12 Top Special Occasion Restaurants in Denver

Credit: Bigsby's Folly

There’s no better way to toast to anniversaries, birthdays, engagements, and any other milestone than by booking something special. After all, special occasions can be celebrated in many ways, from low-brow excitement to a favorite neighborhood restaurant to an upscale dinner meant to be remembered. Think ping pong, bao buns, and highballs to toast to a promotion at work. Or a cozy Italian joint to mark a success in school over a plate of handmade pasta. Or cheers to 20 years of loving each other with some Champagne at afternoon tea. There are so many reasons to celebrate — all you have to do is pick one, and save the rest for the next opportunity.

Ace Eat Serve (Uptown)

Credit: Ace Eat Serve

Serve up not only celebratory bowls of ramen and spicy tiger wings, but a couple rounds of ping pong, too, at this Uptown spot. Ace Eat Serve, often referred to as just “Ace,” has graced the neighborhood since 2012, and has brought fun modern Asian food to the area. Housed in what used to be a mechanic’s garage, this large, airy space is ideal for big parties and epic battles of ping pong. But even if you don’t want to play, there’s enough excitement to be had by diving into chef Thach Tran’s plates of Sichuan shrimp wontons, a variety of bao buns, kimchi fried rice, and more. The bar program stands out, too, and a glass of sake, craft cocktail, or large-format drink is perfect for toasting any milestone.

Dining at the restaurant: There’s a large patio outside, or plenty of room inside the restaurant. Diners can also eat and drink while playing ping pong.

Takeout: Order takeout by calling the restaurant, or get delivery via a third-party app.

Experiences: Check out the special experience available at this restaurant: wings & whiskey Wednesdays with ping pong. Book by heading to the Experiences section here.

Que Bueno Suerte (Platt Park)

Cheers to that promotion, graduation, or birthday with a margarita in hand and a pile of delicious modern Mexican food. Options at Que Bueno suerte include queso fundido, chorizo nachos, house-made tortillas, chile relleno, chicken with mole sauce, and a long list of street-style tacos. Cocktails are heavy on the tequila and mezcal, but balanced with flavors of chiles, lime, cucumber, and ginger. The setting — bright, open and festive — is conducive to a party, too. Look for food and drink specials on holidays and occasions such as Father’s Day, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Mother’s Day.

Dining at the restaurant: Large, bright booths and banquettes make up a lot of the indoor seating. There’s also a colorful bar and plenty of stand-alone tables, as well as a small patio with limited seats. 

Takeout: Get delivery via third-party apps or order takeout by calling the restaurant.

OAK at fourteenth (Boulder)

Head to Boulder for one of the state’s best restaurants, the perfect spot for a special occasion when you want to treat someone to a high-end, expensive, and memorable meal. Chef and co-owner Steven Redzikowski spends a lot of time vetting farms and ranches in order to add standout produce and meat to his menu, which could feature dishes such as silky chicken liver with Palisade peach preserve, mushroom tempura, roasted potato gnocchi with baby turnip and rainbow chard, and cowboy-cut ribeyes with truffle butter. The service and beverage program are also top-notch, and no matter what occasion is being celebrated, the experience will help commemorate it.

Dining at the restaurant: Dine inside OAK at fourteenth or at one of the tables along the edge of the restaurant overlooking the street. 

Takeout: This spot recently has started offering takeout, so you can bring the meal home if there isn’t time to sit at one of the heavy wood tables and indulge in-house. Just go online to order.

Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery & Restaurant (RiNo)

Celebrate by sipping a glass of wine or trying a flight and eating a relaxing meal in this stunning place. Owners Chad and Marla Yetka opened the RiNo spot in 2017, repurposing a historic 1886 warehouse that once housed mining equipment into a sparkling, urban chic winery. There they make the wines that are served in small batches, using grapes shipped in from Oregon and California, as well as local Colorado-grown varieties. The ceilings are tall and glitter with chandeliers, a fun juxtaposition to the bare brick walls and steel highlights. There’s also a large patio in front for outdoor imbibing. Between the setting and the wine, Bigsby’s Folly is the kind of place to hang to celebrate a birthday, a new job, anniversary, or even simply surviving the week. Then take a bottle or two home to further the party.

Dining at the restaurant: The urban winery is large, and there’s no lack of seating at the bar, in the front lounge, outside on the patio, or at one of the many tables that stretch back into the venue.

Takeout: To-go orders can be made by calling the restaurant.

Spuntino (Highlands)

Credit: Spuntino

When a place feels as special as chef and co-owner Cindhura Reddy’s Highlands spot, it’s bound to make any celebration that much better. The inside is cozy and intimate, with dark wood accents and a long bar where one can sit and chat with co-owner Elliot Strathmann about his amaro program and the well-curated Italian wine list. Tap into his knowledge for the perfect drink pairing to go along with Reddy’s Italian food, which comes with a Colorado and Indian twist, a direct tip of the hat to her heritage. The menu changes with the season, with items such as toasty arancini with Hatch green chile and white cheddar; capellini aglio e olio with Indian spice-preserved garlic; and house-made Colorado lamb keema sausage with tamarind rice, toasted peanuts, and spice-preserved tomato.

Dining at the restaurant: Sit inside at the bar for an intimate look at the beverage program, or at one of the snug tables along the wall. There’s also a large outdoor area to sit in, placed in an open-air tent with socially distanced tables. No matter where you land, the setting and vino are special, and the perfect way to showcase someone in your life that’s just as extraordinary.

