20 Best Lunch Restaurants in RiNo, Denver

Denver’s River North Art District, which locals refer to as RiNo, has seen tons of development in recent years. What were formerly warehouses are now local retailers, craft breweries, and contributors to an incredible food scene. Trust us, you’ll have no trouble finding delicious lunch restaurants in RiNo.

Given the young crowd and the neighborhood’s laid-back feel, most eateries have a casual ambiance. Similarly, many menus are informal — but the dishes served are flavorful and creative. Find places that blend regional barbecue styles, spots that make authentic ramen bowls, marketplaces and food truck round-ups, and even a shipping container that dishes out quality Italian fare. 

As a local food tour company that’s dined all over the neighborhood, we’re confident in saying that these are the best lunch restaurants in RiNo, Denver:

20 Best Lunch Restaurants in RiNo

Los Chingones street tacos served during our RiNo Arts District Food Tour

Our RiNo Arts District Food Tour allows locals and visitors to experience some of the top lunch restaurants in RiNo from 1:30 to 4:30 pm daily. It includes five generous tastings, plus optional drink pairings. Savor housemade ricotta gnocchi with rosé lemonade, Japanese-style fried chicken with a citrusy rice ale, spicy street tacos alongside a refreshing margarita, and more. 

This one-mile walking route makes stops at five eateries and several photo-worthy murals. Throughout the tour, your fun and knowledgeable guide will share interesting tidbits about the neighborhood’s art and dining scenes. This experience is priced at $75 per adult or $110 with three alcoholic beverages. Children under the age of thirteen are $60 per.

The vibrant interior of Sushi-Rama

A conveyor belt serving sushi and other Japanese fare winds its way around Sushi-Rama’s vivid interior. Though a fast-casual concept, the bi-level restaurant takes pride in its seafood quality, as well as its approachability.

The menu is written in English and features classic and specialty rolls, plus nigiri and shareables like shishito peppers, pork and vegetable gyoza, and crispy calamari. Dish names and serving plates are color coordinated, indicating a la carte pricing. Pair your meal with warm sake, plum wine, or refreshing ales sourced locally and from Japan.

A barbecue plate from Pit Fiend Barbecue

Pit Fiend is one of Colorado’s best barbecue spots with its original pit-master from the legendary Franklin’s in Austin, Texas. Clear your afternoon for a nap after you’ve consumed its mouthwatering brisket, pulled pork, racks of spare ribs, and other house-smoked meats. Even vegans can feast here with options like jackfruit and mushrooms available by the quarter, half, or full pound. Classic fixin’s like creamy mac and cheese, cornbread muffins with hot honey, and its signature pit beans also appear on the menu.

Ranked as one of the best lunch restaurants in RiNo, this counter-serve eatery has very limited seating. But if you order a beer from Our Mutual Friend next door, Pit Fiend customers are welcome to dine on the brewery’s patio.

Two Redeemer Pizza customers eating pizza and salad

Redeemer Pizza’s minimalist decor contrasts its bold New York-style pies, each made on a unique sourdough crust. Take a seat inside and order one of its 16-inch signature options, like “All The Mushrooms” made with roasted oyster mushrooms, soy pickled mushrooms, aged balsamic, and garlic cream. 

Or swing by its quick-service patio for the $10 slice and salad lunch deal, available from 11 am to 4 pm daily. Experimental slices rotate weekly but you can’t go wrong with one of the tastiest dishes in RiNo: its special Sicilian slice available on Fridays. 

Sandos, small plates like garlic knots and burrata, and olive oil ice cream round out the menu. Beer, wine, and cocktails are also available. Visit solo or experience this spot on our RiNo Arts District Food Tour.

A sandwich from Rye Society, one of the best lunch restaurants in RiNo

Rye Society is a neighborhood staple and one of the best lunch restaurants in RiNo. The pastrami, corned beef, and Reuben are all thick, juicy, and served on local City Bakery rye or ciabatta bread. The Jewish delicatessen also offers sides like golden latkes and comforting matzah ball soup, along with blintz for dessert. 

Expect casual ambiance and fast service, perfect for a mid-day break from the office. Or if you’re in no rush after lunch, take a walk and admire the area’s street art, one of the best things to do in Denver.

Food trucks and crowds playing lawn games at Improper City

Few lunch spots in RiNo are as trendy as Improper City. Its interior features 36 taps serving draft cocktails, beer, and wine. There’s also a full bar serving seasonal specialty cocktails, as well as zero-proof beverages.

To complement its extensive drink selection, Improper City hosts local food trucks in its large outdoor space. Depending on the season, one to five vendors pop up, often as early as 11 am. Expect a rotating selection of global eats, from Venezuelan arepas and Hawaiian poke to Turkish fare and New York bodega-style chopped cheese. Umbrella-shaded tables, lawn games, and vibrant murals add to the fun, laid-back atmosphere.

