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A penny earned is smartly spent at these Denver value restaurants



Great value isn't just about the bottom-line. It's also about the quality of the food for the price and the ambiance. If your group has diverse tastes, it's also about the variety. Whatever your criteria, you don’t have to wipe out your entire paycheck to get a great meal in Denver. Sure, there are pricey fine-dining establishments well worth the splurge for special occasions. But you should be able to eat out any time you want to–and you can. Each of these 10 restaurants offers great food at an affordable price. As a group, they also cover all times of the day and a variety of cuisines. At Maria Empanadas, extraordinary value comes in the form of exceptional, authentic Argentinian empanadas priced under $4 each, and Postino's bruschetta and meat-and-cheese boards are among the well-priced selections. Denver Biscuit Company offers a menu showcasing biscuits and comfort food for breakfast to mid-day, while Post Brewing Co.-Rosedale is for lovers of down-home fried chicken and sides for lunch or dinner. Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery easily defines the fast-casual concept. It’s affordable, comfortable, family-friendly and quick, but also chef-driven and you can get wine, beer and a Moscow Mule, too. Hot dogs? Absolutely and both dog-centric eateries on this list offer value and surprises. Sam's No. 3 is the place to go when you can't decide exactly what you want. It's a cornucopia of edible possibilities from eggs and lattes to burgers and burritos, from Greek and Mexican to American classics, breakfast to dinner. What's your pleasure? You'll find it here at an affordable price.


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10
Capitol Hill


Nothing fancy here, just excellent gyros, falafels and other Middle Eastern food conveniently located on the corner of Grant and Colfax in Cap Hill. There's not much in the way of atmosphere but the service is prompt and friendly. If there's a downside, it's that there is no alcohol served here so you'll have to go elsewhere to wash your falafel down with a craft brew. That said, hummus fans will be happy, indeed. This may be the best in Denver. If you're looking for value, go for a sandwich and get appetizers for the table. Entrees are pricier but definitely hearty. The chicken shawarma sandwich is a must-try.

Recommended for Best Value because: This is the place on Cap Hill for excellent gyros, falafels and hummus in a low-key atmosphere at excellent prices.

Christine's expert tip: No alcohol served here but that's not a reason to pass it by. The food is more than enough to bring diners in.

Read more about Shish Kabob Grill →




More than four months after a devastating fire, The Cherry Cricket reopened in April 2017 with a long line of grateful patrons on hand to celebrate. The Cricket offers a welcoming patch of down-to-earth unpretentiousness in a sea of super-swank establishments. The Cricket has been the happy black sheep of the Cherry Creek North neighborhood for decades with its old-school pub/sports bar atmosphere and a comforting combo of pub and Mexican food. While the menu has plenty of options, there's a reason Cherry Cricket's burgers have consistently been voted among the best in Denver. It could be the 30-plus topping choices--all the usual suspects including cheese, bacon, barbeque sauce and onions, along with a slew of out-there choices such as grilled pineapple, peanut butter, corned beef and raspberry or grape jam.

Recommended for Best Value because: It has withstood the test of time, sticking to its working-class roots in an increasingly uber upscale neighborhood, and the burgers still get raves.

Christine's expert tip: The Cricket is open until 2 a.m. seven days a week but if you want food, get there before midnight when the kitchen closes.

Read more about The Cherry Cricket →


8
Downtown


Sam's No. 3 is everything you love about Greek diners and diner food--with a whole lot of green-chile smothered Mexican breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes thrown in. Did we mention the cheeseburgers? The multiple-page menu can seem overwhelming. Not to worry. All you really need to know is that Denverites have been giving awards to Sam's No. 3 for years, especially for its Kickin' Green Chili, burgers and breakfasts. Even Food Network celeb Guy Fieri stopped in to get the scoop. This is not the place for dieting. Sure, there are vegetarian and gluten- and dairy-free options and fruit plates, but seriously, you can get those anywhere. On the other hand, where can you get a burrito filled with chorizo, tater tots and mac-and-cheese smothered in green chili? Down-home and divey, Sam's is a Denver tradition.

