In the western United States, sitting at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a destination for skiers, outdoor lovers, and snowboarders alike. Colorado is famous for its natural beauty and easy access to the mountains. Beyond this outdoor fervor, foods in Denver have their own unique touch as well, definitely worth trying!
Denver is known for unique foods, many pulling inspiration from specific ingredients and cultural influences in the area. From Rocky Mountain oysters to exceptional bison, there are many foods from Denver that are worth getting a taste of.
What’s Special About Denver Food?
Denver cuisine stands out because it uses a lot of local ingredients and influences in its iconic dishes. The Rocky Mountain Oysters and game meats pay homage to the specific cuts of meat, which are not widely available in other parts of the United States. These elements of Denver food make it feel rustic and authentic to the area.
Foods in Denver feature a great deal of Mexican and indigenous influences. That is because the area we know as Denver is indigenous land; it also once belonged to Mexico. You can see the influence from the prominence of Mexican cuisine in the area.
No matter what flavors you’re interested in, make sure you try some of the famous foods in Denver during your next visit!
Most Famous Food Of Denver
Rocky Mountain Oysters
What food is Denver known for? The Rocky Mountain Oysters (don’t be fooled – they don’t come from the sea)!
Of all the foods from Denver, Rocky Mountain Oysters are the most famous in Denver cuisine. They are a “cowboy delicacy,” which shouldn’t be missed on a trip to the state.
This dish is made from bull testicles, normally fried, and most often served as an appetizer. Normally, you’ll receive a side of mayonnaise, ketchup, cocktail sauce, or hot sauce for dipping as well.
Since the greater Denver area is still home to large ranches and cattle farms, castration of young bulls provides the main ingredient for this dish. Ranchers invented this dish many years ago, making it one of the famous foods in Denver. It is a staple at many bars and restaurants, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to try while you’re in the city!
Meat-Based Dishes And Foods From Denver
For a classic Denver experience, head over to the Buckhorn Exchange Restaurant to enjoy a Bison steak. Though bison used to roam widely across the Western United States, they’ve diminished over the years. Bison steak is an iconic Denver food, since there are still bison living and thriving outside of Denver.
Local restaurants have learned how to elevate this lean meat to a delicacy. From a well-loved steak to bison tartare, there are many ways to enjoy bison meat. It’s not always easy to find this rare meat anywhere else in the United States. Make sure you give it a try among the many different foods in Denver.
Denver Steak is a well-marbled, tender cut of shoulder steak popular in the city. This popular Denver dish comes from the under-blade portion of the chuck roll, which produces a rich roast. The cuts are known for their tender texture, as well as the distinctive beefy flavor.
There are plenty of steakhouses in the downtown area, so you can give Denver steak a try in a variety of locations. If you want a broader experience of Denver foods in the downtown area, don’t miss out on a Downtown Denver food tour. It’ll hit all the highlights!
The delish Colorado Lamb is another classic Denver food. In Colorado, sheep are often still pastured with native brome grass, supplemented with wild plants in the area and a bit of corn. The leisurely raising of the lambs creates remarkably tender and high-quality meat.
There are plenty of places to enjoy Colorado lamb in Denver, in a variety of presentations. Whether you want a rack of lamb, lamb chops, or another dish, you can be assured that any dishes with Colorado lamb will be exceptional.
Game Meat Tartare
As you can probably tell by now, foods in Denver often incorporate rare meats within recipes. From bison and lamb to elk, there are plenty of wonderful cuts of meat in Denver, including game meats. The culinary scene so celebrates these notable, often unique ingredients, with game meat tartare.
One restaurant known for its game meat tartare is Spuntino; it uses elk to make a tartare that incorporates fine Denver meats with the tastes of Italy. You can enjoy this famous Denver food in many restaurants and presentations, all extremely tasty. Make sure you give it a try, if you enjoy game meat!
Roasted Chicken At Annette
If you’re looking for a cozy restaurant to enjoy all of these famous Denver foods, you have to visit Annette. This restaurant located on the eastern side of the city brings hospitality to a new level. With only 50 seats in the entire restaurant, dining at Annette’s may be the closest you get to eating in a real Colorado kitchen.
You will see many of the Denver classics at this restaurant; however, the can’t-miss dish here is the roasted chicken. If this simple, yet delicious chicken isn’t your fancy, there are other delicious options on this menu, such as the pecan pie and the local vegetables.
Rocky Mountain Trout
As the name suggests, Rocky Mountain Trout is found in the Rocky Mountain National Park. They are approximately 12 inches long, making them one of the smaller types of trout in the area. Because the fish is from the area, the specific flavor of the Rocky Mountain Trout is used in lots of Denver cuisine.
No matter how you like to enjoy your fish, there are plenty of places to order Rocky Mountain Trout. Humboldt Kitchen + Bar, Work & Class, and Fish N Beer are some of the most popular options locally. If you like the industrial neighborhood, spend extra time around Fish N Beer and enjoy a RiNo Arts District food tour!
