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Tacos at La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal
Tacos at La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal.
La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Denver

Here’s what’s elevating the Mile High City dining scene right now

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Tacos at La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal.
| La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal

Welcome to the Eater 38, a seasonally updated guide to restaurants that represent the growth and ingenuity of Denver’s culinary community. Since its launch in 2012, this map has traced the city’s evolution from what many outsiders dismissed as a cowtown to an ever-growing, prismatic dining destination that has earned a place in the national conversation for its youthful energy and freewheeling creativity.

Any given update, then, is designed to reflect what’s defining and redefining the scene now. Spanning a variety of cuisine types, price points, and neighborhoods, it centers on the cornerstones of the landscape — hence the word “essential” — while highlighting more recent arrivals that are extending Denver’s horizons. The fact that it can’t include every place fitting those descriptions is the nature of the beast; removal from the Eater 38 doesn’t mean that a restaurant isn’t still important and won’t return in the future.

Note, too, that while the map — which is organized geographically from north to south — may include the occasional Boulder establishment as well as food trucks and pop-ups with fixed addresses, it does not include mobile vendors (so here’s a shoutout to stars in that category like Mukja and Little Arthur’s Hoagies). It also does not include bars, which have their own map, as do bakeries. And typically, it doesn’t include restaurants that are currently on the Eater Denver Heatmap, although there are some exceptions in this edition. For all the latest dining intel, subscribe to Eater Denver’s newsletter.

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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.

Frasca Food and Wine

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Renowned equally for its intricate Friulian cuisine, a wine program created by partner and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, and above-and-beyond service, this longtime Boulder destination creates the kind of experiences that make many a Coloradan’s bucket list. Multicourse tasting menus abound in seasonal intricacies that might at any given time include game such as rabbit and guinea fowl; unusual pastas such as balanzoni or cjalsons; luxuries like foie gras and truffles; and unexpected juxtapositions — caviar and snap-pea gelato, eel and pine-bud syrup — while pairings are curated by some of the best in the business.

Lumache with tomatoes, olives, and herbs
Handmade pastas are a Frasca staple.
Ruth Tobias


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With a newly expanded butcher shop and deli, Hosea Rosenberg’s combination market and contemporary American restaurant somehow just keeps getting better. The meat of the matter here is, well, meat itself, be it a charcuterie board, the signature steak tartare, or a market cut of lamb, pork, or beef. But the contemporary American kitchen treats seasonal produce with equal respect: Take, for example, charred Mokum carrots with carrot-top salsa verde and ricotta salata or grilled purple sprouting broccoli in anchovy vinaigrette with red chile flakes. By day, the takeout-only breakfast burritos have earned themselves a cult following — and the muffuletta deserves to.

Housemade charcuterie at Blackbelly
Housemade charcuterie is a staple at Blackbelly.
Ruth Tobias

Tocabe, An American Indian Eatery

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Co-owner Ben Jacobs, a member of the Osage Nation, opened this fast-casual showcase of indigenous ingredients and recipes in 2008, and it’s been a Berkeley neighborhood fixture ever since. Fry bread, Indian tacos, and bowls based on native grains like wild rice and wheatberries form the core of a menu that’s as soulful as it is stick-to-your-ribs (speaking of which, the menu also features richly seasoned bison ribs that are not to be missed).

Tocabe’s Indian taco with bison
Tocabe’s Indian taco with bison.
Rachel Greiman

Comal Heritage Food Incubator

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Doubling as a business incubator and training kitchen for immigrants and refugees primarily from Latin America, this beloved weekday lunch counter has just moved to a sunny new location at RiNo ArtPark, where the current menu includes pollo en pipián verde, chiles en nogada, pescado frito con tostones, tacos de carna asada, and more, ideally accompanied by an agua fresca (hope for cantaloupe); note that, for the first time, Comal is also doing breakfast service.

