Over the past couple of years, the dining scene in Denver’s Highland neighborhood has exploded, giving us so many great places to choose from. It’s a highly walkable area that draws crowds, so if the restaurant of your choice happens to be too crowded, you can rest assured that you’ll have other delicious options within walking distance. With all of these options though, things can get a bit overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down for you with our guide to the 12 best restaurants in Highlands Denver. Happy eating!
12. Avanti Food and Beverage
One of our favorite food halls in the Denver area (and Denver’s very first food hall), Avanti Food and Beverage, has a rotating selection of seven restaurants, two bars, and plenty of indoor and outside seating. You can’t miss out on a Venezuelan arepa (basically a cross between a tortilla and a pancake) from Quiero Arepas, one of the OG restaurants that has been around since Avanti opened. We recommend ordering the original but adding muenster cheese. The fried plantains, black beans, avocado & guasacaca sauce make for a delightful medley of fresh and filling flavors. Another solid choice is Rotary, located adjacent to Quiero Arepas—choose from chicken or pork (or order both) from their rotisserie plates menu, plus your choice of two sides and one sauce. The peri peri sauce here comes highly recommended! All seven restaurants offer happy hour deals Monday through Friday, 2-6 p.m. and all day on Sundays (!!!), which presents a great opportunity to try a little something from each vendor if you’ve never been. All the restaurants here are a great choice for eating out, making Avanti one of the best dining options/restaurants in Highlands Denver.
Avanti Food and Beverage
$$ Bars, Food Court
11. Dimestore Delibar
A relative newcomer to the neighborhood, Dimestore Delibar is more than meets the eye from the outside. Walk in and you’ll see a selection of market (dimestore) items such as candy, various cooking/kitchen ingredients, and OTC medications. At the counter, you’ll find fresh butcher and deli foods, and you can choose to order your sandwich here or receive table service. With a sandwich menu that has the potential to change based on season, the selection is pretty much what you’d expect. But what stands out here is the meatloaf sandwich—one of Dimestore Delibar’s most beloved sandwiches! All sandwiches are made with focaccia bread, and the meatloaf sandwich is flavor-packed with pickled jalapeño slaw, potato sticks, and hoisin bbq sauce accompanying the meatloaf. SO GOOD. We recommend choosing the german potato salad side to accompany your sandwich, but skip the “cream” sodas as they are actually vinegar-based shrub sodas, and paired with the vinegary potatoes, they might send you into a vinegar overload. The affordable prices and late-night open hours keep us coming back again and again to one of the best restaurants in Highlands Denver.
$$ Bars, Delis
10. Highland Tap and Burger
If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a burger and friends while watching whatever game is currently on, Highland Tap and Burger is your place! Located in a trio of restaurants included in our guide (right next door to Bar Dough and Uncle), they’ve got plenty of seating inside and out, so come with all your friends, there’s room! They have over 15 burgers and sandwiches to choose from and if you’re in a sharing mood, we recommend splitting a burger and a salad (the salads are big!) with a friend. Their burgers come standard with an all-natural beef patty, but you can also upgrade it to a grass-fed beef, lamb, turkey, veggie, or impossible burger patty for an additional cost. A few of their most popular menu offerings are their wings, roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts salad, ahi tuna sandwich, or the green chile cheeseburger (pictured). It’s always nice to have a solid casual burger place to go to and for that, Highland Tap and Burger has earned its place on our guide to the best restaurants in the Highlands Denver.
