Denver’s Best Romantic (and Cheap) Restaurants

If every Denver date night or girls night is setting you back $70 or more, I’m here to help.  Just check out this nifty guide to some of the most (unexpectedly) romantic restaurants in Denver and go have an amazing night for two, all for under $20 and $40 or less! Let’s do this!

YEP, WE GOT IDEAS FOR $20 OR LESS

POSTINO WINE CAFE:  While most restaurants are cashing in on one of the most romantic holidays of the year, Postino is keeping it’s usual special of a Bottle & a Board on the menu, for just $20.

WHAT YOU GET: You get to choose from 12 bruschettas, to make up your board of four of your favs. From Brie & Apples with Fig Spread to Fresh Mozzarella with Tomato & Basil to Prosciutto with Figs & Mascarpone, you’ll absolutely find fresh and creative flavors you’ll love. Best of all, Postino has what feels like an endless list of bottles of wine for you to choose from, to accompany your bruschetta board.

THE CATCH: The deal starts at 8pm, and it’s always best to go in as early as you can, and have a drink at the bar first.

BREAK THE BUDGET: Postino has THE BEST Salted Caramel Sundae, so if you’re feeling rich, drop $8 on this decadent dessert!

HOSTEL FISH: My best kept secret for a super-economical but romantic night out is Hostel Fish, a former brothel turned upscale hostel. Tucked above Ophelia’s, it’s been beautifully restored and its bar is welcoming to both the guests that stay there and you!

THE DEAL: Drinks at Hostel Fish are around $5.50 and you can bring your own food up there. Grab a pizza at Marquis Pizza or any of the other walkable spots nearby and head up to the dimly lit (and very romantic), never-crowded bar, and pick out your favorite vinyls to put on!

 

TACO ABOUT SAVING MONEY: You’re in luck! Taco Tuesday is the best night to find a bargain and two of my favorite Mexican places are not only romantic, but have tacos priced at one and two dollars!

El Camino Community Tavern has four tacos to choose from, including a veggie – all for $1. And if you feel like dropping more than $20 for your night out, some of my other favorite indulgences are their Fundido Hongos for $8, a garlic sautéed portobello with a Mexican 3-cheese blend and a shot of tequila, melted and served with homemade tecate flatbread; their Queso, starting at $6 is to die for; as are their Green Chili Nachos, $8.

Dos Santos is one of my favorite spots for their tightly edited, yet highly-creative menu of tacos and other Mexican fare. This Tuesday is their first foray into Taco Tuesday and I just know they’re going to knock it out of the park! On the menu, you’ll see Arrachera, Porky, Tinga and Veggie (Cauliflower) Tacos, all at $2.00. If you can slip in just before Happy Hour ends, you can keep your drink costs down, with margaritas and their larger for just $4.

 

HOW TO SPEND $40 OR LESS

denver's cheap restaurants

A HOT SPOT FOR ITALIAN FOOD LOVERS: That’s Dio Mio, for sure. In fact, Dio Mio could have made the list for under $20, as the night these pictures were captured, the bill was just $18. That night at Dio Mio, we arrived just in time for Happy Hour and placed an order for their amazing burrata, with 15 year aged balsamic, and their epic cacio e pepe

cheap denver restaurants

Though romance, to me, includes wine, and being able to dine any time of night, so Dio Mio slides into the under $40 section.

WHAT MAKES IT ROMANTIC: Candle lit, lights down low, and I love the decor of a ceiling hung with paper cranes. It’s all perfectly simple in it’s decor, so thematic to the excellent food, but it works.

BONUS: Dio Mio is known for throwing some pretty awesome events, in just the last few months, they’ve had an all you can eat spaghetti night, a sold out ramen pop up and a sold out fried chicken night. Get all the deets on their events, here.

denver's best restaurants

Photo: by Star Chefs

FOR ALL THE HIPSTER BABIES: Every time I go to Rebel Restaurant, I’m blown away by the options on the menu, from cheesesteak pierogis to meatball popcorn (yes, meatball popcorn and it was awesome!) to their famous half pig head offering. The best description I’ve ever heard about Rebel Restaurant was from a happy regular who told me, “The more adventurous you are, the more Rebel will reward you.” For the non-adventurous, they still have creature comforts like a cheese burger and a green chili grilled cheese.

cheap denver restaurants

Peanut Butter Marshmallow dessert. Photography by: Aaron Colussi for 5280 Magazine

WHAT YOU SHOULD ORDER: To stay under $40 for two at Rebel Restaurant, you might just need to stick to appetizers and either happy hour drinks or $4 dad beers. You can never of wrong with their pierogis or popcorn whose ingredients change, all the time.

WHO SHOULD GO: You’re a couple that loves beautiful design, a dimly lit atmosphere but you’re also okay if the restaurant breaks out in a raucous party.

