What are the Best Restaurants in Denver? While there are some great places to go out to dinner, things in the mile high city have changed immensely in the last 20-30 years. The question is, have they changed for better or worse? I guess it depends on who you ask and how old fashioned they are. One thing is certain; the population of chain restaurants greatly outnumber the private eateries in Denver metro these days. This is partly because the city has grown so fast in the last 20 years. However, I believe it is also due in part to the changing trends and fast pace business climate that has made it extremely difficult for private retail establishments to compete. This is not only true of our restaurants, but shopping and retail establishments as a whole. Chain Restaurants like Bennigans, Chilis, Macaroni Grill, Carrabas, Black-Eyed Pea and Olive Garden are the equivalent of Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon taking over the mom and pop stores. Even pizza joints like, Anthony’s New York Style Pizza. are chains. The really great privately owned restaurants in the mile-high metro area seem to be a part of the diminishing pattern of privately owned eating establishments in today’s metro areas. Don’t get me wrong; there are some excellent places to go out to breakfast, lunch or dinner in the city of Denver and its surrounding suburbs, but the privately owned places seem like such a small percentage of the Denver dining population today. While thinking about this the other day, I asked myself the question: Is this perception or reality? So, what are the best in Denver.
What has Changed with Denver’s Restaurant Business?
Are there really fewer private restaurant choices in the city’s area today, or do they just make up a smaller percentage of the overall restaurant population which has boomed with popular chains? Every major city has to witness a few of their favorite restaurants turn into nostalgic memories. Perhaps, there are just as many great privately owned restaurants today; they are just harder to spot in the crowd. That can’t be a bad thing, can it? Many of the chain restaurants have done well because they’ve emulated the atmosphere and service of the city’s favorite private ones. Denver has some very unique western and mountain history on it’s side. Some of the city’s best dining like The Buckhorn Exchange, The Manor House, El Rancho and The Fort are just as much museums as they are dining establishments. These restaurants are not only filled with history and a western ambiance, but serve really great food. On the other hand, some of Denver-metro’s finest restaurants have sadly gone out of business in the last 20 years, too. Baby Doe’s, Victoria Station, Colorado Mine Company, Golden Ox and the old Berardi’s Italian Restaurant downtown are just a few of the old, retired restaurants that I have fond memories of from the 70’s and 80’s. The good news? Denver, today, has more restaurant choices than it ever has. I realize that my list below does not include all of the best restaurants in the city. My intention was to provide a variety of restaurant choices here that you can’t go wrong with, whether it is a chain or privately owned. Please share your own stories about these or any other of city’s best that you’d like to share.