Time for Take Off! Worldly Fare Takes Flight Over Denver Restaurant Week 2020

With travel plans put on hold, thank goodness for  Denver Restaurant Week 2020 and the exciting adventures to behold.  The ten-day celebration is happening now until November 22nd.  The week is sure to take you on an epic journey through worldly culture, taste and epic menus.

185 of Denver’s best restaurants are offering curated prix fixe menus varying $25, $35 and $45 a person.  The big news this year is that most of the restaurants offer a carryout option.  Creative Denver proprietors have also designed heated patios and outdoor bubbles per Mayor Hancock’s temporary outdoor expansion order. Temperatures promise to rise to 70 degrees, so outdoor dining could certainly be in the plans.

With dozens of interesting destinations to dine, it’s hard to know where to go first.   Here are Denver I Love’s top choices for worldly destinations to visit during Denver Restaurant Week.  The list has both long time favorites plus some noteworthy newcomers.  Yes, believe it or not, during a pandemic there are still new restaurants opening in Denver!

Please let us know your top choices as you make your way across town.  Use hashtag #denverilove to share pictures.  Spread the love – not the virus –  and support Denver restaurants!

Trip Itinerary

1. Bistro Vendome, Larimer Square

1420 LARIMER ST, DENVER, CO 80202 – $45 a person

First stop – Bistro Vendome in historic Larimer Square is offering a Denver Restaurant Week menu with all the favorites.  Highlights include: charcuterie, escargots, soup a l’oignon, wild mushroom bisque, duck confit, steak frites, mussels in garlic herb white wine, and beef bourguignon.  For the grand finale, the choices c’est impossible: crème brûlée , chocolate soufflé, caramel apple tart and a flight of ice creams and sorbets!

Having cancelled our big Thanksgiving trip to Paris, we are grateful for Bistro Vendome and its quality, authenticity and ambiance. Paris Denver – J’adore!

More Destinations to Dine in Larimer Square

Larimer Square boasts one of the nation’s most exclusive collections of chef-owned restaurants with flavors from the world over.

Tamayo – photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

Along the historic Larimer corridor, you can find Chef Troy Guard’s Tag, Chef Frank Bonanno’s Osteria Marco and Chef Richard Sandoval’s  Tamayo —  — all of which are participating in Denver Restaurant Week. These top chefs are known best for their exceptional presentations of Mexican, Italian and International cuisine.  The hardest decision this week will be choosing what dessert to order at Tamayo.  Will it be the homemade churros or the warm three milk break pudding?

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El Five - Denver Restaurant Week
El Five – photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

2. El Five, LoHi

 2930 Umatilla Fifth Floor, Denver, CO 80211 – $45

Traveling from Europe down to the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean to the Strait of Gibraltar, the next destination on our global Denver Restaurant Week tour is El Five.  Perched on the 5th floor with unobstructed city views, El Five tops our list for ambiance and creative combinations.

El Five has gone all out for Restaurant Week  2020 with a one-of-a-kind menu!  Be sure to try the Harissa eggplant fries with crispy garlic, honey, dill, mint, honey glaze and lemon yogurt. Another favorite is the mouth-watering combination plate of crispy cauliflower yufka, chickpeas, pine nuts, tahini, avocado fattoush and cumin rouille.

Realizing we may need to a definition chart.

  • Vufka: a flaky Turkish dough that is heartier than phyllo dough.
  • Harissa: a North African hot chili paste usually made of peppers, garlic,  caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin and olive oil
  • Rouille: a sauce made from pounded red chili peppers, garlic, breadcrumbs, saffron and cayenne pepper.

Correct us if we’re wrong on those El Five!  More great dishes on the menu are spiced beef kibbeh, mediterranean sea bass, and the paella with turmeric chicken.  For dessert there is a choice of Turkish tiramisu or Basque cheesecake with Marcona almonds, huckleberries and cider reduction.

View of downtown Denver from the patio of El Five. Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

More Destinations to Dine in LoHi

If the city views of Denver’s Lo-Hi neighborhood are captivating your spirits, also try the $35 menus at  Lola Coastal Mexican and  Linger.   More churros await at Lola along with chicken enchiladas and an ahi tuna tostada.  Linger’s menu has delicious treats like Bao Duo Mongolian BBQ Duck, Korean fried chicken and tempura ginger chili shrimp with lime papaya, pickled vegetables, peanuts, black sesame and scallion aioli.

