A few years ago, we made a list of 21 restaurants and breweries in Denver that had amazing murals painted on their exteriors. But two years has changed a lot, including the local mural scene. There are still quite a few on our original list that still have their epic murals, but there are others that have been added since. Next time you want to grab a bite to eat or a cold beer, check out this list to find the one with the best-painted walls to accompany your outing.
10 Barrel Brewing
Where: 2620 Walnut St.
The Lowdown: Painted as part of the annual street art festival CRUSH WALLS in 2017, this geometric beauty is a signature style of its maker, Boulder-based Debbie Clapper (aka gneural). With light purples, flower-inspired pinks, mint green and glowing gold, this mural has just the right amount of femininity — it’s not in your face, but it’s also not afraid to show it off. The intricate black linework is a mainstay of Clapper’s, although she typically works on a much smaller canvas than this wall. In order to enjoy this one on your trip to 10 Barrel Brewing, you’ll have to find your way to the backdoor since it’s located in the alley.
Where: 1280 25th St.
The Lowdown: You won’t be able to see them while you’re inside The Ramble or on the rooftop patio bar, but if you head around back they are impossible to miss. These two murals were painted in 2018 during CRUSH WALLS by three women artists — founder of the Fort Collins Mural Project Lindee Zimmer and UK-based duo Nomad Clan. Obviously, the two murals vary dramatically in style, color choice and theme, but they each dominate their side of the building with equal power and finesse. Since they’re located at 25th and Larimer Street, they act as totems at the entrance to RiNo — reminding all who enter that art rules here.
Where: 2875 Blake St., Unit C
The Lowdown: It’s hard to miss this mural, painted by father-son team Will and Chris Kreig during CRUSH WALLS 2018. The eyes are piercing and realistic and the colored shapes around them are reminiscent of flying shards of glass. It’s a forceful image and an oddly calming one at the same time. The size of it is no joke either, although it might be hard to realize that since it soars several stories in the air. It’s easy to view this one from the parking lot of C-Squared, along with several other murals on the building by Anthony Garcia Sr.
Where: 3201 Walnut St.
The Lowdown: Part of the cost of opening Improper City was cutting a hole in the back wall, which included taking out an entire mural created during CRUSH WALLS 2017. But, since then, the meeting place has welcomed street art in various forms on its interior and exterior walls. Much of what’s visible from the outside patio area is from previous years of CRUSH, from the striking portrait by Casey Kawaguchi to the doughnut cartoon scene by Birdcap to the graffiti letters on the north half-wall. Even the towering piece across the street by Spanish artist duo Pichi & Avois is from CRUSH last yea rand a seat on Improper City’s grass lawn will offer the best view of it in Denver. This year, the US Women’s Soccer Team commissioned a mural on Improper City by local artist Marissa Napoletano, which features two portraits of athletes on the team. We expect more murals to come to Improper City’s walls soon.
Where: 2721 Larimer St.
The Lowdown: Larimer Lounge has held a spot on lists like this one for many years. Since it was mentioned in our first roundup in 2017, it’s been painted over three times, with the most recent version on April 20, 2019. The two other murals were completed during consecutive CRUSH WALLS — in 2017 it was by a visiting artist called Woes and last year it was by a local group So-Gnar Creative Division. So-Gnar’s mural had featured a cartoonish dinosaur and octopus, with saccharine colors jolting across the background. Currently, it’s the work of Ganga White Night and My Name is Ebo with a piece that’s more hardcore but retains the bright colors.
Where: 3563 Wazee St.
The Lowdown: Best seen from above, but certainly enjoyed on the ground level as well, this mural by local artist KiriLeigh Jones fittingly features a rhinoceros to signify the RiNo Art District. Beneath the rhino, Jones included her signature mandala pattern, along with some snow-capped mountains and other ornamentation suited to Colorado (the colors are even reminiscent of retro Colorado logos). She painted it during CRUSH WALLS 2018 as the first of two murals during the week-long festival. Bigsby’s Folly is located on the Brighton Boulevard side of RiNo, which is still undergoing some amount of construction, but this mural can be reached easily by traversing the train tracks on the elevated walkway accessed via Walnut and 35th.
Our Mutual Friend Brewing
Where: 2810 Larimer St.
The Lowdown: Now that Our Mutual Friend (OMF) is holding down some central RiNo real estate, it’s imperative that it stands out among the more than 20 other breweries in the district. For the last several years, artist Jeremy Burns has transformed the exterior with murals that are strikingly different yet remain consistent with one central piece — two people standing over the front door, shaking or holding hands. The most recent iteration of Burns’ design is the hardest to decipher since the entire building is covered with amorphous sections of bright colors, but the people are still visible if you know where to look. Burns is also responsible for the iconic Larimer Boy/Girl mural that changes design depending on which direction you are traveling on Larimer — just down the block from OMF.
