Beneath the incandescent glow of a canopy of string lights, lies Denver’s most historic block. Larimer Square, once the home of cowboys and con men, originally began as one of the first outposts of the Wild West. Everything from saloons to saddle shops and even brothels used to line this street. But half a century ago, this iconic block was almost demolished to make way for skyscrapers and commercialized condos. However, under the tutelage of preservationist Dana Crawford, it was salvaged and then transformed into a curated community of artisanal shops and restaurants.

This year, this historic district will celebrate its 50th anniversary. And as an early birthday present, 303 Magazine constructed a visual guide to one of the most enticing aspects of Larimer: its restaurants. Read on to learn about the 15 [local only] establishments that call this one square block its home. Below you’ll learn a little about what each restaurant has to offer along with some of each location’s storied past. Enjoy!

WEST SIDE

“The revival of Larimer Square became contagious and led to the preservation of areas like LoDo…Denver is now nationally recognized for how it honors its community and history.” 

– Dana Crawford 

Osteria Marco 

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Photography by Roman Tafoya

Where: 1453 Larimer St., Denver (Northwest end of Larimer Square)

Hours: (Monday- Thursday, Sunday, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.) (Friday- Saturday, 11 a.m.- 11 p.m.) 

Cost: $$

The Low Down: Fashioned after the Osterias of Italy, this rustic Italian restaurant is a place of simple pleasures. Hungry patrons gather here to dine on creamy burratas, charcuterie boards, and classic hand tossed pizzas. This subterranean dining room, housed in the oldest building on Larimer, is constantly buzzing with friendly chatter. And while restaurateur Frank Bonanno originally founded Osteria Marco as a more casual spin-off of Luca, Osteria has definitely taken on a life of its own. This artisan spirited eatery is constantly filled night after night and has become particularly loved for its extensive list of Italian imported wines and house-made meats and cheeses. It seems that its communal aura paired with the simplistic sumptuousness of Osteria’s cuisine, keeps locals, tourists, urban-dwellers and suburbanites all coming back for more.

Pro Tip: Osteria is correctly pronounced oh-stir-ee-ah. Also the house-made burratta is a staff favorite and an absolute must-order.

The Market

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Photography by Roman Tafoya

Where: 1445 Larimer St., Denver (Northwest end of Larimer Square)

Hours: (Monday- Thursday, 6 a.m.- 11 p.m.) (Friday- Saturday 6 a.m.- 12 a.m.) (Sunday 6 a.m.- 10 p.m.)

Cost: $

The Low Down: Open since 1978, The Market originally began as a neighborhood grocer that was first owned by Denver icon and preservationist, Dana Crawford. The Market symbolized Crawford’s crusade against the rising tide of forced commercialization in Denver. And although Crawford sold the grocer to Mark and Gary Greenberg in 1983, who transformed it into the deli/coffee shop it is today, it is still the community hub it was originally intended to be. Stop by to pick up a deli sandwich to-go or settle in and sip on a cup of coffee while perusing its diverse variety of dry goods.

Pro tip: The deli staff at The Market says that the Spring Fling cake is wildly popular and constantly sells out. Grab a slice if you can.

TAG

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Photography by Glenn Ross

Where: 1441 Larimer St., Denver (Northwest end of Larimer Square)

Hours:  (Monday- Thursday, 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m.) (Fridays, 11:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.) (Saturdays, 5 p.m.- 11 p.m.) (Sundays, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.)

Cost: $$$

 The Low Down:  With cuisine that is broadly defined as “continental-social food,” TAG doesn’t easily fit into a specific category. With an indiscriminate worldly influence, menu items are often inventive and sometimes considered  bizarre (for example TAG famously served a dish that featured pop rocks). But it is this untraditional whimsy that makes Troy Guard’s TAG so irresistible. Here you’ll find a representation of a medley of cultures from the ease of Guard’s native Hawaii to the zest of Latin America blended with the exoticism of Asian cuisine. Seemingly common dishes, such as a seared mahi-mahi, becomes anew at TAG with imaginative additions like a sesame-sage granola or a ginger-port reduction. Grab a seat in the energetic dining room and let TAG take you on a culinary cross-country tour.
Pro tip: Troy Guard suggests ordering the butterfish, sitting at the chef’s counter and trying out the omakase menu (when available) for the most creative dishes. Private event space is also available downstairs at TAG underground.

Corridor 44

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Photography by Roman Tafoya

Where: 1433 Larimer St., Denver (Midwest side of Larimer Square)

Hours: Monday-Sunday  4 p.m.- 1:30 p.m.

