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Soup dumplings in a steamer basket
ChoLon’s famous French onion soup dumplings.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

16 Downtown Lunch Options for Every Occasion

Let the working lunches begin

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ChoLon’s famous French onion soup dumplings.
| Ruth Tobias/Eater

With so many fabulous dining destinations packed into a single square mile, downtown Denver is no place for a brown-bag lunch. Just outside those office doors awaits a little bit of everything: If time is of the essence, fast-casual spots like Frank Bonanno’s Milk Market fill the bill, while client meetings might call for a bottle of wine at Tavernetta or a steak at Guard and Grace.

Have another favorite lunch spot in Union Station, LoDo, or the Central Business District? Send us a tip.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Chow Morso Osteria

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1500 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 639-4089
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By night, this LoDo hot spot from the team behind Cherry Creek destination Barolo Grill serves relatively modern Italian fare, but the midday menu skews a bit more traditional in a relaxed (but work lunch–appropriate) setting. Solo diners should sit at the bar with a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta Bolognese; lighter eaters can opt for a half-piadina accompanied by a salad or the soup of the day.

Pasta carbonara with pancetta, chives, parmesan, and egg yolk
Classic pasta carbonara at Chow Morso.
Spencer Barnes/Chow Morso

2. Tavernetta

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1889 16th St Mall
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 605-1889
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The team behind Tavernetta also runs the James Beard Award-winning Boulder eatery Frasca Food and Wine. At their more casual Union Station spot, salumi and cheese, gnocchi with lamb ragù, and lobster tagliatelle all go well with a primo glass of wine.

Pasta with eggplant, gorgonzola, and hazelnuts
Eggplant and gorgonzola caramelle at Tavernetta
Tavernetta

3. Zoe Ma Ma

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1625 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 545-6262
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Zoe Ma Ma offers quick service with an organic flair. Vegan dumplings and steamed pork buns are good starters to supplement a variety of noodle and rice bowls. Pro tip: On Fridays and Saturdays, the roast duck wonton soup is the daily special, and it is worth the visit.

Potstickers with two dipping sauces
Zoe Ma Ma’s potstickers.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

4. Stoic & Genuine

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1701 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 640-3474
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If LoDo is a bit of a seafood desert (so to speak), this Union Station stunner is its oasis, wraparound octopus mural and all. Led by James Beard Award–winning chef Jennifer Jasinski and her powerhouse partner Beth Gruitch, the kitchen runs on a parallel track: classic coastal comforts such as lobster rolls and fish and chips on the one hand, elegant seasonal dishes like scallop crudo in watermelon aguachile and tagliatelle with red crab and crème fraîche on the other. 

Raw oysters with granita
Oysters on the half shell at Stoic & Genuine.
Mark Piscotty

5. D'Corazon

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1530 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 904-8226
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This Larimer Street Mexican restaurant is a hidden gem. D'Corazon is a family-run business serving comfort food from south of the border. There is everything from tamales to chimichangas, a Mexican burger, and huevos rancheros.

6. ChoLon 

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1555 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 353-5223
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Lon Symensma’s swanky LoDo flagship impresses with impeccable service and creative Asian-influenced cuisine, including the now-iconic kaya toast and French onion soup dumplings. There’s more just next door: The acclaimed chef’s contemporary European spot LeRoux is equally likely to dazzle business clients, while the more casual Cho77 draws coworkers pumped to chow down on kicky updates of old-school takeout staples like honey-walnut shrimp and orange-sesame chicken.

Singaporean-style kaya toast
Lon Symensma’s famous kaya toast.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

7. Mercantile Dining & Provision

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1701 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 460-3733
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Owned by exec chef Matt Vawter and his James Beard Award–winning partner Alex Seidel, Mercantile serves salads, sandwiches, meat-and-cheese boards, and more from the market side of its light-filled space inside Union Station (the fried-chicken bánh mì is a big hit). Running late for lunch? Good news: The team has a mid-afternoon menu replete with goodies like polenta-battered corn dogs and mussels with sausage over fregola.

Market counter and bar
Mercantile’s market and bar area.
McCall Burau

8. Avelina

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1550 17th St
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 904-6711
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The airy, spacious dining room looks like something out of a contemporary interior-design magazine, and the seasonal New American food’s just as broadly appealing. Current highlights include the grilled short rib–cheddar sandwich and the Thai-style peanut-sprinkled salmon salad.

