After the final moments of thanks are given and the leftovers have been scooped up for safe keeping, it’s time to prepare for Black Friday — the official kick-off of holiday shopping season, and the small stretch of time when the deepest discounts are on display.
Since some locals spend more money on camping equipment and ski passes than their wardrobes or homewares, it may come as a surprise that Denver has shopping districts spread throughout the city that successfully serve every style and budget.
Smart buyers know it takes fuel to endure the retail chaos, so we’ve compiled a collection of eateries, watering holes, and grab-and-go destinations — divided by neighborhood — that are sure to provide the necessary sustenance to send you home with gifts and goodies you never knew you needed.
16TH STREET MALL
Denver Pavilions takes advantage of the city’s 300 days of sunshine with its open-air architecture in the heart of downtown. The development has wrangled some big retailers, including UNIQLO, Target, and H&M, among others. When hunger strikes, walk to:
CHOLON : Lon Symensma’s sophisticated southeast Asian bistro stands out amid the fast-casual and street-food kiosks in this area with an ever-evolving menu anchored by a few icons, including the French onion soup dumplings, that’ll warm your soul no matter the weather outside.
FRENCH 75: The central business district’s cozy bistro from restaurateur Frank Bonanno is often filled with suit-and-tie types. But the promise of simple classics such as beurre fondue and lobster mac and cheese might just do the trick on a taxing day of Black Friday madness.
ZOE MA MA: Inspired by a mother’s love, this homey but efficient counter-service Chinese food hub adjacent to Union Station packs a punch with its family recipes — great for a quick sit-down or snack on the go.
UNION LODGE NO. 1: Perhaps a Tom Collins or a gin fizz might soften the aggressive streak that accompanies this particular shopping excursion. This clandestine watering hole stands as a memorial to the American bars of the late 19th Century — “where the creativity of the barman flourished” — just a block off the 16th Street Mall.
Stretching from Buchtel Boulevard to Jewell Avenue, the South Pearl Street enclave is one of Denver’s most charming and popular with shops, restaurants, and other businesses, as well as a Sunday farmer’s market in the summertime.
MAKAN MALAYSIAN CAFE: This colorful eatery began as a food truck at the area farmer’s market and expanded into a permanent authentic Malaysian operation in 2012. Makan explores all the flavors of the cuisine in the form of dumplings, curries, stir-fries, and more — all meant to be enjoyed family-style.
PARK BURGER: Casual and family-friendly, this Platt Park staple has spread to include multiple locations throughout the city, with a menu of comfort food from crispy French fries to frothy milkshakes.
TOKYO PREMIUM BAKERY: For a quick but satisfying snack, Pearl Street’s sleek new cafe started by three friends churns out fresh baked goods such as matcha twists, custard-filled cornets, spicy cod roe baguette, and milk bread by the loaf.
PARK MEADOWS MALL
Lone Tree sits in the southern suburbs of the metro area, where a sprawling mall was designed to resemble a mountain lodge. Because shoppers need safe havens to decompress, regroup, and break for a meal, here are a few quick restaurant picks near Park Meadows.
DEL FRISCO’S DOUBLE EAGLE STEAKHOUSE: This Greenwood Village establishment embodies the stereotypes and traditions of the classic American steakhouse, serving prime beef, fresh seafood, and a boozy drink list.
LONE TREE BREWING CO: Just across from Furniture Row — in case a new couch is on Santa’s list this year — grab a cold craft beer to take the edge off at Lone Tree Brewing Company. This European-style craft brewery and tasting room samples handcrafted brews and provides an atmosphere to share the experience with fellow beer lovers, complete with board games and televised events.
MOD PIZZA: Just west of I-25 and north of East County Line Road in Centennial, MOD Pizza serves up quick personal pies, salads, and more with choose-your-own-adventure toppings.
Here’s a handful of other guides for area shopping hubs: