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The 38 Essential Denver Restaurants, April '13

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Eater 38 got updated today. This list is our answer to any question that begins with "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This group of eateries covers the entire city, 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. Very important: this list is presented in no particular order.

Without further ado, we made some changes. Curtis Park Deli, Trillium, and Oak at Fourteenth joined the list. With new additions, also come some subtractions: Carbone's, which sadly closed a few weeks back, Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria, and Jonesy's Eat Bar have left the ranks of essential restaurants.

The new additions and corresponding subtractions will make some people happy. But if your favorite restaurant is not here and you want to make your preference heard, please use the comments below to make your case, or send your thoughts in the tipline.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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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.

bittersweet

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Bittersweet is one of the few places in Denver where you can actually dine in the restaurant's garden. It's all about the seasons here, and chef/owner Olav Peterson does a fine job orchestrating seasonal flavors.

Fruition Restaurant

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It's hard not to adore this place. Food and service are consistently on point here. Alex Seidel's menu changes with the season, and each plate that comes out of the kitchen sings with balance and precision. Plus, Seidel sources from his own farm.

Potager

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Potager is one of Denver's quintessential farm-to-table restaurants. You can rest assured that everything here is super fresh and handled with care.

Table 6

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Between chef Scott Parker's playful menu and the trendy decor, Table 6 is the right place for a casual dinner, a boozy brunch or a romantic date. There's a great wine list here too.

The Cherry Cricket

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Duffy's Cherry Cricket is a burger institution in this city — hell, it's been around since 1945. Not only does this place provide a comfortable dive atmosphere in the center of Cherry Creek, but it has elevated less traditional burger toppings like peanut butter, cream cheese and wing sauce to new heights.

Elway's

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Founded by John Elway, a Denver Bronco's legend, Elway's doesn't disappoint. Ok, yea, it's a steakhouse, but it's the crema of steakhouses. With a locations in Cherry Creek, downtown at the Ritz-Carlton, and in Vail, Elway's is a Colorado staple.

Pinche Tacos

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Pinche Taqueria, the brick and mortar extension of the Pinche Tacos food truck, has quickly become a local favorite. The tacos here are flat-out amazing, and the bar offerings don't lack either. Pinche also offers brunch tacos on weekends.

Jerusalem Restaurant

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This is not a fancy joint, but it dishes out outrageous falafel, hummus, and shawarma and it is open late into the night. Baklava is a highlight here.

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.

Star Kitchen

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For anyone who hasn't had the dim sum experience at Star Kitchen, now is probably a great time to start planning your visit. If you're not into dim sum, Star Kitchen also has a large menu. The value here is insane.

New Saigon

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New Saigon is a land of options, and they're all awesome. The food is just solid here. Twenty-five years in business and a new bakery next door that should not be missed.

Luca D'Italia

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Lovers of Italian pleasure, look no further. Luca D'Italia is downright elegant in every regard. Chef Hunter Pritchett doesn't cut corners when it comes to building decadent flavor profiles. Though fine in presentation, the food at Luca has some real soul.
As the first of eight Frank Bonanno establishments, Mizuna represents what Bonanno is all about. It's 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.
If you've experienced the joys of pork buns, noodle bowls and soft serve ice cream all under the same roof, Bones is right up your alley. Sit at the chef counter, sip on some sake and watch your food from start to finish. Sharing is encouraged here.

The Squeaky Bean

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The Bean reopened its doors last June to nothing but rave reviews. With creative yet approachable food from chef Max MacKissock, crafted cocktails from barman Sean Kenyon, and impeccable service led by maitre d' Stephen Gallic, the Squeaky Bean has earned its place among Denver's essential restaurants.
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.

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen

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For anyone who appreciates an impressive beer list and fun food, this is the place. Chef Jorel Pierce elevates bar food to new and exciting levels. The music here is always great and Euclid is open late. What's not to love?

Fuel Cafe

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Bob Blair's Fuel Café is everything a diner with a conscious for sustainability could ask for. Blair's dedication to sustainable energy and locally sourced creative food is evident from the very second you walk into his restaurant. Don't miss the desserts.

