A perk about living in a city is the access to different culinary and bar experiences at your fingertips. With Denver becoming a more up-and-coming city each season, it’s important to take a step back and appreciate the places that have set the precedent for new eateries to come. Being on the newer side of Denver, I turn to my S.O. to pick dinner for us; he’s spent his entire life in the 303 area. After being together for a year, we’ve been able to explore the state through a culinary lens, and I now feel comfortable enough to share the conclusions we’ve come to. Here’s a list of different date night restaurants for every kind of couple.
For the Thrill Seekers
Williams & Graham
Hours: Mon-Sun (5 p.m. – 1 a.m.)
Location: 3160 Tejon Street, Denver
The Lowdown: I always look for interesting speakeasies online, and ultimately become disappointed when all of the cool spots are based in Europe. I was surprised to find Williams & Graham on my hunt, a hidden speakeasy on Tejon Street. Tucked behind a false bookstore, this establishment serves specialty cocktails and small bites sure to tickle your tastebuds. The bar has over 60 different cocktails, some even dating back to over 200 years ago. But don’t fret, if you don’t find anything you want on the menu, the expert bartenders can create a personal cocktail for you based on your preferences and mood. If you’re looking to add some spice to your relationship, stop by for a Side Eye ($16) or a classic Espresso Martini ($16) to set the mood. There’s no better way to enjoy the night than with a little mystery and a damn good cocktail. It is recommended to make a reservation.
For the Handsy Couple
Old Town Hot Pot
Hours: Mon-Sun (11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.)
Location: 2852 S Havana St, Aurora
The Lowdown: For the couple that craves a more “hands-on” experience, what better way to enjoy an evening than visiting a local hot pot joint? Old Town Hot Pot is an all-you-can-eat establishment with great prices and even bigger portions. The fun of this place is in the process, you get to make your food right at the table, so you and your date can be your own culinary experts for the night. One of the highlights of Old Town Hot Pot is the make-your-own sauce bar, where suggestions include using small bits of sugar and an excess amount of green onions for the perfect bite. Chinese hot pot is a great way to connect with your date over food, and maybe by the end of the night, you’ll even share a dumpling or two. Stop by and eat up for only $28.99 per person.
For the Romantics
Hours: Sun-Thurs (5 p.m. – 10 p.m.) Fri-Sat (5 p.m. – 11 p.m.)
Location: 2930 Umatilla Street, 5th Floor, Denver
The Lowdown: If you’re wanting an intimate dinner with a view, El Five is the next restaurant to put on your reservation list. Located on the fifth floor, this eatery serves not only incredible food but amazing views of your favorite city. Right next door is their sister establishment Linger, creating a community-centric atmosphere. Inspired by the flavors of the Sea of Gibraltar, El Five creates Mediterranean-focused dishes that don’t revolve around one specific city. Try their Spreads of the Med ($25) platter to experience a multitude of flavors, or a unique dish like the Chickpea Pancake Tacos ($17). Tapas can be a great way to start or end a perfect date night, make sure to stop by!
For the Anniversary
Hours (Dinner): Sun–Thurs (5 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.), Fri – Sat (5 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.)
Location: 1881 Curtis St, Denver
The Lowdown: I may be biased because one of my first anniversary dinners was here, but I think this is an excellent place to bring your S.O. to celebrate something special. While the overall vibe is a bit higher-end, Elway’s always shows up with mouth-watering dishes sure to leave you with a full stomach. Some of the favorites include the Lamp Chop Fondue ($59) and their hand-cut prime steaks. With an array of different sides and sauces, there’s something for everyone. If steak isn’t your style, try out the Elway’s Salmon ($54) with luscious lumps of crab and shrimp, or the popular Short Rib “Off the Bone” ($52). Elway’s is a Denver classic, so make sure to add it to your anniversary dinner options.
For Dinner & a Show
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
Hours: Mon-Tues closed, Wed-Fri (5 p.m. – 1 a.m.), Sat (10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.)
Location: 1215 20th Street, Denver
The Lowdown: A perfect date night, in my opinion, consists of both activities and food. Denver is home to many different eclectic spots, but nothing quite matches the essence of Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Throughout the building’s existence, it’s been a brothel, a sex shop and a peep show, and now it serves dinner and entertains with music performances, drag shows and more. While the evening shows are insanely popular, its daytime events also measure up if you want to have an early night. This month, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is hosting many themed bottomless brunches including one for Stranger Things fans called ‘Brunching up That Hill.’ Its website has an entire list of upcoming performances if you’re looking for someone specific to see. Hey, maybe your S.O.’s favorite band is playing! No matter what, you definitely won’t forget your time at Ophelia’s.