Diners dipping chopsticks into Japanese plates at Osaka Ramen

Tucked down on the basement level, Osaka Ramen takes cues from authentic ramen shops in Japan. The same can be said for much of its menu, which features traditional-style ramen bowls like tonkotsu and spicy miso, along with locally-inspired flavors like green chile with chorizo. 

Complement your meal with a number of Japanese-inspired small plates, including spam musubi, okonomiyaki fries, and its highly popular chicken karaage — which happens to be one of several tastings on our RiNo Arts District Food Tour

Attend our guided experience, stop in for a casual lunch, and maybe even visit after work, as Osaka Ramen offers one of the best happy hour deals in Denver.

The South American-inspired interior of Mister Oso

One of the best lunch restaurants in RiNo, Mister Oso captures the vibrancy of South American cultures through its flavorful menu and eclectic interior. Painted ceramic tiles line the bar and greenery hangs from decorative seating dividers. A large mural wall featuring tropical plants and jungle birds adds to its transportive feel. 

Order a bowl of house-baked chips and fresh guacamole, followed by colorful trays of creative tacos. Think chicken tinga, lamb barbacoa, and sweet potato served on your choice of corn, avocado flour, or pork flour tortilla. Its empanadas are also incredible, as is dessert: a dish of long, twisty churros served with a rotating selection of ice cream.

A beer, burger, and fries from Park Burger

Local chain Park Burger has four locations across Denver, all of which feature outdoor patios, craft beer, and chef-inspired eats. Favorites on the menu include its birria burger with pepperjack cheese and garlic aioli, as well as its Gettin Figgy Wit It burger topped with fig jam, brie cheese, bacon, and arugula. Additionally, it serves a housemade veggie burger and baskets of its popular truffle-parmesan fries.  

Park Burger also offers a solid lunch special in RiNo from 11 am to 3 pm on Mondays through Fridays. Get its signature burger (a third-pound patty with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and burger sauce), plus a small order of classic fries and a fountain soda for just $13.

Guests seated within Denver Central Market

Eleven vendors make up Denver Central Market, a community hub that ranks as one of the best things to do in RiNo. Those visiting for lunch will find vibrant salads and smoothies from Green Seed, meatball subs and Italian beef sandwiches from The Local Butcher, along with handrolls and ceviche from Tammen’s Fish Market. Aptly named Lunchboxx serves globally-inspired plates from Vietnamese lettuce wraps to Middle East-style mezze platters. 

There are also handmade pastas and wood-fired pizzas at Vero, one of our RiNo Arts District Food Tour partners. On our guided experience, you’ll sample its Gnocchi al Telefono: creamy ricotta gnocchi with tomato sugo and fresh mozzarella. 

Need a sweet something after lunch? Opt for an ice cream flight from High Point Creamery, decadent bonbons from Temper Chocolates, or a Colorado Queen bun from Izzio Bakery. If you need a pick-me-up after your meal, stop by Crema Bodega to try one of its many featured international coffee roasters.

The exterior of Butcher Block Cafe, one of the top lunch restaurants in RiNo

For over 30 years, Butcher Block Cafe has been a beloved greasy spoon and one of the best lunch restaurants in RiNo. Expect humble settings and an all-American diner menu with various burger options, a classic French dip, country fried steak with brown gravy, and a ground beef patty melt smothered in green chile. Be sure to save room for dessert — the housemade cinnamon rolls at this hole-in-the-wall are part of why locals keep coming back.

A colorful, healthy plate from Stowaway Kitchen

Stowaway Kitchen serves globally-inspired, health-forward fare in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Picture white-painted brick, wood booths and tables, and a garage door that rolls up on sunny days in Denver. 

Its menu is equally as modern, with options like an eggplant and halloumi sammie, Japanese asa-gohan with grilled Verlasso salmon, and a mushroom and green hummus tartine. Stowaway Kitchen also has an extensive drink list featuring espresso beverages and tea, plus local beer, wine by the glass, and craft cocktails.

Street tacos from Los Chingones

Los Chingones’ RiNo location is one of the best rooftop restaurants in Denver. Take in city skyline views from its shaded patio or be seated inside the hip restaurant, which features vibrant graffiti and a Mexican-inspired flare. 

On the lunch menu, you’ll find modern takes on traditional dishes like melty queso with rattlesnake chorizo, crispy Brussels sprouts with cotija and lime, plus inventive street tacos — which we spotlight on our RiNo Arts District Food Tour. Unique flavors include bang bang shrimp, pork pastor with braised pineapple, and adobo chicken topped with crushed Fuego Takis. 

Wash down your meal at one of RiNo’s top eateries with a Mexican Coke or one of several margaritas because, after all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!