Sandwiches In Denver
Fool’s Gold Loaf
Fool’s Gold Loaf is one of the famous foods in Denver, made by the Colorado Mine Company. Though it comes in many different varieties, the basic concept is a hollowed-out loaf of bread, warmed and stuffed with unique fillings. The most popular is filled with one jar of creamy peanut butter, one jar of grape jelly, and 1 pound of bacon.
You may read that and think of Elvis, and you’d be right! Legend says that Elvis Presley and his friends went out to Colorado on his jet, ordered 22 of these sandwiches, and enjoyed them before heading back home. Whether or not it is true, the sandwich is a famous food from Denver and definitely something every visitor should enjoy.
Cherry Cricket Burgers
If you’ve heard of one burger on the Denver food scene, chances are it’s the Cherry Cricket’s burgers. This restaurant has been open since 1945, serving up hamburgers and cold beers with a smile. You can recognize the restaurant from its characteristic sign, which proclaims its name proudly.
Cherry Cricket cooks up award-winning burgers that will have your taste buds in heaven. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here, since it is highly customizable. If you’re in the mood for a burger, this is the place to go to get a real taste of famous foods in Denver.
Savory Snack Foods In Denver
Unique Mac n Cheese
Look no further than Denver for an adventurous take on a classic macaroni and cheese. It seems every restaurant in Denver puts its own spin on this food, incorporating local ingredients and flavors. The hearty style of the dish also fits in with the larger Denver food scene.
For a savory Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese or Poblano flavor, check out the Roaming Buffalo. If you’re more in the mood for a seafood variation, Mizuna has you covered with a delicious lobster mac n cheese. No matter what you’re interested in, Denver offers many ways to enjoy the American classic, Mac N Cheese.
Boulder Canyon Chips
If you pick up a sandwich in Denver, you may notice another famous Denver food in the mix: Boulder Canyon Chips! These kettle-cooked potato chips are made with an original family recipe, from the Colorado area. They are certainly a famous food in Denver, even featuring mountains prominently on their bags.
These kettle chips have been around since 1994, so they have quite a foothold among snack lovers. If you find yourself in Denver, skip on the Lays and try out an iconic Denver food with Boulder Canyon Chips.
Gracing breakfast menus around the United States, the Denver Omelette is one of the foods from Denver most closely associated with this city. This comes almost entirely from the name.
According to legend, the omelet was designed to hide the stale flavor of eggs in the area, which were shipped in by wagon freight. Whether or not this is true, Denver gets the honor of being the home to this famous omelet.
This dish is traditionally made with eggs, bell peppers, onions, ham, and (sometimes) cheese. It’s a staple in Denver food which you should definitely try in its namesake city.
Many cities lay claim to a style of pizza, and Denver is no different. One of the famous foods in Denver is Colorado-style pizza, also known as a Mountain Pie.
This thick-crust pizza, loaded with toppings and cheeses, is a hearty meal for anyone in the Rocky Mountain region. In fact, Mountain Pies are so fully loaded that they have a specialized braided crust to hold all that goodness in.
The best part? Mountain Pie is savory and sweet! The braided crust has honey in it, to give your pizza a sweet taste as well. If you want to eat like a true Colorado native, grab some extra honey to dip your crust in!
Mexican-Inspired Foods From Denver
Although burritos hold all the flavors of Mexico, they are a staple in Denver food as well. These delicious wraps are a popular on-the-go option, which offers convenience and flavor. Because this dish is such a popular food in Denver, there are lots of restaurants that put their unique spin on it.
You can get a tasty burrito for any meal of the day. In fact, they are a common late-night snack option, as well as a common breakfast food! If you want to give this tasty Denver dish a try, consider checking out Illegal Pete’s Lodo or Bonfire Burritos!
This food in Denver takes an American classic hamburger and mashes it up with the flavors of Mexico, creating a unique dish: the Mexican hamburger. The Mexican hamburger consists of a burger patty grilled, covered in refried beans, and wrapped in a tortilla, which is then covered in green chile and grated cheese.
This is one of the dishes that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. If you’re trying to go where the locals go, check out the Original Chubby’s Denver or Hamburgesas Don Jesus. Either way, make sure you don’t miss out on this famous Denver food.
If you find yourself outside of Denver, you might run into one of the greatest ingredients in Colorado foods: the pueblo chile. These chiles are grown in Pueblo Colorado and have grown to prominence in the surrounding area for their distinctive flavor and spice level. They are the perfect complement to the Mexican foods in Denver cuisine and should be appreciated by any visitor!
This lip-smacking good Denver food is actually on the state dishes of Colorado! Green chile is a New-Mexican stew, which features green chiles and pork prominently. Unsurprisingly, the dish gets its name from its green color, coming from the chiles in the mixture.
There are many takes on the humble green chile, meaning there are plenty of places for you to give it a try. For a downtown offering with a down-home feel, give La Loma a try. If you’re more interested in a diner vibe, try Sam’s No. 3 Diner and Bar, where most menu items can come drenched in delicious green chile.
