Life in the Mile High
There's so much I didn't know about Denver before calling it home. If you're transplant (like me) or just passing through, you might be still discovering some of Denver's hidden gems. If you've never been to the Mile High, but have always wondered what it's like to live here, stay tuned. I'm dishing on my favorite Denver spots. Some I've discovered by chance, some I've finally got around to visiting after multiple recommendations and they've quickly become favorites.
Before we dive into the specifics, let's chat about some general things to know about Denver. First, it's super creatively inspired. From the street art and uniquely remodeled industrial buildings, to activities like fairs and festivals, Denver's got its own special creative flair. Yes, the weather is as amazing (and also unpredictable) as you've probably heard. Most restaurants & bars have a patio, usually complete with garage-door windows that slide up to make the whole space open to the outside.
Bikes and puppies are pretty popular. With the weather so nice, many people don't mind biking their commute. And we definitely love our dogs. It's not uncommon to see a pooch walking around grocery shopping with it's human. Ok I could seriously go on forever about all the general little things I love about Denver, but let's get to some specifics.
BREAKFAST + BRUNCH
OLIVE & FINCH - I love brunch (ha, could you tell?), but it doesn't always have to be a planned outing. Olive & Finch offers a casual, order & seat yourself setting with from-scratch and ready-to-order dishes. A super casual brunch should still be delicious, and O&F has nailed the balance. My absolute favorite is the Milano which comes piping hot in a skillet with a side of fruit and toast. I also like to grab a rejuvenate juice, and a piece of gluten-free chocolate chip banana bread to take to-go.
SNOOZE - A breakfast spot with a truly authentic Denver vibe, Snooze boasts an eclectic & fun atmosphere and a menu that's full of breakfast classics with a creative twist. My most-loved dish has to be the Bella! Bella! Benny. There's a reason this spot usually has a wait that's at least 30 minutes long (but is commonly known to be up to 2 hours during prime brunch time). Its good...like really good. Luckily they offer free coffee in cute orange cups while you wait, along with patio games like cornhole or giant jenga.
CONCOURSE - This spot is fairly new to the Denver brunch scene and happens to be in my immediate neighborhood. Stapleton used to be the primary airport serving Denver, but when it was relocated further east, this meant there were acres of land just northeast of downtown waiting to be developed. New homes, shops & restaurants have filed the space with more to come. Concourse pays homage to it's location, both literally with the name and through the Colorado inspired dishes. My go-to is the Denver omlet with rosemary ham, cheddar & piquillo peppers. The fried chicken + cornmeal waffles are also a fan favorite.
LUNCH + HAPPY HOUR
MACHETE - I could eat tacos & drink margs daily (who's with me?). Their menu is inspired by the heart of Mexico City, and their margaritas don't mess around - they're stout and delicious. My preferred Machete tacos include the Arrachera and the Al Pastor. Marg-wise, my go-to is the skinny margarita, but I'm also in love with the raspberry marg since it's fruity but means business - with house-infused tequila and muddled fresh raspberries.
AVANTI FOOD & BEVERAGE - The best way to explain Avanti is seven different food trucks built into a two story bar, with a sweet rooftop view of downtown Denver. It's a modern day food hall with all open-seating where everyone can gather for happy hour or a casual lunch and eat whatever genre of food they're feeling at the moment. It's tough to pick a favorite, but the spot I eat at the most often is the Quiero Arepas restaurant.
ANTHONY'S - Let's be real, I order this pizza for a late-night or drunk snack more often than I actually go in and eat it for lunch. It's absolutely delicious either way. Anthony's is true New York style, but with a Colorado touch. Thin and fresh, plus they have amazing ranch. I'm not a pizza snob and I'm usually happy with any, but this pie stands out above most any other crafted in Denver. They have multiple locations, but we lived outside their delivery radius for a year and it was a struggle. Happy to be back in range of an old favorite. (oh P.S. Yes, they do have gluten free and you don't even miss it)
PIATTI - Serving up classically delicious Italian in the heart of Cherry Creek. Piatti always has amazing specials and a great wine list, but my single favorite dish has to be their saffron pappardelle. If you're more of a classic spaghetti & bolognese person, I also highly recommend that dish - but be sure to add a meatball because they're super delicious. I love this spot for the classic vibe, plus the valet plays a pretty impressive game of tetris in the front lot since spots are limited, but valet is free (essential in Cherry Creek North).