Pollo pipián, chiles en nogada, pupusas, and more
Pollo pipián, chiles en nogada, and pupusas are some of the things you might find on the menu at Comal, depending on the season.
Ruth Tobias

Part coffeehouse, part sandwich shop, part day-drinkers’ delight, this Sunnyside smash hit is above all more than the sum of its parts. Bangers like the Boujee (scrambled egg, whipped herbed feta, arugula, muhammara, za’atar on focaccia), the lamb birria French dip, and the mixed bag of fries make fast regulars of first-timers, who return again and again to hang out on the patio over, say, green chile Bloodies or Kool-Aid margaritas and the weekend-only Chicken Cordon Bodegga (fried chicken, pork belly, Swiss, arugula, honey mustard, and ham gravy on brioche). Here’s a slice of neighborhood life.

The Bougee sandwich and mixed fries at Bodega
The Bougee sandwich and mixed fries at Bodega.
Lauren DeFilippo

The shining star of the Source Hotel in RiNo is a showcase for chef Alon Shaya’s brand of modern Israeli cuisine. No meal here would be complete without an order of the wood-fired pita with hummus and an array of salatim, or small plates, such as baba ghanoush and squash tzatziki with pink peppercorns; from there, go for the duck matzo ball soup, the crispy eggplant layered with tomato and herbed goat cheese, and the pomegranate-braised lamb shank — signature dishes all.

Pita and hummus topped with lamb
Safta’s famous pita bread and hummus with lamb ragù.
Lucy Beaugard/Eater Denver

Brasserie Brixton

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It may be an homage to the brasseries of Paris and Montreal, but this Cole hit has a keenly progressive vision all its own. Old and New World influences mingle as blood sausage fills wontons in tamari vinaigrette, French onion soup awaits next to hamachi crudo with uni aioli and ikura, and brunch might feature a mashup between a croque monsieur and a Cubano. Meanwhile, the wine list goes to show just how far Denver’s evolved in a short time: Pét-nat, orange wine, and bottlings from lesser-known regions like Texas Hill Country and Slovenia’s Goriška Brda were nowhere to be seen just a few years ago.

Roasted mushrooms with cipollini in mustard hollandaise
Roasted mushrooms with cipollini in mustard hollandaise, topped with a sous vide egg, at Brasserie Brixton.
Ruth Tobias

Hop Alley

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Tommy Lee’s enduring RiNo favorite puts an exuberant modern spin on regional Chinese staples in an equally high-energy dining room. While all first-timers (if there are any left) should try the Chongqing-style fried chicken with chiles, Beijing duck roll, and bone marrow–fried rice, abundant seasonal and daily specials keep regulars coming back — whether for razor clams with rice noodles in black vinegar and barrel-aged fish sauce, garlicky wok-tossed pea tendrils and sour mustard greens, or salt-and-pepper softshell crabs with charred-lime aioli. The bar team is more than up to the pairing challenge the menu presents, known as they are for cocktails infused with Asian ingredients as well as a geeky selection of wines and ciders.

Chongqing-style fried chicken with chilies and scallions
Hop Alley’s signature la zi ji.
Adam Bove

Dio Mio — Handmade Pasta

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Though it’s a counter-service operation in a small, simple RiNo space, Spencer White and Alex Figura’s wildly popular pasta shop has proven itself far more vital to the neighborhood than any mere fast-casual joint could ever be (in fact, it has earned itself a sibling in the form of Redeemer Pizza a few blocks away). The compact menu over-delivers on intrigue for its size: While spaghetti and meatballs or cacio e pepe are always soothing options, it’s seasonal creations like cavatelli with charred corn, shishito puree, and smoked cotija cheese or shrimp cannelloni with fontina béchamel and blackened chimichurri, not to mention bold starters such as black butter-marinated artichoke hearts with oranges in olive sauce, that have earned Dio Mio its stripes. (The beverage list is equally stylish.)

