Pickles preserve the essence of summer to enjoy for the rest of the year. Even in the dead of winter, you can taste a summer afternoon. Some of Denver's best eateries ferment and pickle Colorado produce so you can enjoy them now. Here are ten places to find pickles on plates, in burgers and sandwiches, and in jars to go. Pucker up!
The Pikes Peak Pickle Shack4675 Fountain Avenue, Cascade
Located in the resort town of Cascade, just a few miles from Colorado Springs, the Pickle Shack offers an overwhelming assortment of pickles and vegetables in its tiny space of less than 100 square feet. Pikes Peak Pickles has been preserving the best of summer since 2016 at the base of Pikes Peak, with more than two dozen pickle varieties in a constantly changing array that includes many limited-release jars. You may even run into a little summer snowstorm while perusing the rows of jars at Colorado's only pickle shack.
Elevated Rooftop Bar at the Halcyon245 Columbine Street
The first rooftop hotel pool in Cherry Creek also has an edge on the housemade-pickle scene, as this is the only house-crafted pickle offered poolside — perhaps in the entire city. While the street-level restaurants have changed since the Halcyon debuted, the pickles have been on the menu since the rooftop opened to the public. The poolside bar serves up a year-round medley of pickles and fermented vegetables marinated in olive oil with herbs.
TAG Burger Bar1222 Madison Street
Troy Guard's Congress Park burger joint has been making pickles since opening in 2012. Each week, 120 pounds of Kirby cucumbers are pickled in dill brine in a 55-gallon drum. The recipe has never changed, nor has the process; however, you can now also find pickled white asparagus, shallots, red onions, lemons, fresno chiles, mustard seeds, peaches and radishes on the rotating menu. Get your preserved cukes on a burger or in an order of fried pickles.
Steuben’sUptown: 523 East 17th Avenue, 303-830-1001
Arvada: 7355 Ralston Road, 303-830-0096
According to Nick Kayser, culinary director for the Secret Sauce restaurant group, which includes Steuben's, sous-chef Albert Baretich was closing down the restaurant one night when he was overcome by a craving for fried pickles. "This late-night craving evolved into housemade pickle slices soaked in buttermilk and dredged in signature fried chicken flour to add an additional layer of flavor," Kayser explains. "Our recipe is a balance of light acid, sweetness and subtle spiciness. The addition of onions to the brine provides for a well-rounded accoutrement in our half-sours and bread-and-butters."
Leven Deli Co.123 West 12th Avenue
One of the Golden Triangle’s newer eateries, Leven Deli, houses a mix of New York City-style food and beverages, and slightly more Mediterranean-themed eats. A deli case displays salads and other sides all made from scratch, including pickles, because what goes better with house-smoked and -cured pastrami on fresh-baked rye then a deli dill? Sliced pickles come on the side of most sandwiches and can be ordered from the deli case in bulk.
Hearth & Dram1801 Wewatta Street
“Because we make everything in-house, pickling is a big part of our day-to-day production," states this downtown dining hall's executive chef, Adam Vero. "We do three main types of pickles in house: dill, bread-and-butter and ginger-pickled cucumbers." When corn was in season last summer, Vero fermented some of the Colorado-grown veggie for what he describes as "a really beautiful sweet-and-sour flavor with the addition of just a little salt and about 24 hours at room temperature."
Safta3330 Brighton Boulevard
Safta, one of Denver’s few destinations for authentic Israeli small plates, dedicates an entire appetizer to chef/owner Alon Shaya's pickling program. Found on the salatim menu are three kinds of pickled produce: red cabbage, cauliflower and classic green dills. Noted as market vegetables, these three staples are served year-round.
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Mercantile Dining & Provision1701 Wynkoop Street
This Union Station eatery and cafe has always listed a classic fried dill pickle platter with ranch on its appetizer menu. The pickles also arrive un-fried, sliced and on the side of many lunch entrees. You'll want more of them; luckily, you can purchase all of Mercantile's pickled products for an average of $10 a jar in season in the small market beyond the main dining room.
Jovanina’s Broken Italian1520 Blake Street
Jovanina’s Broken Italian serves pickled vegetables that vary based on what's in season. The autumn harvest included pickled fennel, chanterelle mushrooms, cherries, cucumbers, green beans, carrots, cipollini onions, sweet corn and, of course, cucumbers, served with burrata. Another enticing dish is grilled asparagus with pickled mushrooms, or anything with the show-stopping pickled mustard seeds.
Smok3330 Brighton Boulevard
Smoke is the primary flavor at Smok, but a little acidity is a great way to balance the richness of sausage, ribs and brisket. “We do a bread-and-butter-style house cucumber pickle, [but] not like the ones you buy in the store," notes Bill Espiricueta, chef/owner of Smok. "Ours are more balanced, a pickle of sweet and acidic flavor, with garlic, onion and chile flakes as the prominent flavorings. Our red-wine vinegar pickled onions we do for the brisket tacos, and they are more on the acidic side to complement the fatty tortilla and the deep flavors of the smoked brisket.”