clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Prime rib shoyu
Prime rib shoyu at Glo Noodle House.
Monica Lloyd

The Hottest Restaurants in Denver Right Now, Summer 2022

From tapas and dim sum to chops and brisket

View as Map
Prime rib shoyu at Glo Noodle House.
| Monica Lloyd

How better to celebrate the arrival of summer than with another edition of the Eater Denver Heatmap? Unlike the Eater 38, which is meant to serve as a guide to the best of the best, this roundup, updated monthly, aims to introduce readers to the best of the new: what’s popular, what’s promising, what’s poised for success in the weeks to come. Included here in geographical order are noteworthy restaurants and cafes that all opened — or reopened after a hiatus — within the past six months.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you book a reservation through an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Bakery Four

Copy Link

Though this Berkeley smash hit is a bakery, not a full-scale restaurant, it absolutely earns its spot on the list for the sheer clamor it has caused on Instagram — and IRL — thanks to the ever-changing array of sweet and savory pastries, breads, bagels, and more it turns out four days a week (Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until it sells out), including sausage rolls, French onion croissants, and Sunday-only sandwiches. It’s a repertoire that owner Shawn Bergin only plans to expand in future, perhaps to flatbreads and the like, so keep those eyes peeled.

Two pastries and a bagel
Pastries and bagels at Bakery Four.
Jennie Burke

Glo Noodle House

Copy Link

The food is as funky as the vibe in this dim-lit successor to Brazen in West Highland named for chef Chris Teigland’s mother, who with his wife Ariana turns out daring noodle bowls like the addictive kimchi bolognese mazemen and the chili-splashed, bacon-laced “deathwish” ramen alongside skewers, crudos, and other smart small plates (don’t miss the bok choy with anchovy vinaigrette, black sesame, and pickled apricots). Cocktails infused with the likes of umeshu (plum liqueur), yuzu, shiso, and green peppercorns keep the fun(k) coming.

Four plates with skewers
Skewers are a feature at Glo Noodle House.
Monica Lloyd

Pit Fiend Barbecue

Copy Link

The spirit of Owlbear lives on in the beloved barbecue joint’s RiNo space, where former crew members have taken over to turn out not only brisket, spare ribs, pork belly, and other genre staples but also, at any given time, smoked lamb, duck, burgers, dogs, and vegetarian items such as pulled jackfruit. Rest assured they’ve got all the trimmings, from mac and cheese to curried cauliflower, on deck too.

Smoked brisket
Pit Fiend’s signature brisket.
Juan Pablo Llano

Cantina Loca

Copy Link

Last year, one of Denver’s best — and most unstoppable — chefs, Dana Rodriguez of Work & Class and Super Mega Bien, launched her own agave spirits label, Doña Loca. Now, those tequilas and mezcals have their own showcase in the form of this LoHi tavern, which serves up not only shots and cocktails but Mexican wines, locally made chicha morada, and sensational snacks to match: The cactus tempura and fried fish and barbacoa tacos are must-tries, while frequent specials like pork sausage in salsa morita with escabeche or lamb quesabirria hold newfound regulars in thrall.

Five colorful cocktails
Many cocktails at Cantina Loca feature house tequila and mezcal brand Doña Loca.
Hi-Rez Photography

Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

Copy Link

Having closed at the beginning of the pandemic, Edible Beats’ ultimate party venue — housed in a Victorian brownstone that was once home to a brothel and a peep show — finally reopened in April for brunch, dinner, and an eclectic lineup of live performances, including both DJs and bands. Amid daring decor that reflects the building’s checkered history, the kitchen takes a similarly eclectic tack, mixing Mediterranean, Latin, Southern and other influences on a menu that veers from cheese curds and fried pickles with blistered shishitos to flatbread with ham, corn, and Calabrian chilies to ropa vieja with caramelized plantains.

Sweet potato crisps with lime-sumac yogurt
Sweet potato crisps with lime-sumac yogurt at Ophelia’s.
Werk Creative

Water Grill Denver

Copy Link

Fresh from Southern California, this downtown seafood spot is reeling ’em in with swanky, subtly nautical-themed decor; an exhibition kitchen lined with lobster and crab tanks; and an island bar where shellfish shuckers show off their skills to an appreciative audience. Start with a platter of their handiwork or the luscious mussels garbanzo; follow it up with the classic cioppino or a seasonal special of charcoal-grilled spiny lobster or softshell crabs; and don’t doubt the caramel bread pudding for a second.