In addition, the Bindery, just on the other side of the Platt River, has an entree that really caught our eye:  Gallinas borrachas Mezcal + maple hen, butternut adobe, rapini. We are totally going to try that!

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Chef CJ Fortune Wok to Table - Denver I love
Chef CJ – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

3. Fortune Wok to Table, Cherry Creek

2817 E. 3rd Avenue, Denver, CO 80206 – $25

We love authenticity. At  Fortune Wok to Table Executive Chef CJ’s dishes are made from scratch using the freshest ingredients to embody the flavors of true Shanghainese cuisine.  Chef CJ’s concept is to offer a few dishes done extraordinarily well. The pan-fried dumplings are the best in the world!

Chef CJ's extraordinary dumplings
Chef CJ’s extraordinary dumplings. Photo Credit: Jenn Dechtman

More Destinations to Dine in Cherry Creek

A number of other Cherry Creek restaurants offer exciting worldly recipes during Denver Restaurant Week. Truth be told, we pretty much LOVE everything there is to eat in Cherry Creek.   Of note is the JW Marriott’s new Toro Latin KitchenKobe An’s Shabu Shabu and traditional Japanese cuisine; and  La Merise’s french fare and inviting outdoor patio on Third Avenue.

Blue Oyster Grill – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

Of course, we can’t forget our beloved Blue Island Oyster Bar & Seafood The trout dip is incredibly yummy, and the key lime pie is a must. Dining at Blue Island Oyster Bar is a real vacation.

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4. Il Posto, RiNo

2601 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80205 – $45

It was great to see Il Posto is participating in Denver Restaurant Week! Il Posto features food and wine from the whole peninsula of Italy. While the bill can get pricey, Denver Restaurant Week is a good time to experience the perfectly prepared Italian offerings at a fraction of the price.

The Restaurant Week menu includes: a choice of calamari, butternut squash and celery root and apple soup.  Then follows a choice of three pasta dishes and an entree. The entree choices include: beef cheek with creamy polenta; Barramundi with wild rice rub and a risotto with beets, cheeses and Marcona almonds.

More Destinations to Dine in the River North Art District

Denver Restaurant Week RINO - Denver I Love

RiNo is one of Denver’s greatest worldly dining destinations.  The vibrant art district not only showcases the country’s best street artists but the most creative chefs as well.  A couple other RiNo favorites to add to your travels during Denver Restaurant Week are Chef Troy Guard’s Los Chingones casual Mexican fare and the fun and colorful Sushi – Rama.

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Sunday Vinyl – photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

5. Sunday Vinyl, Union Station

1803 16th Street Mall Denver, CO 80202 – $35

Our newest obsession, Sunday Vinyl at Union Station, is a foodie’s dream come true.  There isn’t anything that comes out of this kitchen that isn’t divine!  Sunday Vinyl’s Restaurant Week menu includes a choice of roasted carrots with pomegranate and cashews or squash tartine with raclette, pepper jam and Marcona almonds to start.  Entree choices are grilled shrimp and a pork burger. Then for dessert there is crème brûlée, Basque cheesecake or a chocolate mousse tart.

General Manager Curtis Landrum pinpoints the sophisticated vibe we are all loving

Sunday Vinyl has all the unique qualities of a fine european wine bar.

Ultreia in Union Station

More Destinations to Dine in Union Station

Union Station is a fun destination with bold and innovative places to eat.  Within steps of the train tracks, you will find Denver Restaurant Week treasure Ultreia.   At Ultreia, James Beard Best Chef Award Winner, Jennifer Jasinski, creates latin inspired tapas dishes from Spain and Portugal.

