Denver is a growing city, listed somewhere on most of those "Top Places to live for [insert overly used descriptor here]" lists. With a culture built by startups, fitness freaks, and environmentalists, there's something for everyone in the metro area.
The more I travel the more I notice that it's becoming increasingly difficult to really experience a new place as the locals do. Especially with food allergies, I'm immediately drawn to find the first Chipotle or Noodles and Co. I can (both of which are, incidentally, originally from Colorado,) but there's something special about seeing a place for what it has to offer to the locals.
I grew up in Denver, but have come to appreciate it much more after moving away. Here are some great places to try out, whether you're a visitor, or a local looking for an at-home adventure.
This burger joint has combined great meat (with vegetarian options too) with environmentally friendly atmosphere. Almost everything used is compostable. They're super careful about allergies and make everything to order. Try the fries!
I know I said I was anti-chain, but you don't want to pass up a chance to eat at the original Chipotle near the University of Denver. See the place where the national phenomenon began!
If you're in the mood for Mexican Grill, but don't want the national chain, Illegal Pete's is your place. This locally owned and operated state-wide chain has fantastic queso and a Colorado vibe. There are locations in Boulder, Downtown Denver, and near DU.
This fantastic brunch hangout is known to have hour-long waits and famously delicious pancakes. With locations in Englewood, Denver, and the newly renovated Union Station, there's one for you no matter where you are in the Metro Area.
Little Man Ice Cream
It's hard to miss this giant milk-jug shaped building in the Highlands. With their scoop for scoop program, each scoop of ice cream you buy provides a scoop of rice or beans to a community in need.
Named for its original neighborhood, each location features a different menu fit its locale.
No one seems to know quite how it started (unless they google it instead of listening to the rumors of their classmates like I did), but this local secret it revered for it's sopaipillas and cliff divers.
The Cherry Cricket
I'll admit, I was first drawn to this restaurant as a kid who was obsessed with the color green, but the burgers are still fantastic as an adult. Located in Cherry Creek North, it has been featured on Man Vs. Food.
Wazee Supper Club
Civic Center Eats
The best Denver food trucks come together each Tuesday and Thursday of the summer, although there are almost always some out there every day, in Civic Center Park. You can choose anything from an amazing taco called "jerk fusion" to a hand-tossed stone-cooked pizza. There are tables set out but you can also sit on the steps of the columned structures that provide some shade to the park.
Wazee Super Club
A block west of the famous 16th Street Mall, this pizza place features a mezmorizing pizza elevator to carry their gigantic pies from one floor to the next.
If you're looking for Mexican, this place is fantastic. Huge burritos and a lot of gluten-free options, it's a must-stop for me any time I'm home.
Wynkoop Brewing Company
Not many people can say their Governor is an expert in beer, but we can! This restaurant and brewery was started by our Governor, John Hickenlooper. He continues to reference it as one of the many things that influenced him to become a politician known to go against the norms, like his refusal to run a negative ad. Check out one of the many craft brews Colorado is known for and play pool where Hick played President Obama!
All three of these coffee shops feature locally roasted, fair and/or direct trade coffee. Visit any of them for a true Colorado coffee experience!
This is, of course, not all Denver has to offer. There's always a new start-up showing itself on the street corner. Keep your eyes peeled and let me know of any other places you think deserve to be on this list, Denverites!