Although located within the Sheraton hotel, 15/Fifty, is as "farm-to-table" as any restaurant in town. Flavorful, beautifully constructed dishes and cocktails are created using ingredients from Colorado's artisan purveyors. The restaurant doesn't have private space but groups can do full or partial buyouts. A full buyout accommodates up to 300, and groups of up to 150 can do a partial buyout. Another option is the hotel's bar, 16Mix, which accommodates up to 90 inside and 60 on the patio. There's another very cool space groups can consider beyond the dining venues, a hidden Speakeasy in a "secret" part of the hotel. Wherever you choose to gather, the food and cocktails set the bar high.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: As part of Marriott's Convention & Resort Network, the Sheraton understands the needs of groups.
Christine's expert tip: Consider the Presidential Suite for your group dinner if wowing your guests and utter privacy are your goals.
Inspired by the Carrettiera, or Cart-Driver, who brought goods from Southern Italy's farms to its villages via horse-drawn cart, this tiny pizza and oyster shack is all about sharing, be it food or conversation. The entire restaurant is tucked into a a 640-sq-ft shipping container. That said, there are patio spaces, a small separate back room and a semi-private courtyard that groups can book, with most spaces more semi-private than truly private as befitting this congenial eatery. As many as 100 can be accommodated for a reception in a buy-out, groups of 15 can choose among the various spaces and all of the options are very affordable in comparison to many other venues. Best of all, perhaps, is the food. The menu features fresh oysters (selection changes daily), delectable chicken liver mousse and excellent wood-fire pizza. Beer and Prosecco on tap are the mainstay beverages.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Despite it's diminutive size, Cart-Driver does have spaces that can be reserved by groups of 8 or more.
Christine's expert tip: While walk-in groups might be accommodated, your best bet is to make a group reservation as this is a shipping container with very limited space.
Marcella's is set along a tree-shaded block of Central Avenue in the Highlands, its inviting patio beckoning passersby. The interior is welcoming and pleasant as well, with both decor and menu nicely melding traditional with contemporary while staying true to what everyone loves about Italy. Although there's no completely private space, groups can book sections of the restaurant as well as the patio, all with names such as Venice, Florence, Tuscany and Capri. The entire restaurant is available for buyouts between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays, as Marcella's opens to the public for dinner only. In warm weather the patio, which accommodates about 30, is a lovely al fresco choice. Choose Piedmont, the bar area, and your group can enjoy a lively happy hour and watch the game, too.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Marcella's offers groups of all sizes a variety of spaces to choose from, to say nothing of delicious Italian fare.
Christine's expert tip: Try the Italian-inspired brunch on Sundays, complete with pitchers of red or white sangria.
Coperta is the Italian word for blanket, an apt name for this cozy, inviting eatery located in the North Capital Hill neighborhood. Chef Paul C. Reilly and his team have created a menu that celebrates authentic Italian cuisine and wines from Rome and southern Italy. Think salumi plates with house-made meats, mozzarella, prosciutto, kale and chard. Wood-fired beef sirloin and sea bass elevate the main course choices, and there are plenty of sides and salads for every taste. The restaurant has a private back room by the kitchen, perfect for a seated dinner for 30 or reception with about 45 guests. Menus can be customized for groups and served a la carte or family style.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Coperta is an excellent northern Capital Hill option for a small gatherings.
Christine's expert tip: You can buy Coperta's marinara, meat ragu and meatballs in marinara sauce to take home with you.
Although it's within Hotel Monaco, Panzano stands on its own as one of the city's go-to restaurants for anyone who loves creative, internationally inspired cuisine. "Chi mangia bene, vive bene!" is the Panzano motto, translated as "Those who eat well, live well." To that end, much of the menu is comprised of organic, local and naturally raised and produced products. Sustainable practices are also employed here. Best of all, the food is delicious! While the menu features longtime favorites, such as the Brussels sprouts with sliced green apple, there's always something new, too. Pazano has one private dining room. It offers a cozy, wine-room ambience and accommodates 35 for a reception or 18 seated at one long table. A full buyout of the restaurant is an option for larger groups.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Panzano offers fine Italian food created by a French chef in a sophisticated setting and ideal downtown location, plus a fabulous private room for groups.
Christine's expert tip: Ask about cooking classes with the chef.
