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These underrated restaurants make a range of cuisines in a variety of settings
Range [official photo]

The Most Underrated Restaurants in Denver

These 13 eateries should be on any food lover’s radar

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These underrated restaurants make a range of cuisines in a variety of settings
| Range [official photo]

Some restaurants are touted as the best in town, year after year. Those golden children of the cuisine scene are in the spotlight time and again, racking up the (often well-deserved) accolades. However, with a city as diverse and cultured as Denver, many others places somehow get missed, despite the quality of their eats. Here, Eater has collected a group of Denver’s most underrated restaurants — those that are worthy of attention, but somehow slip under the radar.

Know of another great and often overlooked restaurant? Send us a tip, or leave a note in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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GQue BBQ

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In Westminster, there’s a barbecue joint worth the trek. Jason Ganahl, the proprietor of GQue, spent years tasting the country’s best smoked meats as a professional barbecue judge before setting off to compete himself. At GQue, he brings all the classic flavors of barbecue to life with dishes such as pulled pork, ribs, apple slaw, mac and cheese, and pit-smoked beans. He’ll also spin a fine yarn about the behind-the-scenes action at a bbq competition.

GQUE
Smoked meats rule at GQue in Westminster
GQue [official photo]

Sushi Den and Izakaya Den’s little sister, Ototo, often gets forgotten about in the shade of the other two wildly popular restaurants. But Ototo offers authentic Japanese meals from ramen to sashimi. It’s also one of the few local restaurants to offer robata grill options.

A bowl of ramen at Ototo on South Pearl Street
Ototo/Facebook

City O' City

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Gone are the days of meatless meaning flavorless rabbit food; City O’ City makes creative breakfasts (see kimchi pancakes), lunches (cauliflower chorizo tacos), and dinners (think fried “chicken” and waffles with a bourbon glaze), plus a well-curated cocktail list and late-night bites.

City O’ City

Damascus Grill

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With Damascus Grill’s three locations across the metro area, finding traditional Middle Eastern food is no longer a chore. The Kassir family, owners of the trio of restaurants, hail from Syria and bring the flavors of their home country to Denver. On the menu: hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, kebab, falafel, and more favorites from the Middle East.

Hummus at Damascus Grill
Damascus Grill [official photo]

Bistro Barbès

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Park Hill’s jewel box of a restaurant only seats 30 guests, lies off the beaten path, and is often overlooked. Chef Jon Robbins previously worked as the chef de cuisine at Mizuna as well as at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris. While there, he was inspired by the North African immigrants in his neighborhood, whose traditions melded well with French flavors. This is a perfect date-night destination, but happy hour is a true value.

A seasonal Brussels sprouts salad at Bistro Barbès
Bistro Barbès/Facebook

Melita's Greek Cafe & Market

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Tucked away on Lincoln Street, this unassuming Greek diner has been a Denver staple for decades. Go for gyros, dolmas, falafel, souvlaki, and baklava, plus a handful of American dishes. See also a grocery section full of imported Mediterranean goods.

Gyros at Melita’s Greek Cafe
Alan Hill/Melita’s

there...

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Telluride’s popular après-ski destination There opened a Denver LoHi outpost in 2016, bringing a diverse menu designed for grazing and sharing. Korean-inspired bulgogi pairs with crab or oysters on the half shell, plus a lineup of tostadas piled with atypical toppings such as Wagyu tartare.

Ling cod at There
There [official photo]

Brasserie Ten Ten

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Dining at this Boulder French bistro feels like stepping into a Parisian eatery. Menu items include the classics such as French onion soup in a quaint crock, elegant cheese boards, and trout amandine. Brunch offers sweet crepes and savory mussels, omelettes, and croque madame sandwiches, plus unique twists on morning cocktails. Try the fraise du matin: pinot gris, simple syrup, and muddled strawberries.

Foie gras at Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder
Brasserie Ten Ten [official photo]

Boulder’s Pearl Street has always been a hot spot for restaurants, and Zeal combines healthy, organic fare in a hip yet casual atmosphere. There are plenty of options for those with gluten or dairy sensitivities along with meat eaters and vegans alike. Offerings include meatballs and zucchini noodles in tikka masala sauce, build-your-own bowls, and kale and beet salad. Also try the cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices.

