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Need some Denver Recommendations

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Hi Everyone,

I know its annoying when someone from out of town wants some suggestions. Its easy to think...read the forums. But, I was hoping to get some advice from the locals.

I am taking a lady (who is from Denver) to dinner and I have never been to Denver so I know nothing. I would like a nice romantic place, smaller perhaps... My goal is to take her to a place that may not be well known to someone who lives in Colorado. I guess I am looking for something in the Denver/Aurora area.

For my initial search (first 8 pages of "Denver" search) I came up with the following:

-Rioja
-Fruition

What should I add to the list of possibilities?

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  1. Good choices so far; add Mizuna, Luca d'Italia, Z Cuisine/A Cote, Deluxe...although all 6 are very well known, actually. Still, it sounds as though they'd be what you're looking for. Maybe Bistro One as well; I've only been once but quite liked it. And Indulge French Bistro on 38th is a charmer too.

    1. Thumbs up to Luca d'talia. It might be my favorite restaurant in Denver. Fabulous food, intimate and modern interior. ZCuisine and Deluxe are lovely too. Run far away from Aurora...

      2 Replies
      1. re: dogthis

        I would vote for Deluxe - it is a great date place in a cool neighborhood. Trust me. I think its the leopard print seating. 9th Door not too bad either but not as intimate and can be loud. Just my two cents. Make reservations though Deluxe is small. Nothing against Fruition or Rioja as both have great food. Fruition a little crowded together if you want privacy. Rioja would be a good choice. In Larimer Square which is nice. Yea. These are all pretty well known Not sure what to do about that.

        1. re: ColoradoFun

          Another might be Potager? Been so long I can't really remember whether the dining room has a similar, relatively quiet/intimate vibe...

          Actually I agree with your observation about Fruition being a tad cramped.

      2. I agree with folks about Luca - it's fabulous. Also, some of my faves are The 9th Door (Downtown Denver), Star of India (SE Denver) and Athenian Greek Restaurant (Aurora).

        If you are looking for some tasty food, especially for breakfast, Sam #3 is great. It's a cheap diner atmosphere with good service and history in Colorado. Their breakfast burritos are FANTASTIC!

        1. Fruition and Rioja are my favorite places in Denver right now, and both have a romantic atmosphere. Rioja is quite a bit larger than Fruition, and I think Fruition is "cozy" rather than cramped. They are both pretty well-known by locals, but I'm sure that will just impress this lady of yours!
          Potager also would fit the bill for small/romantic and is not as well-known. Luca d'Italia is romantic and very dimly-lit. I would not suggest Mizuna based on your scenario - it is very well-known and IMO underwhelming.

          1. Also consider Bistro Vendome on Larimer Square, across the street from (and under ths same ownership as) Rioja. Smaller. More intimate. Highland's Garden Cafe in NW Denver -- charming, a bit flowery, romantic. Maybe Strings (Uptown) and/or D Bar Desserts next door.. If you have a big budget and want to impress, Restaurant Kevin Taylor in the Hotel Teatro.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ClaireWalter

              I have to second Mizuna as the best spot for its intimate/romantic atmosphere and its legendary lobster mac&cheese!! Mizuna is possibly a bit out of your local friend's usual stomping grounds since it is not not in Aurora nor is it right downtown.

              I also thought Bistro Vendome and Highlands Garden Cafe were nice recommendations if the weather is warm allowing you can dine outdoors. Both those spots have lovely outdoor areas and romantic lighting to compliment their great cuisine. Rioja is fabulous but a bit more busy and less intimate in my mind. Save that spot for another trip. Hope you have a perfect evening.

              1. re: mommy3esq

                I enjoyed my one meal at Mizuna, but the filthy bathrooms (equivalent to convenience store bathrooms) totally turned me off, and as such I could not recommend them as a romantic place for dinner. Maybe I'm weird, but I found it completely disconcerting that a restaurant as nice as that could not spend a few dollars to decorate them, or a few minutes every now and then to maintain them.

                1. re: LurkerDan

                  Ughhhh, sorry to hear about your bad experience. I can not honestly say I remember the bathrooms from my last trip to Mizunas. I would have been concerned if they were dirty as I agree that filthy bathrooms are a real turnoff!!! Makes one concerned about the cleanliness of the kitchen. Hopefully, your experience was isolated and does not happen again!!!***You may want to share your disappointment with Mizuna.