BONUS: Chefs Dan Lasiy & Bo Porytko have opened a sandwich concept, Obey Sandwitchery, where you can get delicious sammies like a kimchi cheese steak, chicken parmesan and catch vegan specials, like the grilled cauliflower, smoked tomato chutney, preserved lemon and chimichurri on sour dough.

UNDER RATED HOT SPOT: People always ask about my favorite bar, and Hudson Hill is always in my top five for it’s unpretentious, low-key and hip vibe. The seating lends its hand for a community-focused, “get to know your neighbor” vibe, but you and your sweetie can be in your own world, here too. Each night, a vinyl record is chosen, to not only set the night’s mood, but to influence a special cocktail.

Al Green? Yeah, that’ll definitely bring the romance. A Hudson Hill, the cocktails are in the spotlight, but you can grab light bites, too. You’ll have an array of cheeses to choose from (most from Vermont and the UK), as well as mixed organic olives, almonds and I hear the Black Berkshire Pork & Bacon Terrine is not to be missed. And if you’re hankering for something more post-cocktails, pop in to Benny Blancos, which sits right across the street, for a slice!

A BAR CAN BE ROMANTIC TOO…

In my top five Denver bars, especially if we’re talking “romantic Denver bars,” is Fort Greene bar. I’m a huge fan of their menu, too… think comfort food done right: delicious burgers, nachos and street tacos. The menu’s been changed up a bit since The Long i Pie took over the kitchen, so as an added bonus you’ll find seasonal and savory pies, too. (Shauna’s pie, The Honey Flower was just voted best pie in Colorado, though everyone raves about her salted lavender, as well!) You and your boo can easily make out for under $40, especially if you pair their food with some Dad Beers!

Photo: Colorado Public Radio

THE BAR AT AVANTI F & B AND CHOW MORSO: I love the downstairs bar at Avanti F & B for it’s bright open space, exposed brick, couches you can sink into and all the creative cocktails they have at the ready.

THE FOOD: I think you should give Chow Morso a try. It comes from an outstanding pedigree, the folks behind Barolo Grill, one of Denver’s best restaurants. You’ll have a salad and appetizers, like fried calamari and porchetta-wrapped savory doughnuts, to choose from, but the real highlight is any of the four house-made fresh pastas, and the four different sauces you can select to adorn them with. (I hear it’s all about the Bolognese-sauced taglietelle.)

WHO SHOULD GO: Couples that don’t mind a busy and bustling atmosphere, but isn’t that how it will be at every restaurant in town on the weekend?

 

Photo: @5280_eats

JUST DESSERTS… AT BRAZEN NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY: A great way to save money on date night or girls night is to opt for just drinks and desserts. A perfect spot to go to: Brazen Neighborhood Eatery. My absolute fav dessert (and soon to be yours): The S’mores Dessert, $12, comes with house-made vanilla marshmallow, house-made grahams, Hershey’s milk chocolate, and Reese’s Peanut Buttercups, It’s all set up on its own little grill where you can build and heat them up yourself! Pair that with some of their hilariously-named cocktails like the “Bye Felicia”, “#thestruggleisreal” or the “D.I.L.F” (around $12 each), and you’ll for sure have the perfect night.

 

RHEIN HAUS: Full disclosure, I only ever viewed Rhein Haus as a place to get really (really) rowdy before, after or during a game. Until I went on a date, on the second floor… and viewed it in a whole new way: as a throughly romantic and architecturally stunning restaurant and bar.

Photo: @5280_eats

WHAT TO GET: You’ll easily be able to keep your night under $40 as most of Rhein Haus’ menu offerings are in the $6-$14 range, and liters of beer start at $12. The mini-housemade pretzel bites are completely addictive (especially with the beer fondue!), and we loved the brats and the chicken schnitzel. Vegetarians will love the buffalo cauliflower as well as their veggie-wurst.

BREWERY BABES: Can a brewery be romantic? You bet it can and my pick for most romantic Denver brewery is Our Mutual Friend. Maybe it’s the dark painted walls, the small fireplace, or how, at night, it’s dimly lit and dotted with the soft glow of string lights. A food truck, like Pasty Republic will always be on hand, serving up Denver’s best food truck bites.

CUBA CUBA CAFE & BAR: You want romance? Not only does Cuba Cuba have it in spades, but it’s one of the most beautifully transportive restaurants in Denver. From the pathway to the little-house-turned-restaurant dotted with palms, to the gorgeous high-ceiling interior, so perfectly lit, this cozy spot spells romance.

WHAT TO GET: Empanadas start at $3, so definitely get those. If you sit at the bar at Cuba Cuba, no one will give you and your date the side-eye for splitting an entree, which start at $19. But if you browse the tightly edited sandwich list, you can easily keep your bill under $40, especially if you order either a Cubano or a Pan con Bistec Sandwich, which is layered with seared NY Strip steak, onions, lettuce, tomato & julienne potatoes and pressed on Cuban bread. Both are $15 and under.

 

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