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The 38 Essential Denver Restaurants, July 2015

An updated map of Denver's essential restaurants. This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs.

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Today Eater updates the Eater 38, our list of Denver's essential restaurants. This list is our answer to any question that begins with "Can you recommend a restaurant?"

This group of eateries covers the metro area, spans over many cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs. Every few months, we add pertinent restaurants that were omitted or have recently become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months). Older restaurants that have stepped up their game may be added back to the list. This list is presented in alphabetical order.

Without further ado, we made some changes. Vesta Dipping Grill, Cart Driver, and Pinche Tacos joined the list. With new additions, also come some subtractions: Vert Kitchen, TAG, and Devil's Food have left the ranks of essential restaurants.

What is your personal Denver 38? Join the discussion in Eater Forums.

Editorial disclosure

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.
The RiNo offshoot of Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth continues to draw crowds and accolades. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant owned by Bryan Dayton and Steve Redzikowski serves some of the city's best cocktails and great wood-fired centric food.

Beast + Bottle

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With each meal, sibling team Paul and Aileen Reilly open the doors to a the space that is as welcoming as their own dining room. There are always dinner specials, a well-curated wine and cocktail list, and desserts one should save room for.

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

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Biker Jim's Dogs just can't be missed. The wild game sausages are all the rage, and most likely, they will be for a very, very long time.

ChoLon Bistro

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ChoLon is a fantastic Asian fusion restaurant. Chef Lon Symensma, whose resume includes serving as executive chef at Buddakan in NYC, creates truly memorable and truly beautiful dishes.

Colt & Gray

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Colt & Gray is a place of intrigue. While it's definitely a classy joint with a professional and knowledgeable service staff, it's not stuffy. Chef/owner Nelson Perkins emphasizes the nose-to-tail concept at Colt & Gray, offering one of the city's best selections of charcuterie and offal.

El Taco De Mexico

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One word: Authentic. El Taco De Mexico is the quintessential taqueria, offering a plethora of tacos (pork, beef, chicken, tongue, cheek, etc.) and some of the best green chili in town. It's not a show-stopper of restaurant where decor is concerned, but you don't come here for the aesthetics — you come here to eat, and eat you will.

Frasca Food and Wine

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Frasca is Colorado's top restaurant. The Northern Italian-inspired eatery has an outstanding wine list curated by master sommelier Bobby Stuckey. The food, under the direction of chef Lachlan Patterson, always impresses. This classic is a must on any diner's list.

Fruition Restaurant

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It's hard not to love this restaurant. Food and service are consistently on point here. Chef Alex Seidel changes the menu with the seasons and sources many ingredients from his own farm.

Fuel Cafe

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Bob Blair's restaurant is everything a diner with a conscious for sustainability could ask for. The chef's dedication to sustainable ingredients and locally-sourced products is evident in his creative food. Don't miss the desserts, which are always on point.

Jax Fish House Denver

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For two decades, Jax Fish House has been the go-to restaurant for oysters, fish, and a mean happy hour. This LoDo staple - open daily starting at 4 p.m.- attracts a broad range of dining patrons.

Lao Wang Noodle House

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This hole-in-the-wall family-owned and operated Taiwanese joint served the best Xiao Long Bao in the Mile High City. Service may be slow but it's well worth it. Don't miss the Caution: Brewing beers.
Linger is almost too hot for its own good. Reservations can be hard to nab, but once you're in, you'll be hooked. Between the dining room and the menus, the innovation at Linger is exceptional. Linger also has the best patio in the city. This is a great spot for lunch, dinner, happy hour and late night cocktails.
Frank Bonanno's flagship restaurant is the perfect place to dine when looking for an intimate atmosphere and attentive service. Expect to drop some money here, but fear not — it's not likely that exec chef Stephen McCary will disappoint.

OAK at fourteenth

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This Boulder restaurant co-owned by chef Steve Redzikowski and bartender Bryan Dayton draws guests with its new American cuisine and well-curated drink program. With a stylish neighborhood restaurant vibe, Oak at Fourteenth features local and seasonal dishes, many cooked in the wood-fired oven that shines in the dining room.

Old Major

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Chef Justin Brunson's farmhouse cuisine, a solid beverage program, and superior service make guests return over and over. The LoHi restaurant features one of the best happy hours around.
Tucked away in the Peloton complex on East Arapahoe, this is a wood-fired eatery that dishes out a variety of items from handmade pastas and Neapolitan pizzas to oysters and short ribs cooked sous vide. For a more casual experience, check Denver sister eatery Cart Driver.

