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Denver - United States
Blend a deep Hispanic tradition with an Asian migration, mix it up with a big dash of sports frenzy and the Wild West, and Denver's dining scene begins to take shape. And do not forget the beer. Known for its casual atmosphere, brewpubs, and sports bars, the Mile High City has always been famous for good grub, but recently arrived culinary masters, attracted by the panoramic mountain setting, have vaulted Denver to the fine dining forefront. Although Denverites now enjoy fancier fare, they still love their beer.
Downtown has satisfied the appetites of Denver's business class for decades with an array of casual establishments providing comfortable atmospheres for relaxation and work. Still, if formal dining is on the agenda, there are plenty of options. The Palm takes care of the surf and turf crowd. Marlowe's huge neon martini sign overlooks the 16th Street Mall and attracts visitors for its continental cuisine. Relax at Domo's authentic country house for a remarkable Japanese dining experience, or head down the street to the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver's first restaurant and a true meat-lover's paradise. Under the watchful eyes of big game trophies you can try all sorts of wild game including alligator, elk and rattlesnake. Dine with Denver's elite in the Napoleonic setting of Palace Arms, located in the historic Brown Palace.
Historic Lower Downtown (LoDo)
More restaurants, bars, bakeries, and coffeehouses inhabit these 20 blocks than any other district in Denver. There are so many, in fact, it is hard to choose just one. LoDo plays host to a multitude of brewpubs pouring homemade concoctions and cooking creative alternatives to traditional bar food. The Wynkoop, named after Denver's first sheriff, holds the honor as the city's oldest brewery, and fries a mean fish and chips. Its Railyard Ale is one of the area's tastiest brews. Or, for the closest thing to fine dining that a brewpub can get, see if you can get a table at the Denver Chophouse, which features steaks galore. If you want to enjoy a wide variety of ales, the Falling Rock Tap House has 69 beers on tap, including a wide selection from local breweries. Steak and potatoes are the thing at Morton's. McCormick's Fish House, located in the Oxford Hotel,headlines a good group of seafood stops, such as the Jax Fish House. P.F. Chang's is the place for a Chinese fix. After major sporting events, the streets of LoDo flood with hungry fans, and the restaurants fill at an alarming rate. Reservations are necessary everywhere.
Restaurant Row is a sanctuary for culinary artists. Chefs display their magic nightly at such exquisite haunts as the Avenue Grill, a favorite destination for couples, that features a varied menu with western favorites. For a quiet getaway, stop in at Dario's Restaurant, a quaint, family owned bistro full of knickknacks and heirlooms just west of City Park. Here you will experience Old World decadence as it serves heaps of Swiss-Italian fare. If pizza and crowds are on the menu, Pasquini's, located in an old house on 17th Avenue, is the place to be. After enjoying the restaurant's hip ambiance and vogue cuisine, wander next door to the Rhino Room for a Colorado microbrew and a game of pool in an environment straight out of the 1970s. As the night begins to wind down, relax at St. Mark's for a late night cup of coffee and a fresh baked muffin.
Cozy, family owned restaurants, friendly local pubs, and coffeehouses populate the streets of Capitol Hill. Most have been around forever and have developed a faithful following. Stop by Benny's Cantina for a fiesta of sloppy Mexican grub. Le Central is the place to stop for fine French delights. Dazzle, a newcomer to the scene, specializes in unique American cuisine. Sing bygone favorites at Charlie Brown's piano bar while deciphering the neighborhood's most complex menu, or head over to Watson's Pharmacy for some tasty ice cream.
Chessman Park/Congress Park
From quaint street-side cafes to elegant food extravaganzas, this district is sure to please. The Barolo Grill treats the palate to expensive but superb Italian cuisine and boasts the most extensive wine selection in Denver. The Satire Lounge serves a dash of dark ambiance with big dishes of Mexican standards, and the Grand China is the stop for authentic Chinese fare.
This is the Mile High City's dining central, where food designs are the norm and a simple ceramic plate becomes a canvas beckoning art. Dramatic? Maybe, but many of Cherry Creek's fine restaurants can make a dining experience into a thing of beauty. Expect to pay a hefty price, though. Delectable Indian delights are at the Bombay Clay Oven, and Little Ollie's sculpts healthy (nothing deep-fried here) Chinese food. If you are searching for the obscure, check out the underground RooBar for inventive martinis along with classic bar grub. The Cherry Cricket, a ruffian original in the upscale district, spices things up with burning batches of homemade green chili.
Old South Gaylord Street feeds the neighborhood with a myriad of timeless standards. Visit the Washington Park Grille, a crowded bistro with a flair for Italian, or wander next door for some seafood at Max Gill and Grill.
University Park is full of popular dives and down home joints serving burgers and pizza. Fagan's Restaurant and Bar is the place to get authentic Shepherd's Pie and a flavor of Old World Ireland. The Jerusalem Restaurant delves into exotic textures and fine Middle Eastern cuisine. Treehouse Café takes care of the heath food crowd, and Mustard's Last Stand specializes in hot dogs and Polish sausage.
An emerging hotspot for Denver diners, the Highland neighborhood in Northwest Denver offers a great selection of Mexican restaurants and an array of inventive, family-owned bistros. Bang! offers a small, 10 item menu in a lively atmosphere and is home to the area's best burger, as well as some spicy Cajun cooking.
For a real treat, head to the foothills and check out the historic Fort. Built atop a high slope, with picturesque views, this establishment is the ultimate in romantic mountain dining. The menu is extremely meat oriented and the chefs prepare venison and elk in wonderfully creative ways.