Avelina’s upscale modern dining room
Avelina’s magazine-worthy decor.
Ryan Dearth/Eater

9. Denver Milk Market

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1800 Wazee St #100
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 792-8242
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For crowds with mixed tastes, Frank Bonanno’s food hall at Dairy Block is a one-stop lunch shop, housing 16 different concepts that do everything from fried chicken and deli sandwiches to stuffed bao, fresh pasta, and gelato. Brand-new to the lineup: Ghost Tortilla, dispensing tacos and tequilas.

Pizza
A pie from Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria inside Milk Market.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

10. Bruto

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1801 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 325-2195
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New to Dairy Block as of last fall is this showcase for visionary chef Kelly Whitaker’s diverse obsessions—from locally grown heirloom grains (which he and his team mill themselves) to raw and fermented vegetables to wood-fired proteins. Colleagues can grab seats at the counter to watch the chefs in action while sampling a smattering of small plates: Must-tries include both the sourdough piada and chickpea socca, served with seasonal accoutrements such as plum caponata and yuzu ricotta, as well as the okonomiyaki.

Japanese pancake called okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki at BRUTØ.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

11. Foraged

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1825 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 826-2147
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Chef Duy Pham’s reputation no doubt precedes him among longtime local diners; this new Dairy Block hot spot heralds his return to Denver proper with a name that alludes not only to his penchant for careful sourcing but also his debut as a bladesmith (a few of the Japanese carbon-steel knives he forges for the kitchen are on display at the entrance). The menu crosses continents from Asia to Europe to the Americas, offering an eclectic mix of sushi, salads, burgers, and bistro-style entrees; sample dishes include the veggie chips and spinach dip, the rock-shrimp tempura with truffle-bacon aioli, and the Korean fried-chicken sandwich.

Mixed sushi platter
Sushi from the raw bar at For[a]ged.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

12. Pony Up

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1808 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 710-8144
Visit Website

How fun is Pony Up? It’s got a giant portrait of a French bulldog in Napoleonic dress hanging at the entrance. It’s bedecked with both chandeliers and shuffleboards (not too many places can make that claim). And it centers its menu around variations on a single staple: the French dip. There’s a bánh mì–style option accompanied by pho broth; there’s a vegetarian option piled with smoked mushrooms and Swiss alongside a ramekin of porcini broth; there are seasonal specials such as a tikka masala–inspired sandwich with chicken, fried shallots, mint raita, and curry for dipping. And then there are the twice-cooked crispy potatoes, which are indeed way more fun than once-cooked.

<span data-author="3635139">Pony Up</span>
If day drinking’s an option, the bar at Pony Up delivers with style.
Jonathan Phillips/Eater

13. Boney's BBQ

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1543 Champa St
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 825-9900
Visit Website

This subterranean smokehouse is a longtime favorite of James Beard Award–winning food historian and barbecue expert Adrian Miller. Enough said? It should be, but just in case: The hush puppies, rib tips, and fried catfish are well worth the risk of returning to the office smelling like your lunch hour was spent rolling in a pile of pulled pork.

Fried catfish with two sides
Boney’s fried catfish.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

14. Mint Indian Restaurant and Lounge

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1531 Stout St #130
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 931-1111
Visit Website

The downtown crowd has come to rely on this Indian kitchen’s ample lunch buffet, but if it’s a quiet day at the office, there’s some time to order off the regular menu. A wide variety of regional curries spans the subcontinent, while uncommon specialties include pani puri and chicken Shahjahani.

Indian chicken curry and bhatura.
Chicken chettinad curry at Mint.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

15. Zocalito Latin Bistro

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999 18th St Ste. 107
Denver, CO 80202
(720) 923-5965
Visit Website

The dining room of this outlet for Oaxacan cuisine isn’t large, but chef-owner Michael Beary makes the most of it with an expansive menu marked by big, bold flavors. As you peruse it, keep an eye peeled for words like “chilcosle,” “chilhuacle,” and “pasilla de oaxaca”—all referring to chiles that he imports from the region himself; any dish containing them is a good place to start, as are the lunch-only taco platters.

Chile relleno in mole
Zocalito’s pasilla de oaxaca in yellow mole.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

16. Guard and Grace

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1801 California St
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 293-8500
Visit Website

Troy Guard’s glitzy modern steakhouse is the midday hub for high rollers. Chops are tops, but there’s also a serious raw bar selection, along with more daytime-casual fare. The oak-fired carrots are a favorite, as is the hefty bacon cheeseburger.