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Kachina – photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

6. Kachina Cantina, Dairy Block

1890 Wazee Street, Denver, CO 80202, $25

Always festive and abundantly flavorful, Kachina Cantina in the Maven Hotel is an exciting place to be during Denver Restaurant Week.  Kachina’s inspiration comes from the Four Corner region of Southwest America and Baja Mexico.  The menu has choices bursting with flavor like pollo con mole and Calabacitas enchiladas.  Definitely get the Mexican bread pudding with roasted plantain ice cream for dessert!  Kachina’s fresh margaritas and sipping tequilas make the journey well worthwhile.

Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria

More Destinations to Dine on the Dairy Block

Hanging out at the Dairy Block is never dull.  Adjacent to the Maven Hotel is the extravagant 16 restaurant food hall of Chef Frank Bonanno’s Milk Market.  If you like variety, the Milk Market’s Restaurant Week menu is for you.  $25 let’s you choose from fish tacos, pasta, burgers and beers.

Dairy Block – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman
Coperta – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

7. Coperta, Uptown

400 E. 20th Denver, CO – $35

Dinner at Coperta resembles the experience of the fine trattorias of Rome and Southern Italy.  At Coperta, you can eat in a private greenhouse and enjoy specials like polenta fritters, rigatoni carbonara and crispy redfish.  For dessert try the cinnamon sugar potato-donuts with marsala caramel.

More Dining Destinations in Uptown

In Uptown, you will find Denver’s holy grails of comfort food: D Bar Denver and Steuben’s  Uptown.  Another interesting destination is Kinga’s Lounge. Kinga’s serves traditional polish fare like Scharlotka (apple pie), borscht, pierogis, goulash kielbasa and cheese crepes.

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Chook – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

8. Chook, 9+CO Community

4340 E. 8th Avenue, Denver, CO 80220 – $25

Next, we are going down under. Chook is a casual easy going Aussie eatery with deliciously prepared chicken on the Barbie.  The $25 Restaurant Week menu is a great deal and includes a salad, a quarter of white or dark meat, two sides and s’more for dessert.  Chook has two locations: one on South Pearl and the other just off Colorado Boulevard on 8th Avenue.

More Dining Destinations Near the New 9+CO Community

Postino – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

There is an explosion of eateries opening in what is called the new 9+CO community at Colorado Boulevard and 9th Avenue.  Postino which also has a location in the Highlands, courageously opened during the pandemic and is buzzing with wine and cheese aficionados.  Postino’s highly acclaimed bruchetta boards and outstanding variety of wine make it a great place to stop and relax on our journey.

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LeRoux – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

9. LeRoux, LoDo

1510 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202 – $45

Admittedly, LeRoux is the one restaurant on this list we have not tried yet.  However, like any great vacation, we are setting our sights on new terrain.  Le Roux is the latest restaurant from Chef Lon Symensma of Cho77 and Cholon Restaurant.  The french blue hued dining room is trés magnifique along with the European marble curved bar and crystal chandeliers.  As die hard francophiles we are certain we will fall in love. They already had us at “foie gras” and “cheese cart du jour!”

More Dining Destination in Lower Downtown

Down the street from Coors Field is another new restaurant which definitely needs a mention. At Foraged,  Executive Chef Duy Pham is creating beautiful plates of Japanese delicacies, sushi extravaganzas and impressive raw bar favorites.  Fun fact: Chef Duy Pham originally made his mark on Denver at Tante Louise.

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CubaCuba – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

10. Cuba Cuba, Golden Triangle

1173 Deleware Street, Denver, CO 80204- $35

What’s a trip around the world without some cool breeze Caribbean vibes?  Cuba Cuba remains a Denver treasure for livening up our hearts when we need it.  The Restaurant Week menu features authentic Cuban cuisine: Tuna Tiradito, an ahi tuna tossed in a chino-latino marinade and served with avocado and wasabi peas; and Puerco Frito, crispy seared Lechon Asada with rice and beans.

More Dining Destinations Near the Golden Triangle and Capitol Hill

Speaking of the Caribbean, be sure to visit Bang Up the Elephant in Capitol Hill for boat drinks and flavorful tropical fare.  The $25 menu lets you pick one starter, one entree and dirty banana ballz for dessert!  Well with the dirty banana ballz, this Denver Restaurant Week review is a wrap!

Safe travels and bon appetit!

Bang Up the Elephant – Capital Hill – Photo credit: Jenn Dechtman

 

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