that Denver diners are hungry for far more than just smothered burritos and ground-beef tacos. ($$)
1294 S. Broadway, Denver, 80210

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Adobo XO

Adobo XO
Molly Martin
After a head-on motorcycle accident derailed his career in finance, Blaine Baggao re-evaluated his professional path, ultimately launching Adobo in 2016 as a food truck that combines his New Mexican and Filipino roots. Today the business has its own spacious brick-and-mortar location complete with pool table and live music, as well as a counter operation inside First Draft in RiNo. The menu at both places boasts tacos, nachos, rice bowls and many green chile-covered items, including fries loaded with smoked carnitas and cheese; carnitas deviled eggs with lime crema, cotija and cilantro; and crispy wontons. The best way to enjoy this flavorful (vegan!) green chile: in a bowl loaded with smoked carnitas, with warm flour tortillas on the side. Don’t skip the lumpia, either. ($)
3109 Federal Blvd., Denver, 80211

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

African Grill and Bar

African Grill and Bar
Molly Martin
Sylvester and Theodora Osei-Fordwuo launched their second eatery at the beginning of 2019, after the success of their Green Valley Ranch location, bringing their unique, delicious cooking to Lakewood. Though the original location is now closed, African Grill and Bar is still going strong, with bold spices flavoring uncommon dishes representing Ghana, Nigeria and other African nations, as well as warm service from the owners and their family. ($$$)
955 S. Kipling Parkway, Lakewood, 80226

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Angelo's Taverna

Angelo's Taverna
Molly Martin
Angelo's Taverna bills itself as Denver's original pizza and oyster bar — and given that it's been serving central Denver since the Nixon administration, it's safe to say that it's the longest-running restaurant of its ilk, even though it’s now on its second owners (who opened a second outpost in Littleton). Even if you’re a half-shell lover, Angelo’s makes a compelling argument for a char-grilled preparation, with oysters dressed up with garlic butter, bacon and Gorgonzola or chipotle bourbon butter. Beyond bivalves and pizza, it's got a stacked lineup of Italian fare — some classic, like chicken parm and vodka penne, while other options have an Angelo's twist, like the chile relleno ravioli. Whatever you order, don't skip the housemade limoncello. ($$)
620 E. 6th Ave., Denver, 80203

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Annette

Annette
Danielle Lirette
Located in Stanley Marketplace, Annette is a beautiful restaurant flooded with light and dotted with natural elements that make the room feel sophisticated, not stark. Chef/owner Caroline Glover, a 2022 James Beard Award winner, cooks seasonal ingredients over a wood-fired grill with equal parts reverence and panache, turning out dishes that read as home cooking even when venturing into such chef-driven ingredients as beef tongue, octopus and heirloom vegetables. ($$$$)
2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 80010

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom
Molly Martin
Apple Blossom debuted inside the Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver in October 2021, giving siblings Paul and Aileen Reilly a chance to continue the legacy of their now-closed farm-to-table hit, Beast + Bottle. At Apple Blossom, the menu ranges from comfort-food classics meant to appeal to weary travelers, like the AB Burger, to dishes that show off some of America's best ingredients, including a Benton’s Ham board and fresh seafood from Santa Barbara. ($$$$)
822 18th St., Denver, 80202

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Bakery Four

Bakery Four
Shawn Bergin
Shawn Bergin moved to Denver with dreams of starting a bakery business, but he never imagined it would take off the way it did. Bakery Four quickly outgrew its small Highland home, and now it's in an expansive space that allows Bergin to make much larger quantities of his sought-after pastries, bread, bagels, breakfast sandwiches and more, all made using sourdough starter. Show up early for the best selection. ($)
3712 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, 80211

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Banh & Butter Bakery Cafe

Banh & Butter Bakery Cafe
Linnea Covington
Pastry chef Thoa Nguyen dreamed of running her own Parisian-style, Asian-fusion bakery for years. One of the daughters of the former owners of New Saigon, she grew up in the restaurant business. Now she’s running the show at this spot, which excels not only in such sweets as crepe cakes and croissants, but savory options like banh mi and classic Parisian-style ham and butter sandwiches.
9935 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 80010

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Bar Dough

Bar Dough
Molly Martin
Open since 2015, Bar Dough feels like a longtime staple in LoHi, where the Italian eatery serves up fresh pasta, pizza, small plates and a top-notch happy hour. The kitchen is led by chef Russell Stippich, who spent time at Frasca, Acorn and the Populist before joining the Culinary Creative restaurant group and landing at Bar Dough. In late 2022, the space got a fresh look that’s a little more moody, making it a striking date night go-to. ($$$)
2227 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, 80211