A healthy and hearty stew at Zeal in Boulder
Zeal/Facebook

range Restaurant

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Downtown’s Renaissance hotel used to be a bank. Its three-story atrium is full of hand-painted murals, adorned with Corinthian columns and coffered ceilings, and space for private parties in the former steel vaults. At Range, founding chef Paul Nagan created contemporary twists on Colorado cuisine, such as green chile shrimp and grits, Colorado white pozole, and the field and stream board, featuring a bison brat, duck prosciutto, Elevation chorizo, and trout dip.

A salad at Range in the downtown Denver Renaissance hotel
Range [official photo]

Lo Stella Ristorante

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A block from the Denver Art Museum, Lo Stella brings the authentic flavors of Northern Italy to the Mile High City. The family-owned restaurant’s other location is in the Italian coastal village of Portofino, and its specialties are a laundry list of Italian classics. Find veal ossobuco, homemade pastas in family sauces, pizzas topped in buffalo mozzarella, and beef carpaccio.

Lo Stella is the Denver outpost of an Italian-born family restaurant
Lo Stella/Facebook

Bittersweet

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Bittersweet is one under-the-radar gem in Denver, and it brings classic American bistro fare to the table. Lamb shank, scallops with agnolotti, smoked duck, panna cotta, and tagliatelle all make appearances in an elegant, creative, and upscale presentation.

Find modern presentations of classic dishes at Bittersweet bistro
Bittersweet/Facebook

This South Broadway eatery offers a menu that changes almost daily, with unique twists on familiar dishes. Suddenly, beef cheek empanandas, gnocchi mac and cheese, and fried red tomato caprese are approachable but offer something interesting, too.

Homemade pasta at Acres in Englewood
Acres/Facebook

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GQue BBQ

GQUE
Smoked meats rule at GQue in Westminster
GQue [official photo]

In Westminster, there’s a barbecue joint worth the trek. Jason Ganahl, the proprietor of GQue, spent years tasting the country’s best smoked meats as a professional barbecue judge before setting off to compete himself. At GQue, he brings all the classic flavors of barbecue to life with dishes such as pulled pork, ribs, apple slaw, mac and cheese, and pit-smoked beans. He’ll also spin a fine yarn about the behind-the-scenes action at a bbq competition.

GQUE
Smoked meats rule at GQue in Westminster
GQue [official photo]

OTOTO

A bowl of ramen at Ototo on South Pearl Street
Ototo/Facebook

Sushi Den and Izakaya Den’s little sister, Ototo, often gets forgotten about in the shade of the other two wildly popular restaurants. But Ototo offers authentic Japanese meals from ramen to sashimi. It’s also one of the few local restaurants to offer robata grill options.

A bowl of ramen at Ototo on South Pearl Street
Ototo/Facebook

City O' City

City O’ City

Gone are the days of meatless meaning flavorless rabbit food; City O’ City makes creative breakfasts (see kimchi pancakes), lunches (cauliflower chorizo tacos), and dinners (think fried “chicken” and waffles with a bourbon glaze), plus a well-curated cocktail list and late-night bites.

City O’ City

Damascus Grill

Hummus at Damascus Grill
Damascus Grill [official photo]

With Damascus Grill’s three locations across the metro area, finding traditional Middle Eastern food is no longer a chore. The Kassir family, owners of the trio of restaurants, hail from Syria and bring the flavors of their home country to Denver. On the menu: hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, kebab, falafel, and more favorites from the Middle East.

Hummus at Damascus Grill
Damascus Grill [official photo]

Bistro Barbès

A seasonal Brussels sprouts salad at Bistro Barbès
Bistro Barbès/Facebook

Park Hill’s jewel box of a restaurant only seats 30 guests, lies off the beaten path, and is often overlooked. Chef Jon Robbins previously worked as the chef de cuisine at Mizuna as well as at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris. While there, he was inspired by the North African immigrants in his neighborhood, whose traditions melded well with French flavors. This is a perfect date-night destination, but happy hour is a true value.