Black butter–marinated artichoke hearts in olive sauce with oranges and croutons
Black butter–marinated artichoke hearts in olive sauce with oranges and croutons at Dio Mio.
Ruth Tobias

The Greenwich

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The energy of the namesake Village reverberates throughout the high-ceilinged, artsy space of this RiNo hot spot, where chef Justin Freeman — himself a native New Yorker — excels at the art of deceptive simplicity. Seasonal pizzas are elevated by the likes of mushroom conserva and crescenza cheese, zucchini and burrata, lamb and honey labneh; silky-textured roast chicken zings with salsa macha cooled by celtuce and pea shoots; and even your basic side of potatoes comes thrice-cooked with Meyer lemon–olive tapenade. In addition, don’t miss the roasted clams or the cheesecake — or the opportunity to ask owner Delores Tronco for a wine recommendation.

Mushroom pizza
The Greenwich’s mushroom pizza.
Ruth Tobias

The Blazing Chicken Shack II

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No frills but all heart, this little soul food joint in Park Hill serves up pure comfort in the form of smothered pork chops, fried catfish, gumbo, the hot wings implied by the name, and more — including trimmings like black-eyed peas, collard greens with smoked turkey, and peach cobbler. Come and get it.

Pig-ear sandwich with fried okra
Blazing Chicken Shack II’s pig-ear sandwich with fried okra.
Ruth Tobias

Noisette Restaurant & Bakery

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At once chic and slyly quaint, the dining room of Tim and Lillian Lu’s LoHi sensation sets the tone for a seasonal French menu that’s likewise sophisticated and soothing by turns — from vichyssoise brightened by green garlic and bouillabaisse with langoustines and eel to pork chops with chanterelle conserva and coriander berries in sauce charcutière. Dessert is de rigueur, as are croissants and cannelés from the adjoining daytime bakery.

Steamed ocean trout in beurre blanc with kale and sorrel.
Steamed ocean trout in beurre blanc with kale and sorrel.
Ruth Tobias


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Spuntino is a special place. Chef Cindhura Reddy’s cooking is at once polished and deeply soulful, as revealed by her modern Italian menu subtly strewn with Indian influences: elk tartare with toasted masala aioli and ajwain seed crisps here, aglio e olio with garlic pickle there (and whatever the pasta dish featuring goat may be, get it). Her husband Elliot Strathmann, meanwhile, oversees one of the city’s most exciting beverage programs, painstakingly sourcing uncommon wines from small producers while making his own amari and liqueurs. And the couple’s passion for cuisine extends to their — and their dedicated staff’s — warm and genuine approach to hospitality.

Noodles with sausage, pistachios, and herbs
Handmade pasta with sausage, pistachios, and herbs at Spuntino.
Ruth Tobias

Run by Frasca alums Duncan Holmes and Allison Anderson, this tiny reservation-only chef’s counter in an old RiNo bungalow makes magic before guests’ very eyes, combining beautifully plated, market-driven tasting menus with consummate hospitality for fine dining experiences that are more than the sum of their parts. Expect to be pampered and plied with luxuries, whether inside or out on the picture-perfect patio, over the course of two-plus hours.

Duncan Holmes is executive chef/partner at Beckon
Duncan Holmes is executive chef/partner at Beckon.
Jonnie Sirotek | Hello Paper Laundry

The Bindery

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If this LoHi bakery, cafe, and restaurant emanates eclectic energy from sunup to long past sundown, it’s all thanks to chef-owner Linda Hampsten Fox, as inexhaustible as she is imaginative. Influences as diverse as Italy, Israel, and Mexico reflect her globe-spanning career prior to settling here; they’re revealed by day in dishes like uova alla flamenca with chorizo and grits or avocado toast with heirloom tomatoes, lime-curry oil, and crispy quinoa and by night in seasonal creations ranging from rabbit cannelloni with poblanos, cheddar, and mustard to grilled octopus with gigante beans, zapote negra, and shishito peppers.