Colorful cocktails, salad, and pizza served at The Back 9 within The Walnut Room

The Walnut Room serves up square-cut, thin-crust, Chicago-style pizza. Signature pies include its namesake special made with walnuts, Roma tomatoes, green olives, onion, garlic, and a mix of tomato and pesto sauce. Other options include its Florentine, buffalo chicken, and “Margheritaville” — its take on a classic Margherita pizza. Gluten-free crust and vegan cheese may be substituted. Salads, sandwiches, and wraps are also available, as is a full bar. 

From 11 am to 2 pm, this RiNo spot also offers several weekday lunch specials. Get a one-topping slice of pizza and a soda or PBR for just $7, or tack on a side item for $11.75. The latter price also applies to its half-sandwich deal, which includes a side, plus a soda or PBR.

Need more reasons to visit? The Walnut Room is affixed to The Back 9, an entertainment space with two virtual golf simulators. Book a bay and bring your clubs, or use those available on-site.

A burger and fries from Smōk Barbecue

Before opening Smōk Barbecue at the trendy Source Hotel, head chef Bill Espiricueta refined his culinary skills in Dallas, Texas and Kansas City. He blends these and other regional barbecue styles in crafting the eatery’s burnt ends, pork belly, brisket, and other smoked meats, all sold by the quarter, half, and full pound. 

Several are also made into decadent sandwiches piled high with toppings. Favorites include its fried Nashville hot chicken sandwich served on a brioche bun, along with its Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich featuring ginger slaw and barbecue sauce on the side. Pair these with shareables like its deviled eggs, as well as Southern-inspired sides like its creamed corn, fried okra, and sweet potato tots.

A sandwich, chips, and a drink from Snarf's Sandwiches

Founded in Boulder, Colorado in 1996, Snarf’s Sandwiches has grown into a national chain but its quality and fun, casual atmosphere hasn’t changed. Brightly-hued seating and walls create a cheery aesthetic, complementing the counter’s coloring book-like mural of the Denver skyline. 

Along the counter, customers line up to order cold and oven-toasted sandwiches like its French dip, pastrami and Swiss, prime rib and provolone, and classic Italian topped with its signature giardiniera pepper blend. Gluten-free bread and several vegetarian options also appear on the menu, as do sides, leafy salads, and a soup of the day.

Guests dining within Comal Heritage Food Incubator

Eat well and support a good cause at Comal Heritage Food Incubator, which employs immigrant and refugee women. The fast-casual eatery provides them the opportunity to earn an income while learning culinary techniques and entrepreneurial skills. Since 2016, its program has served 40 individuals and resulted in the opening of six women-owned businesses. 

Many of the dishes served at Comal Heritage Food Incubator have a Latin American influence. Lunch specials rotate throughout the week, with options like chicken tinga tacos, bean and cheese pupusas, and veggie tostadas. Other menu items include larger plates like its Camarones a la Diabla and sides including pork green chile stew served with a large housemade tortilla.

Pizza and oysters from Cart-Driver, one of the best lunch spots in RiNo

For ten years, Cart-Driver has operated out of a renovated shipping container in RiNo. Given its 640-square-foot size, indoor seating is limited but its two outdoor patios allow for al fresco dining during much of the year. 

Italian small plates and wood-fired pizzas are Cart-Driver’s specialties. Its most popular pies include the Clam, topped with littleneck clams, pancetta, and roasted garlic; as well as its namesake pizza made with sausage, kale, mozzarella, and a pinch of chili flakes. Round out your meal at one of RiNo’s best restaurants with oysters on the half shell and a bevvy from its drink menu, which features beer, wine by the glass, cocktails, and bubbly spritzes, plus several zero-proof options.

Burgers and cheese fries from Shake Shack

With a dozen decadent burgers and more on its menu, national chain Shake Shack ranks as one of the best lunch restaurants in RiNo. Savor its ‘shroom burger topped with a fried portobello that oozes melted muenster and cheddar cheese, or go for its Green Chile Cheddarshack that spotlights Denver’s favorite spicy condiment. 

No order is complete without a side of cheesy crinkle-cut fries and one of several shake flavors, including cookies and cream, strawberry, and non-dairy chocolate. A meal here is worth every calorie.

Japanese plates from Sushi Kuro, one of several vendors within Zeppelin Station

Sleek and modern with a laid-back feel, Zeppelin Station fits right in with the neighborhood. The food hall features six globally-inspired vendors, including a coffee shop and cocktail bar. 

As for lunch options, head to Sushi Kuro, which serves specialty rolls, sushi burritos, and flavorful poke bowls. Uptown & Humboldt is visitors’ go-to spot for burgers and gyros. There’s also Purisima, where you’ll find Mexican street food, along with Pesto, which offers housemade pasta and other Italian fare.