Best of Denver

The Ten Best Neighborhood Restaurants in Denver

A neighborhood restaurant is one that captures the essence of its surroundings, welcomes neighbors like family and offers a cozy, intimate experience as an escape from the pressures of the outside world. Far from the lights and noise of downtown, the best neighborhood eateries blend in with the homes, tree-lined streets and other shops within an easy walk or bike ride. Some — too good to keep secret — have become destinations, but they still reflect the heart and soul of where they were born. Here are the ten best neighborhood restaurants in Denver, in alphabetical order.
10. Bacon Social House
2434 West 44th Avenue

Cobbler's Corner has been a part of the Sunnyside neighborhood since the early 1900s. The row of shops got a makeover last year and new retail spaces were merged with the original building, which once housed a shoe repair shop. Bacon Social House rises above the original roofline but is set back in the courtyard off 44th Avenue, so its modern architectural style doesn't overwhelm. Despite the initial flashy impression, Bacon's menu and vibe suit Sunnyside well, with comfort food — think breakfast all day — and creative takes on home-style cooking from chef Brian Crow. Tuck into a warming bowl of shrimp and grits or just hang out at the sunny bar and wait for familiar faces to arrive. 

9. Bistro Barbes
5021 East 28th Avenue

French cuisine with North African influences draws North Park Hill neighbors to this shoebox of a bistro. A garage door at the front opens when weather permits to open up the space a little, but the charm here lies in the feeling of dining with friends and family, even if you've never met the folks at the table next to yours. The menu changes frequently, but bold colors and artful platings turn heads as waitstaff ferry orders between tables. If you can't quite decide between the scallops or the duck, it's easy enough to spot something that catches your attention and just say "I'll have what they're having."

8. Cafe Marmotte
290 South Downing Street

Mark Reggiannini and Mairen Reagan took an aging Asian joint and transformed it into a delightful French bistro at the corner of South Downing and East Alameda. A four-seater bar is perfect for an after-work glass of wine and a few small plates, while a comfy banquette on the back wall does the trick for date night. The food is as warm and welcoming as the space itself, with a slightly modernized coq au vin that still retains its country appeal and short ribs so good they'll beckon you back for a mid-week meal.

7. Desmond Bar & Grill
2230 Oneida Street

Sean Kelly is the presiding ambassador of Denver's neighborhood restaurant scene, with past successes in the Aubergine Cafe, Claire de Lune and LoHi Steakbar. So Park Hill residents knew they were in good hands when the chef opened Desmond last year in his own neighborhood. His menu seamlessly blends bar-and-grill offerings like hot wings and a classic cheeseburger with Mediterranean noshes ranging from Italian nduja to Moroccan-influenced lamb sausage with pomegranate molasses. Nearly every plate rings in at less than $15, so you can mix and match and nibble the night away as if you're at a neighbor's cocktail party.

6. Fruition
1313 East Sixth  Avenue

Fruition's elegant dining room and elevated cuisine aren't exactly the stuff of the neighborhood grill where you throw on some shorts, round up the kids and go, but then again, the Country Club neighborhood nearby and the surrounding moneyed mansions are equally elegant and elevated. Fruition represents for many Denverites a special-occasion destination, but once you're there, the staff and surrounding put you at ease. Instead of fretting over weekend reservations for a birthday or anniversary, head over on a weekday and experience Fruition as the neighbors do: sophisticated, sure — but also relaxed and comfortable in a way that lets the straightforward flavors of the farm-to-table (chef/owner Alex Seidel's own farm, that is) menu shine. 

Keep reading for five more of the best neighborhood spots.
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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