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A photo of the three layered chocolate cake served with a vanilla milkshake at D Bar
A photo of the three layered chocolate cake served with a vanilla milkshake at D Bar
Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver’s Iconic Dishes

The foods and plates that define the Mile High City

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A photo of the three layered chocolate cake served with a vanilla milkshake at D Bar
| Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Tourists know Denver for Rocky Mountain oysters, steakhouse classics, and its eponymous omelette. But while these favorites continue to make their mark on the local scene, Denver’s 161 years of dining history have born quite a few other iconic dishes.

The dishes on this map best define the Denver culinary landscape. Some have earned a place here thanks to their longevity and significance in Denver dining history; others are truly the best of the best of their kind regardless of age; and still others represent products of Denver’s dining scene that can’t be found anywhere else.

Have another favorite Denver dish? Send us a tip, or leave a note in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kale and Apple Salad at Oak at Fourteenth

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1400 Pearl St
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 444-3622
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This healthy bowl is available with slight variations at each of the three restaurants from owners Steve Redzikowski and Bryan Dayton (Oak, Brider, and Acorn). The kale and apple salad got its start on their menu on day one, and its basic recipe includes kale, lemon, parmesan, sweet apples, togarashi (Japanese chili pepper), and candied almonds.

2. Smothered Mexican Hamburger at The Original Chubbys

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1231 W 38th Ave
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 455-9311
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To satisfy late-night cravings, every Denver diner should experience this two-handed, big-bite burger tucked inside a tortilla with melted cheese, refried beans, and smothered with spicy green chile.

3. Pita and Hummus at Safta Restaurant

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3330 Brighton Blvd #201
Denver, CO 80216
(720) 408-2444
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A wood-fired highlight of Alon Shaya’s new modern Israeli restaurant is fresh, steamy (and free!) pita bread. It’s the ideal vehicle to deliver tahini, egg, blue crab, lamb ragu, and cauliflower hummus.

4. The Classic Rooster at Old Major

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3316 Tejon St
Denver, CO 80211
(720) 420-0622
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At Justin Brunson’s flagship LoHi restaurant, Old Major, customers can order the Royal Rooster fried chicken sandwich for lunch, brunch, and dinner. It’s prepared with Red Bird Chicken thighs, squishy buns, and sides including pork fat French fries and Caesar salad.

5. Ronnie’s Favorite at Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen

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725 E 26th Ave
Denver, CO 80205
(720) 440-9880
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Joshua Pollack set out to replicate the precise chemistry of New York City’s water when he decided to start churning out bagels in Denver. The result: a soft and chewy bagel. But while that bagel is good on its own, the Ronnie’s Favorite is a perfect combination of dill cream cheese, fresh cucumber, Scottish smoked salmon, and whitefish salad.

6. Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Dog at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

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2148 Larimer St
Denver, CO 80205
(720) 746-9355
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This Larimer Street spot has developed a following thanks to its hot dogs made from rattlesnake, pheasant and other atypical (for hot dogs) meats. But this classic, which is served topped with grilled onions and cheddar cheese, remains the most popular among them. Rockies fans can also sample one at the new Biker Jim’s cart inside Coors Field.

7. Soup Dumplings at ChoLon

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1555 Blake St #101
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 353-5223
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The first of Chef Lon Symensma's fleet of local restaurants is now famous for its delicate steamed dumplings encasing cheesy French onion soup with a sherry-infused broth.

8. Cake & Shake at D Bar Denver

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494 E 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 861-4710
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This classic combo, which consists of a three-layer chocolate cake and a choice of a mini milkshake or malt is Denver dessert chef Keegan Gerhard’s most iconic creation. The shakes come in a choice of vanilla, chocolate, or raspberry and are topped with crunchy chocolate pearls.

9. Steubie Snacks at Steuben's

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523 E 17th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 830-1001
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These snacks, which consist of deep-fried, braised pork shoulder rolled in powdered sugar, are the ultimate munchie.

10. Sugar Steak at Bastien's Restaurant

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3503 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206
(303) 322-0363
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In 1937, the Bastien family purchased the Moon Drive Inn and quickly created a favorite local haunt. In 1958, the building was torn down and replaced by what still stands — a humble steakhouse famous for its thick-cut, sugar-rubbed steaks, served rare or medium-rare only.

11. Gyro Plate at Pete's Kitchen

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1962 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206
(303) 321-3139
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Paying homage to the owner’s home country, this 24/7 Greek diner offers heaping plates with just the right amount of grease to sober up residents and visitors on Colfax. The gyro platter includes thin shavings of spit-roasted lamb, minty tzatziki, pita bread, and a pile of French fries.