Highland Tap and Burger
$$ Burgers, Sports Bars, Chicken Wings
9. Bar Dough
Bar Dough is one of the best Italian restaurants in Denver, and definitely one of the best restaurants in Highlands Denver with its inventive menu full of meat, fish, pizza, and pasta dishes. They are open for dinner seven days a week and for brunch on the weekends, which is just as impressive. We especially love the pizza at Bar Dough. They offer six different artisan pizzas to choose from, with a crust that is soft and fluffy, with just enough crisp around the edges. We recommend the Signore Bianco, crafted with stracciatella, Parmigiano, creamed leek, red onion, green olive, Fresno chile, and fennel. All of the flavors really come together and complement each other in an unexpected and delightful way. Or if you’re more of a pizza purist, the Margherita is amazing as well and can be found at a great price during their weeknight happy hour. The cozy, yet elevated neighborhood setting at Bar Dough makes it the perfect date night location. Dinner reservations and a hungry appetite are highly recommended here.
$$ Italian, Pizza, Bars
8. Sushi Ronin
Sushi Ronin serves up some of the freshest and tastiest sushi in Denver, and is one of the best restaurants in Highlands Denver. Only open for dinner, at Sushi Ronin you’ll find a more upscale dining experience for special occasions, and a reservation is almost a requirement (seating goes fast!) unless you can get there right at 5pm when they open. It’s highly recommended to try one of the chef’s sashimi plates, which you’ll only find on their specials menu, or one of their signature sushi rolls. Our favorite is the Ronin roll- which you know it’s good before even trying, because if the menu has an item named after the restaurant on it, chances are it’s one of their best! Inside the roll is tempura bincho and avocado, topped with spicy tuna and creme fraiche, which makes for a nice alternative to other rolls you’ll find at other sushi restaurants that have cream cheese inside, this roll is light, yet still filling, tasty and refreshing. If you’re more in the mood for nigiri sushi, ask if they have bluefin akami available, which is only available when they can get it fresh and isn’t on the regular menu (pictured), though the regular akami nigiri is fantastic as well.
$$$ Sushi Bars, Japanese, Bars
7. La Mexicana Taqueria
Welcome to La Mexicana Taqueria—a cute, colorful cantina serving up some of the very best tacos in Denver, and easily earning a spot on our guide to the best restaurants in Highland Denver. To make things easy, La Mexicana Taqueria gives you the option of ordering either two or four tacos with two different meat options. You can’t go wrong with the Choriqueso, but we also love the Al Carbón steak taco that features nice, giant slices of onion and avocado on top. La Mexicana Taqueria is a great place to head when you’re looking to escape the often over-crowded restaurants in the Highland neighborhood. La Mexicana Taqueria can also be found in our 10 Best Tacos in Denver Guide!
La Grande Mexicana (La Mexicana Taqueria at Highlands)
For the perfect after-work snack spot, head to Postino, one of the best restaurants in Highlands Denver. The starter section on their menu is even called “Snacky Things,” and while they do have a panini menu, we are here for the snacky things, the bruschettas, and the boards! Postino makes for a great spot to go with a group of friends for a slightly more upscale, shared-plates dining experience, whether it’s your first stop of the night to get some light bites before continuing onto another restaurant, or going all out and ordering something from each section of the menu. Pictured are the Butcher’s Block Board and the bruschetta sampler—it’s hard to pick four from the 12 different options, but the Brie & Apple, warm artichoke spread, sweet n spicy pepper jam and goat cheese, and smoked salmon and pesto are fantastic choices!
$$ Italian, Wine Bars, Breakfast & Brunch
5. Sassafras American Eatery
Walk into Sassafras and you’ll feel as though you’ve walked into a quaint little breakfast spot in the South. With its antique decor, colorful cloth napkins, housemade jams and hot sauces on the tables, and Bluegrass tunes floating through the air, this is bound to be one of the coziest and best dining experiences you’ll have in Denver. At Sassafras, you’ll find beignets, three varieties of shrimp and grits, cornbread, biscuits, and more southern-inspired offerings covering the menu. If you go with a friend who’s down to share, we recommend going for something savory and something sweet to split for the best of both worlds. We suggest ordering the Chicken Fried Eggs with Buffalo Hash, made of pecan wood-smoked, free-range buffalo, fried six-minute eggs (yolky perfection), jalapeño cornbread, and fresno chili hollandaise plus the Bananas Foster Pain Perdu. Sassafras is an easy choice for an unforgettable breakfast.