Places from our first roundup that are still rocking the same murals: The Populist, Bar Fausto, First Draft, Ratio Beerworks, Matchbox
Mile High Spirits
Where: 2201 Lawrence St.
The Lowdown: Painted last year by the Denver-based group So-Gnar Creative Division, this mural at Mile High Spirits headquarters puts a twist on their “Punching Mule” with a cartoon-rendered donkey wearing a flannel. The stylistic color blocking in the background makes sure you know it’s a So-Gnar creation, and it’s eye-catching to boot. One of the best things about So-Gnar is their ability to not take things so seriously, leading to murals with a sense of humor and a reason to smile.
Where: 1800 Wazee St.
The Lowdown: In 2018, one block in Downtown Denver became a major destination for food, drink, overnight stays and art. It’s called Dairy Block, and the concept is a food hall and marketplace that also entices people with over 700 original art pieces commissioned by local and visiting artists. In the alley, you’ll find murals by Sandra Fettingis, Michael Ortiz, Evan Hecox, The Lost Object and The London Police that were co-curated by Jonathan Lamb of Like Minded Productions.
Where: 1443 Stout St.
The Lowdown: Okay, so it’s not exactly a restaurant or brewery, but La Boheme makes the list on the merit of its mural. Painted by Denver-based artist Robyn Frances (aka Grow Love), the larger-than-life Marylin Monroe in shades of purple is as charming as the iconic actress herself. Nestled in among the skyscrapers and paved streets near the Convention Center, this mural pops out, turns heads and embraces femininity in the best ways. Frances, aside from painting enormous murals with spray paint, also spends a great deal of time in her studio creating art in other mediums — like faux fur.
Where: 1201 Cherokee St.
The Lowdown: To match the chill and festive vibe of Dulce Vida, the restaurant asked street artist Birdcap to paint a mural on one of its sides. Birdcap isn’t based in Denver, but his frequent visits to the city mean he has as much art on walls here as many local artists, and he’s embraced by the local scene. His style is heavily influenced by cartoons, with his own signature twist. Often, you’ll find doughnuts or other zany characters somewhere in his murals, but you’ll also need to look closer for wittier clues that tell you more about Birdcap’s interests and passions.
Ace Eat Serve
Where: 501 E. 17th Ave.
The Lowdown: This mural is pretty fresh, with local artist Casey Kawaguchi only finishing it earlier this year. On top of the gorgeous exterior mural, Kawaguchi also painted a few pieces inside for guests who are actually enjoying the food and drink at Ace Eat Serve. Kawaguchi always paints a different version of the same character — an androgynous person, with red cloaks and paintbrushes, held like weapons. He finds a lot of influence in Japanese art, especially calligraphy and ink paintings, and does his best to portray that through spray paint. His delicate techniques lead to monumental murals that take your breath away.
Where: 950 Broadway
The Lowdown: Broadway Market has another fresh mural, as of this summer, by Mariano Padilla. Painted freehand, this enormous black-and-white masterpiece displays Padilla’s skill and patience. He doesn’t always work in black-and-white, but it is his primary choice and one he does extraordinarily well. The aesthetic suits the sleek and modern appearance of Broadway Market while making it stand out amidst the older buildings along Broadway.
Banded Oak Brewing Company
Where: 470 Broadway
The Lowdown: Banded Oak has not one, but two epic murals even though it’s one of the smallest buildings on our list. On the front side facing Broadway, the earth-tone colors of local duo Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina welcome guests to hang out on the patio and have a beer. In the alley facing north, you’ll find a stunning portrait by Thomas “Detour” Evans, which entices people to stop at the brewery as they drive by.
Where: 141 S. Broadway
The Lowdown: A list of Denver murals wouldn’t be complete without at least one by Patrick Kane McGregor — a long-standing figure of the scene. This one, on one of Atomic Cowboy’s locations on South Broadway, portrays a photorealistic portrait of Einstein with the words “Question everything.” Like the rest of McGregor’s pieces, this one shows his remarkable ability to imprint realism on a grand scale — something that isn’t easy to do, if you ever try it yourself. Faces are especially hard to get right at a monumental size, but McGregor nailed it again on this one.
The Brutal Poodle
Where: 1967 S. Broadway
The Lowdown: The murals on the patio of the Brutal Poodle change regularly, so you can’t get too attached to any of them. But, you can enjoy the variety and the favoritism toward graffiti over mural art. Some of Denver’s most prolific graffiti writers have made appearances here, most recently Charlie Ricks (who just goes by Ricks). Other artists you may see are DINKC and Patrick Kane McGregor, although that list will keep growing the longer the Brutal Poodle stays in business.