Recommended for Best Value because: Sam's No. 3 is a Denver tradition, especially for a well-priced breakfast.

Christine's expert tip: It looks like an average diner but don't be fooled. In addition to the extensive international menu you can also get sophisticated espresso drinks and multiple variations of mimosas and bloody Marys.

Read more about Sam's No. 3 →


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Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis


Chefs here have taken fast-casual to a new level. At Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery the food is not just quick and relatively easy on the wallet, it's chef-driven and fresh. Dishes fall in the comfort-food arena but often with a healthy twist. Instead of traditional pastrami, Chop Shop makes its own smoked-chicken pastrami. Menu highlights include creative salads, and the crispy fried organic tofu is a winner, as is the sophisticated kid's menu. But meat-lovers are in for a treat. The 48-hour slow-cooked short ribs and shaved slow-roasted sirloin French Dip will have folks coming back. Creative cocktails, wine and beer give parents a nice option for a night out with their kids. A neighborhood restaurant at heart, Chop Shop has a welcoming, laid-back feel. Nice touches, nice food, nice price.

Recommended for Best Value because: Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery is delicious proof that fast and casual can translate to excellent value and excellent food in an inviting atmosphere.

Christine's expert tip: If sustainability and eco-awareness matter to you, this is your place. Plates are sustainable bamboo, glasses are reclaimed wine bottles, there are washcloths in the restrooms and the tables are made of reclaimed wood.

Read more about Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery →




Biker Jim's is definitely the top dog of Denver's hot dog specialty restaurants and holds its own against many other types of restaurants, too. Like Maria Empanadas, Biker Jim's specializes in one thing and does it really well. Sure, the word gourmet is thrown around a lot these days, used to describe every kind of food and eatery, some deserving and some not. But Biker Jim's gourmet dogs are exactly that. On the menu are dogs made with pheasant, rattlesnake, elk and duck confit, along with the more expected all-beef varieties and two vegan options, spicy or herby. Some varieties have limited variety, but you can always find a dog worth eating here.

Recommended for Best Value because: It's the top dog in Denver, the trifecta of must-go restaurants--one of a kind, good and affordable.

Christine's expert tip: Have a craving for a gourmet dog at 2 a.m.? No problem. On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant is open until 3 a.m.

Read more about Biker Jim's Gourmet Hot Dogs Restaurant →




Dog Haus focuses on hot dogs and beer but also features sausages, burgers and a chicken sandwich. By definition this menu is easy on the walletâ€" but that doesn't mean boring or low on options. There are more than a few surprises including the Soooo Cali dog with wild arugula, avocado, tomato, crispy fried onions and spicy basil aioli and the Pineapple Express topped with pineapple, sweet ginger glaze and pickled jalapeños (don't knock it till you try it!). Sausages come in several varieties and burgers include everything you'd want as a topper and more--way more, such as the burger piled high with pastrami or any burger topped with a fried egg. Vegetarians can dig into several plant-based options including a burger, slider and sausages. The hardest decision: Tater tots or onion rings on the side and a shake or local craft beer to wash it all down.

Recommended for Best Value because: Dog Haus Biergarten Northfield Stapleton is all about value yet delivers high quality and delicious variations on the budget-friendly hot dog

Christine's expert tip: Eat happily. All meat used is certified humanely raised, vegetarian-fed, with no added nitrates or nitrites and always hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Read more about Dog Haus Biergarten Northfield Stapleton →




Part wine bar and part Italian cafe, Postino is an ideal spot to linger over a nicely affordable meal, especially on a perfect Denver afternoon sitting on the fabulous patio. The food menu is targeted with a focus on bruschetta, panini, artisan cheese boards, soups and salads. The dishes are satisfying and go beyond the ordinary by combining unexpected flavor pairings such as bruschettas combining prosciutto, fig and mascarpone; ricotta, dates and pistachios; or smoked salmon and pesto among others. Choose four for just $15, pair it with wine and it's plenty for a light meal. Founded in Arizona by owners passionate about cheese and wine, Postino is the first Colorado outpost of the small group. Beer lovers, not to worry: This wine bar has an excellent selection of craft brews, too.