Sassafras American Eatery, Highlands
$$ Southern, Cajun/Creole, Breakfast & Brunch
4. Blue Pan Pizza
For the best Detroit-style pizza in Denver, you must go to Blue Pan and order The Brooklyn Bridge. Period. You might just fall off your seat with the first bite. A mouthful of perfectly crispy, golden cheesy crust, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, garlic, and the star of the show: ricotta dollops atop each slice. It’s no surprise that this pizza has won an international pizza competition and is a local favorite. In addition to their Detroit-style pizzas, they also have Chicago, NY and Italian-style pizzas. Blue Pan is a great lunch or dinner spot, and if you can get there early enough at lunch, they offer a limited amount of lunch specials which consists of a 2-topping 6×6 Detroit Style Pizza, house or caesar salad and a drink for only $10—a killer deal. Blue Pan Pizza is one of the best restaurants in Highlands Denver, and one we find ourselves returning to again and again. Also makes a great to-go option right now, grab some pizza and go eat it in a park nearby! No regrets.
Blue Pan Pizza West Highlands
It’s hard to pick a favorite between the three Edible Beats restaurants (a local restaurant group) in the Highlands to include in our guide to the best restaurants in Highlands Denver, but ultimately Linger is our favorite, open for lunch and dinner daily and brunch on the weekends, with a decent-sized indoor dining area and big rooftop patio with great views of the city. We love the variety on the menu and knowing we’ll always be able to order our favorites as the menu stays pretty consistent. The Beet Salad is a long-time menu staple, but if you’re not a fan of beets, the green tea soba power bowl is excellent as well. Lettuce wraps are the perfect serving size—tasty and they have some spice to them! And we can’t resist ordering the Devils on Horseback (goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. OMG.) every time we visit. The menu is pretty vegetarian and gluten-free friendly as well, with many options in each category having the option to go V/GF by request. The best time of year to dine at Linger is when the rooftop is open so you can take in the views and take advantage of happy hour food and drink items.
$$ Asian Fusion, Breakfast & Brunch, Bars
2. Señor Bear
Señor Bear is a cute little restaurant with a big outdoor patio on the corner of Tejon and 33rd, serving up a fun menu of Pan-Latin dishes for all cravings. Open for Brunch, Hora Loca (their Happy Hour), and Dinner, the restaurant setting is casual but their food is on another level. Our favorite time to come here is while Hora Loca is still going but dinner is about to start, this way you can try a few of their smaller choices from the Hora Loca menu, but still get to try some larger plate items off the dinner menu! Their regular dinner menu is split up into different food groups rather than starters & mains- Mariscos (seafood), vegetales, carnes+pollos, sides & desserts. One of our favorite menu items is the Gordo Crunch- only available during Hora Loca, consisting of a hard+soft shell, chorizo verde, special sauce, shredded lettuce, and cheese, you’ll want to order more than one but you’ve got to save room to try more! Also great are the empanadas and the summer bean escabeche (both are available during happy hour and dinner!). The escabache makes for the perfect cool & refreshing dish that’s most necessary during summer heat, and the empanadas are smoky + sweet perfection. Their food makes for great sharing plates, so grab some friends and head to Señor Bear, one of the best restaurants in Highlands Denver, asap!
$$ Latin American, Beer Bar, Cocktail Bars
One of the more exclusive restaurants on our guide to the best restaurants in Highlands Denver (we’ve witnessed wait times up to 2.5 hours!), but regardless, Uncle is our absolute favorite! Two of the most popular dishes on the menu are the Szechuan ribs from the “Small” section and the spicy chicken ramen (this ramen is our favorite ramen in Denver, hands down.), though the Colorado Wagyu Beef dish and the buns are also very popular as well. The Highland location is the original location, but they’ve opened a second spot in Wash Park that has a bigger menu and more than double the seating capacity so it’s a good option for a bigger group. If you happen to find yourself at Uncle on a cold night and the wait is too long, we can assure you your food will taste just as good at home, so call ahead and get it to go. For their incredible flavor and unmatched quality, Uncle easily sits at the very top of our guide to the best restaurants in Highlands Denver.
$$ Asian Fusion, Ramen, Noodles