Colorado is a state known for its abundant attractions, ranging from its breathtaking natural landscapes to its vibrant cultural heritage. However, one of the most compelling reasons to visit Colorado is its exceptional food scene, a testament to the culinary prowess and innovation of its chefs and restaurant owners.
Whether you seek a quaint diner, a trendy food hall, or an upscale dining experience, Colorado has it all. But which city in Colorado stands out as the ultimate destination for food enthusiasts? According to a study released in January 2022 by WalletHub, the answer is Denver.
This comprehensive study evaluated over 180 U.S. cities based on 29 key indicators of foodie appeal, including factors like the abundance of restaurants, food festivals, farmers markets, craft breweries, and food trucks per capita, as well as the cost-effectiveness and quality of the culinary offerings.
Why Denver is a Foodie’s Dream?
Denver offers a wide range of options for food enthusiasts, catering to different tastes and budgets. Here are some highlights of Denver’s food scene:
Food Halls: Denver’s dining scene has embraced the concept of food halls, where a diverse array of cuisines and concepts are housed under one roof. Stanley Marketplace, Avanti Food & Beverage, The Denver Central Market, and The Source are among the popular food halls in the city.
These venues offer a variety of options, from biscuits and bagels to arepas and burgers, along with a selection of cocktails, wine, and beer.
Fine Dining: Denver isn’t just about casual dining; it also boasts refined and elegant dining experiences. Standout fine dining establishments include Frasca Food and Wine, renowned for its award-winning Northern Italian cuisine; The Wolf’s Tailor, which skillfully combines Asian and Italian influences; and Beckon, offering a seasonal tasting menu in an intimate setting.
Local and Organic: Denver places a premium on locally sourced, organic ingredients, and emphasizes sustainability and social responsibility. Many restaurants in the city procure their produce, meat, and dairy from nearby farms and ranches, and some even maintain their own gardens and bee colonies.
Examples of restaurants that champion local and organic food include The Kitchen, which supports local farmers and community gardens; Mercantile Dining & Provision, known for featuring products from its own farm; and Fruition, which raises its own sheep and crafts its own cheese.
Ethnic and International: Denver is a cultural mosaic, with a rich tapestry of international cuisines reflecting the diversity of its population and history. Authentic and delectable offerings from various corners of the world can be found, including Mexican, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Standout ethnic and international dining spots in Denver include Comal Heritage Food Incubator, which provides training and empowerment to immigrant and refugee women; Safta, known for its adventurous Israeli flavors; and Annette, offering a modern interpretation of European classics.
How to Experience the Best of Denver’s Food Scene?
Plan ahead: Denver is a popular destination for foodies, so it’s wise to make reservations in advance, especially at popular restaurants. Check online reviews and recommendations from local experts like 5280 Magazine, Eater Denver, and The Denver Post.
Explore different neighborhoods: Denver’s diverse neighborhoods offer a variety of cuisines and atmospheres. LoDo (Lower Downtown), RiNo (River North Art District), Cherry Creek, and Highland are all great places to start. Consider a food tour or bike tour to discover hidden culinary gems.
Attend food festivals and events: Denver hosts numerous food festivals and events throughout the year. These are excellent opportunities to try a wide range of dishes and beverages, meet fellow foodies, and learn from experts.
Popular events include The Denver Burger Battle, The Great American Beer Festival, The Taste of Colorado, and The Denver Food + Wine Festival.
Support local businesses: Denver supports its local food community, from farmers and producers to chefs and restaurateurs. Eating and drinking at local establishments supports the local economy and culture. You can also buy local products and souvenirs at farmers markets, specialty shops, and craft breweries.
Denver is a city with a diverse and thriving food scene, offering something for everyone, no matter their budget or taste. From quick bites to leisurely brunches to memorable dinners, you’re sure to find your culinary fix in the Mile High City.
For a quick bite, head to one of Denver’s many food halls, such as Denver Central Market or Zeppelin Station. These food halls offer a variety of vendors serving everything from tacos to sushi to pizza.
For a leisurely brunch, try one of Denver’s many popular spots, such as Snooze, an A.M. Eatery or The Original Pancake House. These restaurants offer a variety of breakfast and brunch dishes, from pancakes and waffles to omelets and benedicts.
If you’re looking for a memorable dinner, Denver has no shortage of fine dining options. Try one of the city’s many award-winning restaurants, such as Acorn, Rioja, or Mercantile Dining & Provision. These restaurants offer a variety of innovative and creative dishes, made with fresh, local ingredients.
So pack your appetite and get ready to explore the best foodie city in Colorado!