6 Foods Denver is Famous For

The Mile High City is a foodie’s paradise with a wide variety of international cuisines, American fare, vegetarian options, and more breweries than you can count. It’s hard to narrow down the field to the best, so instead, this is a list of dishes that were invented here, that have been adopted and taken on a life of their own, or things that Colorado exports to the rest of the world but that Denver gets to reap the benefits of. 

Loosen your belt, do some stretches and make a reservation, because we’re about to eat our way through the most delicious (and most Denver) dishes that the city has to offer.

1. Green Chile

Maybe Colorado isn’t the first state you think of when you think of chiles, but Denver loves its authentic Mexican cuisine, and they’ve adopted green chile sauce into many other types of food as well. If there was a food that Denver was known for, it would be “anything you can smother in green chile.” And that’s not an exaggeration, because green chile goes on almost anything.

Try the Green Chile Cheese Fries at Adobo. Once a food truck staple, Adobo now has a brick-and-mortar location at First Draft in Five Points. These fries are a delicious work of art — crispy potatoes topped with cheddar jack and cotija cheese, cilantro and lime crema, and green chile sauce. You can also add carnitas to complete the masterpiece. But the green chile doesn’t stop there, because Adobo also serves green chile cheese wontons.

If you’re looking for the most authentic and classic version of green chile, El Taco De Mexico has you covered. This taqueria has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation's elite group of America's Classics, so it wouldn’t be a lie to claim that this is the best in the city.

2. Smothered Burritos

Smothered burritos might be a subset of the green chile “food group,” but they deserve a spot on this list all on their own. You can get a delicious smothered burrito — the kind you have to eat with a fork and a knife and a napkin tied around your neck — at either Adobo or El Taco De Mexico. But there are a few more worth mentioning within the Denver area.

Benny's Restaurant & Cantina is a family-owned and operated staple in Denver’s Capitol Hill. For more than 30 years, they’ve been serving authentic Mexican fare (and 15 flavors of margaritas!) to the community. Their chile relleno burrito doused in the house green chile is a must-try! Señor Burritos is a small but mighty burrito shop in Southwest Denver. It’s a cheap, quick stop that delivers quality, flavor, and authenticity every time. 

The last stop on this short-smothered burrito tour is the Mexican Hamburger, served at Chubby’s in Sunnyside. Full of hamburger meat, beans, and rice and smothered in chile sauce, this one-of-a-kind burrito is a fan favorite — one of those Denver staples that locals are surprised more people don't know about.

3. Lamb

Lamb is an often-overlooked food that Denver is famous for. The sheep in Colorado are bred specifically for the quality and flavor of their meat and are highly sought-after by restaurants internationally. While Colorado lamb is exported around the world, there are also great spots to eat it right in Denver.

Denver ChopHouse serves an herb-crusted, bone-in rack of lamb topped with peach chipotle chutney. Located downtown in the Historic Union Pacific Building adjacent to Coors Field, Denver ChopHouse treats guests to a relaxed dining atmosphere with a wide beer and wine list as well as a diverse menu.

Mediterranean restaurant Rioja is a James Beard Award-winning establishment near Historic Larimer Square that serves some of the top-rated grilled Colorado lamb loins in Denver. If you can’t get a reservation (which is a possibility, because Rioja is often booked well in advance), you should still call the restaurant to see if they have availability for the chef counter seating.


4. Bison

A western staple that Denver is well-known for is bison. Colorado is a huge producer in the quickly expanding market for this sweet, rich red meat. Steaks, burgers, ribs, tartare, jerky — anything you can do with beef, you can do better with bison, and Denver does bison best of all.

If you’re looking to enjoy bison in a more casual atmosphere, Tocabe has locations in Greenwood and North Denver and is currently the only American Indian-owned and operated restaurant in Metro Denver specializing in Native American cuisine. The local favorite is the bison ribs, which are served with berry BBQ sauce and fry bread biscuits.

Located near the 16th Street Mall, Appaloosa Grill is another great place to find bison in Denver. Order one of their bison steaks for a more classic approach. They also have a Green Chile Bison Burger served on a butter-toasted brioche topped with fire-roasted green chiles, caramelized onions, gouda cheese, house steak sauce, and lettuce. For an even more unique twist, try the Bison Reuben, which has bison brisket, house sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and melted Swiss cheese served on toasted rye bread.

5. Rocky Mountain Oysters

Unique food that Denver is famous for — and one you might not want to think too hard about — is the Rocky Mountain Oyster. Or rather, deep-fried bull testicles. Many cultures around the world serve up testicles as a delicacy, but Rocky Mountain Oysters were invented by Western ranch hands. Not wanting to waste any part of the animal, they began cooking testicles with branding coals and quickly discovered how delicious they were.

Now a western delicacy, Rocky Mountain Oysters can be found in establishments all across Denver. Buckhorn Exchange is one of the most well-known restaurants to serve them. It’s located five minutes from downtown and is Denver’s oldest restaurant and steakhouse. Served with a horseradish dipping sauce, this is the quintessential Denver dish.

Rocky Mountain Oysters

6. Craft Beer

The final item on this list isn't food at all, but for all that Denverites talk about it, craft beer might as well take its rightful place on the Denver food pyramid. Denver is the home to 148+ breweries, many of which are located Downtown. The brewery scene is a major source of tourism for the metro area, so this might be the most famous item on the list.

The Denver beer scene has grown exponentially since home brewing was made legal in 1978. Since then, many of these homebrewers have taken the leap to larger operations, and the local community has come out to support them. Denver is a city that celebrates entrepreneurship when it comes to beer. In fact, there are so many to choose from that the city’s website even has a map of the Denver Beer Trail

With so many options, how do you pick the best brewery to visit? The answer is: you don’t. You can whittle it down based on location or if there’s a certain type of brew you want to try, but you really can’t go wrong. With that in mind, here are a few favorite breweries.

Rock Bottom Brewery Downtown is a tank-to-table establishment, meaning all the beer they serve is made on-site. They also have one of the best bar food menus in the city.

Woods Boss Brewery in Ballpark is the type of place that makes you feel like you’re lost in the woods (in a good way). With natural wood features throughout, you’ll be able to raise a glass with your friends and get the same feeling as if you were drinking around a campfire under the stars.

Cerveceria Colorado is an amazing Mexican beer brewery. They honor the traditions, flavors, and culture of Mexico as they create innovative styles of beer. 

This isn’t where it ends...

These famous foods of Denver are but a few of the many when it comes to delicious cuisine here. The Mile High City will never run out of options for its hungry locals or curious tourists. In fact, there are so many, that it’s often hard to decide. You’ll need help sifting through all the options to find your new favorite restaurant, and if you’re moving to the city, you’ll need help to find the gems among all the homes for sale in Denver. 

Contact us for help finding your new home, whether you’re searching for Englewood homes for sale or Arvada real estate. We promise to give you great restaurant suggestions in your new neighborhood!


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