Cost: $$

The Low Down: At Corridor 44, the pop of a Champagne cork doesn’t necessarily signal a special celebration. Rather Denver’s only Champagne bar keeps the bubbly flowing everyday of the week with its selection of over 135 bottles. Come here to imbibe on its vast offerings of special reserves and directly imported grower Champagnes while indulging in its selection of fresh oysters or caviar. Sounds too fancy for you? No worries because it’s not all booze and bourgeois. With an excellent happy hour, an array of larger plates and an overall welcoming vibe, Corridor 44 is a great place to celebrate a new job, an engagement or just that you made it through another Monday. Either way, you can bet that at Corridor 44 the Champagne flute is always half full.

Pro Tip: With a large variety of hand selected Champagnes, don’t come to Corridor 44 to order name brands. Rather owner, Brian Sifferman, suggests trying out the Champagne flight  to get a taste of what Corridor has to offer. His favorite? The Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserva. It is not only a delicious option but comes with an incredible story.

Rioja

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Photography by Elisha Knight

Where: 1431 Larimer St., Denver ( Midwest end of Larimer Square)

Hours: (Monday – Tuesday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.), (Wednesday- Friday 11:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. + 5 p.m.- 10 p.m.) (Sunday- Saturday 10 a.m.- 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m.- 11 p.m.)

Cost: $$$

The Low Down: For over a decade, Rioja has been a powerhouse in the Denver dining scene– and for good reason. Its inventive Mediterranean inspired menu is filled with superbly executed offerings that highlight fresh, locally sourced ingredients. This diligent attention to quality results in dreamy dishes like the luscious artichoke tortelloni served in a silky truffle broth topped with an airy artichoke mousse. These exquisite menu items come bundled with friendly, knowledgable service and an engaged and inviting atmosphere. Simply put, Rioja is everything you’d expect from the flagship restaurant of chef superstar, Jennifer Jasinski– (side note: along with Beth Gruitch, the duo also owns Bistro Vendôme and and Euclid Hall on Larimer and as well as Stoic & Genuine at Denver’s Union Station). Known popularly for her role on Top Chef Masters, Jasinski is also the only Denver chef to win a James Beard Award. But aside from her pedigree, its plethora of faithful patrons, and the never-ending sea of awards make it evident as to why Rioja is a shining star on a street jammed packed with great restaurants. Plus this month, Rioja just received a brand new facelift that re-establishes it as one of the poshest places in town (see above).

Pro tip: General manager and proprietor, Beth Gruitch, suggests not missing the tasting menus and making sure to allow the Rioja wine staff to pair a selection from its diverse offerings of Spanish wines. Also Rioja’s more moderately priced brunch comes well recommended. If you’re looking just for a drink, the bar remains open (sans food service) between lunch and dinner on weekdays and between brunch and dinner on the weekends.

Bubu

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Photography by Camille Breslin

Where: 1423 Larimer St., suite 010, Denver (subterranean, Midwest side of Larimer Square)

Hours: Monday- Friday 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Cost: $$

The Low Down: Bubu (pronounced boo-boo) is another concept from Troy Guard. But unlike TAG, this subterranean spot is geared towards those on the go. This quick-casual concept provides healthy lunch options in the form of a build-your-own-bowl. However instead of your typical rice bowls, Bubu offers an array of grains and 50 unique add-ons like a green papaya slaw or the chia seed-lime dressing. Also make sure to not leave without trying the namesake grain, Bubu, a Hawaiian popped rice that Guard favorited as a kid.

Pro tip: Guard’s favorite combination is the the Hawaii Five-o with bubu rice added on top. Also a new location just debuted in Lowry in the Hangar-2 complex. 

 Crimson Room

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Photography by Brent Andeck

Where: 1403 Larimer St., Denver (Southwest side of Larimer Square, Subterranean) 

Hours: Wednesday- Saturday, 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Cost: $$

The Low Down: Formerly the Wicked Garden, Crimson Room has recently breathed new life into this once somber hangout. Now this luxe hideaway, catered towards Denver’s elite, exudes a sexually cinematic feel. Bold accents of sensual red velvet, heavy brass fixtures, and leather tassels are gibbously illuminated by swarovski crystal stalactites. Slip away for the evening by reserving a private booth or party all night on the open dance floor. Either way, come dressed to the nines and adopt a spirited attitude to ensure a memorable experience.

Pro Tip: A dress code is required so don’t come in jeans. Crimson Room also offers a cold kitchen featuring late night delicacies like caviar, snow crab claws and pink salt & black truffle buttered popcorn. Owner Brian Sifferman (who also owns Corridor 44) recommends topping it all off by ordering a martini to get the full effect.