Takeout: Most dishes are available for takeout, and there’s also a whole Indian menu by Reddy that’s separate from the Spuntino menu. Order online or by calling the restaurant.

Mimosas (Five Points)

There’s no reason brunch can’t be a special occasion meal, especially when mimosas are involved. This roomy and colorful breakfast spot in Five Points can accommodate any size of party, inside and out. Order plates of New Orleans-style beignets, fried green tomatoes, chicken and waffles, avocado toast, shrimp and grits, and even more comfort food favorites. And back to those mimosas: Choose from a classic tipple, or get creative with the cognac-laced “ratchet mimosa,” the bellini with peach puree, or a flight of three types. Mimosas also serves high-end Champagne by the bottle, available served with any of the juices. There is no wrong answer when dining here, just a lot of ways to toast and to celebrate. 

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor seating available.

Takeout: Order takeout by calling the restaurant, and, yes, even the mimosas can be bought to go. 

Sushi Ronin (LoHi)

Going out for sushi is a classic way to celebrate, and why not take this special occasion further by booking a seat at one of the best sushi restaurants in the city. This sleek restaurant is accented in dark wood and soft light thanks to the dozens of warm yellow light bulbs hanging from above. Reserve a table or take a seat at the lively sushi counter, where you can watch the chefs expertly create rolls and sashimi. When ordering, let the chef take the reins with the omakase menu, which will give you whatever is deemed the freshest and best bites of the night. There’s no qualm ordering from the a la carte menu either — all the fish is flash frozen as soon as it’s caught and created with care.

Dining at the restaurant: The small space weaves around to feature the sushi counter, two- and four-person tables and a small patio. When reserving for your next celebration or ordering for pick up or delivery, remember this venue is closed on Mondays.

Takeout: Pick up orders can be arranged by calling the restaurant.

Ultreia (Downtown)

Credit: Ultreia

So maybe you can’t travel this year for that special occasion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pretend and celebrate near home. That’s where chef and restaurateur Jennifer Jasinski’s Spanish tapas restaurant Ultreia comes in — it’s like visiting another country in Downtown Denver. Located in Union Station, this spot is a lovely way to celebrate with a gin and tonic or glass of sherry in hand and dozens of shared plates to nibble from. Don’t pass up the simple pan tomate, as well as a plate of Spanish hams, smoked duck legs, Portuguese tinned fish options, glazed spiced ribs, or, on Wednesdays only, the special paella for two. 

Dining at the restaurant: Reserve an indoor seat along the balcony at Ultreia, saddle up to the bar, or choose to dine in the large patio space outside.

Takeout: Order online to pick up.

The Fifth String (LoHi)

During the pandemic, chef Amos Watts took over the former Old Major space in LoHi — where he used to be executive chef — and rebranded it as The Fifth String. For a year now this spot has been drawing locals and remains as popular as the old place. What also remains is the rustic, wood-heavy decor of the former restaurant, but with padded seats and a wine fridge where the charcuterie used to be. While the foundation looks similar, the food showcases Watts’s New American and Italian tastes with a menu that includes a raw bar, a 36-ounce tomahawk ribeye, and tallow candle bread service. Order a la carte or indulge in a three-course prix-fixe that includes an appetizer such as hamachi crudo or fried green tomatoes, a main course like the New England sea scallops or wagyu agnolotti, and dessert, with options including a lemon tart or cheeses, to name a few. It’s certainly a special place to be to celebrate and enjoy a beautifully executed meal. 

Dining at the restaurant: The dining room has a large banquet that accommodates many of the tables, and there’s also a bar that opens up to the outside patio on nice days.

Takeout: Takeout can be ordered by calling the restaurant.

El Five (LoHi)

This four-year-old hot spot in LoHi remains so in demand that it’s almost impossible to walk in. Not bad for a restaurant that’s survived the pandemic and came out just as popular, and it’s the perfect place to celebrate any milestone. For starters, the view of downtown Denver and the colorful sunsets from the fifth floor balcony make the restaurant that much extra. The food too speaks of beauty and elegance, tapping into the Strait of Gibraltar, a place where many Mediterranean regions come together to create an array of dishes unlike any other in the world. Unless ordering one of the four paella dishes, the plates are small, and all dishes are made with the idea of sharing. Start with smoked burrata on a bed of pureed peas; Lebanese garlic dip with olives, almonds, pomegranate, and house-made pita; and Iberico pork loin paired with pine nuts, grapes, paprika potatoes, and fennel salad. 

Dining at the restaurant: Make sure to book in advance, and if the weather is nice, ask for a table outside. There’s also a dining room decked out in murals, which adds a fun layer to dinner.

Takeout: Order online to pick up or get delivery via third-party apps.

Afternoon Tea at the Brown Palace (Downtown)

Celebrate a birthday, Mother’s Day, an engagement, or any other sweet occasion with an elegant tea service in one of Denver’s oldest venues, the Brown Palace Hotel. Since 1892 when the luxurious venue opened, afternoon tea has been a highlight of the hotel’s offerings. Today the service is held on the ground floor of the atrium, daily from 12pm to 4pm. Sit back in one of the lush chairs and choose from an array of loose-leaf teas and the optional glass of Champagne. Then enjoy fresh scones with Devonshire cream, finger sandwiches, and tiny pastries all while gazing around the hotel’s old-school grandeur. Make sure to reserve a spot for that special occasion; it’s a popular service especially on weekends.

Dining at the restaurant: All tables for tea are inside within the atrium of the hotel.

Takeout: The restaurant does not offer takeout at this time.

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