Iconic Drinks Denver Is Known For
Blue Moon Beer
This Belgian White ale is popular around the United States, but is definitely part of the famous drinks and foods in Denver. Unlike other popular breweries, Blue Moon’s beers are often brewed with unconventional ingredients, such as coriander, honey, and orange peel. This gives them a distinctive flavor, with a crisp taste and smooth finish.
Although Blue Moon Beer was originally brewed in Golden, Colorado, it now has operations in Denver. Its distinctive flavor and seasonal offerings make this brewery a fun stop on the list of anyone visiting Denver or Colorado more generally.
Call To Arms Brewing Co.
If you’re looking for a true craft beer experience, look no further than Call to Arms Brewing Company. This brewery was founded in 2015 in Denver, with a passion for high-quality beer and unique flavors.
Call to Arms Brewing Co. also has a commitment to using the freshest, local ingredients, so you can rest assured you’re enjoying part of the quality Denver food and craft beer scene.
Visit the taproom to taste a spectrum of flavors and get a feel for what Call to Arms Brewing Company is all about. If these breweries and brews aren’t enough for you, then you should check out one of the many craft beer tours offered around Denver!
Any beer fan will recognize Coors Brewery. Much like Blue Moon Beer, it was originally brewed in Golden, Colorado, but its fresh taste is enjoyed and celebrated around the country (but especially in Denver food circles).
Coors uses Rocky Mountain spring water in its brewing process, which brings it closer to the local community and gives its beer a unique taste. This brewery is undeniably a part of the state’s beer scene. It has a great history and legacy in Colorado and should not be missed by any beer-lover passing through town!
Desserts And Sweet Foods In Denver
Olathe Sweet Corn
Although Olathe Sweet Corn is not exactly from Denver (or a traditional sweet treat), it is a unique product you can get in the city. Olathe sweet corn comes from Olathe, Colorado, and is known broadly for its special taste. As the name suggests, it has an extra-sweet flavor, delicate texture, and juicy bite, as compared to normal corn.
The specific taste of the corn is credited to the growing conditions, including elevation, the Uncompahgre Valley position, and mountain spring water. Even if you don’t make it out to Olathe, you can try some of the sweet corn in Denver cuisine.
The best time for this Colorado delicacy is from mid-July to September, so make sure you give it a try if you are around during the right season!
This is another Colorado classic, grown in a specific corner of the state. Palisade peaches hail from the town of Palisade. These peaches are noteworthy because they are extra juicy and sweet, owing to the weather conditions in this region of Colorado.
Palisade peaches are an awesome addition to Denver foods. The harvest season of Palisade peaches runs from late June to early October, meaning you have a fairly large window to catch these tasty peaches.
If you’re looking for tasty dessert places where you might find these peaches, check out French for Sugar or Euro Crepes & Bistro.
Rocky Ford Cantaloupe
Another sweet Colorado food is the Rocky Ford Cantaloupe. Much like Palisade peaches, Rocky Ford Cantaloupe is noticeably sweeter, with a sugar content of up to 15% and comes from the Rocky Ford region of Colorado.
The quality taste of the fruit is attributed to the climate in Colorado, with long hot days and cool nights, as well as the freshwater. You can find one of these sweet treats from early July through September at local farmers’ markets and grocery stores all around Colorado.
While this fruit is amazingly enjoyable on its own, you can also find it incorporated into other Denver foods. Make sure you’re on the lookout for this naturally sweet treat while in Denver!
Craft Ice Cream
One thing you’ll notice among the foods of Denver is that a good ice cream scoop is a must! There are lots of craft ice cream makers in Denver, using fun local ingredients and flavors for a unique taste. No matter how you like to enjoy ice cream, scoop, cone, shake – you name it – Denver has it for you!
Check out Sweet Cooie’s if you want a different version of this Denver food! Sweet Cooie’s puts your favorite ice cream in the middle of a hot-pressed brioche donut, for an oh-so-yummy experience.
Milkbox Ice Creamery is a local favorite for ice cream staples, from cones and cups to shakes, designed to delight your taste buds!
Although VooDoo Doughnuts are based in Seattle, they are an extremely popular indulgence among Denver foods. These donuts, which come in a characteristic pink box, bring fun flavors and wacky decorations to all of their donut creations.
For example, the VooDoo doll donut features a pained face and a pretzel stick, piercing its jelly-filled belly. The personality and fun of this donut chain have gained acclaim around the city. With a few in the greater Denver area, there’s no reason to miss out on this wacky and fun treat.
FAMOUS FOODS IN THE US
Sampling Famous Foods From Denver
Denver cuisine pulls on the unique ingredients and influences common in the area, producing a taste unlike any other. The city is a place that celebrates its heritage and the local ingredients, so you can get an authentic taste of the American West.
Denver is known for being the “Mile High City,” as well as for its natural beauty. It brings this appreciation for nature into its cooking through local ingredients and traditions. Make sure you check out all the famous food in Denver!