Best of Denver

Love Bites: Ten Romantic Denver Dinner Destinations

Denver has a Valentine's Day destination for you, whether you like romance, intrigue — or something a little weird. (You can find this artwork at Bamboo Sushi.)
Denver has a Valentine's Day destination for you, whether you like romance, intrigue — or something a little weird. (You can find this artwork at Bamboo Sushi.) Mark Antonation
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.

click to enlarge Far sexier than a lobster. - MARK ANTONATION
Far sexier than a lobster.
Mark Antonation
Bamboo Sushi
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.

click to enlarge Practice your French at Bistro Vendôme. - SCOTT LENTZ
Practice your French at Bistro Vendôme.
Scott Lentz
Bistro Vendôme
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.

Don't make it hard on yourself; just take your date to Chuburger. - MARK ANTONATION
Don't make it hard on yourself; just take your date to Chuburger.
Mark Antonation
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.”

click to enlarge Sweet dreams at D Bar. - MARK ANTONATION
Sweet dreams at D Bar.
Mark Antonation
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.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation