The Best Restaurants in Colorado

The secret is out: From edgy food trucks to artisan food halls, casual farmstead BBQs to farm-to-table feasts, and craft microbrews to seed-to-sip distilleries, Colorado’s food scene has exploded onto the scene in recent years, and keeps getting better.

1397 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
I don’t use the word “best” lightly, but Salvaggio’s deserves it. For decades, they’ve been serving up the best classic sandwiches in Boulder at their three locations—a kiosk on Pearl St. in front of the courthouse, a shop at 26th and Pearl St. and one up on University Hill. They use all Boar’s Head meat, fresh baked bread, and wonderfully spicy chilis. In the morning, they do big sloppy egg sandwiches.
523 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203, USA
If the name of this place reminds you of the Boston landmark, you’re on to something. It was named after Steuben’s, a Beantown hot spot from the 1940s well into the ’60s, known for jazz, big band shows, and parties. Steuben’s in Denver aspires to all that. The restaurant serves American comfort food like meat loaf, chicken and waffles, milkshakes, and lobster rolls in a retro-groovy diner setting. The formula has proven so successful that another location in nearby Arvada opened in 2016.
2037, 685 E Durant Ave, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
When I worked at Food & Wine Magazine, my colleagues and I would religiously hit Ajax Tavern as soon as we descended upon town for the annual Food & Wine Classic event. The draw: Ajax’s addictive truffle fries. There are times where I dream of that paper cone overflowing with thin-cut fries coated in truffle-spiked Parmesan. Yes, they are that good. On a recent visit to Aspen, the chef of Ajax lamented that people always order the burger and truffle fries so I decided to appease him and try something new. The entire Ajax menu proved just as satisfying as those famous fries. The menu reflects the ingredients of the season and I ordered the ricotta gnocchi with spring pea fricasée, pickled carrots, and preserved lemon. It was the perfect fuel before I biked to Maroon Bells. Ajax’s outdoor patio is the hot summer hangout in Aspen so be sure to call ahead for a reservation or be prepared to wait for one of the coveted umbrella-shaded tables.
The Riverwalk 27 Main Street, #101, Edwards, CO 81632, USA
My wife and I first ate here during the wintertime and were throughly impressed with the homemade pasta and sophisticated decor. In the summertime, there’s a nice patio overlooking the river. And, yes, there’s a bocce court where you can learn a new game, which has distant ties to the Roman Empire.
3980 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80304, USA
I like to belly up to the counter a Lucky’s Bakehouse Cafe early in the morning, when the rising sun blasts into the cozy eatery, and the servers rush to lower the blinds. I nod yes for coffee, then order from the hash bar (smoked pork hash, corned beef hash, or tofu flannel hash). Recent renovations, a menu upgrade, and new outdoor patio make Lucky’s easy to recommend. Of course, I’m biased, since I live in the neighborhood, so feel free to try it and let me know if I’m wrong.
328 E Hyman Ave, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
On the ground floor of Aspen’s historic Wheeler Opera House, the Public House dishes up Colorado-inspired comfort food. Large windows open to allow the summer breeze in but can shut out the winter chill without blocking the snow and mountain views. Menu standouts include the charred Caesar salad, the rosemary and parmesan fries, and you can always take a risk on whatever taco is featured on the list of daily specials. If the weather’s nice, opt for a seat at a sidewalk table (for views of the local canines and that famous Aspen fountain). Otherwise, dine inside either at a booth, at long community tables, or at the bar where conversation centers on where to find good powder on Ajax Mountain or the best hiking trails.
1957 Jessup Dr, Fort Collins, CO 80525, USA
The name kind of says it all. The 19th-century farmhouse, renovated and turned into a restaurant, still holds rustic charms, complete with exposed brick pillars, a squeaky staircase, and a southwest-facing front porch that catches the afternoon light. Some of the homestyle cuisine, like the hardy Breakfast Burrito and the decadent Pork Belly Benny are prepared with ingredients sourced from the farm itself, and served in cast iron pans. The extended property, called Jessup Farm Artisan Village, has modern shops, a craft brewing operation, and a cozy coffee shop. The Farmhouse is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and is closed on Mondays.
300 Carriage Way, Snowmass Village, CO 81615, USA
The Artisan, inside the Stonebridge Inn, serves modern American cuisine, using locally sourced ingredients in a refined and relaxed setting. Sound pretty much the norm? The Artisan is blessed with a charming setting: There’s a lovely stone fireplace in the main dining room and then, up some steps, bar seating and tables in a solarium with mountain views. Outside the solarium, deck seating means dinner with fresh-air mountain views. Set the tone for a great meal by ordering the grilled artichoke heart appetizer, garnished with a truffle aioli and lemon zest. The recommended entree: a New York strip steak, topped with a bourbon, peach, and cherry salsa, and served with cashew rice and scallions.
1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver
From its location in Denver’s Union Station, Mercantile Dining & Provision makes delicious and nutritious meals accessible to commuters and travelers passing through. This is the second eatery by Alex Seidel, a committed restaurateur who purchased a farm east of Denver to better understand the journey food takes from field to plate. The on-site market offers artisan-made provisions from spices and pickled beets to jams and jellies to coffee and potato chips. In the dining room, chef and partner Matt Vawter serves dinners so good you may miss your train—the spicy mussels (served in a tomato-butter broth perfect for mopping up with bread to console yourself after the shellfish and fennel sausage are gone), the housemade pastas, or the rotating selection of fire-roasted meat and fish entrees, can make the most fastidious traveler lose track of time.
1313 E 6th Ave, Denver, CO 80218, USA
Chef Alex Seidel is more than a chef, he is the farmer of most of the fresh food being served. On his 10-acre farm, he tends to herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, pigs and bees. With the addition of sheep in 2010, he created Colorado‘s first Artisanal Sheep Dairy and Creamery. The Carbonara, which is the only item consistently on the menu, is infused with his delicious cheese. The cavatelli pasta is also topped with crispy pork belly and a poached egg for you to crack and mix into the meal. The rest of the rustic menu rotates seasonally and is a favorite among foodies.
1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202, USA
Even if you don’t have a train to catch, you’ll want to make time to explore all of the dining options at Denver’s Union Station. This Beaux-Arts landmark, completed in 1914, underwent a complete renovation in 2014, and now it not only serves as a modern transit hub, but houses a hotel, shops, and nearly a dozen restaurants and bars as well. Eateries include fresh seafood, oysters, and a granita bar at Stoic & Genuine; seasonally inspired comfort food at the sit-down eatery within Mercantile Dining & Provision; and locally sourced casual fare at Next Door. Pick up breakfast at Snooze, get caffeinated at Pigtrain Coffee Co., and for lunch or a quick dinner, stop by the Acme Delicatessen (and don’t forget Milkbox Ice Creamery for frozen indulgence afterward). For evening visits—postprandial or otherwise—head up to the Cooper Lounge on the mezzanine level for cocktails looking out into the station’s Great Hall.
150 West San Juan Avenue, Telluride
The epitome of fine dining, La Marmotte is as sophisticated as Telluride’s mountains are wild. While dining here, you can expect to enjoy expertly prepared dishes like beef tartare with caper berries and lemon, and roasted mahi-mahi, dusted with bee pollen and served with black garlic and sage sauce. Despite the elegant atmosphere, service is always fantastic, with no hint of snootiness.
118 Lost Creek Lane, Telluride
This Oklahoma institution opened its first Colorado outpost in 2018 at the Lumière Hotel, offering unconventional menu items like cauliflower steaks with mushroom risotto, mahi-mahi mango ceviche, and new spins on local classics, like a green-chili chowder with roasted corn and poblano peppers. Beyond the food, the cocktails here really sing—you’ll want to try the Misty Maiden, with locally distilled vodka, lemon, grapefruit, and St. Germain.
565 Mountain Village Blvd
If you think food tastes better al fresco, wait until you grab dinner at altitude. Allred’s Restaurant sits halfway up Telluride Ski Resort and is only accessible by gondola—from Lift 4 all the way up to San Sophia station. Once there, you should order the elk strip loin, marinated in juniper bourbon and served with sunchoke purée and black cherry compote, or the crispy Scottish quail with blue-corn cornbread and lingonberry-jalapeño sauce. Both are divine, especially when eaten with an eagle’s-eye view of the entire Telluride valley.
