Denver, Colorado, is a brilliant vacation spot thanks to the city’s sunny weather and fantastic attractions. The “Mile High City” has a rich culinary scene, boasting delectable soul food spots and quirky eateries with everything from deep-fried to organic fare.
Tapas is age-old in Spain but a relatively new trend in the USA – one that’s not slowing down any time soon. Traditionally, tapas are small, savory bites with Spanish influence. But today, tapas come in many delicious forms and flavors.
If you’re looking for the best tapas in Denver, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find some cool spots with mouth-watering tapas plates.
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12 RESTAURANTS FOR THE BEST TAPAS IN DENVER - AND OTHER SMALL PLATES, TOO!
Patatas bravas, boards of meats and cheeses, antipasti and more – oh my! Tapas and small plates cover a wide variety of regional cuisines, and this list covers the 12 best places to find them. If you’re staying in Denver, be sure to check out the spots below for mouth-watering small plates.
Now let’s talk food. El Five’s menu is an amalgamation of Mediterranean and Spanish delicacies, culminating in a uniquely varied array of dishes that will leave you drooling. Expect mezze platters, paella to share, and – the crowning jewel – dessert tapas.
The food here will blow your socks off, and the views from El five are simply unforgettable. If you’re able – make a reservation and asked to be seated at a table by the window (or out on the patio if the weather is nice!). When it comes to Spanish tapas in Denver, El Five is the one to beat.
It was Denver’s first train station that transformed this frontier town into a humming metropolis. Built in 1881, Union Station was one of the largest buildings in the West. Today, Union Station is rejuvenated to suit the modern surroundings of Downtown Denver. This buzzing public square is home to restaurants, boutiques, and the luxurious Crawford Hotel.
Inside this historic plaza, you’ll find Ultreia, one of the best Spanish restaurants in Denver. Ultreia offers authentic Spanish tapas and exquisite Portuguese petiscos to boot. James Beard award-winning chef Jennifer Jasinski brings a flare and flavor to incredible tapas dishes like the shrimp ceviche with yellow gazpacho or classic croquetas de jamón.
9TH DOOR CAPITOL HILL
9th Door Capitol Hill is arguably one of the very best tapas restaurant Denver has to offer. The intimate bistro serves classics like patatas bravas and terrific gin and tonics too. This is an excellent tapas option if authenticity is what you’re after. Every dish at 9th Door is sophisticated, beautifully plated, and made with care.
We recommend the Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp) for a scrumptious seafood snack. The sangrias here will also give you a kick in the pants in the best way. Sangria Sundays are an especially enticing occasion; half-off all night! This is one of the best spots for tapas in Denver.
BARCELONA WINE BAR
Barcelona Wine Bar is another top-notch foodie hotspot to try if you’re staying in Denver. The tapas here are simple yet elegant, merging influences from Spain, South America, and the Mediterranean. Expect bold flavors served up in style at this classy tapas joint.
We highly recommend the duck heart arancini on the menu. This impeccable tapas dish comes with quality Manchego cheese and a delicious mushroom puree. For the vegans out there, be sure to try the eggplant caponata with basil and chili flakes. The flavors are to die for.
For a romantic and fun date, you can try out Barcelona Wine Bar’s “Wine & Tapas Experience for Two.” You’ll get to taste three hand-selected Spanish wines paired with six tapas dishes curated by the in-house chef. If that’s not enough to sell you on the experience, you’ll also receive a gift bottle of wine and two Barcelona wine glasses!
Sometimes, going out for tapas isn’t strictly aimed at Spanish or Meditteranean cuisine. You can enjoy light bites, platters, and finger foods of any persuasion. Enter Linger, the lively multicultural restaurant with a rooftop lounge and just-boujee-enough atmosphere. Linger serves a variety of tapas-style dishes from around the globe, giving its diners a little taste of pretty much every continent.
You’ll find Korean tacos, American-style sliders, and Taiwanese bao buns on the menu! Were you looking for the tapas of Indian cuisine? Linger’s got you covered with the potato masala dosa, a crispy lentil crepe served with squash, coconut chutney, and tamarind dates. You’ll even find Filipino spring rolls on the lunch bites menu!
Linger’s décor has a sophisticated elegance to it, as well as down-to-earth, hearty food that will keep you coming back for more. It’s no wonder Business Insider dubbed this place one of the coolest small businesses in Denver.
Inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, Rioja provides delicious fare made from locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients. Set in a sleek dining room with stunning decor, this upmarket restaurant is a must on your list of foodie hotspots in Denver. The exhibition kitchen will put you right at the heart of things, and you can see the award-winning chef plate your dishes personally.
