Like a Local: The Top 5 Restaurants in Downtown Denver

by Holly Riddle  |  Published July 13, 2018

Denver’s beautiful scenery, bounty of outdoor activities and growing tourism offerings attract travelers from all over the world. But what’s on the menu once you arrive?

Larimer Square in downtown Denver is a hub of nightlife, dining and fun (Photo: Robin Jaffray)

Food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Denver. However, new restaurants are constantly opening their doors in downtown Denver, and these “Mile High” establishments do not disappoint. From steakhouses to Mediterranean fair, Mexican-inspired cocktails to international comfort food, here are the restaurants to add to your itinerary.

STK Denver

Both a modern steakhouse and a chic lounge, STK Denver is a fine dining experience you won’t soon forget (Photo: Yelp Inc.)

Featured in many international publications over the years and known as a steakhouse that’s far from stuffy, STK Denver is just as fun as it is delicious. Here’s what’s on the menu: a huge porterhouse steak for two, beef and tuna tartare appetizers, herbed lamb loin, oysters on a half shell, seasonal ceviche, and small and medium steaks if you want one all for yourself. The cocktails are slight twists on familiar flavor arrangements, such as the Dirty It Up (dirty Grey Goose with blue cheese-stuffed olives), the Strawberry Cobbler (Belvedere with fresh muddled strawberry and a graham cracker crust) and the Cucumber Stiletto (Ketel One Citroen, St. Germain, muddled cucumber and mint). Linger into the evening in the chic lounge.

1550 Market St.

Guard & Grace

The award-winning steakhouse Guard & Grace is well-deserving of its accolades. Opened in 2014, it features beautiful open kitchens, an oyster bar, bar tops, and a light and airy feel that’s less dark and confined than a traditional steakhouse. The dinner menu is sourced locally and changes seasonally, but you can always expect an extensive selection of steaks. Not in the mood for a slab of beef? Go for the fine selection of charcuterie and cheeses, delicacies from the raw bar, or other enticing entrees, such as charred lamb loin and smoked Boulder chicken breast. Sides include upgraded versions of favorites. Think black truffle mac n’ cheese, truffled gnocchi and chipotle lime mashed potatoes.

1801 California St.


The cozy Mediterranean restaurant Rioja is set in a desirable location on Larimer Street and boasts two James Beard nods, one as a winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Southwest 2013 and another as semifinalist for Outstanding Chef 2016. The can’t-miss items on the menu? The fresh bacon appetizer, made with pork belly, cardamom and curried garbanzo bean puree; hand-made pastas, like the black garlic squid ink bigoli; spice-rubbed lamb loin, with farro couscous, falafel, roasted garlic yogurt and a strawberry mint compote; and the whiskey-brined pork chop, with a savory eclair, porcini pastry cream and fava beans.

1431 Larimer St.


Named after the goddess of the hearth, Vesta offers a warm and cozy environment with rustic, international dining (Photo: Ted Major)

Vesta calls its food “bold and sexy,” made with fresh, seasonal ingredients and topped with signature sauces. Set in a historic warehouse, operated by the Millar Spice Factory and Coffee Company, the restaurant’s design is as much a part of the dining experience as the food. For the full Vesta package, start with the bread plate and charcuterie board. Choose from very-shareable small plates–such as the fresh chickpea falafel, bolognese campanelle or bone marrow–or a large plate, like the grilled artichoke and cauliflower za’atar, chicken tikka masala or Colorado rack of lamb. Don’t forget dessert! With options like sticky toffee pudding and sweet potato beignets, you may be making plans to come back before you even leave.

1822 Blake St.

Tamayo Restaurant

Outdoor seating and a tamarind margarita at Tamayo Restaurant? Yes, please! (Photo: Nan Palmero)

Tamayo Restaurant gives Mexican cuisine a 21st-century take, with its unique, seasonal menu. Enjoy options like Oaxaca salmon, pork carnitas, artisanal tacos and Mexico City-style corn on the cob. The cocktail menu is on par with the dinner selection. Where better to enjoy the beverage of your choice than at the restaurant’s rooftop terrace, complete with views of the Rocky Mountains? Margaritas range from traditional to spicy mango, ancho chili to prickly pear. You’ll also find mojitos, wine, sangria and local and imported beers.

1400 Larimer St.