12. Rocky Mountain Oysters at Buckhorn Exchange Restaurant

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1000 Osage St
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 534-9505
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Sure, it’s touristy but every (non-vegetarian) Denver resident and visitor needs to try this infamous local delicacy sooner or later. This classic saloon (Colorado license #1 is proudly displayed) serves a classic version that is seasoned, batter fried and sliced into discs and served with a side of horseradish sauce.

13. Chile Relleno at El Taco De Mexico

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714 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 623-3926
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Since its inception in 1985, El Taco De Mexico’s carnitas, beans, green chile, and tacos have developed a cult following. Consider indulging in the famous chile relleno that comes with lettuce, tomato, rice, beans, and two flour or three corn tortillas.

14. Smothered Burrito at Benny's Restaurant & Cantina

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301 E 7th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 894-0788
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There is perhaps no dish that says Denver more than a smothered Mexican burrito (even if the Mile High City’s New Mexican neighbors might bristle at the claim). And there are few better variations than the one at this classic Capitol Hill haunt. It consists of a burrito stuffed with a choice of meat and beans smothered with cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, and, of course, the chili.

15. Lobster Mac and Cheese at Mizuna

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225 E 7th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 832-4778
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With peppercorn, shallots, white wine, mascarpone, and chunks of lobster meat, the lobster mac and cheese at Mizuna is still a local must as well as evidence enough that the 18-year-old French spot is still one of the best places for decadent dining in Denver.

16. Cricket Burger at Cherry Cricket

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2641 E 2nd Ave
Denver, CO 80206
(303) 322-7666
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This long-running Cherry Creek landmark is a timeless haunt filled with traditions and stories. The juicy half-pound cricket burger, which can be loaded with a choice of toppings ranging from corned beef to green chili, is a best bet.

17. Dim Sum at Star Kitchen

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2917 W Mississippi Ave
Denver, CO 80219
(303) 936-0089
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Okay, so dim sum isn’t one dish. But this strip mall favorite in Athmar Park strongly suggests its patrons try one of each of its Cantonese small plates. Noodles, buns, dumplings, and more are all passed on carts during what has become a Denver weekend brunch tradition.

18. The Argentina at Maria Empanada

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1298 South Broadway Avenue
Denver, CO 80210
(303) 934-2221
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These pastries filled with combinations of flavor and spice come directly from owner Lorena Cantarovici’s Argentinian childhood. For the pocket that packs the most punch, try the Argentina, with seared steak, eggs, red peppers, and green onions.

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1. Kale and Apple Salad at Oak at Fourteenth

1400 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

This healthy bowl is available with slight variations at each of the three restaurants from owners Steve Redzikowski and Bryan Dayton (Oak, Brider, and Acorn). The kale and apple salad got its start on their menu on day one, and its basic recipe includes kale, lemon, parmesan, sweet apples, togarashi (Japanese chili pepper), and candied almonds.

1400 Pearl St
Boulder, CO 80302

2. Smothered Mexican Hamburger at The Original Chubbys

1231 W 38th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

To satisfy late-night cravings, every Denver diner should experience this two-handed, big-bite burger tucked inside a tortilla with melted cheese, refried beans, and smothered with spicy green chile.

1231 W 38th Ave
Denver, CO 80211

3. Pita and Hummus at Safta Restaurant

3330 Brighton Blvd #201, Denver, CO 80216

A wood-fired highlight of Alon Shaya’s new modern Israeli restaurant is fresh, steamy (and free!) pita bread. It’s the ideal vehicle to deliver tahini, egg, blue crab, lamb ragu, and cauliflower hummus.

3330 Brighton Blvd #201
Denver, CO 80216

4. The Classic Rooster at Old Major

3316 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211

At Justin Brunson’s flagship LoHi restaurant, Old Major, customers can order the Royal Rooster fried chicken sandwich for lunch, brunch, and dinner. It’s prepared with Red Bird Chicken thighs, squishy buns, and sides including pork fat French fries and Caesar salad.

3316 Tejon St
Denver, CO 80211

5. Ronnie’s Favorite at Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen

725 E 26th Ave, Denver, CO 80205

Joshua Pollack set out to replicate the precise chemistry of New York City’s water when he decided to start churning out bagels in Denver. The result: a soft and chewy bagel. But while that bagel is good on its own, the Ronnie’s Favorite is a perfect combination of dill cream cheese, fresh cucumber, Scottish smoked salmon, and whitefish salad.