Cafe Brazil

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This family-owned restaurant has been open for over two decades and its food is as vibrant as ever. Don't miss the grilled manchengo cheese appetizer and the Cazuela Colombiana.

Z Cuisine & A Cote

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You don't feel like you're dining in Denver at Z Cuisine. Rather, Z Cuisine makes you feel as though you've been transported to France, and frankly, you don't want to leave. Chef Patrick Dupays really delivers the full European experience. The dining room is very small and reservations aren't accepted, so be prepared to wait. Definitely check out A Cote next door for pre-dinner.

Sushi Sasa

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Chef/owner Wayne Conwell's acclaimed Sushi Sasa sits near the Platte River, right in the middle of LoDo and LoHi. Sushi Sasa offers traditional Japanese food and borrows influences from other global cuisines. With a simplistic decor and attentive service, Conwell's refined food truly shines.

Masterpiece Delicatessen

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Sure, Denver is home to some fantastic sandwiches places, but Steve Allee and Justin Brunson's sandwiches at Masterpiece Delicatessen are superior. It really is "fine dining between bread," people.

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.

My Brother's Bar

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Locals from all areas of the city folk to My Brother's Bar because it's not only legendary, but it's one of the absolute best places in Denver to grab some classic pub food with a cold beer or a fine cocktail. It's also an industry favorite, and it's open 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Monday-Saturday. Plus, there's year-round Girl Scout cookies here — score!

Linger Restaurant

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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.

Root Down

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Ah, Root Down. Not only is this place totally hip, but vegetables have never looked so sexy. Though the menu is colored with seasonal produce, carnivores will also love Root Down. Chef Daniel Asher also hosts a monthly raw dinner, if you really love vegetable. Drinks are super awesome too. Don't you dare miss those.

ChoLon Bistro

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ChoLon is a fantastic Asian fusion restaurant. Chef Lon Symensma, who was the exec chef at Buddakan in NYC before moving to Denver, creates truly memorable and extremely beautiful dishes.

Trillium

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This Scandiavian-inspired eatery in the Ballpark neighborhood attracts diners with unique yet familiar offerings. In an urban bistro environment, chef Ryan Leinonen creates small plates like the carrot custard or toast Skaken and large dishes like the pan-roasted Steelhead trout.

Curtis Park Delicatessen

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While still relatively new to the sandwich landscape, this deli made its mark. Proof is the speed at which it sells out on a daily basis- don't be shocked if it's sold out when you get there. Try the Curtis, the deli's signature sandwich - made on freshly baked ciabatta bread with corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, all dressed in housemade thousand island.

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

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

Twelve Restaurant

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Chef Jeff Osaka changes the menu monthly here, which is great news for those who tire of the same o'l thing. There aren't tons of options here, but if you trust your chef, you'll be in good hands.

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.

Steuben's

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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.

OAK at fourteenth

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This Boulder restaurant co-owned by chef Steve Redzikwoski 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.

Frasca Food and Wine

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By many standards, Frasca is Colorado's top restaurants. 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 is a classic restaurant and a must on any diner's list.

Pizzeria Basta

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Tucked away in the Peloton complex on East Arapahoe in Boulder, Basta is a wood fired eatery that dishes out a variety of items from handmade pastas and Neapolitan pizzas to oysters and hearty dishes like short ribs cooked sous vide. There is a small but carefully picked wine list, a few special cocktails, and incredible coffee from LaMill.

The Kitchen Boulder

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The Kitchen changed the farm-to-table landscape in Colorado by emphasizing local sourcing and relationships with farmers and other purveyors. The restaurant has been open for over eight years and a Denver outpost opened recently to great reviews.

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Sushi Den

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.

bittersweet

Bittersweet is one of the few places in Denver where you can actually dine in the restaurant's garden. It's all about the seasons here, and chef/owner Olav Peterson does a fine job orchestrating seasonal flavors.

Fruition Restaurant

It's hard not to adore this place. Food and service are consistently on point here. Alex Seidel's menu changes with the season, and each plate that comes out of the kitchen sings with balance and precision. Plus, Seidel sources from his own farm.

Potager

Potager is one of Denver's quintessential farm-to-table restaurants. You can rest assured that everything here is super fresh and handled with care.

Table 6