Destination: Denver on the Cheap

Eating at the DNC


What sounds good: seared sweetbreads or a burrito? Cassoulet or chicken pot pie? Whatever strikes your fancy, Denver’s restaurants have got you covered.

  • Beatrice & Woodsley
  • 38 S. Broadway
  • 303-777-3505
  • Open Monday through Friday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • RTD bus route 0

THE PLACE: Self-taught designer-restaurateur Kevin Delk (see also Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto), inspired by a tale of runaway lovers roughing it in the Rockies of the 19th century, has created a forest clearing of an eatery, dotted with real aspen trunks; hung with lanterns, chain saws, and “waterfalls” of silver-bead strands; and lined with windows whose tint evokes sunlight filtering through treetops. Call it log-cabin goth.

THE PLATES: Likewise designed to “capture history,” in Delk’s words, Executive Chef Pete List’s small-plates menu is at once cutting-edge and familiar. You’ll find seared sweetbreads on croutons drenched in chestnut honey ($13), oxtail rillettes with a dollop of calves’ liver mousse on brioche ($11), and crawfish beignets filled with red pepper aioli and dusted with cayenne-laced powdered sugar ($9).

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  • El Taco de Mexico
  • 714 Santa Fe Drive
  • 303-623-3926
  • Open daily 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • RTD bus route 9

THE PLACE: Corn-yellow stucco. Bars on the windows. Five booths striped like the Mexican flag. A letter-board menu.

THE PLATES: Tangy carne al pastor or savory carnitas—sprinkled with chopped onion, cilantro, and the wonderfully smoky, salty house salsa and set on coaster-size corn tortillas—will run you $1.50 to $1.80 apiece. A hefty burrito stuffed with Spanish rice, refried beans, and a whole chile relleno costs $5.30.

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  • Osteria Marco
  • 1453 Larimer Street
  • 303-534-5855
  • Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • About a five-minute walk from the convention center

THE PLACE: A destination for meat and cheese fiends, this is a subterranean Italian joint with a loud, laid-back vibe.

THE PLATES: Alongside intensely cheesy, crunchy gnocco fritto ($3) and nearly molten-in-the-center, prosciutto-flecked, deep-fried cheese balls called crochette (served with a ramekin of fonduta thinned for dipping; $5), Marco’s signature burrata—mozzarella with a creamy filling ($9)—is rich enough to make a meal. Order the pizza extra-crispy to ensure its crust holds up under practically frothy house mozzarella or ricotta ($8 to $12), and top it off with a house-made limoncello ($6). Come Sunday for maialino (suckling pig; $25).

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  • M&D’s Fish & Barbeque Café
  • 2000 E. 28th Avenue
  • 303-296-1760
  • Open Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 2 to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m., closed Monday
  • RTD bus route 28

THE PLACE: On your first trip to this sunny quasi–country kitchen, you might get an earful for not dropping in sooner from the woman wiping down tables in a hair net and apron. That’s Daisy Shead, the D in M&D’s, in business for 30 years.

THE PLATES: Dry-rubbed and smoked over hickory and mesquite, the pork on M&D’s ribs peels cleanly off the bone. Get the ribs on a platter with “sliced” (actually pulled) pork, eggy potato salad, and brown-sugar-smothered yams ($16.99). Or order them on the so-called “lighter side”: The Indiana-style tips-and-pieces basket (rib tips and fries; $9.64) douses chopped ribs in jalapeño-shocked house sauce, and heaps them on top of battered “peppa fries.” Sunday supper is chicken and waffles ($8.98).

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  • Buenos Aires Grill
  • 2191 Arapahoe Street
  • 303-296-6709
  • Open Tuesday through Friday 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday 4 to 11 p.m., Sunday 4 to 9 p.m., closed Monday
  • A 15-minute walk from the convention center

THE PLACE: An oasis in the cracked concrete desert of the Lower Downtown Historic District (a.k.a. LoDo), the Buenos Aires Grill’s patio is a great place to contemplate the Denver skyline while sucking down Pisco Sours. Or cool off indoors to the piped-in sounds of a bandoneon, amid stained-glass panels, white linens, and black booths attended by servers clad vaguely like gauchos.

THE PLATES: Try grilled flank steak layered with broiled, sliced tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese ($15); huge, beef-stuffed empanadas with tangy red chimichurri ($5); grilled provolone with mushrooms ($10); or pork tenderloin in creamy lemon-caper sauce ($17). Digest it all with the help of the popular Argentine cocktail Fernet-Branca and Coke ($8.50, or $5 during happy hour), served martini-style.