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen

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Photography by Brent Andeck

Where: 1317 14th St., Denver (Southwest end off of Larimer Square, technically on 14th street, not Larimer)

Hours: (Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.- 2 p.m.) (Saturday- Sunday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m.) Kitchen is open until midnight Sunday-Thursday and until 1 a.m. Saturday- Sunday 

Cost: $$

The Low Down: Like many other Larimer Square restaurants, Euclid Hall has a storied past. The building erected in 1883, was once a flea market, home to the free-masons and even rumored to be a high-end brothel. However it was most infamously known as Soapy Smith’s, a bar that was named after a well-known Colorado con man. Nowadays the culture of Euclid Hall being a local watering hole still remains. This self-prescribed, “American tavern” offers elevated pub food with worldly influences. Here you can grab anything from poutine, to oysters and even Pig Ear Pad Thai. But no matter what you choose, everything at Euclid Hall washes down well with a local beer or a stiff drink…just as Soapy himself would have intended.

Pro Tip: With an extensive beer list, Euclid Hall is the place to go on Larimer if you want to grab a beer. General manager, Kurt “The Shirt” Fuhrman, also raves about the pork schnitzel saying it’s his favorite item on the menu. We also suggest the decadent Duck Poutine and the surprisingly complex, Chips ‘n Dip.

EAST SIDE

“In the world among the old bums and beat cowboys of Larimer Street … the big city buzz made me jump.” – Jack Kerouac, On The Road

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Photo by Roman Tafoya

Tom’s 24 Urban

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Photography by Elisha Knight

Where: 1460 Larimer St., Denver (Northeast side of Larimer Square)

Hours: (Monday- Thursday, 11 a.m.- 12:30 a.m.) (Fridays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.) (Saturdays, 9 a.m.- 2 a.m.) (Sundays, 9 a.m.- 12 a.m.)

Cost: $$

The Low Down: From the creators of  Smashburger, comes Tom’s 24 Urban. This brightly colored, retro-themed restaurant has a mod-diner feel that draws in a late night crowd. Offering an array of greasy-spoon menu items like a burger covered in green chili, it is a good place to for the lubricated LoDo crowd to chow down. But with extensive hours, open Wi-Fi and a broad menu it can also cater to the nocturnal studiers or the weekend brunch-goers. Tom’s catch-all Americanized menu makes it the place on Larimer you go when you’re craving everything, but nothing specific all at the same time.

Pro Tip: Executive Chef, Jason Bowd, says the Midnight Slopper burger, (the aforementioned  burger smothered in green chili topped with two sunny side eggs), is his favorite late night menu item.

Bistro Vendôme

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Photography by Brent Andeck

Where: 1420 Larimer St., Denver (Mideast side of Larimer Square, tucked in the back of the breezeway of the Kettle Arcade).

Hours: (Monday- Thursday, 5 p.m.- 10 p.m.) (Fridays, 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.), (Saturdays, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. + 5:00- 11:00 pm), (Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.5 p.m. – 9 p.m.)

Cost: $$-$$$

The Low Down: Located beyond the brick corridor of Larimer Square, is one of Denver’s quintessential French restaurants: Bistro Vendôme. Whether it’s the convincing café decor, or the idyllic tree lined patio, this restaurant oozes a European effortlessness that is hard sought within the US. Come in any day to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its irresistibly charming atmosphere, it is easy to spend a few hours savoring its selection of fine French wines and assortment of classic dishes. Also since Bistro Vendôme comes from the award winning team over at Rioja, it similarly features artfully constructed plates like Parisian gnocchi laced with an almond sorrel sauce. Between the food, the atmosphere and the people, a visit to Bistro Vendôme will make a francophile out of you in no time.

Pro Tip: Every Thursday evening, Bistro Vendôme features French Classic Night where the culinary team prepares classic French dishes. Also for the non-meat eaters, on Wednesdays through Fridays, there is a special vegetarian tasting menu that is constructed with peak-season produce.

Russell’s Smokehouse

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Photography by Roman Tafoya

Where: 1422 Larimer St., Denver (Mideast side of Larimer Square, subterranean)

Hours: (Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.) (Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.- 11 p.m.) (Sunday, 5 p.m.- 10 p.m.)

Cost: $$

The Low Down: Located in the same cloister as Green Russell and Wednesday’s Pie, Russell’s Smokehouse is a turn-of-the-century styled bar and restaurant. With a western motif, this barbecue joint maintains an air of eclectic authenticity by incorporating architectural remains from Denver’s past. From the patina of the original double doors to the stain-glass of the old church windows, this smokehouse feels like a time-warp to the era of Colorado cowboys. The menu is also nostalgic with a focus on serving simple comfort-foods such as smoky, tender briskets and ribs coupled with homey sides like creamy mac n’ cheese and butter braised greens. And since it is another Bonanno concept, there are a few more adventurous options like the smoked bone marrow or the potted trout. Small batch drinks are also available at the well stocked bar (fun fact: the bar top used to be the dance floor of an old speakeasy).

