Rocky Mountain Farmers and Ranchers Influence Denver's Dining Scene

The term may be overused these days but the intention remains relevant. Diners want inventive dishes made with the freshest possible ingredients and least possible impact on the environment. Chefs want to offer exactly that. One result of this synergistic aspiration is a new focus on something that had all but disappeared from the American landscape in the age of big agriculture–the small farm. Now, local organic produce, animals raised humanely, handcrafted cheese and sausage, house-made canned and preserved goods and a desire to waste nothing all have become the new normal in trendsetting restaurants, and Denver is well ahead of the curve.

The drive to use local purveyors and ingredients is strong in Colorado. From pizza to multi-course meals, casual eateries to fine dining, there are restaurants at which farm-to-table is not a trend but a sustained passion. One of the best-known chefs in this space is Alex Seidel, who has Fruition, Mercantile Dining & Provision and his own Fruition Farms, which both restaurants use. Less known, perhaps, are Johnny Ballen, head “beankeeper” at The Squeaky Bean, which also has its own acreage, and Lisa Miller of The Village Cork who believes that restaurateurs have a responsibility to the environment, which in turn benefits customers There are many more. The best news is that this is no longer a trend; it's the new norm, at least here in Denver.

Old Major
Photo courtesy of Old Major

"We're friends with our farmers and fishermen," says management on the restaurants website. "We focus on heritage-raised meats from Colorado farms we know and respect." The restaurant does its own butchering and cures the meats in-house (you can...  Read More

North Denver

"When the farm deliveries come in and menu changes for the season are being written it feels like Christmas!" said Tiffany Leong, former sous chef and now Duo's pastry chef, on the restaurant's website. "I love being so committed to our farms...  Read More

Alamo Placita

"At Beatrice & Woodsley, we search for and serve the best quality and most sustainable products available," says Travis Messervey, executive chef. Like other Denver chefs, he says the term farm-to-table has become mostly a marketing strategy...  Read More

Greenwood Village

Sazza brings local, sustainable and farm-to-table concepts to the world of pizza. "We have never felt it necessary to define our version of farm-to-table because it is a lifestyle choice not a business decision," says Jeff Rogoff, co-owner of...  Read More

At Mercantile Provision & Dining, the relationship between farm and restaurant goes a step further in the in-house market where provisions from Chef Alex Seidel's Fruition Farms are sold. The market carries herbs, spices and house-made...  Read More

South Denver

The cozy, intimate space is loaded with charm, giving one the feeling of having been invited into a friend's French country home. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the menu changes frequently depending on what's fresh and available....  Read More

Commons Park

Root Down, in Denver's Highlands neighborhood, won't compromise on its dedication to local and sustainable goods and its philosophy that ranching, farming and fishing should be humane and not harm the planet. Almost everything is certified...  Read More

Alamo Placita

Alex Seidel opened Fruition Restaurant in 2007. With its menu of upscale comfort food it was an instant success and remains among Denver's most popular restaurants. Seidel then bought a 10-acre farm and became a hands-on farmer, producing...  Read More

Capitol Hill

Potager, which means kitchen garden in French, opened in 1997 in Denver's Capital Hill area. The owners, a father and daughter, say the theme of the restaurant is not about a particular type of cuisine (though there are French dishes on the...  Read More


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