With the addition of Prelude + Post at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, restaurateur Kevin Taylor has added one more option for food and drinks before or after a show, along with his ritzy Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House. But downtown is filled with other great places where you can dine within easy walking distance of the theater complex, and some of them even offer deals to get you in and out without stress.
Here are eleven restaurants perfect for adding a little elegance to a night out before a ballet, opera, musical or symphony performance, or to keep things casual with a tasty, inexpensive meal that gets you in your seat before the curtain rises. Some require a reservation, while others welcome walk-ins, in case your idea of dinner and a show is more sandwich-and-fries and The Spongebob Musical than French wine and My Fair Lady.
The Corner Office Restaurant + Martini Bar1401 Curtis Street
Book a table at this casual eatery located across the street from the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The food is American with an international twist, so you can choose from banh mi meatballs, a Spanish Caesar salad, a falafel veggie burger, pork-belly ramen or barramundi fish and chips. Don't ignore the French dip, either; it's one of the best in the city. As the name suggests, this is also a good spot for a cocktail, either with a meal or after the show. Dinner starts at 3 p.m., so there's plenty of time to eat and get seated at your upcoming show, and if you're doing a weekend matinee, there's a fun brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Corinne1455 California Street
Located inside Le Méridien hotel, this casual restaurant takes reservations and serves dinner starting at 4 p.m., perfect if you're trying to catch a 6:30 p.m. show. The buffalo cauliflower is a favorite appetizer, followed by the baked French onion soup. Entrees to consider include steak frites, wild mushroom Bolognese and a prime rib French dip. As a bonus, you can leave your car in the valet for $10 before 5 p.m., or for free if you dine after 5 p.m. It's cheaper than the Denver Performing Arts Complex parking garage, and you can beat the crowd out of the theater just by walking a couple of blocks. On your way back from the theater, land a free house wine or draft beer when you show your ticket.
Edge Restaurant & Bar1111 14th Street
If you're in the mood for a Prime steak before that musical production of Mean Girls, make a reservation at Edge, located inside the Four Seasons Hotel. Chefs Simon Purvis and Stephen Bukoff dish out wagyu beef carpaccio, dry-aged buffalo ribeye, Colorado lamb chops, house-cut truffle fries and so much more. Book a table any time before your show starting at 5 p.m., or for brunch between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. As a bonus, when you dine here, you also get complimentary valet parking. This spot proves a little more upscale than other nearby options, but this is Denver, so you don't need to dress in your finest finery.
Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen1317 14th Street
Although chef Jennifer Jasinski is known for her upscale restaurants Rioja, Stoic & Genuine and Ultreia, Euclid Hall offers a more laid-back, casual setting for pre-theater dinner. Four types of hand-cranked sausages, house-made pickles and mustards, duck poutine and BBQ carrots, to name some of the tantalizing tidbits, go great with the bar's intriguing selection of craft beers. You can, for example, make a reservation to secure a spot before Disney's The Lion King starts so you won't go into the Serengeti starving. Euclid Hall opens at 11:30 a.m. daily, with no break in service, so whether you're going for a pre- or post-matinee meal or early dinner, it's a great Larimer Square option.
Mint Indian Restaurant & Lounge1531 Stout Street
We say yes to butter chicken with a side of garlic naan and strawberry lassie before sitting down to the shenanigans of the Spongebob Musical. Make a reservation at this casual Indian eatery and dine on fish shahi korma, chicken tikka masala, lamb rogan josh and other housemade curries. The restaurant is open at 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day — ideal when you need an early pre-theater dinner. Plus it's just a five-minute walk from the DPAC, so you can park in the theater's lot and walk over.
Rioja1431 Larimer Street
The elegant Rioja can only add to a magical night at the theater, but make sure to reserve a table for right when the restaurant opens, at 5 p.m. The dinner menu includes handmade pastas, crispy duck confit, veal sweetbreads and other Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Rioja has been one of Denver's top dining destinations over the last sixteen years, and continues to offer impeccable service and innovative fare. Leave yourself about ten minutes to walk between the restaurant and the theater, or more in case you're too stuffed to hustle.
Red Square Bistro1512 Larimer Street
Red Square's secluded patio is a wonderful place to dine when the weather's nice, and the dining room is cozy and warm in the winter months, great for enjoying traditional European dishes such as ricotta-leek-filled pierogi, beet salad with fig pâté and feta, chicken Kiev, or olive-oil poached salmon. It's a culinary escape equal to a journey to Newfoundland’s Shipwreck Coast if you have tickets to You Lost Me. Make a reservation, then sip some house-infused vodka before your show, just a ten-minute walk away.
Sam's No. 31500 Curtis Street
This classic downtown diner slings solid American and Mexican fare fast, cheap and all day. Go for a hearty brunch before a matinee showing, or do dinner with a stick-to-your-ribs burrito or specialty burger. Kids will enjoy fueling up on macaroni and cheese, pancakes, tiny tacos and other tasty eats. Sam's doesn't take reservations, but the space is big and the service is speedy, so it's not hard to get in and out with plenty of time to walk the two blocks to the theater.
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Tamayo1400 Larimer Street
Tamayo's array of decedent mole sauces are worthy of indulgence, even if you're not pairing them with theater tickets. Make a reservation and enjoy a coin margarita, bacon guacamole and tacos al pastor before getting gritty with Rent. Dinner starts nightly at 5 p.m., and for those doing a matinee, the restaurant is open Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Don't go too hard on the bottomless brunch, though, because you'll want to stay awake for the show.
Territory Kitchen1400 Welton Street
There's nothing precious about this simple restaurant, which makes it a great place to pop into before a show if you're not a big planner. Go for brunch before a matinee and order cannoli French toast. Dinner features a list of approachable sandwiches, flatbreads and salads, as well as Colorado specialties such as elk meatballs for an appetizer, bison meatloaf and green chile. While Territory is casual, it still takes reservations if you prefer, so you know you'll get a table and dinner in time to get in your seats and relax before the lights dim at the theater.
Uncle Joe’s Hong Kong Bistro891 14th Street
The odd decor, somewhere between a Star Wars set and a Hong Kong nightclub, makes dinner at Uncle Joe's a curious experience before a show, but the well-executed Chinese specialties meals and proximity to the theater more than make up for it. Share a plate of tongue-tingling green beans laced with Sichuan peppercorns, a bowl of wagyu chow fun and a side of pot stickers. The food comes out fast enough, but it's still a good idea to leave at least an hour to eat, even when you've made a reservation. You'll be tempted to over-order, but don't get too much, since you might encounter some strange looks if you try to bring your leftovers into the show.