OCEAN PRIME - This is the perfect date night spot, since I love seafood but my husband would rather stick to a delicious steak. The menu is absolutely fantastic, the setting is gorgeous, and the location is perfect - it's right in the heart of Larimer Square, which is Denver's most historic block. I have so many favorite dishes I won't bore you with the list, but get yourself a creme brulee for dessert - its worth it.
CHOLON - I went to Cholon for the first time for dinner with a couple friends from out of town. I had been for lunch before, and while it was good I wasn't exactly blown away. Dinner was another story altogether. From soup dumplings that pop in your mouth to pork belly served on a bun that was actually more along the lines of a cloud bread, our series of asian-inspired shared & small plates surprised and delighted with each round.
If you're just looking for a great mall with some go-to stores plus a few high end options, my go-to is the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. I almost always valet - since the garage is paid parking, the few extra dollars for front door service is totally worth it. They also have fun events every once in a while, so be sure to check their website before you pop by.
If you're in search of shopping with a more Denver-only vibe, all you have to do is walk across 1st ave and you've got blocks and blocks of local shopping. We're talking boutiques, galleries, furniture stores, handmade finds, plus a few great restaurants (including Piatti, Machete, and Olive & Finch that I talked about above).
I have so so many favorite boutiques in Denver, but my three favorites in this shopping area would have to be A Line boutique, Stitch Boutique, and Inspyre Boutique. I also really love the Artisan Center for gifts & knick knacks.
Places + Activities
RINO - Denver's arts district, RiNo is home to much of the street art I talked about before, plus a slough of creative businesses - from craftsman & artists to retail shops & unique spots to grab a drink. My favorites for the latter are the Infinite Monkey Theorem and the newly-opened Blue Moon Brewery.
UNION STATION - For many locals this is just a spot to grab a drink from the Terminal Bar before commuting home, but if it's your first time in Denver Union Station & the surrounding area are a must-see. There are multiple restaurants + retail venues in Union Station...even a Snooze location (see above). It's the perfect spot for a photo-op since it's lit up seasonally on the outside (purple for rockies, red + green for the holidays, etc). Plus, the surrounding blocks are also a great place to explore and you're just a few blocks from Lodo (lower downtown, aka the young + hip bar scene)
PARKS - Denver has almost 200 parks, but the top two must-visits are Washington Park (aka "Wash Park) and City Park.
THE BEER - I'm no longer a beer girl myself since developing a gluten allergy (the worst!), but if you're a fan, Denver is definitely the place to find your new favorite brew. Micro breweries are everywhere and they're a super affordable way to have a night of drinks with friends. My (pre-allergy) favorites are the Breckenridge Brewery & Pub, the Denver Beer Company (I recommend the graham cracker stout) and Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery (I'm a little partial to this one because I used to live right next door and the food is delicious). Here's a full list, but if you can't hit them all I recommend Tap 14.
MISC FAVORITES - A few more of my absolute favorite spots would be Punch Bowl Social, Voodoo Doughnut, and Stanley Marketplace, which is a group of 50+ shops, restaurants & businesses built in an old hanger from the Stapleton Airport.
What I'm Wearing
I know, this tee is awesome. It's a design from Raw Krityx and a perfect way to tout the Colorado lifestyle.
Graphic tees have to be the OG fall transition piece.
So easy to layer, you can dress them up or down, and they work as your own personal billboard / conversation starter. If you're sold, you can get this exact one here (it also comes in white). Speaking of layering, a lace cardigan is a relatively unique and feminine way to achieve a warmer look - just in case you needed an idea for a sweater that's not totally a sweater.
If you watch my insta story, you've probably seen these earrings a few times. Not only that, you know I also got them in Hawaii and sadly can't find them anywhere on the mainland US. If you want a similar look you can check out these or these.
These raw hem, olive green jeans were a quick-pinch snag from Target, but they're already shaping up to be a fall staple. The perfect color, on-trend with the raw hem, and they've got a fun white paint splat. The price tag (just under $30) has got me wishing I could grab them in every color.
Everyone needs a good felt hat. This grey felight fedora was another quick snag, but from last season. It's back in stock and a great way to try out the trend before you invest in a more pricey version.
As always, You can shop this whole look via the VENNDY widget below.
Denver natives: What are your favorite spots?
Planning a trip to the mile high? Which spots are you set on checking out? Leave a comment below, or use #NeverSkipBrunch
P.S. I'm sharing all these spots because I legit love them. This tee was gifted from Raw Krityx & the shoppable outfit links are affiliate links