725 E 26th Ave
Denver, CO 80205

6. Elk Jalapeño Cheddar Dog at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

2148 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205

This Larimer Street spot has developed a following thanks to its hot dogs made from rattlesnake, pheasant and other atypical (for hot dogs) meats. But this classic, which is served topped with grilled onions and cheddar cheese, remains the most popular among them. Rockies fans can also sample one at the new Biker Jim’s cart inside Coors Field.

2148 Larimer St
Denver, CO 80205

7. Soup Dumplings at ChoLon

1555 Blake St #101, Denver, CO 80202

The first of Chef Lon Symensma's fleet of local restaurants is now famous for its delicate steamed dumplings encasing cheesy French onion soup with a sherry-infused broth.

1555 Blake St #101
Denver, CO 80202

8. Cake & Shake at D Bar Denver

494 E 19th Ave, Denver, CO 80203

This classic combo, which consists of a three-layer chocolate cake and a choice of a mini milkshake or malt is Denver dessert chef Keegan Gerhard’s most iconic creation. The shakes come in a choice of vanilla, chocolate, or raspberry and are topped with crunchy chocolate pearls.

494 E 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80203

9. Steubie Snacks at Steuben's

523 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203

These snacks, which consist of deep-fried, braised pork shoulder rolled in powdered sugar, are the ultimate munchie.

523 E 17th Ave
Denver, CO 80203

10. Sugar Steak at Bastien's Restaurant

3503 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206

In 1937, the Bastien family purchased the Moon Drive Inn and quickly created a favorite local haunt. In 1958, the building was torn down and replaced by what still stands — a humble steakhouse famous for its thick-cut, sugar-rubbed steaks, served rare or medium-rare only.

3503 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206

11. Gyro Plate at Pete's Kitchen

1962 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206

Paying homage to the owner’s home country, this 24/7 Greek diner offers heaping plates with just the right amount of grease to sober up residents and visitors on Colfax. The gyro platter includes thin shavings of spit-roasted lamb, minty tzatziki, pita bread, and a pile of French fries.

1962 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206

12. Rocky Mountain Oysters at Buckhorn Exchange Restaurant

1000 Osage St, Denver, CO 80204

Sure, it’s touristy but every (non-vegetarian) Denver resident and visitor needs to try this infamous local delicacy sooner or later. This classic saloon (Colorado license #1 is proudly displayed) serves a classic version that is seasoned, batter fried and sliced into discs and served with a side of horseradish sauce.

1000 Osage St
Denver, CO 80204

13. Chile Relleno at El Taco De Mexico

714 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204

Since its inception in 1985, El Taco De Mexico’s carnitas, beans, green chile, and tacos have developed a cult following. Consider indulging in the famous chile relleno that comes with lettuce, tomato, rice, beans, and two flour or three corn tortillas.

714 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, CO 80204

14. Smothered Burrito at Benny's Restaurant & Cantina

301 E 7th Ave, Denver, CO 80203

There is perhaps no dish that says Denver more than a smothered Mexican burrito (even if the Mile High City’s New Mexican neighbors might bristle at the claim). And there are few better variations than the one at this classic Capitol Hill haunt. It consists of a burrito stuffed with a choice of meat and beans smothered with cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, and, of course, the chili.

301 E 7th Ave
Denver, CO 80203

15. Lobster Mac and Cheese at Mizuna

225 E 7th Ave, Denver, CO 80203

With peppercorn, shallots, white wine, mascarpone, and chunks of lobster meat, the lobster mac and cheese at Mizuna is still a local must as well as evidence enough that the 18-year-old French spot is still one of the best places for decadent dining in Denver.

225 E 7th Ave
Denver, CO 80203

Related Maps

16. Cricket Burger at Cherry Cricket

2641 E 2nd Ave, Denver, CO 80206

This long-running Cherry Creek landmark is a timeless haunt filled with traditions and stories. The juicy half-pound cricket burger, which can be loaded with a choice of toppings ranging from corned beef to green chili, is a best bet.

2641 E 2nd Ave
Denver, CO 80206

17. Dim Sum at Star Kitchen

2917 W Mississippi Ave, Denver, CO 80219

Okay, so dim sum isn’t one dish. But this strip mall favorite in Athmar Park strongly suggests its patrons try one of each of its Cantonese small plates. Noodles, buns, dumplings, and more are all passed on carts during what has become a Denver weekend brunch tradition.

2917 W Mississippi Ave
Denver, CO 80219

18. The Argentina at Maria Empanada

1298 South Broadway Avenue, Denver, CO 80210

These pastries filled with combinations of flavor and spice come directly from owner Lorena Cantarovici’s Argentinian childhood. For the pocket that packs the most punch, try the Argentina, with seared steak, eggs, red peppers, and green onions.

1298 South Broadway Avenue
Denver, CO 80210

Related Maps