You have to admit – life is more fun when it’s a little saucy. While it is pretty common to find some sort of spreadable appetizer on most menus these days, each dip is not created equal. Here is a rundown of some of the best starters and main dishes to dunk, dip or spread in and around Denver.
Where: 249 Clayton Street, Denver, Colorado
The Lowdown: From the team behind Quality Italian comes Kini’s – a perfect fit into the Cherry Creek atmosphere – with its Mediterranean vibe. The Dip Tower is an instant favorite featuring five uber crave-able housemade spreads such as beet muhammara, chickpea and avocado dill alongside crudites and flatbread. Order for the table – or yourself – sip on a Golden Negroni with Tanqueray, Lillet Blanc, apricot and turmeric and picture yourself on a Greek island.
Where: 3330 Brighton Blvd #201, Denver, inside the Source Hotel
The Lowdown: With an approach to flavor mirroring those of the Middle East, Europe and North Africa, Safta is a dream culinary blend representing the world from Israel to Greece. Safta’s menu is a glorious adventure in texture, from creamy spreads and small bites to larger plates like its spice-packed lamb kebabs or crispy eggplant. But the real showstopper? The whipped feta. Accompanied by fig vinegar, Aleppo and mint – this dip is savory with a sweet tang and a slight spice just begging to be scooped up with a chunk of fresh pita bread. Or a spoon – the choice is yours.
Cuba Cuba Cafe
Where: 1173 Delaware St, Denver
The Lowdown: With six locations across Colorado to choose from, there is no excuse to ignore that Cuba Cuba craving – especially with the convenient downtown location in the Golden Triangle neighborhood. Offering a colorful menu of tapas, salads and sandwiches – Cuba Cuba Cafe gives its diners a tasty and unique glimpse into the culinary delights of the Caribbean. Sit at the bar and order a specialty Mojito, adding in flavors like mango, coconut or ginger, and get an order of the mariquitas cuba cuba, which are served with not one, not two, but three flavor-packed sauces. Dip into the garlic mojo, mango habanero mojo or its guacamole – maybe all 3 – and savor in the crispy plantain chips while you plan your next move.
Where: 1415 Market St, Denver
The Lowdown: We know that Germany has a rich and diverse food culture, but when it comes to something as simple as a warm pretzel – Rhein Haus takes it from yum to get your own. The only way a hot, salty, fluffy pretzel gets better is when it shares a plate with Obatzda – aka beer cheese, honey mustard and cheddar fondue. While its menu is full of savory delights such as a literal Smorgasbord of schweinshaxe, roasted chicken, polish kielbasa, mashed potatoes, spätzle and sauerkraut & parsnips, Rhein Haus also boasts an extensive draft bier selection and is sure to satisfy everyone in your group. While you are there, pick up a game of bocce and burn off your first pretzel so you can order another.
ELITA Specialty Market & Kitchen
Where: 2501 Dallas St suite 180, Aurora
The Lowdown: Conveniently located in the Stanley Marketplace and situated amongst a myriad of food and beverage options, ELITA Market and Kitchen offers a unique fast-casual Latin menu mixed in with the comforts of a butcher shop. You might walk in for the Colorado beef or handmade sausages, but you will likely stay for its hearty flatbreads or the vibrant salads on the menu – which happen to be a great companion for the hummus bowls. Choose from the Al Pastor with housemade chipotle hummus, al pastor marinated pork, fresh seasonal fruit salsa, lime tahini, house pickled red onion and radish & cilantro or the Chicken shawarma with lime hummus, chicken shawarma, salsa tatemada, lime tahini, pickled Iraqi turnip and shaved radish & parsley, and know that truly the only thing more satisfying is the warm Chile-garlic pita bread accompanying like a safety blanket.
Where: 1808 Blake St, Denver
The Lowdown: Certainly not a stranger to any food list, this LoDo favorite has made quite the name for itself in its five years of business. Pony Up just might literally be the dip capital of Denver. Known, of course, for its sprawling bar, killer artwork – hi Louie – and its flavor bomb French dips, Pony Up is a mecca for anyone seeking to satisfy a sandwich craving – except better. No grilled cheese could be complete without a steamy bowl of creamy tomato soup, just as no sandwich on the menu is complete without its hot partner in crime. The Alameda Street Classic is your intro sando, with roast beef, rosemary, sea salt and mayo, served with a classic beef jus. The Saigon is filled with the most tender garlic pork, cilantro, basil, jalapeños and spicy mayo alongside a pho broth that is not only dippable but 100% sippable. The menu can be mixed and matched too, so you might want to opt for the smoked mushroom dip and dunk it in the French onion au jus – top any sandwich with crispy onions or gruyere cheese – and seriously get your comfort on.