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  • Z Cuisine Bistrot / À Côté Wine Bar
  • 2239 and 2245 W. 30th Avenue
  • 303-477-1111
  • Z Cuisine open Wednesday through Saturday 5 to 10 p.m., closed Sunday through Tuesday
    À Côté open Wednesday through Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight, closed Sunday through Tuesday
  • RTD bus route 32

THE PLACE: The bistrot is decorated with mismatched chairs and tables, beach-glass-and-coral chandeliers, and art nouveau accents of zinc, copper, and enamel. In the wine bar, French flicks are projected on the wall.

THE PLATES: The charcuterie plate, with rillettes and pâté, comes garnished with sugared walnuts, rhubarb chutney, and caramelized shallots ($21); or try the pungent fondue gratinée ($17). If the cassoulet ($29) isn’t on the menu, look for the pan-seared, blue cheese–encrusted pork chop with market veggies ($25)—followed by a juicy little swirl of apple galette ($7).

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  • Domo
  • 1365 Osage Street
  • 303-595-3666
  • Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m., closed Sunday
  • A 10-minute walk from the convention center

THE PLACE: Like some rough-hewn woodcutter’s cottage transported from 19th-century Japan, this curious hideaway is scattered with antique tools and jars of pit-viper wine. There’s a rock garden in the back.

THE PLATES: The Japanese equivalent of Korean banchan kicks it off—spicy chicken chunks fried with greens, beef-and-potato stew, sprightly sliced and sauced celery and mushrooms. Tojimono is a brothy omelet strewn with seaweed and onions ($12.50 to $18.50); battara yaki recalls a seafood pancake, thick and drizzled with a fruity teriyaki sauce ($4.80 small/$6.50 large). And the Wanko sushi—Domo’s version of chirashi, with each item in its own separate bowl of rice—rocks ($5.50 each, $23.50 for three courses, $29.50 for five); try it with mustard-glazed mackerel and salmon roe with grated taro on top. Domo also offers uncommon loose teas like black carrot and olive leaf.

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  • Los Carboncitos
  • 3757 Pecos Street
  • 303-458-0880
  • Open Sunday through Wednesday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
  • RTD bus route 38

THE PLACE: Except for citrus-bright walls and a few boxing posters, this small restaurant serving Mexico City–style fare is spare, and it doesn’t serve alcohol.

THE PLATES: The tostadalike carboncitos ($6.95) are homemade, thick-and-crunchy tortillas topped with meats like carne al pastor, melted Manchego cheese, and refried beans. There are also foot-long huaraches (like big, fat tortillas) topped with various things, like the Cubano ($7.95): beef, ham, Cotija cheese, tomato, red onion, jalapeño, avocado, and “Mexican sausage.” The vibrant, skillet-fried mélanges of meat, veggies, and cheese called alambres are good too ($8.95 to $13.95). Try, but take it easy on, the hot house-made salsas: tomatillo, avocado, and a duo of chile de arbol.

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  • Table 6
  • 609 Corona Street
  • 303-831-8800
  • Open Monday through Saturday 5 to 10 p.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.
  • RTD bus route 12

THE PLACE: A quiet little bistro with brick walls, wood floors, and a tiny, packed open kitchen. Even though it’s gotten a lot of press attention, it still feels like a special neighborhood place.

THE PLATES: Though the menu changes often, almond-studded tater tots with smoky tomato jam ($8) are staples, as is potted foie gras topped with grape or strawberry jelly and served with grilled country bread ($14). Other standouts may include calamari in mascarpone sauce with fried capers ($11), or chicken pot pie ($16). You’ll always find tasty roasted fish, and a good wine list with emphasis on lesser-known varietals from boutique vineyards.

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  • Snooze
  • 2262 Larimer Street
  • 303-297-0700
  • Open Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • A 15-minute walk from the convention center

THE PLACE: Snooze sometimes gets razzed for good reason. Waits can be marathon and service erratic (except at the convivial bar), and the Space Age décor, though cheery, smacks of a chain in training. But a single sip of the house-blend coffee—imported directly from a single estate in Guatemala—signals how good the food will be.

THE PLATES: The biggest draw is lace-fringed, fluffy pancakes in offbeat flavors such as bourbon-caramel-glazed sweet potato with ginger butter ($7.50) and sherried cherry cobbler with brown sugar–oat crumble and cinnamon whipped cream ($7.50). Fried on the flat-top, then broiled with cheddar and Jack, the Spuds Deluxe comes mixed with homemade chicken sausage ($7.50). Snooze makes a killer smoked-cheddar hollandaise that tops various dishes—in an ideal world, you could drink it straight from a shot glass. As for beverages, try the piquant Bloodies ($6) garnished with plenty of vegetables.

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