Romance has many facets, from traditional notions of flowers and chocolate to thrilling shared adventures (there’s nothing like diving into some tripe together to cement a relationship). Some couples relish nothing more than a reprieve from the kids — even if it’s a simple stroll through Home Depot followed by burgers and beers rather than a big blowout. You can wait until Valentine’s Day (and competing crowds) to hit a romantic restaurant, but these ten options for a lovey-dovey liaison, whether spicy or sedate, work any day of the year.
2715 17th Street
Some folks find lobster to be the most romantic seafood, but we beg to differ — they’re really just big bugs. Far more sensuous are delicate cuts of sushi with perfectly executed bursts of flavor from a dash of lemon, a brushstroke of soy or something even more dazzling. And when you can enjoy the freshest seafood in a dim booth tucked away from the rest of the world, so much the better. Bamboo Sushi gets it right on all counts, making this a lovely spot for sharing bites with chopsticks while your server keeps your sake cups filled.
1420 Larimer Street
Nobody beats the French when it comes to romance (how many love-related phrases begin with “French,” after all?), and Bistro Vendôme is about as French as Denver gets. The hidden location, in a courtyard off Larimer Square, and the cozy dining room decorated in dark wood and buttery yellow invite intimate conversation over mussels and shared moments over silky cheeses. The downside to dinner here is that you won’t want to leave — so you’ll have to up your own romance game just to make an escape.
3490 Larimer Street
You’ve secured a babysitter and the night is free; you can do whatever you want. And what you and your partner really desire are juicy burgers and a milkshake with two straws. Chuburger has what you crave — plus some of the best hand-cut fries in town. Score a chocolate, vanilla or strawberry milkshake (with or without booze) or a root beer float (made with the company’s own B. Stiff & Sons soda), and your mate won’t even care that you keep chuckling about the word “chub.”
D Bar Denver
494 East 19th Avenue
Too obvious, you say? Well, ask yourself: When was the last time you went out on an honest-to-ganache date, with appetizers, entrees, drinks and, most important, sweet, sinful dessert? Get out of your rut (your date will thank you) and head to D Bar for downright decadent bacon mac and cheese, some seared scallops, or a prim but perfectly rare six-ounce steak. Just leave room for that famous Cake & Shake.
Mercantile Dining & Provision
1701 Wynkoop Street
Union Station is the ultimate romantic destination for lovers young and old, and Mercantile is the prime spot to light a new flame or rekindle the magic. The beautifully appointed dining room feels like a movie set, and the dishes are flavorful without ever being heavy. Hold hands and stroll through the station on your way to dinner, making up stories of travelers bound for new locales, then settle in for an excellent evening of gazing into one another’s eyes — if you don’t get in a tussle over the last bite of foie gras.
1294 South Broadway
The dimly lit bar just below street level behind Adelitas is perfect for a furtive tryst. Settle into comfortable leather seats and let the knowledgeable staff guide you through a series of smoky sips, or dazzle your date with your own grasp of the ins and outs of mezcal. The menu feels like a vacation in Oaxaca, so indulge in chocolate-tinged mole or a zingy ceviche. Like love, Palenque’s Mexican spirits can warm the soul — or sting like a scorpion.
2335 East 28th Avenue
Denver is filled with quiet neighborhood escapes that seem custom-built for dinner for two, but the Plimoth is even more hidden than most. French-ish without being overtly European, Plimoth’s menu offers the chance to whisper words like “l’armoricaine” and “pot-a-feu” — both far sexier than simply saying “tomato sauce” or “beef stew.” Find your way to the quiet streets north of City Park for an enchanting evening sans the downtown crowds.
3763 Wynkoop Street
You’re a rebel and you love to keep your lover guessing, so a visit to Rebel is right up your alley. With a menu that changes monthly and dishes that provoke, surprise and delight, this is the romantic spot for thrill-seekers. Organ meats are aphrodisiacs, so you can check that tripe box (or whatever other offal is on the slate), but the kitchen has a way with veggies, too. Whether it’s eggplant, mushrooms or even lowly kale, Rebel turns everything into pleasure-filled plates guaranteed to make both your heart and your mind race.
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1889 16th Street
Italian food is an easy choice when you want to make a little magic (you only need visualize the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp to get it). But rather than bottles of chianti and checkered tablecloths, Tavernetta’s vibe hits closer to an Alpine lodge or chic Tuscan trattoria — sharp and modern, but with sumptuous fabrics and rustic exposed masonry. Although the dining room is lovely, see if you can score seats near the fireplace in the bar. Then impress your honey with a bottle of something special from the deep wine list and sample your way through delightful cicchetti. Maybe you’ll even get to canoodle over noodles.
US Thai Cafe
5228 West 25th Avenue, Edgewater
Thai cooking is sexy — the bold, bright flavors, the exotic ingredients, the blast of heat that jolts you awake and leaves you a little breathless and sweaty. US Thai will light the fire inside with racy curries, sultry soups and steamy stir-fries. No liquor is no problem; if yours is the kind of love that burns bright, you won’t need booze to keep the flame burning. And don’t play it cool: Just ask for Thai hot.