But for me, dinner at a fine restaurant was the ultimate luxury. It was the very height of civilization. For what was civilization but the intellect’s ascendancy out of the doldrums of necessity (shelter, sustenance and survival) into the ether of the finely superfluous (poetry, handbags and haute cuisine)
This quote from one of my favorite books, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, sums up my obsession with eating out perfectly. Is there anything better than a slow, lingering meal in a beautiful space with great company? In my opinion, no.
Which brings me to the topic at hand, Denver Restaurant Week. The restaurant scene in Denver has been booming over the last few years. You’d have to eat out 3-4 times a week just to keep up! Which I am very open to. My heart says “yes” but my wallet says “b*tch, be cool!”
Denver Restaurant Week gives me an excuse to splurge and temporarily live that lux life. Plus it’s a great way for me to catch up with friends and family. I live for it.
Being the data psycho that I am, every year I put together an extensive spreadsheet with price point, neighborhood, passbook status (is it in the Denver Dining Passbook), menu notes, and a rating. I haven’t started using macros or an actual database yet but it’s really only a matter of time…
I don’t crowd source these ratings. I literally just make them up based on menu, my previous experience at the restaurant, and sometimes how hangry I feel at the time of rating.
Even being aware of this obscene bias, my friends and family still request copies of the spreadsheet to help them narrow down their restaurant options for the week.
My spreadsheet is ugly and can be difficult to decipher so this year I’m posting my top 5 picks for each price point to help you decide!
- Bones – My go-to for steamed buns, udon, and other Asian fair. The small restaurant is located near Trader Joe’s in Cap Hill and has great cocktails too!
- Bang Up to the Elephant! – The newest opening from the Beatrice & Woodsley team is Caribbean inspired with a charming ambiance (Update: review here. Maybe skip it for DRW.)
- The Family Jones – I haven’t been to this LoHi distillery yet but I’ve been swooning over their interior and salivating over their cocktails on Instagram for months! Their DRW menu looks a bit eclectic but I want to try EVERYTHING. Plus, for $25 you’ll have plenty of extra cash for cocktails!
- Max Gill and Grill – I went last year during restaurant week and will most likely go again this year. It was one of my favorites and their menu this year looks fantastic! If you pop in on a cold or snowy evening request one of the tables by their fireplace. It’s one of the coziest places I’ve been in Denver.
- Crafty Fox – They have good pizza and wine + beer options but the real draw is the views. Request a table upstairs to have a casual dinner overlooking the Denver skyline.
- Avelina – I LOVE Avelina. They opened just before restaurant week last year and I have been several times since. I’ve never had a bad experience and even recommend it to visiting friends and family. The food is delicious, the ambiance is crisp but cozy, and they have a great drink options for everyone.
- Beatrice & Woodsley – I, along with everyone else everywhere, have been singing B&Ws praises for years. The magical aspen grove of a restaurant on South Broadway always had a creative and delicious menu paired with equally divine cocktails. They haven’t published their DRW menu yet but in my opinion, they can do no wrong.
- Bistro Vendome – My favorite stop for French food in Denver. They have bit more competition in the French cuisine market now but I keep going back for the mussles, bistro ambiance, and location in the secretive courtyard of Larimer Square.
- Cuba Cuba – This has been a top Denver restaurant for me as long as I can remember. My mom’s hairdresser told her about it years ago and my family fell in love with the charming Victorian house in Golden Triangle. Once I turned 21, I started a lifelong affair with their flavored mojitos.
- Departure – This modern Asian Fusion restaurant in Cherry Creek is #interiorgoals with travel inspired twists on classic cocktails. Try the Departure wings, any sushi, Korean roast chicken, or Mongolian beef before heading to the alley out back for cocktails in the fabulous B&GC speakeasy (two separate reservations).
- BONUS: There… – I couldn’t narrow it down to 5 so you get a little bit more. I adore this quirky LoHi restaurant with their small bites and cocktails. It feels a little bit like your cool older brother opened a restaurant and got all of his good looking, hipster friends to work the bar. They’re DRW menu seems a little confusing but I’m looking forward to figuring it out.
- El Five – In my opinion, this is the sexiest restaurant in Denver right now. Located high above LoHi, you get sweeping views of Denver along with beautifully arranged plates and unique cocktails. Their DRW menu is a bit limited but all the options look good and you can’t beat the ambiance for date night.
- Hearth & Dram – I celebrated my birthday here last year and our meal left everyone raving. The ambiance is crisp but masculine with shelves and shelves of whiskey options. Their menu looks incredible and I’m sure everything pairs beautifully with their curated whiskey cocktails.
- The Nickle – Another go-to for me, I love for their cereal White Russian brunch but they also have wonderful charcuterie, dinner, and cocktail options.
- STK – This restaurant has been on my list for awhile. In general, I prefer a more creative menu to a classic steakhouse but I’m intrigued by their sides, cocktails, and vibe. If you do prefer a straightforward, delicious steak, Palace Arms, Ruth’s, and so many others are also participating in DRW.
- Stoic & Genuine – I love the ambiance here and the delicious seafood options right in Union Station. Make a night of it with a reservation at Cooper Lounge after for a craft cocktail nightcap overlooking the bustle of US.
Denver Restaurant Week runs from February 23 – March 4. You can find more information and the full list of restaurants and menus on their website.
Are there any restaurants you’re looking forward to trying during Restaurant Week? Any good ones that I missed?