Swordfish and calamari over couscous with black olives, capers, and pine nuts
A seasonal dish of swordfish and calamari over couscous with black olives, capers, and pine nuts at The Bindery.
Ruth Tobias

Cart-Driver LoHi

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Though certainly known for pies topped with clam and pancetta, sausage and kale, or lamb and chimichurri, the cozy LoHi location of Cart-Driver is no mere pizza parlor. Rather, it’s become an indispensable neighborhood haunt from happy hour onward: Bring on the oysters, chicken-liver mousse with focaccia, and fresh seasonal pastas like goat cheese–hazelnut agnolotti with kumquats in carrot-coriander cream. (The tiny original RiNo location, meanwhile, packs in the party people until midnight daily.)

Sardine conserva with piada, butter, and sambal
Sardine conserva with piada is a staple at Cart-Driver.
Ruth Tobias

Super Mega Bien

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Just as Work & Class makes frequent appearances among the Denver 38, its sibling across the street in RiNo has become a regular contender for the originality of its menu and the verve of its execution. Pan-Latin small plates meet dim sum–style service on carts laden with chorizo-enriched patatas bravas, arepas with poblano-pepita pesto and achiote crema, ropa vieja with olive tapenade, and more; chef-partner Dana Rodriguez’s large-format dishes, meanwhile, are always parties on a platter — think seafood paella or brisket braised in green chile and accompanied by steamed buns and slaw — alongside glasses of rum-spiked chicha morada or classic piña coladas.

A bowl of wings surrounded by pan-Latin small plates
Pan-Latin small plates are the focus at Super Mega Bien.
Ruth Tobias

Uchi Denver

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Denver lucked out when highly acclaimed chef-restaurateur Tyson Cole chose RiNo as the site for his first branch of Uchi outside of Texas. The modern Japanese destination has lived up the hype surrounding it since its 2018 opening, executing not only sashimi and sushi from scrupulously sourced fish but also a wide array of original creations both cooked and raw: trout crudo in cucumber-lime zu with cilantro oil and crumbled plantain, say, or lobster in miso butter with bok choy kimchi. The seafood-averse will be no less wowed by the kinoko nabe (a rice dish with mushrooms) or the ham and eggs, a pork belly roll garnished with yolk custard and beer mustard.

Yellowtail sashimi in ponzu
Tyson Cole’s famous hama chili: yellowtail in ponzu with Thai chile and orange.
Ruth Tobias

La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal

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Jose Avila is single-handedly changing the Mexican-food game in Denver: Not only does he run El Borrego Negro — a Sunday-only pop-up for real-deal barbacoa — but in 2021 he also opened the city’s first pozolería to instant buzz, making the stew as he does with house-nixtamalized hominy in a variety of broths based on pork from his own herd. In a dimly lit, cantina-like setting, diners can also find guisados featuring ingredients like bone marrow, chayote squash, and even pork chop served on tacos, pambazos, and more alongside equally tempting tequila and mezcal cocktails.

La Diabla’s pozole rojo
La Diabla’s pozole rojo.
Ruth Tobias


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Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch’s Union Station homage to Spanish and Portuguese cuisine is nothing if not a stone-cold stunner. The wraparound mural and terrazzo flooring in the two-story dining room, the colorfully tiled tabletops and fountain on the patio — it all sets the stage for tapas as classic as pan con tomate and as modern as blue corn–crusted artichokes in pea tahini with whey-poached spring onions and pistachio dukkah, not to mention occasional paella parties and brunch service featuring dishes like olive oil pancakes with dried apricots and almonds. The bar chimes in with an all-Iberian wine list on the one hand, inventive G&Ts infused with blueberry and lime or lavender and lemon on the other.

Basque-style pintxos, or finger foods secured with toothpicks
An array of pintxos at Ultreia.
Ryan Dearth


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While Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder (see above) may well be Colorado’s most famous dining destination, its Denver sibling is every inch as notable. Set on the Union Station platform in full view of the trains, the sleek restaurant and lounge takes a broader regional approach to Italian cuisine than its Friuli-focused sibling, proffering a seasonal menu that might find Piedmontese bagna cauda with ciabatta and veggies next to Sardinian-style gnocchetti with fennel sausage, spigarello, and smoked ricotta next to Neapolitan-inspired acqua pazza with whole grilled branzino; the splurge-worthy wine list naturally follows suit. And the service, of course, is as polished as the tableware.

