Denver, Colorado is one of the best places for a small town lifestyle but big city cuisine. As a visitor or a tourist, visiting these great local spots helps support them while experiencing the city through the eyes of the locals. Add these beloved local spots into your itinerary before you visit Denver.
Beatrice & Woodsley
38 S Broadway Street, Denver, Colorado 80209
This restaurant is one of the local’s favorite. There is a lot to experience once you walk into the place. The interiors are something to marvel at, depicting both class and the comfort of home. There are some aspen trees that look almost life-like growing from the bottom to the well-lit ceiling. The restrooms are a piece of artwork in themselves. Do you know why the restrooms are such a marvel? Apart from the interior design, you will be amazed by the washing stations that dispense water from metal beads, a fete nothing short of magical.
The food and service are spectacular. The staff is warm and attentive throughout the entire meal. The place changes up its menus over time, so you can taste something during one visit and have another when you go back. Due to the fact that it is located in the high traffic Design District, you have to make a reservation beforehand for some lunch in Denver.
Forest Room 5
2532 15th Street, Denver, Colorado 80211
Platte River Valley plays host to this family-owned restaurant that has withstood the test of time and gentrification. The place serves up some of the best local food you could taste made from years of family recipes.
The lane is spotted with other bars so on a fun night, you can easily hop from one to another.
The atmosphere is great for a friend’s day out. The wooden trunk stools are a style of their own and their craft beers are a taste for love. Their menu is very wide and you can choose anything you like. From breakfast to lunch and dinner, there is something for every time you drop by. You don’t have to worry about children because their kid’s menu has got you covered. The most fascinating part about the place is the forest scenes that adorn the space. You could stare for hours. In case you visit during the winter or rainy season, the big fire pit will surely keep you warm.
L&L Hawaiian BBQ
14221 East Cedar Avenue #C, Aurora, Colorado 80012
Hawaiian food comes to Denver thanks to the L&L Hawaiian BBQ. The joint is a quiet piece of heaven, considering the fact that they serve some of the best Hawaiian barbeques you will ever taste. Their portions will definitely deliver value for your money. They have various side dishes such as rice and macaroni. You better come on an empty stomach because you will be filled right up.
Started in 2004, the restaurant has remained a local’s favorite for tasty food and good times. You do not have to dress up to go here as the atmosphere is casual and comfortable. It also gets crowded fast easily due to its popularity. This is your one-stop shop for Hawaiian barbeque if looking for a quaint space for some lunch in denver.
2148 Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado 80205
America is one of the best places for fast food done right and Denver’s Biker Jim’s is proof of it. This is one place you might want to consider when visiting Denver for a twist on hotdogs. The culinary fete you will taste here is unlike any other before. To put it simply, have you ever had a yak hotdog? No? This is where you will taste one of the biggest varieties of hot dogs including but not limited to pheasant, duck, elk, rattlesnake kangaroo and so much more.
The owner, Jim Pettinger is a well-known local who ditched the tow truck to serve up variations of hot dogs to the people of Denver. Jim is a biker, evidence of which is displayed on the walls of the restaurant in pictures and mementos. Anthony Bourdain once visited the joint and was blown away by the food.
The side dishes served are just as good as signature dogs. This is one of the places you must visit before you wrap up your trip.
Adrift Tiki Bar
218 S Broadway Street, Denver, Colorado 80209
At first glance, this looks like your ordinary local bar but upon entry, you will be transported to a Polynesian experience unlike any other. You will immediately feel like you are on the beach. The sugar cane walls, the tiki decor, and the variety of food from Cuban to Hawaiian, Thai, and more.
The vibe is almost as if you are sitting on a Hawaiian beach enjoying the drinks and so much more. The pufferfish lamps are goofy and beautiful at the same time. If you are a child at heart, the Tom and Jerry, Road Runner, and some of the old cartoons.
The food is at par with the atmosphere and the vibe. There are very many cocktails and drinks to choose from, with the tiny umbrellas and fruit slices sealing the look. You might not be able to go to the beach as often as you want but this place allows you to assume you are in one. You are going to love this place.
There are many attractions that make Denver a great destination for international and local tourists. While these are our top picks for our favorite hidden gems, interacting with the locals will reveal so many more for you to explore. As we continue to battle a pandemic that frowns on social interactions, you might want to look into making reservations or call to find out if they are open.
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Tacos Tequila Whiskey
3300 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211
Tacos Tequila Whiskey is a much-praised taco joint serving “Mexican street food” with a modern twist. They obviously serve tacos, tequila, and whiskey, along with Antojitos (little desires), salsas, and desserts.
Start off with the Totopos y Tres Salsas (“just made chips” and three salsas of your choosing) or even the simple yet stunning guacamole. And as for those tacos…they’ve definitely earned the right to be the first name in the restaurant because they’re phenomenal. Each taco is fantastic in its own way, but here are some highlights.
The Queso a la Plancha is griddled with cotija cheese, avocado, and plenty of the roasted tomatillo salsa from earlier. It’s a simple bite that relies wisely on the quality of its components. The Queso Birria is your usual birria taco with Monterey Jack and shredded braised beef, with sides of consomme and tomatillo avocado salsa for dunking galore. It has a salty and savory flavor, with crispiness from the griddling, which holds up nicely no matter how much you dunked it in the jus. Finally, the Pork Belly “Agridulce” has a sweet & sour braised pork belly with candied garlic, a cabbage-cilantro slaw, and more jus for dunking. The crust on the pork belly is beautiful and the meat will melt in your mouth.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 21, 2021 and last updated on June 27, 2022. Please refer to restaurant websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date information.