The Mile High City is full of delicious eateries with a range of cuisines and atmospheres. Given so many options, our local food tour company has spent much of the past five years sampling countless restaurants. We only point our readers and tour guests to our personal favorites, and in our opinion, these twenty spots are the best lunch restaurants in Denver:
20 Best Denver Lunch Spots
Found across from Union Station’s railway platform, Tavernetta is a stylish Italian eatery by the Frasca Hospitality Group. Masterful dishes by Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson are paired with a stellar ambiance. Think open kitchen, outdoor patio, and fireplace lounge. It’s the type of place you take clients to when you’re looking to impress.
Monday through Friday from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, a two-course prix fixe menu is served for $35 per person. Select soup or salad, then a main course featuring house-made pasta and local ingredients. Attentive servers ensure your wine selection will pair perfectly with your meal and of course, dessert. A la carte options include espresso-based affogato and tiramisu, as well as seasonal gelati e sorbetti — because why not have both?
Rye Society is a RiNo neighborhood staple, creating delicious sandwiches that make for a great lunch in downtown Denver. The pastrami, corned beef, and Reuben are all delish, especially on local City Bakery rye and ciabatta. The Jewish delicatessen also offers sides like latkes and 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.
Set on Berkeley’s charming Tennyson Street, Vital Root serves healthy meals in a striking environment. Fresh plants line the walls and appear on your plates — sometimes, in a fashion that you wouldn’t expect. On the menu, you’ll find vegan “chicken” and waffles, Korean BBQ veggie “wings,” and edamame “pâté” on bahn mi tacos. The quotation marks further appear with cashew-based “queso” dip and rice paper “bacon” on a generous cobb salad.
Though the substitutes are unfamiliar to some, even meat eaters agree that this Edible Beats eatery is a winner. From plant-based comfort foods to feel-good bowls and smoothies, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Spanish tapas and carefully paired Iberian wines make Ultreia easily one of the best lunch spots in Denver. Along with that, the ambiance is unbeatable. Set inside the recently renovated Union Station, the restaurant’s atmosphere is both upscale and full of character. Spanish tile, Renaissance murals, and an impressive wine wall are all part of the décor. The outside patio is more modern, offering city views.
Tapas on the menu include pan con tomate, croquetas de jamón, and bacon-wrapped dates. Sopa de Ajo, a Spanish garlic soup, and a variety of sandwiches are other favorites. To end your memorable meal, order a pastel de nata, a Portuguese custard tart, with a shot of espresso.
Downtown Denver Food Tour
Taking a food tour is one of the best things to do in Denver, whether you’re a tourist or a long-time local. During this 3-hour experience, enjoy good company while lunching at five of the city’s top restaurants. Generous portions, drink pairings, and a variety of cuisines are part of what makes this the #1 Denver tour on TripAdvisor.
Along with that, you have the attention of a knowledgeable local guide. They’ll accommodate any dietary restrictions, and share insights into each unique establishment. Plus, with stories of the city’s past and present, you may even walk away with a fun fact to share at the dinner table.
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs is often featured in food publications, celebrated for its bizarre take on an American classic. No mystery meat here! Rather, expect the unexpected, like dogs made from wild boar, bison, rattlesnake, and new on the menu: ostrich.
The toppings are just as unique. For example, “The Desert” features harissa roasted cactus, curry jam, scallions, cilantro, and onions. Sides like baked beans and fried mac n’ cheese complete the meal.
Olive & Finch
Olive & Finch has locations in Uptown and Cherry Creek, both bustling during the lunch hour rush. The charming cafes create several salads and more than a dozen sandwich options. An all-day breakfast menu with savory hashes and toasts makes what to order an even tougher decision.
The bright side? No matter what you choose, you won’t be disappointed. The same applies to dessert, which you can’t pass up after seeing their selection at check-out. Behind the glass cases lie a whole array of pastries, which pair perfectly with a beverage from their coffee bar.
Denver Biscuit Company
Who said brunch is only reserved for the weekends? At Denver Biscuit Company’s five locations, giant breakfast sandwiches are served until 2:00 pm, Monday – Friday.
The Dalia is a favorite on the menu, featuring a sausage patty, fried egg, maple syrup, and house-made apple butter. The Cordon Bleu is another go-to, stacked high with fried chicken, ham, swiss cheese, and more of that irresistible apple butter. Non-meat eaters will love the biscuit french toast and biscuits with mushroom gravy.
The fun, laid-back vibe makes this the perfect spot to get together with friends, especially on a warm day when you can take advantage of their patio. Cheers to one of the best brunch spots in Denver!
Created by Owner and Executive Chef Lon Symensma, the lunch menu at ChoLon is a weekday treat. Monday through Friday from 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, the kitchen creates Southwest Asian cuisine with a twist. French onion soup dumplings, a flagship dish, is a perfect example. Other sharable small plates include wagyu beef skewers, kaya toast, and Thai brussels sprouts.
Lunch plates are also available, like Korean hot fried chicken sliders and Indonesian fried rice with your choice of protein. Spiced doughnuts with Vietnamese coffee ice cream round out the meal which you’ll enjoy in a stylish atmosphere. Find locations in both the Union Station and Central Park neighborhoods.
All three Maria Empanada locations are busy during lunch hour, as their Argentinean specialty is great on the go. With half-dozen and dozen boxes available, they’re also an ideal spot when you’re looking to feed a large group.
Fourteen tasty options, including vegetarian flavors, mean there’s something for every preference. And don’t skip on dessert — their six-packs of alfajorcitos, shortbread cookies with dulce de leche, are incredible!