Ravioli with spring ingredients
Handmade pasta is core to Tavernetta’s culinary program.
Ryan Dearth/Eater Denver

As at sibling The Wolf’s Tailor (which also makes frequent appearances on this map), much of what drives the intricate, stunningly presented tasting menu at this intimate chef’s counter inside the Free Market in LoDo is a commitment to sustainability that manifests in everything from careful local sourcing to a low-waste program relying in large part on fermentation projects of all kinds. But chef Michael Diaz de Leon’s Mexican heritage and interest in Asian cuisine are also major sources of inspiration. Beyond that, no spoilers: Just come with an open mind, opt for the beverage pairings, and prepare for a fully multi-sensory experience.

Tamal de setas at BRUTØ
The multicourse menu at BRUTØ derives much of its inspiration from Mexican tradition.


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Chef Caroline Glover hasn’t let stardom go to her head: After all, her renown — cemented by a 2022 James Beard Award for best chef, Mountain region — is predicated on the down-to-earth, heartfelt approach to both cooking and hospitality she takes at Annette, located in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace. Guests feel well cared for as they tuck into signatures like grilled beef tongue and marrow toast or roast chicken with dandelion greens and PX sherry vinegar alongside seasonal dishes such as spring onion gratin with taleggio; tahini-grilled carrots with fried chickpeas and aquafaba aioli; and ice cream sandwiches in ever-changing flavors (think salted buckwheat, white chocolate chip, and cinnamon). Knockout cocktails and a boutique wine list enhance the feel-good experience.

Chicken-liver pâté with grilled bread Ruth Tobias

A5 Steakhouse

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What separates this steakhouse from the pack is a sense of playfulness that speaks to the moment. Against a backdrop that defies genre stereotypes in lively shades of green, the kitchen likewise upends expectations through the diversity of its influences, deftly supplementing those exquisite cuts of beef with, say, mussels in escabeche, Niçoise salad with tuna crudo, and bacon-and-kimchi fried rice. The bar, meanwhile, gets into the groove with a focus on rums rather than whiskeys. A rocking happy hour seals the deal.

Denver steak with a variety of sauces
A5’s Denver steak with a variety of sauces.
Eric Donzella

Lucina Eatery & Bar

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It’s a nightly fiesta in here, thanks not least to a pan-Latin menu that’s tailor-made for sharing with friends, with dishes like ropa vieja–stuffed empanadas and yuca frita with aji verde aioli to the mojo pork chop and weekend paella. But the vibe also points to the colorful, come-as-you-are culture cultivated by partners Erasmo Casiano, Diego Coconati, and Michelle Nguyen. Of course, the bar plays its part in the party too as it whips up kicky cocktails like the frozen, coconut- and passion fruit–infused Verano Vicios.

Mofongo with pork belly at Lucina
Mofongo with pork belly at Lucina.
Ruth Tobias

Apple Blossom

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Think of it as Beast + Bottle 2.0: From the same team behind that much-missed restaurant, the rather underrated Apple Blossom turns out thoughtful, seasonal American fare all day but especially shines at dinnertime, when the kitchen goes to town with inventive dishes like Spam with rice cake, mango amba, and nori-smoked pork jus; quail saltimbocca with ham, sage, Swiss chard, and chickpea puree; and seared big-eye tuna in beetroot-coconut curry. It also goes down home in the form of warm dinner rolls with whipped bacon fat and fried chicken with mushy peas.

