Where (and What) to Eat in Denver

Denver may not immediately come to mind when you’re thinking about the country’s best dining scenes, but don’t sleep on it. With a reputation for breaking boundaries, this capital takes its restaurants very, very seriously. I’m not talking about white table cloths or out of reach prices, I’m talking about innovative, impressive menus with a cultural atmosphere to boot. Here’s where to eat, and what to eat, when you’re here.

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Steuben’s

What: Macaroni & cheese; Nashville hot fried chicken

Steuben’s is the definition of an American classic, serving serious retro-diner vibes while maintaining one of the strongest cocktail programs in the city. The menu has all of the comfort foods you’d hope for: fried chicken, meatloaf and a not-so-obvious lobster roll. It’s the perfect spot to eat at the bar and feel like a local. Trust me, I did it.

SuperMegaBien

What: Cuban ropa vieja; Jamaican jerk chicken wings; Shrimp-octopus ceviche

This fairly new spot inside the Ramble Hotel scues Latin American, but with a surprising twist. Here, the traditional starters are replaced with dim sum, displayed on a colorful car that roams about the dining room. Playful dishes like “humitas,” an Argentine creamed corn of sorts, and Brazilian seafood moqueca are just a few options on this weekly rotating menu. Super Mega Bien keeps things simple, allowing guests to essentially point and ask about items they might like to try, but the bites themselves are nothing short of extraordinary.

Ace Eat Serve

What: Shanghai pork belly bun; Duck, duck, ramen; Scallop & shrimp x.o. rice pillows

This quirky ping-pong hall is an ideal place for the late-night crowd, offering pan-Asian food that hits that sweet spot after a few drinks. Ace Eat Serve has a seriously talented chef, Thach Tran (formerly of ChoLon), who serves Sichuan wontons, ramen, buns and more to snack on while you socialize. Big groups look no further, it’s super easy to congregate here.

El Taco De Mexico

What: Green chile-smothered burrito

OK, hear me out. This is one of those places that I love to death but requires a disclosure. El Taco De Mexico is your typical taqueria; you will not be blown away but the quintessential Mexican restaurant decor here. That said, any burrito smothered in green chile will transport you elsewhere and you can ignore the aesthetics completely. Pork, beef, chicken, cheek, whatever, let them wrap it up, smother it, and thank me later.


El Five

What: Goat cheese croquettes; Ash roasted carrots; Shawarma spiced lamb ribs; Seafood paella

Every seat is the best seat in the house at this top-floor playground. El Five offers unparalleled view of the Rocky Mountains and downtown skyline, with a quirky, artistic interior design that shines just as brightly. The pan-Mediterranean menu has a few Spanish touches throughout, serving tapas like patatas bravas and shawarma spiced lamb ribs. Entrees are also for sharing, with a list of paellas that will leave everyone satisfied.

Cherry