A seasonal Brussels sprouts salad at Bistro Barbès
Bistro Barbès/Facebook

Melita's Greek Cafe & Market

Gyros at Melita’s Greek Cafe
Alan Hill/Melita’s

Tucked away on Lincoln Street, this unassuming Greek diner has been a Denver staple for decades. Go for gyros, dolmas, falafel, souvlaki, and baklava, plus a handful of American dishes. See also a grocery section full of imported Mediterranean goods.

Gyros at Melita’s Greek Cafe
Alan Hill/Melita’s

there...

Ling cod at There
There [official photo]

Telluride’s popular après-ski destination There opened a Denver LoHi outpost in 2016, bringing a diverse menu designed for grazing and sharing. Korean-inspired bulgogi pairs with crab or oysters on the half shell, plus a lineup of tostadas piled with atypical toppings such as Wagyu tartare.

Ling cod at There
There [official photo]

Brasserie Ten Ten

Foie gras at Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder
Brasserie Ten Ten [official photo]

Dining at this Boulder French bistro feels like stepping into a Parisian eatery. Menu items include the classics such as French onion soup in a quaint crock, elegant cheese boards, and trout amandine. Brunch offers sweet crepes and savory mussels, omelettes, and croque madame sandwiches, plus unique twists on morning cocktails. Try the fraise du matin: pinot gris, simple syrup, and muddled strawberries.

Foie gras at Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder
Brasserie Ten Ten [official photo]

Zeal

A healthy and hearty stew at Zeal in Boulder
Zeal/Facebook

Boulder’s Pearl Street has always been a hot spot for restaurants, and Zeal combines healthy, organic fare in a hip yet casual atmosphere. There are plenty of options for those with gluten or dairy sensitivities along with meat eaters and vegans alike. Offerings include meatballs and zucchini noodles in tikka masala sauce, build-your-own bowls, and kale and beet salad. Also try the cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices.

A healthy and hearty stew at Zeal in Boulder
Zeal/Facebook

range Restaurant

A salad at Range in the downtown Denver Renaissance hotel
Range [official photo]

Downtown’s Renaissance hotel used to be a bank. Its three-story atrium is full of hand-painted murals, adorned with Corinthian columns and coffered ceilings, and space for private parties in the former steel vaults. At Range, founding chef Paul Nagan created contemporary twists on Colorado cuisine, such as green chile shrimp and grits, Colorado white pozole, and the field and stream board, featuring a bison brat, duck prosciutto, Elevation chorizo, and trout dip.

A salad at Range in the downtown Denver Renaissance hotel
Range [official photo]

Lo Stella Ristorante

Lo Stella is the Denver outpost of an Italian-born family restaurant
Lo Stella/Facebook

A block from the Denver Art Museum, Lo Stella brings the authentic flavors of Northern Italy to the Mile High City. The family-owned restaurant’s other location is in the Italian coastal village of Portofino, and its specialties are a laundry list of Italian classics. Find veal ossobuco, homemade pastas in family sauces, pizzas topped in buffalo mozzarella, and beef carpaccio.

Lo Stella is the Denver outpost of an Italian-born family restaurant
Lo Stella/Facebook

Bittersweet

Find modern presentations of classic dishes at Bittersweet bistro
Bittersweet/Facebook

Bittersweet is one under-the-radar gem in Denver, and it brings classic American bistro fare to the table. Lamb shank, scallops with agnolotti, smoked duck, panna cotta, and tagliatelle all make appearances in an elegant, creative, and upscale presentation.

Find modern presentations of classic dishes at Bittersweet bistro
Bittersweet/Facebook

Acres

Homemade pasta at Acres in Englewood
Acres/Facebook

This South Broadway eatery offers a menu that changes almost daily, with unique twists on familiar dishes. Suddenly, beef cheek empanandas, gnocchi mac and cheese, and fried red tomato caprese are approachable but offer something interesting, too.

Homemade pasta at Acres in Englewood
Acres/Facebook

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