The best local restaurants in Denver range from family-owned venues serving up hearty comfort foods to artisanal food halls offering delicious dishes from around the world. Talented and innovative chefs have helped elevate the city's culinary scene into international acclaim. However, humble food carts and humble street-corner diners remain ever-popular with the locals.

    Different neighbourhoods around Denver offer distinctive dining experiences – you can relax at a cafe in the historic Larimer Square of LoDo, grab a gourmet hot dog after a baseball game in Ballpark, or enjoy global dishes after exploring art galleries and street art in RiNo. Read on for our guide to Denver’s best local restaurants.

    1

    Cherry Cricket

    A legendary spot for burgers and beer

    Cherry Cricket is a long-running restaurant in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighbourhood. It has occupied the same location since the mid-1940s, but there’s a second branch in Ballpark that opened in 2018. The original venue is just across the street from the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

    Cherry Cricket is famous for its wide selection of toppings, so you can create your own unique char-grilled burgers – the peanut butter and grape jam combo is a must-try. Mexican dishes, salads and sandwiches are also on the menu, and local Colorado craft brews are available on tap.

    Location: 2641 E 2nd Avenue, Denver, CO 80206, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 303-322-7666

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    2

    Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

    For juicy hot dogs made with exotic meats

    Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs is a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Ballpark neighbourhood of Denver. Founder (and avid biker) Jim Pittenger first started by selling his signature hot dogs from a souped-up stainless steel food cart. The Biker Jim empire has since grown to include several more carts around Denver.

    These days, locals like to visit Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs to enjoy long-time favourites like elk-jalapeno cheddar dogs with caramelised onions. Jim's adventurous spirit is reflected in his food, with sausages made with wild game meats like rattlesnake, reindeer, and yak.

    Location: 2148 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 720-746-9355

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    3

    Pete’s Kitchen

    An old-school diner for night owls

    Pete’s Kitchen is a family-owned restaurant that locals love for its generous platters of food at a good price and service with a smile. Set along the busy commercial and nightlife strip of Colfax, it's a well-known place to wrap up an evening in Denver with a late-night snack.

    Try Pete's gyros plate or souvlaki if you're in the mood for some Greek flavours, or simply go for a classic burger or chilli cheese fries. Those who visit in the morning have a good choice of hearty breakfast dishes to enjoy, including its popular breakfast burrito supreme.

    Location: 1962 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 7 am to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday 24 hours, Sunday from midnight to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 303-321-3139

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    4

    Denver Milk Market

    An artisanal food hall inside a former dairy farm

    The Denver Milk Market was founded by renowned chef Frank Bonanno as a way to celebrate Denver’s local foods. Found in Denver’s LoDo, the complex houses a mix of restaurants, takeaway food stands, and bars selling dishes inspired by Bonanno’s family heritage and travels.

    Start your day at Denver Milk Market with some sweet pastries or a savoury breakfast at Morning Jones. Enjoy fresh pasta and wine at Mano Pastaria for lunch or dinner. Head to the back of the market to try craft beers at The Stranded Pilgrim.

    Location: 800 Wazee St #100, Denver, CO 80202, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 7 am to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 7 am to midnight, Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 303-792-8242

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    5

    El Taco de Mexico

    A top-rated taqueria in Lincoln Park

    El Taco de Mexico is a family-owned Denver staple that serves tasty tacos and authentic Mexican dishes. No one comes here looking for anything fancy – the yellow-counter bar and dining booths are simple in design, and the service is low-key.

    The magic is in the flavours, with El Taco de Mexico's green chilli-smothered pork burrito especially popular with locals. You can find the restaurant in Lincoln Park, with the excellent galleries, street murals, and museums in the Art District just a short walk away.

    Location: 714 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 303-623-3926

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    6

    Sam’s No. 3

    A classic American diner in Downtown Denver

    Sam's No. 3 is an American diner with a long history in Denver. Its first outlet was founded by Greek immigrant Sam Armatas on 15th and Curtis Street in 1927. Decades after it had closed, the diner was brought back to life by his son and grandson in the late 1990s. Today, you can find 3 branches around the city, including Downtown.

    Sam's No. 3 is known for offering huge portions at good prices. Must-tries include the juicy cheeseburger and fried pork chop breakfast platter. If you’re planning a weekend visit, you might need to wait in line for a table.

    Location: 1500 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80202, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 7 am to 8 pm, Sunday–Tuesday from 7 am to 2 pm

    Phone: +1 303-534-1927

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    7

    Denver Central Market

    An artisanal food hall set in a restored brick building

    The Denver Central Market is in RiNo (River North), Denver's artsy-industrial area that’s home to a lively mix of creatives and entrepreneurs. Locals come here to find top-quality provisions from butchers and fishmongers and browse colourful displays of fresh fruits and vegetables.

    The Denver Central Market has a buoyant, hipster vibe. You can visit the food hall to enjoy handmade pasta, pizza, fresh salads, and tasty grilled cheese sandwiches. There’s also plenty of takeaway treats, such as bonbons, baked goods, and coffees.

    Location: 2669 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80205, USA

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 8 am to 11 pm, Sunday–Thursday from 8 am to 9 pm

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    8

    Denver Biscuit Company

    Enjoy the ultimate Southern-style comfort food

    The Denver Biscuit Company has earned a massive following thanks to its Southern-style biscuit sandwiches. The Franklin is a gravity-defying work of art – expect a towering sandwich with buttermilk-fried chicken, bacon, and cheddar cheese, smothered in gravy and piled high between 2 fluffy buttermilk biscuit buns.   

    The original Denver Biscuit Company is on East Colfax Avenue, where it shares a space with Fat Sully’s and Atomic Cowboy. After indulging in freshly baked biscuits, you can enjoy a nice evening with beers and pizzas. You can find 3 branches of the Denver Biscuit Company in Denver and Aurora.

    Location: 3237 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado, 80206, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8 am to 2 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +1 303-377-7900

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    photo by Jessica Sheridan (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    The Source Hotel and Market Hall

    Home to the acclaimed Acorn, Smōk and Safta restaurants

    The Source Hotel in Denver’s RiNo district has 2 market halls with 25 vendors spread over a 2,150-sq-ft space. There's an alluring variety of dining outlets, which include a bakery, barbecue joint, wood-fired restaurant, taco shop, and pizzeria, as well as a range of stores and services like florists and barbershops.

    The Market Hall has a chic industrial look, as it occupies a former 19th-century iron foundry. It regularly hosts events, with local vendors and artisans specialising in homemade food, crafts, and jewellery.

    Location: 3330 Brighton Boulevard, Denver, CO 80216, USA

    Phone: +1 720-409-1200

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    10

    Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

    A retro-style diner for early breakfasts and brunch

    Snooze, an A.M. Eatery’s atmosphere is anything but sleepy, thanks to hungry locals frequenting this restaurant for breakfast and brunch. It first opened in Denver’s Ballpark district, but now has 3 more outlets in Denver, plus a few dozen across the US.

    Must-tries include breakfast burritos, eggs benedict, and pineapple upside-down pancakes. If you want something boozy, pair your meal with a Bloody Mary. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery’s Ballpark branch is within easy reach of Coors Field Baseball Stadium, as well as the RiNo, LoDo and Five Points neighbourhoods. This breakfast spot gets very busy, so expect a wait, especially on weekends.

    Location: 2262 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 6.30 am to 2.30 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 6.30 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 303-297-0700

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    Lana Willocks | Contributing Writer

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