Swanky contemporary steakhouse bar
Guard and Grace’s swanky bar area.
Guard and Grace

1. Chow Morso Osteria

1500 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202
Pasta carbonara with pancetta, chives, parmesan, and egg yolk
Classic pasta carbonara at Chow Morso.
Spencer Barnes/Chow Morso

By night, this LoDo hot spot from the team behind Cherry Creek destination Barolo Grill serves relatively modern Italian fare, but the midday menu skews a bit more traditional in a relaxed (but work lunch–appropriate) setting. Solo diners should sit at the bar with a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta Bolognese; lighter eaters can opt for a half-piadina accompanied by a salad or the soup of the day.

1500 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO 80202

2. Tavernetta

1889 16th St Mall, Denver, CO 80202
Pasta with eggplant, gorgonzola, and hazelnuts
Eggplant and gorgonzola caramelle at Tavernetta
Tavernetta

The team behind Tavernetta also runs the James Beard Award-winning Boulder eatery Frasca Food and Wine. At their more casual Union Station spot, salumi and cheese, gnocchi with lamb ragù, and lobster tagliatelle all go well with a primo glass of wine.

1889 16th St Mall
Denver, CO 80202

3. Zoe Ma Ma

1625 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202
Potstickers with two dipping sauces
Zoe Ma Ma’s potstickers.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

Zoe Ma Ma offers quick service with an organic flair. Vegan dumplings and steamed pork buns are good starters to supplement a variety of noodle and rice bowls. Pro tip: On Fridays and Saturdays, the roast duck wonton soup is the daily special, and it is worth the visit.

1625 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202

4. Stoic & Genuine

1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202
Raw oysters with granita
Oysters on the half shell at Stoic & Genuine.
Mark Piscotty

If LoDo is a bit of a seafood desert (so to speak), this Union Station stunner is its oasis, wraparound octopus mural and all. Led by James Beard Award–winning chef Jennifer Jasinski and her powerhouse partner Beth Gruitch, the kitchen runs on a parallel track: classic coastal comforts such as lobster rolls and fish and chips on the one hand, elegant seasonal dishes like scallop crudo in watermelon aguachile and tagliatelle with red crab and crème fraîche on the other. 

1701 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO 80202

5. D'Corazon

1530 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202

This Larimer Street Mexican restaurant is a hidden gem. D'Corazon is a family-run business serving comfort food from south of the border. There is everything from tamales to chimichangas, a Mexican burger, and huevos rancheros.

1530 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202

6. ChoLon 

1555 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
Singaporean-style kaya toast
Lon Symensma’s famous kaya toast.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

Lon Symensma’s swanky LoDo flagship impresses with impeccable service and creative Asian-influenced cuisine, including the now-iconic kaya toast and French onion soup dumplings. There’s more just next door: The acclaimed chef’s contemporary European spot LeRoux is equally likely to dazzle business clients, while the more casual Cho77 draws coworkers pumped to chow down on kicky updates of old-school takeout staples like honey-walnut shrimp and orange-sesame chicken.

1555 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202

7. Mercantile Dining & Provision

1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202
Market counter and bar
Mercantile’s market and bar area.
McCall Burau

Owned by exec chef Matt Vawter and his James Beard Award–winning partner Alex Seidel, Mercantile serves salads, sandwiches, meat-and-cheese boards, and more from the market side of its light-filled space inside Union Station (the fried-chicken bánh mì is a big hit). Running late for lunch? Good news: The team has a mid-afternoon menu replete with goodies like polenta-battered corn dogs and mussels with sausage over fregola.

1701 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO 80202

8. Avelina

1550 17th St, Denver, CO 80202
Avelina’s upscale modern dining room
Avelina’s magazine-worthy decor.
Ryan Dearth/Eater

The airy, spacious dining room looks like something out of a contemporary interior-design magazine, and the seasonal New American food’s just as broadly appealing. Current highlights include the grilled short rib–cheddar sandwich and the Thai-style peanut-sprinkled salmon salad.

1550 17th St
Denver, CO 80202

9. Denver Milk Market

1800 Wazee St #100, Denver, CO 80202
Pizza
A pie from Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria inside Milk Market.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

For crowds with mixed tastes, Frank Bonanno’s food hall at Dairy Block is a one-stop lunch shop, housing 16 different concepts that do everything from fried chicken and deli sandwiches to stuffed bao, fresh pasta, and gelato. Brand-new to the lineup: Ghost Tortilla, dispensing tacos and tequilas.

