A few years ago, the national food media began buzzing about Denver as though it sprang up overnight. For them, locals had a question: What took you so long? It’s true the city’s dynamic dining scene is still young—by the standards of, say, New York or San Francisco (very few of the restaurants that might be considered its modern cornerstones are more than 20 years old). But the heritage it draws from is a rich one, encompassing a long history of game hunting, mountain fishing, orchard growing, and cattle and sheep ranching established by Colorado’s native inhabitants and Hispanic settlers as well as a brewing tradition stretching back to the Gold Rush era.
This list of top restaurants covers just the tip of the iceberg (or, more aptly, Rocky Mountain). For every place on it, five deserving others await your discovery, with five imminent arrivals peeking out behind them. But in its mix of old favorites and new sensations, down-home joints, and white-cloth destinations showcasing local and global cuisines, it offers a balanced look at what Denver does best. So pack a fork among your hiking boots and ski equipment, and get ready to dig in.
Read our complete Denver travel guide here.
This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.