Lobster roll with fries
Water Grill’s lobster roll.
Water Grill

Lucina Eatery & Bar

Copy Link

On their website, chef/owners Erasmo Casiano and Diego Coconati describe this Park Hill arrival as “a melting pot of incredible Latin American, Latin Caribbean, and coastal Spanish cuisine,” and the menu delivers in spades, with Peruvian, Argentine, Cuban, Mexican, Iberian, and other influences all making a collective colorful splash. Think chimichurri-marinated provoleta, asopado de mariscos, pollo a la brasa, and congrí y maduros, not to mention paella on Fridays and Saturdays.

Multiple Latin American dishes on a counter
A spread at Lucina.
Lucina Eatery & Bar

Chez Maggy

Copy Link

As the culinary centerpiece of the new Thompson hotel downtown, celeb chef Ludo Lefebvre’s first venture outside of Los Angeles is a true-blue French affair. Offered against a refined, high-ceilinged and earth-toned backdrop, the menu’s a compendium of bistro classics — escargots, steak frites, duck à la orange, profiteroles, and all — though occasional nods to the local landscape appear in the form of, say, bison tartare and Colorado lamb chops with smoked bagna cauda. Here’s a bonus extraordinaire: Brunch is served all week long (try the avocado croque monsieur).

Chicken paillard
Chicken paillard at Chez Maggy.
Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine

Bánh & Butter Bakery Café

Copy Link

Already an Instagram darling for colorful treats like rainbow crêpe cake and ube lattes, this Aurora cafe specializes in savory and sweet baked goods, from spinach-feta croissants and pâte-filled cruffins to coconut-pandan and Thai tea cupcakes. But it also, as the name suggests, makes a mean bánh mì to wash down with Vietnamese egg coffee or milk tea with grass jelly.

Bánh & Butter Bakery Café
Inside Bánh & Butter Bakery Café.
Ruth Tobias

Bakery Four

Two pastries and a bagel
Pastries and bagels at Bakery Four.
Jennie Burke

Though this Berkeley smash hit is a bakery, not a full-scale restaurant, it absolutely earns its spot on the list for the sheer clamor it has caused on Instagram — and IRL — thanks to the ever-changing array of sweet and savory pastries, breads, bagels, and more it turns out four days a week (Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until it sells out), including sausage rolls, French onion croissants, and Sunday-only sandwiches. It’s a repertoire that owner Shawn Bergin only plans to expand in future, perhaps to flatbreads and the like, so keep those eyes peeled.

Two pastries and a bagel
Pastries and bagels at Bakery Four.
Jennie Burke

Glo Noodle House

Four plates with skewers
Skewers are a feature at Glo Noodle House.
Monica Lloyd

The food is as funky as the vibe in this dim-lit successor to Brazen in West Highland named for chef Chris Teigland’s mother, who with his wife Ariana turns out daring noodle bowls like the addictive kimchi bolognese mazemen and the chili-splashed, bacon-laced “deathwish” ramen alongside skewers, crudos, and other smart small plates (don’t miss the bok choy with anchovy vinaigrette, black sesame, and pickled apricots). Cocktails infused with the likes of umeshu (plum liqueur), yuzu, shiso, and green peppercorns keep the fun(k) coming.

Four plates with skewers
Skewers are a feature at Glo Noodle House.
Monica Lloyd

Pit Fiend Barbecue

Smoked brisket
Pit Fiend’s signature brisket.
Juan Pablo Llano

The spirit of Owlbear lives on in the beloved barbecue joint’s RiNo space, where former crew members have taken over to turn out not only brisket, spare ribs, pork belly, and other genre staples but also, at any given time, smoked lamb, duck, burgers, dogs, and vegetarian items such as pulled jackfruit. Rest assured they’ve got all the trimmings, from mac and cheese to curried cauliflower, on deck too.