Pro Tip: Happy hour offers some serious deals with options like $1 baby back ribs, $2 sliders and $3 glasses of house wine. Check it out on Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.to close everyday.

Wednesday’s Pie

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Photography by Roman Tafoya

Where: 1422 Larimer St., Denver (Mideast side of Larimer Square, subterranean)

Hours: Open daily at 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.

Cost: $$

The Low Down: Serving as a false front for the underground cocktail joint that is Green Russell, Wednesday’s Pie is also a functioning pie shop. This retro-themed counter dishes out a daily selection of three rotating offerings that are made fresh that day. Get a whole pie to-go or order a slice on the spot for a nostalgically indulgent experience (we recommend going à la mode and adding a scoop of ice cream).

Pro Tip: You can order a slice of pie in Green Russell. Pies also rotate seasonally so call ahead to find the most current list of offerings. 303.893.6505

 

Green Russell

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Photography by Roman Tafoya

Where: 1422 Larimer St., Denver (Mideast side of Larimer Square, subterranean)

Hours: (Monday + Sunday, 5 p.m.- 10:45 p.m.) (Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.- 11:45 p.m.) (Friday – Saturday, 5 p.m.- 12:45 p.m.)

Cost: $$

The Low Down: Named after Colorado gold miner and original settler of Larimer, Green Russell is a prohibition-styled bar from Bonanno Concepts. This shadowy joint, situated in an underground alcove of Larimer, serves expertly concocted cocktails made with house-crafted syrups, bitters, sodas and fresh squeezed juices. Make sure to grab a seat at the bar to watch the bartenders work their magic as they whip up custom ordered libations. Delectable small plates are also available and come highly recommended for hungry visitors. But ultimately, an experience at Green Russell is best paired with intimate conversation and good company.

Pro Tip: General manager, Erica Jensen, suggests coming to Green Russell with a small group in order to be seated quickly. If you do come with a large group, come on the weekends when additional space is available at the newly added Bar 1 at Green Russell.

 Tamayo

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Photography by Camille Breslin

Where: 1400 Larimer St., Denver (Southeast end of Larimer Square)

Hours: (Monday- Thursday, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.) (Friday 11 a.m.- 11 p.m.) (Saturday 10:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.) (Sunday 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.)

Cost: $$-$$$

The Low Down: Created by international restaurateur, Richard Sandoval, Tamayo is an inspired contemporary Mexican eatery. This colorful, modern restaurant elevates south-of-the-border cuisine by incorporating international influences and creative cooking techniques. At Tamayo, diners can expect traditional Mexican dishes such as enchiladas, tacos and flautas that feature elevated elements while maintaining the comfort and satisfaction you’d expect from these classic dishes. Also with an extensive tequila collection of over 100 different agave-based spirits, sitting at the bar can prove to be a satisfying yet educational experience.

Pro Tip: On sunnier days, make sure to sit on the rooftop. The beautiful unobstructed view features not only an overlook of Larimer but a glimpse of the mountains too. Also Tamayo recently launched Canopy. This nightlife experience at Tamayo features music from a live DJ, bottle service, and a fully stocked bar. Canopy will be open on the terrace until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. And if you’re in need of hangover cure the next day, the bottomless brunch is a 303 favorite.

Coming soon… 

Milk & Honey

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Photography by Elisha Knight

Where: 1414 Larimer St., Denver (Mideast side of Larimer Square, tucked in the back of the breezeway of the Kettle Arcade).

Cost: $$$

Opening: March 2015

The Low Down: Within the last year and a half, 1414 Larimer has under gone a massive transformation. The historic space, which was previously Lime Catina & Tequila Bar, was completely stripped of all modern remnants. In fact, the construction crew dug so deep that flecks of gold were found in the bedrock. Now after extensive renovations and many pushed backed openings dates, Milk & Honey has finally taken shape. This bar and kitchen still retains its sultry vibe but is updated with a concept highlighting a play on dark and light. Think foundations of dark wood and stone contrasting against white leather booths and gleaming copper and gold backdrops. There is even an entirely new entrance that features a serene patio and floor to ceiling  accordion glass doors. The food and beverage program also gets a polish with a menu that’s focused on new American fine dining in an approachable atmosphere. Milk & Honey will serve snacks and small plates like Foie Gras Bon Bons up to fully crafted dishes like Roast French Hen. A sizable wine collection along with a beer and cocktail program will also be available.

Pro Tip: Chef Michael Shiell expressed his excitement for the patio, stating that with its secluded location, it will make for one of the most enjoyable outdoor dining experiences in Denver.

Editorial note: to see a full list of Larimer restaurants, including the non-local establishments not highlighted, click here.

 

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