Recommended for Best Value because: Postino combines excellent food, wine and one of Denver's best patios, all enjoyed at a very affordable price.

Christine's expert tip: Check out the wall on the left as you enter. It's ingeniously made of books, a cool nod to the building's past as a bookbindery.

Read more about Postino LoHi →




A plate of authentic, crispy-tender, perfectly seasoned and fried chicken is a value at any price (IMHO). But for those who believe fried chicken, however good, should be a dining bargain, you're in luck. Post Brewing Co. has reasonable prices. Sides come in $4 and $7 servings and cheddar biscuits are just $1.50. Better yet, the chicken, which is seasoned with gluten-free flour, is paired with exactly the right Post Brewing beer, 1771 IPA, Townie Ale and Backyard Saison among them. While the down-home sides are great (yes, grits), others highlight some of today's more elevated culinary trends. One to try: beets and sweets with whipped goat cheese and arugula pesto. Blue-plate specials include fish on Fridays and slow-roasted prime rib on Saturdays. Brunch is an ode to your favorite southern breakfast, with options for vegetarians and chile lovers, and happy hour runs 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m. weekends.

Recommended for Best Value because: Post Brewing Co. is affordable for a single serving or a family, and the take-out option adds even more value.

Christine's expert tip: Can't get there to pick up your take-out order? Get it delivered by Grubhub or Doordash.

Read more about Post Brewing Co.- Rosedale →




You'll find Denver Biscuit Company in a space that accommodates two restaurants and a popular bar under one roof. Denver Biscuit Company serves breakfast and biscuit sandwiches for lunch, while Fat Sully's offers pizza for lunch, dinner and late into the evening. Atomic Cowboy bar supports both restaurants morning through late night. But nothing says home cooking like biscuits, which are made from scratch here and appear on the menu in a variety of ways. Most decadent: The Franklin, a biscuit sandwich with buttermilk-fried chicken topped with melted cheese and belly bacon, all smothered in sausage or mushroom gravy, egg optional. FYI, we asked and this was the answer: "The secret to our biscuits is love...and tons and tons of butter."

Recommended for Best Value because: The name says it. Denver Biscuit Company excels at biscuits, fried chicken and just about anything else you could want with your biscuits.

Christine's expert tip: Weekends the line can be well out the door, so go early if you're hungry, or wait until later in the morning when the crowd thins between breakfast and lunch. You can still get breakfast.

Read more about Denver Biscuit Company →




On a busy corner of South Broadway, Maria Empanada is an oasis of deliciousness and charm. Empanadas come from the ovens morning to night, both sweet and savory. The menu also includes veggie-filled "tartas" made from an old family recipe, as well as Spanish tortillas made with organic eggs. There's a limited selection of wine and beer to pair with these Argentine delights. Nothing fancy here. The empanadas come in a basket that you take to the table yourself. The whole place opens up to the sidewalk and there are tables outside, though the traffic somewhat diminishes the appeal of sitting there. Nothing, however, diminishes the excellent empanadas and friendly ambiance of the place.

Recommended for Best Value because: Maria Empanadas offers true value, serving up superb empanadas and tortes in a nice atmosphere at a great price.

Christine's expert tip: Need an espresso? You can get an excellent cup here, in addition to a choice of beer or wine.

Read more about Maria Empanada →


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Meet Christine Loomis

Christine has written about every aspect of travel, from romance and adventure to family and wellness. She is also lucky to have had three major home states through the years: New York,...  More About Christine

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