Apr 21, 2024 - Newcomers Guide

The bucket list of Denver places to eat and drink

The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa decorated for Christmas in 2019. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images

The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa decorated for Christmas in 2019. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Whether you're a newcomer or a native, Denver offers a bevy of places where you must eat and drink to really experience the city.

The big picture: We compiled a list of favorites, from institutions to new kids on the block, to get you acquainted with Denver's culinary scene.

The institutions

These restaurants are old-school but still cool, because history and kitsch never go out of style.

Brown Palace: Take part in an afternoon tea party in the towering lobby of this historic 1892 hotel, and be sure to visit at the holidays for the festive decorations.

Buckhorn Exchange: Founded in 1893 and visited by four presidents, this steakhouse holds the first liquor license in Colorado and features dozens of taxidermied wild animals on the walls.

My Brother's Bar: The burger joint — get the JBC — recently celebrated its 150th birthday and is a former hangout for the Beat Generation, including Neal Cassady, the basis for Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" character.

Casa Bonita: The pink palace is alive again, thanks to the creators of "South Park." Check out the famous cliff divers, explore Bart's Cave and enjoy the sopapillas.

The Fort: The historic steakhouse on a bluff in Morrison opened in 1963 and is built in the style of an adobe fur trading fort.

The can't miss

These spots are staples of the local scene that stay fresh and relevant.

Frasca Food and Wine: The Italian restaurant in Boulder is one of Colorado's most recognized restaurants, with a Michelin star and nods from the James Beard Foundation.

Wynkoop Brewing: The first brewpub in Colorado serves a beer for every taste bud, but be sure to order the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout.

Santiago's Mexican: Grab a bag of breakfast burritos from this local chain and make someone else's day.

Pho Duy: You'll find plenty of pho places on Federal Boulevard, and draw plenty of debate about the best, but this is one of the best.

Union Station: The remodeled Union Station is a hip restaurant hub. Grab a Colorado craft beer in the lobby at the Terminal Bar then visit Jennifer Jasinski's Stoic and Genuine or Ultreia. She helped put Denver's culinary scene on the map.

The new kids

The local food and drink scene is booming and this handful of recent additions is raising the bar.

Yacht Club: This hipster haven in the Cole neighborhood specializes in creative cocktails and is listed as one of the best bars in North America.

Hey Kiddo: The new Tennyson Street restaurant from Kelly Whitaker's group features a rooftop with great views and an intimate hidden bar called Ok Yeah.

Cerebral Brewing: The best all-around brewery in Denver features cult-favorite hazy IPAs and decadent barrel-aged stouts, alongside crisp lagers and other options.

Annette: James Beard winner Annette Glover's restaurant in Aurora makes approachable food that goes beyond the ordinary, like a wagyu burger on a house English muffin.

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