205 S Mill St, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
First thing you need to know about Cache Cache is that you need a reservation. This is one of the more popular restaurants in town. Of course you can always try your luck with the bar menu, which is first come first serve and an excellent option. Cache Cache serves a flavorful French and Provencal cuisine. Chris and Jodi, the co-owners pride themselves on the complete experience from start to finish and I think that is why people come back time after time with such loyalty. They create a culinary wonder. Their bar is also a hot spot, typically hosting three people deep at the bar and every seat spoken for around the bar on the weekends. The large white U-shaped bar and the transparent wall that looks into the wine room with bright blue lights highlighting the wines sets the modern, stylish tone.
403 S Galena St, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
When you eat at Casa Tua you are more than a guest at a restaurant. They make an effort to make everyone feel like they are visiting the home of a friend. Split into two levels, the top level is for members only. The bottom level is open to the public for dining and even though you may not be a member you are still treated like family. The kitchen is an open kitchen with viewing windows. The menu is designed as a four course Italian meal. Start the night with their famous Bellini and antipasta.. Their Burrata is to die for and melts in your mouth. Move on to the first course, or primi platti, with a paired wine that their sommelier can help you choose from their excellent wine list. After that, although you feel like you have already had a full meal, there is the main course of meats, fish and poultry. Hopefully you saved room for dessert because you won’t want to miss their Tiramisu.
303 E Main St, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
Matsuhisa, a Nobu restaurant, doesn’t disappoint. The restaurant is split into two levels. The menu upstairs is much cheaper than down and the two atmospheres drastically differ. The downstairs is more of a fine dining swanky experience where a reservation is recommended because they are always busy. There is a bar and a sushi bar downstairs that you can try your luck with getting a seat or you can go upstairs where it is first come first serve as well. Upstairs boasts a livelier lounge atmosphere with the majority of the seating at high tables. There are a few traditional tables but not many. The one thing that remains the same both upstairs and down is the quality of food. Like any other Nobu restaurant they only serve the best.
1539 17th St, Denver, CO 80202, USA
Eating fresh seafood in an inland city like Denver is certainly a unique experience, but don’t let the distance from the ocean be a concern. Jax’s mission is to bring the coasts to the coastless, and it does so with aplomb. For the eco-minded, the restaurant is deeply mindful about acquiring ingredients from sustainable sources; it’s the first eatery in Colorado to be certified by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program. Jax encourages customers to be smart about their own fish purchases and recommends that patrons use the Seafood Watch app. You’d better believe, after taking that kind of care to bring the ocean to the mountains, Jax prepares everything to perfection. There are two locations in Denver to choose from—as well as two other Colorado outposts, one each in Boulder and Fort Collins.
1520 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202, USA
A key component to the mastery of a skill is knowing when to break the rules. As its name implies, Jovanina’s Broken Italian breaks away from the traditional rules and expectations of Italian cuisine with the measured confidence of a master. Owners Jennifer and Jake Linzinmeir bring years of restaurant experience, both in the kitchen and in management, to Jovanina’s, which allows them to find an approachable balance of new flavors and classic dishes to the menu. The airy ground-floor space feels festive, with whitewashed brick walls along one side and a bar running the length of the other; a downstairs wine-bar dining area has a quieter, more intimate vibe. Try any of the handmade pasta specials or go with the favorite: a brick-oven pizza topped with fennel sausage, smoked mozzarella, and caramelized onions.
117 Sunny Ridge Place
By day, Alpino Vino functions as a cozy, ski-in lunch spot, known for its tomato soup and grilled cheese. By night, however, it’s a world-class restaurant, with a five-course, Italian Dolomites-inspired menu that would satisfy any nonna. Open during the winter only, the on-mountain spot is accessible solely by snow cat but, once there, you can warm up in the Alpine-esque dining room, where exposed beams and seats made from wine barrels are all part of the charm.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Food + Drink
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East