Steaks are front and center in this 9,000-square-foot modern space, with an emphasis on wood-fired options for steak as well as other menu items (including the fan favorite, carrots). The restaurant has three private dining spaces for small to large gatherings, accommodating up to 70 seated or 125 for a reception. Steaks, which range from prime and Angus to grass-fed cuts, come with all the sauces you might like including crab Oscar, bleu butter, foie butter, bearnaise, chimichurri and brandy peppercorn. You can even add a sunny-side-up egg if that appeals. The menu also features seafood and excellent salads. In addition, Guard and Grace has a nicely crafted cocktail list with some highly creative offerings.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: One of Denver's best steakhouses, Guard and Grace is also an excellent choice for large parties.
Christine's expert tip: Small groups without a reservation should show up just before happy hour ends. When the business crowd leaves, there are usually tables to be had in the bar area, where the full menu is served.
Tucked into a secluded breezeway off Larimer Square, intimate Bistro Vendome captures the essence of a Parisian bistro in its ambience and menu. It offers groups of family, friends and colleagues several private options, from the cozy Wine Room to the Atrium or patio to the entire restaurant. Bistro can accommodate 12 to 50 seated, depending on the space. The menu, including an excellent selection of wines and spirits, is quintessential French, though you don't have to be a Francophile to love it. The service is excellent and on a warm summer evening, few spots in Denver are as sweet for lingering over a meal as Bistro's tree-shaded patio.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: It's intimate enough for romantic couples yet offers settings for groups too, and the menu is French perfection.
Christine's expert tip: New wines are brought in all the time. Ask the bartender for the latest addition to the wine list celebrating all regions of France.
Located a block from Union Station, Urban Farmer has multiple private rooms and spaces accommodating up to 100 for a reception and up to 60 seated. The name here means something. Chef Chris Starkus brought his passion for gardening, growing and beekeeping to the heart of LoDo. "As a chef, bee keeper and farmer I understand that when you can begin from seed selection, that's really where the flavor starts," he says. "No matter if it's mushrooms from Hazel Dell or edible flowers from Lost Creek Micro Farm." He's even growing micro greens, mushrooms and whatever you can grow in an aquaponic tank right in the restaurant, as well as sourcing from his own farm in Lakewood and from farms and ranches across Colorado. The menu is fresh and creative, the ambiance relaxed and friendly but this farmer can easily host a fancy affair, too.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Urban Farmer gives groups a fresh, seasonal menu and pleasant spaces to meet, mingle and enjoy Colorado's extraordinary culinary bounty.
Christine's expert tip: Stop in for Happy Hour Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.
Light-colored woods and stylish contemporary furnishings give Tavernetta an appealing European vibe. It has multiple rooms where groups of 12 to 125 can gather privately or semi-privately, seated or reception-style. The Board Room, tucked behind the wine cellar, seats 12; the Gallery, along 16th Street, seats 26 and the main dining room seats 50. The menu is a celebration of dishes and ingredients from across Italy, with some influence from neighbors Austria and Slovenia as well. Tavernetta also offers an exquisitely curated wine and "aperitivi" list. Among the wines is a very limited selection of glasses priced under $15, but then Tavernetta is a place to splurge, to celebrate, to savor, to indulge and to find utter satisfaction in a meal artfully conceived and flawlessly executed and presented.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Tavernetta pairs exquisite food with an elegant but relaxed ambiance and plenty of private space for larger parties.
Christine's expert tip: Before or after dinner grab a seat by the fireplace, perhaps the most romantic spot in the restaurant.
As the name suggests, Ocean Prime, on Larimer Square, specializes in seafood and steaks and does both very well. Although it's a chain, it delivers an experience that doesn't feel like a chain. The restaurant offers multiple rooms and spaces for groups, primarily on the second floor, seating 8 to 64. Combining spaces or a full buy-out is possible for larger groups as well. Although the list of steaks and their accompanying sides and sauces impress, if trying to wow your dinner date is a goal, the custom-built smoking shellfish tower on the raw menu should suffice. There's a creative cocktail list and comprehensive list of wines, including an entire page of wines by the glass. One perfect way to finish your meal here is with a glass of tawny port, found on the dessert menu.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Few restaurants in Denver offer such expansive private dining space in multiple configurations.
Christine's expert tip: If someone in your group is gluten-intolerant, ask for the gluten-free menu.