Many federal government workers are going without pay.EXPAND
Many federal government workers are going without pay.

Restaurants Offering Discounts and Free Food to Federal Employees

The partial government shutdown is more than just a political squabble in faraway Washington, D.C. Federal employees here in Denver could face tough times after missing one or more paycheck, as this becomes one of the longest shutdowns in history. A few Front Range restaurants are trying to ease the blow with discounts and, in some cases, free meals. Here's a list of places — updated on Friday, January 18 — you can go if you're a federal employee in need of a cheap or free meal:

5530 Spine Road, Boulder
Here's what Aperitivo posted on its Facebook page on January 7:

Continue Reading

Aperitivo - Gunbarrel is proud to announce that our ownership group will provide a complimentary meal for any furloughed government employee/contractor and family, each up to a family of 4, we will provide a family meal per week per as long as the political shutdown continues.

Please make a reservation 303-530-1326 for seating, order from our all day menu, excluding alcohol and voluntary gratuities.

We appreciate all of the hard work our communities government employees and family provide to our country... we thank you for your service.

The Post Brewing Co. and its sibling Big Red F restaurants are helping out government workers.
The Post Brewing Co. and its sibling Big Red F restaurants are helping out government workers.
Danielle Lirette

Big Red F Restaurants
All locations of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, The Post Brewing Co., Centro Mexican Kitchen, Lola Coastal Mexican, West End Tavern and Zolo Grill are sharing lunch with federal employees. "If you are one of the over 800,000 workers not getting paid, join us for a weekday lunch on us — starting Monday, January 14th, and lasting until it's over," the restaurant group says. You'll have to bring your ID or other proof of employment and cover your own tax and tip, but otherwise just ask for the Furlough Lunch for a free meal.

Black Shirt Brewing
3719 Walnut Street

Black Shirt is a pizza place as well as a brewery, so food and beer are part of the experience. "If you're a federal employee on furlough, stop by our tap room for some knots on us," the brewery says on its Facebook page. "This is in addition to our regular 15 percent off drinks for all civil personnel, every day. Simply show us your government-issued ID and we'll take care of the rest."

Get a free meal to help get you through the shutdown.
Get a free meal to help get you through the shutdown.

Curry N Kebob
3050 28th Street, Boulder

"To all our federal employees, if you are having a tough time during this government shutdown, come and eat in my restaurant free until the shutdown is over. Just show your federal ID. We will be honored to serve you a free meal. If you have spouse and children bring them too." That's the message Curry N Kebob owner Zuned Khan posted on his restaurant's Facebook page this week to give workers a bite of hope during a difficult time.

Dazzle has a deal for federal workers.
Dazzle has a deal for federal workers.

1512 Curtis Street

Hit Dazzle on every weekend as long as the shutdown lasts for a free breakfast or brunch from 1 to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday or 2 to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. That's a tight window, but you could do some pretty good damage to the buffet in half an hour; just be sure to bring your official ID.

Participating locations

Fazoli's is offering a free Pizza Baked Spaghetti (that's a single dish!) with the purchase of a small drink to all federal government workers affected by the shutdown. You'll need to present your valid ID first, and check ahead, as some Fazoli's locations may not be participating.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
1747 Wynkoop Street

Texas-based burger bar Hopdoddy is offering 25 percent off the tab for government workers until the end of the shutdown. And if federal employees still aren't being paid on Wednesday, January 23, the restaurant will give away a burger, regular fries and a non-alcoholic beverage that day to anyone with a valid government ID.

Free tacos for federal workers at Kachina.EXPAND
Free tacos for federal workers at Kachina.
Courtesy Kachina Cantina

Kachina Cantina
1890 Wazee Street

This deal at the downtown Southwestern eatery is good through January 21: Government employees with a valid ID can enjoy a free taco plate, a choice of three tacos on corn or flour tortillas or Kachina's signature Navajo fry bread with rice and beans, alongside a non-alcoholic drink.

Le French Cafe
2525 Arapahoe Avenue, C-1, Boulder

This Boulder cafe is offering a free order of sweet or savory crepes to government workers with a valid ID. Stop in from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Lucha Cantina's Littleton and Georgetown locations want to ease the "unfair burden."
Lucha Cantina's Littleton and Georgetown locations want to ease the "unfair burden."

