Like A Local: The Best Restaurants in the Highlands

by Davina van Buren  |  Published March 28, 2019

A stone’s throw from bustling lower downtown, the Highlands attracts foodies from all over the Mile High City. Food halls, burger joints, global street food – the neighborhood is filled with creative eateries.

Highland Tap and Burger

Don’t mistake this for your average burger joint: the food here is inventive, expertly-prepared, and the atmosphere is truly Colorado. There are plenty of burgers on the menu, of course – everything from mushroom and black bean to lamb and spicy turkey – alongside unexpected surprises like whole butter-grilled artichokes and an entire section devoted to curries. You’ll find nothing but Colorado beers on tap here – a nod to the restaurant’s commitment to supporting local farms and breweries. Following through on an expertly-curated menu, the dessert menu is equally thoughtful: try the banana cheesecake tempura or the daily variation on bread pudding.

2219 W. 32nd Ave.

House-made saffron cavatelli with braised Coloroado lamb, garlic bread crumbs and chile threads. (Photo: Spuntino)


If Italian is your thing, you won’t want to miss Spuntino. Almost everything here is made in-house, from the breads and pastas to gelati and a wide range of digestivi. The husband-and-wife owners make an award-winning chef/manager team, and the small, dedicated staff loves sharing their passion for food with guests. You can’t have Italian without a spectacular wine list (check), and you’ll also find some fun twists on classic desserts. Try the Colorado honey cake with bourbon glaze and basil gelato, or the zeppole – Italian doughnuts with coconut sugar, lemon curd and wild blueberry compote.

2639 W. 32nd Ave.

Spicy chicken ramen at Uncle. (Photo: Adam Bove)


Famous for the long line of hungry diners who wait faithfully outside for the restaurant to open at 5 p.m. sharp each day, Uncle serves up soul-warming bowls of delicious ramen and Asian-inspired small plates. The noodles here are custom-made; meats, fish and eggs are responsibly-raised and sourced; produce rotates with the seasons. The secret to the ramen is their long-simmered broths – flavors like this can’t be rushed. Choices include pork belly, duck, kimchi, chicken and vegan options. The buns are outstanding as well, particularly the soft shell crab. Wash it all down with a selection from the sake menu.

2215 W. 32nd Ave.

LoHi SteakBar

Craft cocktails, hand-cut steaks, an extensive spirits list…this chic, polished eatery is a Lower Highlands favorite. The space itself – which was remodeled in 2017 – is on the small side, with a relaxed, with a contemporary feel. The menu features all the standard steakhouse fare: a selection of salads, a la carte sides, succulent cuts of aged beef, and a few burgers and seafood dishes. Flat iron steaks, filets and New York strips can be topped with add-ons like truffle butter, green peppercorn sauce, or crab. The appetizer menu offers a bit more variety than usual: try the beef cheeks with pickled fennel apple and and sunchoke puree or ricotta agnolotti with crispy prosciutto.

3200 Tejon St.

Low Country Kitchen

It’s not easy to find good Southern cooking in Colorado, but thankfully, Denver has Low Country Kitchen to keep its many Southern transplants happy. If you’ve never had good country cooking, you’re in for a treat, because this bright, bustling restaurant is run by people who grew up in the South, so they really appreciate the time – and the love– that goes into this type of cooking. The menu features classics like deviled eggs, shrimp n’ grits, Mississippi catfish, jambalaya, boiled peanuts, cornbread, collard greens, and biscuits and gravy. The coup de grâce, however, is the buttermilk fried chicken. There are also some fresh and delightful twists, like the BBQ Colorado lamb biscuit and the open-faced fried green tomato B.L.T. with pork belly, pimento cheese and frisée.

1575 Boulder St.

The scene at Linger features sexy lighting, global street food and incredible views of the downtown skyline. (Photo: Linger)


Located in a former mortuary, Linger is the second concept from renowned Chef/Owner Justin Cucci, who is known around town for his innovative plant-based cuisine. Though Linger definitely has meat on the menu, vegetarian and vegan diners will have plenty of options at this hipster hotspot. Think pork belly bao buns with grilled pineapple jam, honey-sriracha duck wings, edamame hummus, and tempura avocado. There’s also a small but killer (pun intended) cocktail list. Head upstairs to enjoy incredible views of downtown Denver and the quirky, full length Lite-Brite bar.

2030 W. 30th Ave.

Shrimp tacos at Candela Latin Kitchen (Photo: Candela Latin Kitchen)

Candela Latin Kitchen

This 3,000-square-foot cantina offers a fresh take on Latin American, Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. The menu features casual takes on traditional dishes preparations, like the mushroom empanadas with fig and caramelized onions, Mexican bass ceviche, and wings marinated in aji verde sauce. Tropical cocktails are made with fresh juices, and there’s also a respectable beer, wine and sangria selection, which you can enjoy on the open bar patio. Bonus: Candela has two happy hours – one for the after work crowd, and one from 10 p.m. til midnight.

1691 Central St.