A great city requires great restaurants. Denver is that city, and the restaurants lived up to the hype. From greasy spoon to James Beard Award-winning chefs, we found it in Denver restaurants. Here’s a list of my family’s favorites – yes, you can take kids to these restaurants and not feel out of place.
Breakfast and brunch in Denver
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I had to have a Denver omelet. But, that omelet wasn’t the highlight of breakfast in Denver.
For atmosphere and flavors, my hands-down favorite brunch was at D Bar. We started out with blood orange mimosas (maybe that’s what put us in a good mood). I opted for a light breakfast – yogurt bowl with fresh fruit, granola, pumpkin seeds. It was delicious but it couldn’t compare to my husband’s order – the salmon bowl. It was SO GOOD.
There isn’t a kid’s menu, but you can either order a side dish (my daughter just had salmon), or entree. My son was hungry and got the giant breakfast burrito.
They also ordered hot cocoa, which was served on a tray with a puff of whipped cream and chocolate balls and a toasted marshmallow. The kids were in heaven.
Sam’s No. 3 is an iconic downtown diner (super near our hotel, The Curtis). Even on a Tuesday, it’s a bustling place. The menu is daunting, with 16 pages to browse.
I ordered a Denver omelet (when in Rome, right?), which came with a side of fluffy pancakes. That’s plenty of food, since the omelet is made with four eggs. Still, if you’re even hungrier, you can order a stacker.
The coffee was pretty good at Sam’s, too.
Snooze at Union Station was a breakfast spot on my to-try list but the wait was too long for our hangry family. I should’ve called ahead and got my name on the wait list.
Lunch in Denver
In McGregor Square, we had lunch at The Original. The look of the restaurant is great – it’s kinda like a futuristic retro diner. It’s located a stone’s throw from Coors Stadium.
I went with the grain salad and had some nibbles of my kids’ French fries. Both were good. 🙂
This was one of the few places that had a kid’s portion/kid’s meal menu, though it wasn’t really advertised. My daughter got chicken fingers at a fraction of the cost of our adult entrees.
The highlight, though, was the croughnut wagyu beef sliders we ordered as an appetizer. The four of us split the two that came on the plate, and the rich little bite I got was superb.
We were on the go quite a bit, so we ended up getting lunch at a few of the attractions, rather than making it to a restaurant on my list. The convenience is off-set by the higher price.
At Meow Wolf Convergence Station, the Hellocafe is a decent option, especially if you need a break from the sensory overload of the exhibits. The pork bowl is satisfying, but the real treat were the little bowls of ice cream by God Save The Cream. The Dirty Oreo was the best of the bunch. Surprisingly, my daughter was not a fan of the unicorn poop ice cream.
Tip: HelloFood does serve some alcoholic beverages. Just sayin’.
The Denver Botanic Garden has two cafes, and the one we wanted to eat at, Hive Garden Bistro (located waterside) stopped serving food about 5 minuets before we got to the front window. Of course.
So, we headed to Offshoots, where we ordered salads and sandwiches. The ingredients were fresh and tasty, and kids’ options were pretty healthy (so naturally, my kids didn’t eat any of it).
Dinner restaurants in Denver
One restaurant that stood out over all others was SuperMegaBien, a Latin American cuisine dim sum restaurant. The food was flavorful and presented in such a cool way, and the whole vibe of the restaurant was chill and cool. The favorite dim sum at our table was the rope vieja, a Cuban pork dish. I also highlight recommend the ceviche.
We tried dessert there, and of the two dishes, the chocolate cake of the day was best. It had a touch of raspberry added to it, which is to my favorite addition, but of course I still ate it.
Denver has several food halls, and one we visited was The Source where we had a late dinner at Safta, an Israeli restaurant. The food is served family style.
I wish we’d relied on our server for recommendations because while it was all pretty good, I’m sure we missed out on the best dishes. We went with a trusty hummus with wood-fired pita bread to start, along with a tasty whipped feta spread.
The Source had several other restaurants to choose from, including a bakery, pizzeria, modern wood-fired restaurant, and a barbecue joint.
For larger dishes to share, we tried lamb kabobs, a half chicken covered in harissa (a bit too spicy for my kids), and Moroccan carrots (not a favorite with the whole coriander seeds).
We ordered take-out pizza for the kids a couple of times, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Two we tried: Pizza Pedal’r and Brooklyn’s Finest Pizza.
While they enjoyed their pepperoni pizza, I went out for a late dinner with my husband. Since we snacked all day, we weren’t super hungry, so when we went to The Corner Office, we got two appetizers to split. The sliders were good, but the bacon wrapped figs were delicious and rich.
The Corner Office serves some great boozy drinks and cocktails. The atmosphere is pretty cool, too, with a retro look to it.
I bet it gets busy given its location near Denver Performing Arts Complex.
Sweet treats in Denver
The best sweets of the trip were more of an experience than anything else. We went to The Inventing Room Dessert Shop for a tasting (reservations are required due to the small group sizes). We listened as the chef explained how they used things like liquid nitrogen to put a unique spin on treats from Milk Duds and Skittles to ice cream. They’re a lot like Willy Wonka meets Top Chef.
Since it was November, there was a holiday spin to the flavors. So we tried pumpkin spiced popcorn frozen in liquid nitrogen so each bite a little puff of smoke snuck out fo our mouths.
We got to sample quiet a few treats (my favorite being the candy cane space foam). My daughter loved the Milk Duds boiled in a vacuum, and we all got ta kick out of eating the glow-in-the-dark cotton candy in a room lit by black light.
After all those samples, we still got to pick out a dessert each. There were two holiday options and then they’re popular, always-on-the-menu fried ice cream. I highly recommend the fried ice cream as a solid tasty choice, but you can be adventurous and try one of the desserts with the exploding whipped cream.
A few other attractions to find good treats:
- In late November through December, the Denver Christkindlmarket has several vendors selling sweet stuff. We bought some homemade Ischler cookies from one booth.
- We went to the Denver Zoo at night for their Zoo Lights festive event. There were a ton of snack of options from cotton candy and pretzels. We ordered churros, which came with a caramel dipping sauce. They hit the spot. I also tried a Zooski by Great Divide Brewing Co. (one of Denver’s best breweries).
Related post: Three fun days in Denver (itinerary)
Addresses for the Denver restaurants mentioned:
D Bar, 494 E. 19th Ave. (get the salmon bowl)
Sam’s No. 3, 1500 Curtis St. (try the pancakes)
The Original, 1600 20th St. (order the croughnut sliders as an appetizer)
HelloFood at Convergence Station, 1338 First St. (treat your self to the Dirty Oreo ice cream)
Off Shoots at the Gardens Cafe at Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St. (if your kids are picky, you might just get them a pastry)
The Inventing Room Dessert Shop, 4433 W. 29th Ave., suite 101
Christkindlemarket vendors, 101 W. 14th Ave. (seasonal)
Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St.
SuperMegaBien, 1260 25th St.
Safta at The Source Market Hall, 3330 Brighton Blvd.
Pedal’r Pizza, 2907 Huron St.
Brooklyn’s Finest Pizza, 825 16th St. Mall
The Corner Office, 1401 Curtis St.