1800 Wazee St #100
Denver, CO 80202

10. Bruto

1801 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
Japanese pancake called okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki at BRUTØ.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

New to Dairy Block as of last fall is this showcase for visionary chef Kelly Whitaker’s diverse obsessions—from locally grown heirloom grains (which he and his team mill themselves) to raw and fermented vegetables to wood-fired proteins. Colleagues can grab seats at the counter to watch the chefs in action while sampling a smattering of small plates: Must-tries include both the sourdough piada and chickpea socca, served with seasonal accoutrements such as plum caponata and yuzu ricotta, as well as the okonomiyaki.

1801 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202

11. Foraged

1825 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
Mixed sushi platter
Sushi from the raw bar at For[a]ged.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

Chef Duy Pham’s reputation no doubt precedes him among longtime local diners; this new Dairy Block hot spot heralds his return to Denver proper with a name that alludes not only to his penchant for careful sourcing but also his debut as a bladesmith (a few of the Japanese carbon-steel knives he forges for the kitchen are on display at the entrance). The menu crosses continents from Asia to Europe to the Americas, offering an eclectic mix of sushi, salads, burgers, and bistro-style entrees; sample dishes include the veggie chips and spinach dip, the rock-shrimp tempura with truffle-bacon aioli, and the Korean fried-chicken sandwich.

1825 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202

12. Pony Up

1808 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
<span data-author="3635139">Pony Up</span>
If day drinking’s an option, the bar at Pony Up delivers with style.
Jonathan Phillips/Eater

How fun is Pony Up? It’s got a giant portrait of a French bulldog in Napoleonic dress hanging at the entrance. It’s bedecked with both chandeliers and shuffleboards (not too many places can make that claim). And it centers its menu around variations on a single staple: the French dip. There’s a bánh mì–style option accompanied by pho broth; there’s a vegetarian option piled with smoked mushrooms and Swiss alongside a ramekin of porcini broth; there are seasonal specials such as a tikka masala–inspired sandwich with chicken, fried shallots, mint raita, and curry for dipping. And then there are the twice-cooked crispy potatoes, which are indeed way more fun than once-cooked.

1808 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202

13. Boney's BBQ

1543 Champa St, Denver, CO 80202
Fried catfish with two sides
Boney’s fried catfish.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

This subterranean smokehouse is a longtime favorite of James Beard Award–winning food historian and barbecue expert Adrian Miller. Enough said? It should be, but just in case: The hush puppies, rib tips, and fried catfish are well worth the risk of returning to the office smelling like your lunch hour was spent rolling in a pile of pulled pork.

1543 Champa St
Denver, CO 80202

14. Mint Indian Restaurant and Lounge

1531 Stout St #130, Denver, CO 80202
Indian chicken curry and bhatura.
Chicken chettinad curry at Mint.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

The downtown crowd has come to rely on this Indian kitchen’s ample lunch buffet, but if it’s a quiet day at the office, there’s some time to order off the regular menu. A wide variety of regional curries spans the subcontinent, while uncommon specialties include pani puri and chicken Shahjahani.

1531 Stout St #130
Denver, CO 80202

15. Zocalito Latin Bistro

999 18th St Ste. 107, Denver, CO 80202
Chile relleno in mole
Zocalito’s pasilla de oaxaca in yellow mole.
Ruth Tobias/Eater

The dining room of this outlet for Oaxacan cuisine isn’t large, but chef-owner Michael Beary makes the most of it with an expansive menu marked by big, bold flavors. As you peruse it, keep an eye peeled for words like “chilcosle,” “chilhuacle,” and “pasilla de oaxaca”—all referring to chiles that he imports from the region himself; any dish containing them is a good place to start, as are the lunch-only taco platters.

999 18th St Ste. 107
Denver, CO 80202

Related Maps

16. Guard and Grace

1801 California St, Denver, CO 80202
Swanky contemporary steakhouse bar
Guard and Grace’s swanky bar area.
Guard and Grace

Troy Guard’s glitzy modern steakhouse is the midday hub for high rollers. Chops are tops, but there’s also a serious raw bar selection, along with more daytime-casual fare. The oak-fired carrots are a favorite, as is the hefty bacon cheeseburger.

1801 California St
Denver, CO 80202

Related Maps