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One of the hottest foodie destinations in Denver is RiNo (River North Art District). With several epicurean marketplaces including the Denver Central Market and countless acclaimed restaurants, anyone who love great food is a constant visitor to the area. Many of the popular venues are covered in street art on the outside, filled with art on the inside, and their menus are masterpieces of their own. Whether you’re testing the area as a potential new homebase, or just visiting for a bit, here are ten amazing restaurants you need to try while in RiNo.
If you’re from the Denver area, you might already know the popular noodle bar, Uncle. If you like it, then you’ll love chef Tommy Lee’s second eatery, Hop Alley. Named for historic 1870s Chinatown in Denver, Hop Alley ties wood-fired cooking and regional Chinese dishes together to create an unforgettable dining experience. A rotating menu that features different provinces in China ensures that diners can come back again and again for updated menus filled with dishes that range from the authentic traditional to modern fusion.
When it opened in 2012, The Populist was one of the first restaurants to venture into the RiNo area where they promptly introduced their unique communal style dining to the Denver area. Chef Jonathan Power constantly impresses guests with his New American small plates that take inspiration from around the world from Europe to Asia to Latin America and back again. Seasonally changing dishes are crafted from the finest fresh, local ingredients and are meant to be shared family style. Depending on the size of your party, you’ll want to order between two and seven courses.
Il Posto isn’t new to Denver, but they’ve recently relocated to the RiNo area after ten years downtown. Head chef, owner, and all-around character, Andrea Frizzi, began his culinary training in his family’s restaurant in Milan and his menu reflects his love for his home country. In the new venue’s open-air kitchen Andrea and his team busily prepare a menu that changes daily based on available ingredients and the day’s mood. You never know what will be available, but you can bet it’ll be magical.
Cart-Driver isn’t your typical restaurant venue. This RiNo favorite is squeezed into a 640-square-foot shipping container but still manages to crank out some of the best pizzas around. The name comes from the Carrettiera, or cart-drivers, who brought goods from the farms to the villages and cooked for people along their journey. Like the Carrettiera, Cart-Driver works with locally-sourced, fresh ingredients to create wood-fired pizzas using unique ingredient combinations that will keep you coming back for more.
Julep is one of the newest restaurants to take RiNo by storm. After opening on February 11, 2018, husband and wife team, Kyle and Katie Foster, began serving up sophisticated southern cuisine inspired by their travels through the South. As the chef, Kyle seeks not to recreate classic southern fare, but instead channel the southern style of cooking using their traditions and resourcefulness to create new takes on southern comfort food. Whatever you do, be sure to try their biscuits. They’re addicting!
Acorn is the adorably named sister restaurant to Boulder’s OAK at fourteenth, but there’s nothing adorable about their food. When food packs this much of a flavor punch, you have to sit up and take notice. Located in the Source, an 1880’s turned epicurean marketplace, Acorn isconsistently on Denver’s list of best restaurants. Their ever-changing menu features eclectic, family-style, New American small plates and entrées made in its oak-fired oven and grill. Do you sense a theme?
“Square meal, stiff drink, and fair price,” is how the owners of Work & Class describe the idea behind their restaurant. This no-nonsense restaurant prides itself on making simple food, but don’t let that fool you, they’re still serving up some of the best fare in the area. The two owners, Tony Maciag and Dana Rodriguez, come from working-class backgrounds in Detroit and Chihuahua, Mexico, respectively, and the menu reflects their dual heritage—serving both American and Latin American food to their appreciative customers. Whatever you decide to get, it’ll be good portions at a fair price and you’ll be coming back for more.
It was a 16-year journey from idea to reality for husband and wife team, Obe and Whitney, but their long-held dream of owning their own business finally came true when they opened their seasonal restaurant, bakery, marketplace, and bar a couple of years ago. Inspired by a 10th-anniversary trip to New Orleans, the couple decided to combine their interests in baking, music, community, and food to create a super business. And super it is! Visit The Preservery to partake of Chef Brendan Russell’s fresh, flavor-packed plates and Whitney’s scrumptious baking while you listen to live music in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Troy Guard, the owner and chef at Mister Tuna, is no stranger to the restaurant industry (it’s his 8th restaurant), but this project may be closest to his heart. Located in the Industry Building, Mister Tuna is inspired by Troy’s childhood in Hawaii where his dad cooked meals on a grill in the backyard. The restaurant’s wood-fired grill and continuously spinning rotisserie serve up local game and heritage hogs, while the raw bar offers pickled and fermented everything. Come together in “Ohana” or family at Mister Tuna to try a variety of Asian-inspired dishes from Vietnamese to Indian to—naturally—Hawaiian.
Meadowlark Kitchen is home to one of Denver’s best burgers, the Meadowlark Burger. The high-quality beef is topped with spicy candied bacon, an onion ring, jalapeno bacon confit, Irish cheddar sauce, and topped with a soft-poached egg. The rest of the menu is just as interesting. It’s full of reimagined American classics, half of them vegetarian, and all from the mind of Joshua Bitz, a chef who grew up in the area and even played at the namesake Meadowlark music venue next door. If you’re in the mood to try familiar plates with a twist, then head over to this funky venue for a flavorful adventure.
RiNo is an industrial chic area that art and food have newly made cool again. Now, out of empty industry buildings is rising one of the newest, hottest neighborhoods in Denver. Condos, apartments, and townhomes are quickly snapped up as people move into the area enjoy RiNo’s fantastic food venues, trendy boutiques, and artistic atmosphere.
If the RiNo neighborhood appeals to you—and why wouldn’t it, after trying all of these fabulous restaurants—contact me, [insert real estate agent name], and I can help you find the perfect home at the perfect price in this up and coming neighborhood.