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Bastien's Restaurant

Bastien's Restaurant
Molly Martin
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 outside the Googie-style building touts the famed Bastien’s sugar steak, but there are twelve other 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. ($$$$)
3503 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 80206

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Beckon

Beckon
Danielle Lirette
Beckon’s chef’s-counter dining room feels like a dinner party thrown by a close friend — if that friend happened to be the best cook you know. But even at the outdoor seating under the covered patio, the Beckon experience is unique, thanks to thoughtful executive chef Duncan Holmes and the entire Beckon team, which exudes hospitality. The pre-paid tasting menu changes quarterly, and the whole experience lasts about two and a half hours. ($$$$)
2843 Larimer St., Denver, 80205

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
Molly Martin
How does a humble hot dog cart rise to the status of one of Denver’s top dogs in the restaurant business? Chalk it up to the creative and obsessive mind of Jim Pittenger, who started out with Coca-Cola-braised onions and cream cheese shot out of a caulking gun as a topping combo that elevated his wieners above the competition. Wild-game and specialty sausages have drawn food celebrities including Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre and Andrew Zimmern, as well as long lines of tube-steak tourists and frankfurter fanatics. ($)
2148 Larimer St., Denver, 80205

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

The Bindery

The Bindery
Mark Antonation
Linda Hampsten Fox opened her LoHi eatery — part market, part all-day dining destination — in 2017. Five years later, the menu continues to show off not only her intimate knowledge of Italian cuisine, but also Mexican and New American influences that reflect experiences throughout her thirty-year career. Throw in a penchant for unusual proteins and brash flavor combinations, and you get a spot that’s a true standout even in one of Denver’s trendiest neighborhoods. ($$$$)
1817 Central St., Denver, 80211

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Blackbelly

Blackbelly
Danielle Lirette
Chef Hosea Rosenberg turned his 2009 victory on Bravo’s Top Chef into a culinary business that started with a food truck and catering company, then added Blackbelly in 2014. The butcher-driven eatery encompasses all of the chef’s passions: charcuterie, top cuts from locally raised animals, and Southwestern flavors from his childhood in New Mexico. Blackbelly’s next-door market and butcher shop provides an endless supply of cured meats and fresh cuts for the restaurant as well as your home kitchen. ($$$)
1606 Conestoga St., Boulder, 80301

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Blazing Chicken Shack II

Blazing Chicken Shack II
Molly Martin
This soul-food spot tucked a block off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard may not look particularly welcoming from the outside, with its caged-in windows and barred door, but you’ll find warm hospitality inside Blazing Chicken, along with a menu full of homestyle Southern classics. From the fried chicken to the gumbo to sides like mac and cheese and collard greens studded with shredded ham hock and bolstered with cabbage, this is comfort food done right. ($)
5560 E. 33rd Ave., Denver, 80207

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Blue Pan Pizza

Blue Pan Pizza
Molly Martin
Denver embraced Detroit-style pizza when Blue Pan Pizza debuted in 2015 in West Highland. Chef Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch and partner Giles Flanagin now run two Blue Pan locations, serving rectangular pies built on an airy, crackly crust with Wisconsin brick cheese and a thick, tangy sauce. And while the pizza competition — Detroit-style and otherwise — continues to grow in the Mile High, Blue Pan remains a slice above the rest. ($)
3930 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, 80212

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Bodega Denver

Bodega Denver
Lauren DeFilippo Jackson
Chef/owner Cliff Blauvelt (who grew up on the Northside) opened this neighborhood sandwich shop with a focus on fun in August 2022. Swing by early for the basic breakfast sandwich loaded with bacon, eggs and cheese plus crispy tater tots on a squishy kaiser roll, or opt for daytime items that have become fast favorites, such as the Double Bodega Burger and the fried chicken sandwich that packs a spicy chile crunch punch. ($)
2651 W. 38th Ave., Denver, 80211

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants

Bourbon Grill

Bourbon Grill
Molly Martin
Colfax Avenue is the ideal place for a budget lunch counter that’s as adept at turning out char-grilled chicken and mac and cheese as it is egg rolls and barbecue sandwiches. A native of Vietnam, founder and chef Lien Vo has lived and cooked in New Orleans, Los Angeles and elsewhere — and it shows on the eclectic menu where the signature bourbon chicken, sweet with soy and smoke, is the star. In 2017, Bourbon Grill graduated from its original walk-up window to a larger spot complete with a dining room, where Vo continues to dish up big portions at low prices for Colfax denizens looking for good value and good food. ($)
571 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 80203