Smoked brisket
Pit Fiend’s signature brisket.
Juan Pablo Llano

Cantina Loca

Five colorful cocktails
Many cocktails at Cantina Loca feature house tequila and mezcal brand Doña Loca.
Hi-Rez Photography

Last year, one of Denver’s best — and most unstoppable — chefs, Dana Rodriguez of Work & Class and Super Mega Bien, launched her own agave spirits label, Doña Loca. Now, those tequilas and mezcals have their own showcase in the form of this LoHi tavern, which serves up not only shots and cocktails but Mexican wines, locally made chicha morada, and sensational snacks to match: The cactus tempura and fried fish and barbacoa tacos are must-tries, while frequent specials like pork sausage in salsa morita with escabeche or lamb quesabirria hold newfound regulars in thrall.

Five colorful cocktails
Many cocktails at Cantina Loca feature house tequila and mezcal brand Doña Loca.
Hi-Rez Photography

Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

Sweet potato crisps with lime-sumac yogurt
Sweet potato crisps with lime-sumac yogurt at Ophelia’s.
Werk Creative

Having closed at the beginning of the pandemic, Edible Beats’ ultimate party venue — housed in a Victorian brownstone that was once home to a brothel and a peep show — finally reopened in April for brunch, dinner, and an eclectic lineup of live performances, including both DJs and bands. Amid daring decor that reflects the building’s checkered history, the kitchen takes a similarly eclectic tack, mixing Mediterranean, Latin, Southern and other influences on a menu that veers from cheese curds and fried pickles with blistered shishitos to flatbread with ham, corn, and Calabrian chilies to ropa vieja with caramelized plantains.

Sweet potato crisps with lime-sumac yogurt
Sweet potato crisps with lime-sumac yogurt at Ophelia’s.
Werk Creative

Water Grill Denver

Lobster roll with fries
Water Grill’s lobster roll.
Water Grill

Fresh from Southern California, this downtown seafood spot is reeling ’em in with swanky, subtly nautical-themed decor; an exhibition kitchen lined with lobster and crab tanks; and an island bar where shellfish shuckers show off their skills to an appreciative audience. Start with a platter of their handiwork or the luscious mussels garbanzo; follow it up with the classic cioppino or a seasonal special of charcoal-grilled spiny lobster or softshell crabs; and don’t doubt the caramel bread pudding for a second.

Lobster roll with fries
Water Grill’s lobster roll.
Water Grill

Lucina Eatery & Bar

Multiple Latin American dishes on a counter
A spread at Lucina.
Lucina Eatery & Bar

On their website, chef/owners Erasmo Casiano and Diego Coconati describe this Park Hill arrival as “a melting pot of incredible Latin American, Latin Caribbean, and coastal Spanish cuisine,” and the menu delivers in spades, with Peruvian, Argentine, Cuban, Mexican, Iberian, and other influences all making a collective colorful splash. Think chimichurri-marinated provoleta, asopado de mariscos, pollo a la brasa, and congrí y maduros, not to mention paella on Fridays and Saturdays.

Multiple Latin American dishes on a counter
A spread at Lucina.
Lucina Eatery & Bar

Chez Maggy

Chicken paillard
Chicken paillard at Chez Maggy.
Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine

As the culinary centerpiece of the new Thompson hotel downtown, celeb chef Ludo Lefebvre’s first venture outside of Los Angeles is a true-blue French affair. Offered against a refined, high-ceilinged and earth-toned backdrop, the menu’s a compendium of bistro classics — escargots, steak frites, duck à la orange, profiteroles, and all — though occasional nods to the local landscape appear in the form of, say, bison tartare and Colorado lamb chops with smoked bagna cauda. Here’s a bonus extraordinaire: Brunch is served all week long (try the avocado croque monsieur).

Chicken paillard
Chicken paillard at Chez Maggy.
Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine

Bánh & Butter Bakery Café

Bánh & Butter Bakery Café
Inside Bánh & Butter Bakery Café.
Ruth Tobias

Already an Instagram darling for colorful treats like rainbow crêpe cake and ube lattes, this Aurora cafe specializes in savory and sweet baked goods, from spinach-feta croissants and pâte-filled cruffins to coconut-pandan and Thai tea cupcakes. But it also, as the name suggests, makes a mean bánh mì to wash down with Vietnamese egg coffee or milk tea with grass jelly.

Bánh & Butter Bakery Café
Inside Bánh & Butter Bakery Café.
Ruth Tobias

Related Maps