Places from our first roundup that are still rocking the same murals: Declaration Brewing
Where: 3200 N. Pecos St.
The Lowdown: Avanti is known for its drinks, the incubator food stalls and, of course, its view over Denver — but it also houses some great art. On the north side, you’ll find a mural by Jason Thielke in his classic line-work style. Another mural by Thielke gains a lot of attention on Park Avenue near RiNo (it shows two people kissing over a yellow background). This one is a little more muted in terms of color choice and location, but it still showcases Thielke’s expertise with paint and penchant for illusions. Can you see the face?
Where: 3620 W. Colfax Ave.
The Lowdown: West Colfax has been in the business of integrating art along the corridor the last decade, including murals. Even though Colfax is one of the most historic and iconic streets in Colorado, it’s been in various states of disrepair on the west end for a while. But, the West Colfax Business Improvement District along with 40 West Arts has been focused on changing that reputation back to one where West Colfax is a destination for tourists and locals alike. So, it’s no surprise that new businesses are popping up aside long-standing ones, and murals are being painted at almost the same speed. This one, by local artist Tony Zellaha, brings a whimsical scene to the side of a trendy neighborhood hangout that offers coffee, kombucha, hot dogs and beer from Seedstock Brewery. This is also Zellaha’s biggest mural to date, although he executed it in a way that betrays his lack of large-scale experience.
Illegal Pete’s – Northside
Where: 1851 W. 38th Ave.
The Lowdown: Illegal Pete’s has been supportive of local artists throughout its expansion in Denver. But, they’ve found a favorite in one particular Denver-based artist, Mike Graves. Graves painted an expansive mural at their location on East Colfax, and last year he painted another mural on their newest location on West 38th Avenue. Though the two murals are different in subject matter, they are consistent with Graves’ animated style.
Fire on the Mountain
Where: 3801 W. 32nd Ave.
The Lowdown: Painted in 2014 by local artist Vinni Alfonso, this is one of the oldest murals still standing in this (or any other) area of Denver. Fire on the Mountain is a spot to find chicken wings and other fans of the Grateful Dead, Phish, or any other jam band that tours regularly through Colorado. Fittingly, this mural featured some major musicians throughout history, as well as the mammoth outcroppings of Red Rocks. It’s an homage to the music scene in Colorado on a restaurant that serves as a meeting place for musically-dedicated fans.
Places from our first roundup that are still rocking the same murals: Javier’s Diner, Burrito Giant, Local46, CrowBar
Where: 3410 E. Colfax Ave.
The Lowdown: Everything about this mural works for Tommy’s Thai — a well-known and loved Thai food place on East Colfax. First of all, the artist who painted it is Tom Ward. Secondly, the color tones are inspired by nature — they’re still bright and bold but not neon or processed. Finally, the subject matter verges on a romantic depiction of Thailand, allowing viewers to escape for a moment (after chowing down on a delicious plate of food) and pretend they’re on vacation.
Nuggs Ice Cream
Where: 5135 E. Colfax Ave.
The Lowdown: Recently, it’s been hard to choose which artisanal place to get ice cream from in Denver. There are plenty of choices (maybe even too many choices) but there are only a few that incorporate great art — and Nuggs on East Colfax is one of them. With two murals by two different artists on the exterior (and it’s not even that big of a building) Nuggs managed to harness the vibe of Colfax without being overly grungy and maintain the lightheartedness of an ice cream parlor. One of the murals, with a mountain climber throwing sprinkles on an ice cream cone, was painted by long-time Denver muralist Delton Demarest, while the other was painted by fantasy-maker Uc Sepia.
Lincoln Park Lounge
Where: 778 Mariposa St.
The Lowdown: Painted in the fall of 2018, this three-wall mural by local artist DINKC stretches almost entirely around the Lincoln Park Lounge. With bold black linework, bright reds and golds and hints of familiar shapes like the Denver skyline, this enormous piece exemplifies DINKC’s ability to transform a space with his art. It was commissioned and made possible through the Denver Urban Arts Fund (UAF), under the guidance of Denver Arts & Venues. Located just a few blocks off the Art District on Santa Fe, this building is worth the detour away from the crowds during First Friday (or at any other time) just to see the mastery (and maybe for a photo or two).
Prodigy Coffee House
Where: 3801 E. 40th Ave.
The Lowdown: Painted by Bimmer Torres, this mural at Prodigy stands out amidst its sparse surroundings. Instead of a small building in the middle of a parking lot, Prodigy is now an oasis to enjoy breakfast, coffee, live performances and plenty of seating. Torres’ paint job transformed it completely, and in many ways made it into a destination rather than just a coffee shop.