Pizzeria Locale

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From the rockstar team behind Frasca Food and Wine, Pizzeria Locale brings Neapolitan pizza to pie fanatics who submit themselves to cutting their own slice for the sake of authenticity. The space is contemporary, the wine list superb, and the service very attentive.


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Potager is Denver's original farm-to-table restaurant. Chef and owner Teri Ripetto sources many ingredients locally and uses the seasons to guide her ever-changing menus. Not to miss: the simple and outstanding desserts created by Jayne Yelich.
Chef Jennifer Jasinski has transformed Larimer Square with her restaurants, and it all started with Rioja. This Mediterranean gem is a Denver staple, and Jasinski is constantly keeping her menu fresh.


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Steuben's is a dream come true for those who appreciate a classed-up diner. The retro eatery is known for some of the best comfort food in the city, including green chili cheeseburgers, lobster rolls and fried chicken. Everything is hip about this place.

Sushi Den

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It's hard to deny that Sushi Den has some of the best fish and sushi masters in town. It's been over 25 years since Sushi Den opened and there's still a wait every night. That's some real staying power, folks.

Table 6

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Between the playful menu, the cozy decor, and spectacular wine list, Table 6 is the right place for a casual dinner, a boozy brunch or a romantic date.

The Plimoth

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This neighborhood bistro continues to gather loyal guests. The food created by chef Peter Ryan is classic French fare with a modern touch, all served in an inviting dining room by friendly waitstaff.

The Populist

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The team behind Crema Cofffe House created a timeless community eatery in its space in RiNo. Popular dishes created by chef Jonathan Power include the smoked jackfruit, Thai sausage and cavatelli, and fava and chèvre agnolotti.

Tom's Home Cookin'

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A Denver staple of Southern comfort food, Tom's Home Cookin' makes the best meatloaf, fried chicken, and all the must sides that come with it. Genuine sweet tea is a treat.
The Momofuku-esque dishes at Tommy Lee's LoHi noodle shop are still just as popular as they were when the restaurant first opened. Ramen is a challenging food to master, let alone various styles of it, but Uncle has it down. Must try: kimchi ramen.

Williams & Graham

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Denver can't get enough of the gastro-fare and exceptional cocktail program at Sean Kenyon's popular Williams & Graham. The likely wait is well-worth it. On the horizon: The Occidental, a new sister bar to this speakeasy, will open soon next door.

Z Cuisine & A Cote

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You don't feel like you're dining in Denver at Z Cuisine. The quaint restaurant makes you feel as though you've been transported to France, and frankly, you don't want to leave. The dining room is currently remodeling but A Cote, next door, offers the full restaurant menu.

Barolo Grill

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White table cloths, a spectacular wine list, and a rich and attractive pasta menu: That is the now-classic Barolo Grill. The restaurant maintains its loyal following in Denver with attentive service and classic Italian cuisine.

Work & Class

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This RiNo casual spot is universally loved. Bustling with guests, Work & Class brings an array of meats and side dishes served in a family-style format. On Sundays, chef Dana Rodriguez offers her irresistible fried chicken.

Bistro Barbes

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French-trained chef Jon Robbins brought this gem to the Park Hill neighborhood last year and a loyal following quickly formed. His dishes combine enticing yet delicate flavors of North Africa, Morocco, and Spain.

to the wind

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Small, quaint, and charming, To The Wind is the right place for an intimate dinner. The French-influenced dishes rooted in classic recipes and techniques are a delight.
In Denver's thriving coffee market, Crema stands out as a fabulous community place that serves not just the best coffees but also beautiful pastries, sandwiches, and fresh juices.

Guard and Grace

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A new generation steak house, Guard & Grace brings a fabulous classic meat selection to its guests alongside a lovely raw bar and enviable wine list. Don't miss the desserts!

TRVE Brewing Co.

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With the kind of beer scene that Colorado boasts, it is only natural that a brewery would join this list. TRVE is quirky, loud with a metal slant, and irresistible. The beers range from sours to stouts and the staff is super friendly.

Cart Driver

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Pizza, oysters, and more is what is on the menu at this popular hangout. Get lunch or come by for a late bite but whatever you do, don't miss the clam pizza.

Pinche Tacos

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This modern taqueria that started as a food truck continues to attract loyal fans at both of its locations, the original one listed here and its sister one in the Highland. The Cotija cheese taco is a must.

Vesta Dipping Grill

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Nearly two decades old, this LoDo restaurant still draws a crowd for its approachable American cuisine. Bonus: The new dessert program led by pastry queen Nadine Donovan is reason alone for a visit.