Where to Eat & Drink in Denver

Denver may not have the culinary reputation of New York or San Francisco–yet–but its restaurant scene is evolving by leaps and bounds every year. The mile-high city offers a metropolitan food scene as well as cultural, outdoor, and agricultural bounty. Here are the hottest spots to drink and dine in Denver.

Denver

Finn’s Manor

Where: River North, Denver

This food truck pod and cocktail bar occupies​ a 7,000-square-foot former auto parts salvage shop. The vibe is heavily Southern/Caribbean, like a cross between New Orleans, Savannah, Austin, and Old San Juan. You’ll find global eats ranging from Filipino, Thai, and Korean food to crepes, small-batch ice cream, and falafel. The inside bar has a heavy emphasis on dark liquors and boasts the largest and most eclectic rum selection in Denver. There are 16 revolving taps of rare, distinctive beer from around the world, an extensive whiskey collection, a diverse wine list, and artisan cocktails. The recently opened Finn’s Grotto, a shipping container bar in back, fields overflow during busy times with carafes of sangria, rare dessert wines, and other special libations.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denver Guide

Avanti Food & Beverage

Avanti

Where: Lower Highlands (LoHi), Denver

Part food court, part industrial cocktail bar, Avanti is one of the country’s most innovative food halls. Developers utilized modified shipping containers inside a colossal warehouse that once housed a printing and graphics firm to create seven distinct state-of-the-art kitchens. Avanti functions not only as a restaurant hub, but also as an incubator where chefs can test recipes, software, and staffing needs before they make the financial leap to food trucks or brick-and-mortar concepts. Leases for the seven occupants are short (12 to 24 months), which ensures a constantly evolving experience for Denver diners. Grab a beer at one of the two bars (upstairs has a great view of downtown) and peruse all the options before you order.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denver Guide

Mister Tuna

Where: River North, Denver

In July, Troy Guard, aka the busiest chef in Denver—he’s soon to have 13 restaurants in his empire—opened Mister Tuna. You might think this is a seafood concept, but “Tuna” is actually the nickname of Guard’s father. Mister Tuna will be located the INDUSTRY workspace development in RiNo, Denver's trendiest industrial-turned-hipster neighborhood. ​The centerpiece of the restaurant will be a custom-built wood-fire grill and rotisserie, and every dish is inspired by a memory. Think ahi poke with chili pepper soy dressing (inspired by Guard's childhood in Hawaii) and ​rack of lamb with corn purée and cherry gastrique, a dish that showcases three of Colorado's local ingredients.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denver Guide

The Way Back

The Way Back

Where: Highlands, Denver

If you like consciously sourced food, welcome to your nirvana. Grab a carefully crafted (and creatively named) cocktail like the “I’d Buy That Drink a Drink,” or “Oaxacan the Garden.” Then settle in on the 1,500-square-foot patio with the simple but thoughtful menu that showcases sustainable farms, ethical fisheries, and humanely harvested meat. Standout dishes at The Way Back include the house-made beef jerky, cauliflower with roasted poblano peppers and carrot, lionfish (an invasive but delicious species), and for dessert, lemon cake with basil, blueberries, and ginger meringue.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denver Guide

Hudson Hill

Where: Capitol Hill, Denver

The keyword here is quality, not quantity. Hudson Hill boasts an Old World–influenced wine program, cocktails made with local spirits, and simple, fresh juices. Ask about the bartender’s daily special, which is inspired by and paired with music. Four rotating taps feature American craft beers, and a small menu offers beautiful bar snacks like organic olives, cheese plates, pork terrine, and fresh baguettes with French butter. Hudson Hill will be soon open in the mornings, too, so Cap Hill residents can hang out, work, and have pastries and coffee during the day.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denver Guide

Matsuhisa Denver

Matsuhisa

Where: Cherry Creek, Denver

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has had outposts in Vail and Aspen for years. Now his fans in the Mile High City finally have one of their own. With luck, you’ll snag a spot at the 14-seat sushi bar, or opt for a table and start with the restaurant’s signature cocktail, the Matsutini: vodka, Sudachi shochu, yuzu, Champagne, and passion fruit puree.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denver Guide

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