Lucha Cantina
8026 West Bowles Avenue, Littleton

"The dysfunction in Washington over this shutdown is placing an unfair burden on our government workers," says Lucha Cantina co-owner Chuck Holcomb. "We want these respected public servants to know that we will band together and stand with them." To do that, Lucha's Littleton and Georgetown (at 606 Sixth Street) locations will serve any adult with a government ID — and their children — complimentary meals from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until the shutdown ends.

Oblio's Pizzeria
6115 East 22nd Ave

Not only is this Park Hill pizzeria offering free dine-in or takeout meals to furloughed workers who show a valid government ID, but the restaurant is "adopting" five families and has already held fundraisers on Monday, January 14, and Wednesday January, 16, to raise additional funds to get them through the shutdown. On those two nights, 20 percent of sales were donated to the selected families. Contact the restaurant at obliospizzeria@gmail.com or 303-918-1204 for information about donations. In a recent New York Times interview, owner Morgan McKay says at least a dozen people every day have taken advantage of the offer, while paying customers have pitched in extra money.

Poor Richard's has made national news for helping out federal government employees.EXPAND
Poor Richard's has made national news for helping out federal government employees.

Poor Richard's Downtown
324 1/2 North Tejon Street, Colorado Springs

Poor Richard's has made the news nationally and even in Canada for its offer to feed furloughed workers and their families a free meal. "We at Poor Richard's are committed to keeping the offer going as long as the shut-down continues," reads a message on the restaurant's Facebook page. The restaurant has also received donations from regular customers to help offset the cost of giving away food.

A little food and games will take some of the stress away from the government shutdown.EXPAND
A little food and games will take some of the stress away from the government shutdown.
Courtesy Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social
3120 Uinta Street, 720-500-3788
65 Broadway, 303-765-2695

Both the Broadway and Stapleton locations of Punch Bowl Social are offering a 25 percent discount on all food, beverages and games to federal government employees until the shutdown is over. Just show your government identification card before ordering and apply the discount to all food, beverages and activities, including happy hour, brunch and daily specials (but not private parties or merchandise).

Three metro locations

Sushi's on the house for federal government employees. Sushi-Rama (in RiNo, DTC and Lone Tree) is inviting furloughed employees affected by the shutdown to enjoy a free lunch (gratuity not included) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Just show your valid federal government ID.

Walnut Cafe
3073 Walnut Street, Boulder

The Walnut Cafe and its spinoffs, Southside Walnut Cafe (675 South Broadway, Boulder) and Super Mini Walnut Cafe (2770 Arapahoe Road, Lafayette), are offering free breakfast to furloughed workers. Just bring your government ID, even if it's already "cut into little pieces or is burnt on the edges," says the cafe. "Come in for some love, hugs and food for your soul!"

Wave the Grain
8172 South Holly Street, Centennial

"Are you as frustrated as we are about the situation?" asks Wave the Grain on its Facebook page. "We feel your pain and we love you! Come in and show us your gov`t ID card to enjoy a free small coffee plus any item up to $5.00 at no charge, from now until the shutdown is over! Hopefully that will help take the edge off during this difficult time."

Even a free cup of coffee will help those on a tight budget right now. Moxie Bread Co. (at 641 Main Street in Louisville) and Mint & Serif Coffeehouse (11500 West Colfax Avenue) are serving free drip coffee for furloughed federal employees.

If you're looking for something a little stiffer, a shot of Impeach Vodka could do the trick. State 38 Distilling, at 400 Corporate Circle Suite B in Golden, is offering a free shot with proof of age and federal government employment. Show up between 4 and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday to stick it to the man. Great Divide Brewing, 2201 Arapahoe Street, is offering two-for-one beers for federal employees. You may not save a ton of money, but at least you can raise a glass with fellow furloughed workers. Other breweries offering free or discounted beers include 4 Noses, Left Hand and Epic.

In addition to bars, restaurants and cafes, relief is coming from other organizations. U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter’s office at 12600 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood is offering free breakfast and lunch items from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until the shutdown ends. Food Bank of the Rockies is increasing food distribution to help out federal workers in need. See the organization's website for dates and locations.

Do you know of any other restaurants offering free or discounted food to federal workers? We'll continue to add to this list as long as the shutdown continues. Let us know in the comments, or send an email to cafe@westword.com.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories