DENVER IS CATAPULTING onto the world culinary stage, with a growing contingent of celebrated chefs, mixologists, and craft connoisseurs driving a steady march of new restaurant concepts. Don’t get me wrong — locals still love their green chile, and Rocky Mountain oysters still appear on more than a few menus around town. But the modern food and drink scene is built on hand-crafted slow food with an emphasis on locally harvested ingredients. Casual is dominant. Quality is ensured.
If that sounds good to you, here’s a local’s guide to eating and drinking the best of Denver.
Brace yourself for the food market explosion.
Food halls and markets are reworking the way this city thinks about dining. Multiple chefs and culinary themes coalesce under one roof, often accompanied by bakeries, breweries, and even a butcher. If you can’t find something here, that’s on you.
Case in point: The Source will soon take the food hall trend one step even further by adding a second warehouse and a hotel to the mix. Acclaimed Denver foodie spots Acorn (a wood-fired restaurant) and Comida (Mexican taqueria with a modern twist) already call The Source home, along with market staples like a butcher and bakery. Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is onsite, and the location on Brighton Boulevard is the hottest place in town right now.
And then there’s The Denver Central Market, the go-to food market in the city and a food and beverage hub on the south side of the trendy RiNo neighborhood. Along with traditional market staples such as The Local Butcher, Culture Meat and Cheese, and Silva’s Fish Market, vendors also include renowned chef Sean Kelly’s SK Provisions, Vero for pizza and pasta (as well as Italian food products for sale), and a cocktail spot called Curio Bar.
Across I-25, Avanti F&B is a food hall featuring a rotation of chef vendors trying out new concepts, along with established winners. Their upstairs patio has an incredible view of downtown, and the facility is anchored by a gourmet bar with service covering the entire grounds — grab a seat wherever you’d like, and they’ll come to you.