Sip on some Spanish wines by the glass and try out the impeccable starters on the menu. Rioja’s “picnic” dish is a tasty charcuterie board with artisanal meats, gorgonzola, sheep-goat feta, olives, fennel, orange confit, and almonds.
If it’s spaghetti you’re after, you can enquire about the handmade pasta and even taste a bit of everything with Rioja’s tasting menu experience.
NEIGHBORS WINE BAR
Wine and tapas is surely a match made in food heaven. And you can enjoy this popular food and drink pairing at Neighbors Wine Bar. Neighbors is a cozy nook with charming outdoor seating and a rustic, homey feel inside.
You’ll find artisanal charcuterie and cheese plates on the menu to pair with your choice of local and international wines.
There are also curated, hand-crafted cocktails on offer here. We recommend the Civilized Leisure, a mix of Old Forester bourbon, yellow chartreuse, lemon, and honey syrup. For a scrumptious small plate, try the spicy beef empanadas wrapped in puffed pastry.
Japanese tapas coming in hot! Ototo has divine and flavorsome food, offering an array of Bento boxes and small plates in a blended Japanese fusion style. The restaurant’s special Bento box series has everything you could think of, including Japanese sweet potato balls, roasted duck breast, Wagyu steak, tofu, and much, much more.
The cocktails here are simply to die for, and you can even request a Sake pairing with the food of your choice. Ototo has five different Sake options, each as delicious (and strong) as the one before.
You can watch the chefs prepare your meal right before your eyes on the robata grill, a key element in authentic Japanese cooking. Ototo Den is also one of the best Denver sushi spots around – check them out!
SUPER MEGA BIEN
Foodies in Denver might feel a sense of familiarity when walking into Super Mega Bien. And that is because it’s brought by the same folks behind Work & Class – a popular restaurant in Denver serving homestyle Southern & Latin American cuisine. They like to do things a little differently (read: inventive) and SMB is no exception!
Try delectable small plates like orange habanero ceviche, slightly spicy chorizo patatas bravas, or perfectly grilled carne asada with chimichurri. This is a unique concept with a quirky vibe that will keep you coming back for more.
THE TRUFFLE TABLE
The Truffle Table is a cheese bar – yes, you read that correctly – with a relaxed vibe and outstanding food. The place has an extensive wine list as well as flights paired with tapas, fine cheeses, and charcuterie.
Expect fine-dining style delicacies like the prosciutto-wrapped burrata or the peppers stuffed with pesto goat cheese. Everything at Truffle Table is seasoned to perfection and plated in an Instagrammable fashion.
Happy Hour runs from 6 pm, and this is an excellent place to wind down with a glass of wine at the end of a stressful workday.
SIENNA WINE BAR & SMALL PLATES
Take your pick of nearly seventy (yes, seventy!) wines by the bottle at this elegant neighborhood wine bar and restaurant. Sienna Wine Bar has a cozy bistro-feel with plenty of tapas dishes and small plates on the menu. Try the brie baked in phyllo pastry and topped with fresh fruit for a decadent snack to share that comes out hot and bubbling.
Sienna also has a mind-blowing Ratatouille on the menu (a dish that’s certainly not easy to come by), and this place absolutely nails it.
With a humble but striking restaurant space, Sienna boasts a friendly and welcoming atmosphere that locals and tourists adore.
“Chi mangia bene, vive bene”: Those who eat well, live well. This is the motto of the award-winning restaurant, Panzano. The chic urban eatery serves contemporary North Italian cuisine made from local, organic ingredients. The antipasti options are melt-in-your-mouth good, not to mention the incredible wine selection on offer.
The prestigious Zagat magazine named Panzano one of the best restaurants in America! The restaurant even received four diamonds from the appraisal service, AAA. This downtown eatery exudes style and refinement, with a gorgeous private dining area and enticing ambiance.
For a touch of Italy in Denver, Panzano is hands-down the antipasti joint. We recommend the fried brussel sprouts; a delectable appetizer served with an apple cider reduction, pistachios, and sliced green apple.
INCREDIBLE SMALL PLATES AND TAPAS, DENVER
We’ve covered Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, and Mediterranean tapas to give you a full overview of the best tapas-style restaurants in Denver. Whatever cuisine you’re looking for, this Colorado city has everything you need in the way of light bites and sharing plates.
Whether you’re sipping on Spanish wines at El Five or digging into a Bento box at Ototo, we hope you enjoy the best of Denver’s tapas dishes.
Featured photo credit: © Roxiller via Canva.com