Duck confit French dip with fries
A seasonal duck confit French dip at Apple Blossom.
Ruth Tobias


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Making its own flour tortillas and frying its eggs and potatoes in duck fat, this tiny daytime cafe in Uptown has built a cult following on the strength of its signature breakfast tacos, congee with duck confit, and fried rice with Chinese sausage as well as recurring items like loco moco and pozole — all ideally paired with iced Vietnamese coffee or an old-school tequila sunrise. If that sounds like an unusual mix of influences, well, it is, and Onefold is all the better for it — not to mention all the more popular. No surprise to Denverites that it now has a second location at Union Station.

Breakfast tacos with eggs, mozzarella, and hash browns
Onefold’s breakfast tacos.
Ruth Tobias

Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails

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The words “Eastern European food” and “sexy” rarely appear in the same sentence, but this snug East Colfax charmer may change that. Babka and borscht, dumplings galore, and even humble herring get the gourmet treatment from endlessly creative chef-owner Bo Porytko and his team, who pair them all with horilka-based cocktails and wines from, say, Slovenia and Serbia. Book seats at their counter for the ultimate intimate experience.

Cherry borscht with duck dumplings
Borscht is a signature at Molotov—but it isn’t grandma’s recipe.
Ruth Tobias

Urban Burma

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Located in the food court of Aurora refugee community center Mango House, this Burmese stall run by Siri and Martin Tan has built a large and loyal fan base on the strength of hearty, homey noodles and curries like the weh da nah with pork and pickled mango, as well as such intriguing stuff as pae paratha — a sort of flatbread rolled up with yellow peas and fried onions — and the funky, crunchy tea leaf salad (the latter being just one of many items that are vegan and/or gluten-free).

Burmese noodle dish with broth
Nan gyi dok at Urban Burma.
Mark Antonation

Fruition Restaurant

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At 16 years old, Alex Seidel’s cozy contemporary American flagship is operating at the top of its game. Refinement and precision are chef Jarred Russell’s hallmarks, yielding microseasonal creations such as grilled Wellfleet oysters with Calabrian chilies, lardo, and herbed breadcrumbs; veal sweetbread scallopini with melted leeks and crispy capers; and pan-roasted scallops with toasted fregola and braised fennel in spicy tomato bisque. Make that meal a celebration with bubbles to start and brandy to finish.

A seasonal dish of fettuccine alla chitarra with tomato-braised octopus and ’nduja at Fruition
A seasonal dish of fettuccine alla chitarra with tomato-braised octopus and ’nduja at Fruition.
Ruth Tobias

Barolo Grill

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Though an avatar of fine dining — white tablecloths, book-length wine list, prix fixe pricing, and all — this Northern Italian destination in Cherry Creek is hardly old school: Longtime chef Darrel Truett keeps the tasting menu fresh and engaging through seasonal creations like insalata caprese reimagined with burrata, basil gelée, and balsamic pearls or milk-braised veal cheek in bagna cauda with roasted baby beets and grilled scallions. A la carte dining is an option on weekdays, while shaved truffles are an option always.

Deconstructed tiramisù at Barolo Grill
Deconstructed tiramisù at Barolo Grill.
Ruth Tobias

La Calle Taqueria Y Carnitas

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This cheery little stop on West Alameda sits at the top of Denver’s taqueria heap. Numerous taco options include an array of delicious off-cuts like cueritos (pig skin) and cabeza (beef cheek) as well as electrifying salsas — tomatillo, avocado, and habañero among them. On those rare occasions when regulars aren’t in the mood for tacos, they might go for spot-on menudo or birria de chivo, a savory goat stew.

Tacos with lime and salsas
An array of tacos at La Calle.
Ruth Tobias

Savory Vietnam Restaurant

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The menu at this veritable Vietnamese banquet hall (it used to house dim sum parlor King’s Land) is long, covering everything from rice paper wraps and noodle bowls to fire pots and seafood dishes of all kinds — each more satisfying than the last. So skip the pho and go for the bo luc lac (“shaking beef”), squid sauteed with lemongrass in fermented shrimp paste, or spare ribs caramelized in fish sauce.