Mercantile Dining and Provision
As one of the best restaurants to visit in Denver, it should come as no surprise that Mercantile Dining and Provision serves a stellar lunch. Though James Beard award-winning Chef Alex Seidel is the star behind the scenes, you wouldn’t guess it by the unpretentious atmosphere. But, you might upon tasting the menu.
Artisan sandwiches, salads, and flavorful bowls (should) precede a visit to the pastry case. Before leaving their Union Station location, grab an almond croissant, macaron, or another indulgent treat.
Shopping at 16th Street Mall is one of the best things to do in downtown Denver, and you’re sure to work up an appetite. The promenade features all kinds of eateries, but if you want something quick and delicious, few area food stands rival Kealoha’s BBQ.
Their traditional Hawaiian plates receive rave reviews, especially when it comes to the spam musubi. The same goes for their lilikoi BBQ ribs and kalua pork served with Hawaiian-style macaroni salad. Pair your meal with pineapple or coconut-infused lemonade, and understand why this lunch in downtown Denver is a local favorite.
Found near Coors Field, The Original brings modernity to the traditional American diner. Their spacious restaurant captures a sense of nostalgia, as does their menu — for the most part. Classics like chicken fried steak and cheeseburgers appear alongside avocado toast and a shaved brussels salad.
Regardless of your tastes, the food is sure to impress. As will the cocktail menu, which features bottomless mimosas! But maybe on a weekday, you’ll hold on that, and instead, opt for “the business lunch.” $20 gets you a sandwich, two sides, and a soft drink or iced tea. But keep those mimosas in mind come the weekend.
Leaning into a marketplace concept, The Bindery features a coffee and pastry shop, plus one of the best Denver lunch restaurants. Owner and Chef Linda Hampsten Fox tapped into her storied culinary background when establishing the eatery. Her expertise is evident in the welcoming ambiance and mouth-watering plates.
On Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, the daytime menu features filling salads and sandwiches. Try the Scottish salmon niçoise salad, Reuben with hand-cut fries, or on a chilly day, an elevated take on grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Not only does Kachina Cantina offer some of the best happy hour specials in Denver, they know how to draw a lunch rush, too. Set within the Denver Milk Market, this vibrant eatery blends Southwest and Mexican cooking styles. The result is a fusion of flavors worth celebrating — maybe even with a mid-day margarita.
Seven styles of tacos are on the menu. Corn and flour tortillas are available, but trust us, the fry bread option is the way to go. Salsa flights, sizable entrées, and sweets are also available to order.
Whether you’re out solo, connecting with co-workers, or even a client, Kachina Cantina is a solid spot for lunch in Denver. Get the VIP experience by booking a downtown food tour which includes a stop here, as well as several other local restaurants.
BRUTØ is the type of Denver downtown lunch that you plan ahead, then dream of. It’s best reserved for special occasions, as it’s more than just a meal — it’s a full sensory experience, and even educational. The venue allows you to watch every step taken by masterful Chef Michael Diaz de Leon and his culinary team.
Sixteen seats line their counter, which during weekend lunch hours, are available for walk-ins. A la carte dining and a $55 four-course tasting menu are available. If you prefer the latter and have allergies or dietary restrictions, be sure to reserve with at least three days’ notice. Also, plan to set aside two hours to appreciate each dish, commune with the staff, and indulge in the experience.
North Italia in Cherry Creek serves delicious plates in a bright, modern atmosphere. The spacious restaurant has a variety of seating, including large dining tables for group get-togethers. On warm afternoons, the outside patio is the place to be.
Shareable appetizers like zucca chips and arancini start the meal, and who can turn down “grilled bread and good olive oil”? Mains include a variety of salads, pastas, pizzas, and sandwiches. All pair perfectly with a craft cocktail or glass from their extensive wine menu.
Prefer not to imbibe mid-day? Come back for happy hour for unbeatable deals, like $5 beers and $16 bottles of red or white.
JINYA Ramen Bar
So much of what makes ramen flavorful is its broth, and JINYA Ramen Bar is well-familiar with this secret. Made in-house and simmered for twenty hours, these stocks are then paired with fresh noodles, vegetables, and seasoned meats. Several vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are also available.
Though the interior is sleek and portions are generous, the prices are very reasonable — especially for Union Station. Head here for a great budget-friendly lunch in downtown Denver.
True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen blends right into the chic Cherry Creek neighborhood. Natural light and pops of green decor match the freshness of their health-forward lunch menu.
Here, sustainably-sourced ingredients create delicious plates that some may arguably call comfort food. Butternut squash pizza, spicy panang curry, and edamame dumplings are just a few crowd favorites. Those with dietary restrictions will appreciate the wide selection, as many options are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. Keto and paleo accommodations are also available upon request.
Vinh Xuong Bakery
A favorite among Denver locals, Vinh Xuong Bakery is a fantastic lunch pick, namely for their banh mi sandwiches. All six options include classic toppings like pickled veggies, cilantro, soy sauce, and a smear of mayo. The pork and tofu sandwiches are two of the most popular on the menu.
Thai tea and Vietnamese iced coffee add to the experience, as do sweet treats from their pastry case. Take your meal to go or hang out in the casual restaurant. Set in a strip mall, this hidden gem is one you won’t want to miss.
In fact, all of these lunch restaurants in Denver are worthwhile stops. If you want to experience even more of the city’s food scene, join us for a downtown Denver food tour! We’d love to show you around town and share more of our favorite spots.