Golden, the first territorial capital of Colorado, is experiencing unparalleled growth in food and dining choices as more and more chefs and restauranteurs discover this beautiful little historic mountain town.

Located just 12 miles from downtown Denver, Golden is a world away in atmosphere offering every type of dining experience, from restaurants in old historic buildings, food halls with free parking, outdoor dog-friendly beer gardens with food trucks, fine dining, raw bars, craft cocktails from local distilleries, streamside dining and outdoor cafes along an “Old West” main street that looks like a movie set for small-town America.

Golden is a mountain town near Denver, Colorado
Golden is a small mountain town near Denver, Colorado. Photo by Rich Grant

The home of Coors Brewery, Golden has long been famous for producing more beer than any other place in the world. In addition to the planet’s largest brewery, Golden has eight craft breweries, each with an outdoor, dog-friendly beer garden and a changing array of food trucks.

But today’s Golden is also bursting with many food choices, which makes it the perfect place for a night out. From just about anywhere in Golden, you can watch the sun set behind Lookout Mountain, park your car for free, and walk to an unbelievable choice of dining options. Here’s some ideas.

Golden Colorado Welcome Sign. Photo by Rich Grant.
A welcome sign hangs over the main avenue in Golden, Colorado. Photo by Rich Grant.
  • Located in Downtown Golden, Abejas (pronounced ah-bay-haus), is a community-focused restaurant dedicated to seasonality and new American dishes. Opened in 2015, they use fresh local produce, organic meats, and sustainable fish. The beverage program features local craft distilleries and breweries, small production wineries, and classic cocktails. Longtime friends and now co-owners, Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh (the “B’s”, as they are known) chose the name Abejas to convey the meaning behind the bee: agriculture, nature, and  “Abejas” means “bee” in Spanish, of course.  Try the Lamb Chop with Farro, Sun-Dried Tomato, Eggplant, Cucumber, Tumeric White Bean Puree, Leek Yogurt, or the Bone-In Pork Porterhouse New Potatoes, Baby Zucchini, Morel Mushrooms, Spring Onion Puree, Roasted Fennel. They also do lunch and a brunch with such delights as Smoked Steelhead Trout Benedict with Dill Creme Fraiche, Spinach, Hollandaise, Poached Eggs, Greens, and Potato.
  • Following in the same tradition, Brandon Bortles and Abejas chef de cuisine, Max Kofoed, (both born in Golden) will open a new ramen eatery called Nosu in late 2019. “Nosu,” is short for “hachinosu,” the Japanese word for “beehive.” Bortles and Kofoed, who previously worked at the acclaimed Cholon Modern Asian in downtown Denver, plan to serve a menu of both traditional and non-traditional ramen bowls, plus gyoza, yakitori and several other small plates, bento boxes and cold noodle dishes.
  • Tributary Food Hall & Drinkery The big news for this small town opened in August 2019, offering a gorgeous collective of local, independent food and drink artisans, each with their own small area in a beautiful food market. Created by celebrated local chef Daniel Asher and restaurateur Josh Dinar (they previously collaborated on Boulder’s River & Woods, LoHi’s Ash’Kara Unorthodox Cuisine and Broadway Market’s Mother Tongue,) the duo have brought a new concept to Golden. Small food stations surround a central dining area, where there is a  fun community table available to be reserved for a group gathering or to just join and make new friends. Orders can be made by computer or phone to be picked up for picnics and trips to the nearby mountains, or there is a relaxing outdoor deck and indoor seating options. The great thing is everyone can get what type of food they want, grab a drink at the bar and meet on the patio.  And the food?  Selections include:
      • Generous Coffee – Socially responsible brew from the best beans in the world.
      • Kona Bowl Superfoods Café – A healthy taste of island paradise in the Rocky Mountains.
      • Woodgrain Bagels – Montreal wood-fired bagels, spreads and sandwiches.
      • Miner Meat & Cheese – Gourmet sandwiches, charcuterie boards, and breads that taste like they were just baked in Paris.
      • Fringe Pizza – Uncut Neapolitan-style pizzas made with a sourdough starter with all the toppings.
      • SurMesa Taqueria from Brandon Bortles and Noah Heaney (co-founder of Miner’s Saloon) bring tacos to Golden.
      • Amore Gelato – Save room for these Italian chilled delicacies.
      • Thai Kun – Authentic Thai street food by Chef Thai Changthong
      • The Tributary Bar – Creative cocktails, boutique wines, and local craft beers.
  • Bella Colibri offers rustic elegance and five-star, creative Italian cuisine to Golden and pay tribute to Golden restauranteur Dean Valdez’s Italian heritage.
Buffalo-Rose
The Buffalo Rose has been a part of Golden since its frontier days. Photo by Rich Grant.
  • Speaking of buffalo, The Buffalo Rose, which has been a center of food and entertainment since the days of frontier scout and showman Buffalo Bill Cody (who is buried on nearby Lookout Mountain), has been completely redesigned with new skylights, patio, and a new concert hall. Generals Grant and Sherman of Civil War fame once stayed in this historic building. Today, it has been completely transformed, preserving its exposed brick walls and historic atmosphere, but adding such delicious food items as the Wild West Burger, pulled lamb sandwich, Bison ribs, pan seared Salmon, and Arroz con Pollo, as well as signature cocktails and craft beers. The attached concert hall attracts some of the biggest names in rock, country & western, and blues.
  • Southwest Golden is now home to the Origin Hotel, the official hotel of Red Rocks Amphitheatre, perhaps the most famous outdoor concert venue in the world having hosted everyone from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen with 160 concerts and events in 2019. Across the street, the brand new Over Yoder Brewing Company (Golden’s seventh brewery!) has food trucks and craft beer, while next door is Vice Kitchen Wine Whiskey, a perfect pre-Red Rocks dining option for Rocky Mountain Specialties like Elk Tenderloin, Golden Breaded Trout, Salmon BLT, Buffalo Ribeye and Beef and Bison burgers. It’s an easy Uber down the hill to Red Rocks.
Old Capital Grill is a favorite local restaurant in Golden, Colorado. Photo by Rich Grant
Old Capital Grill & Smokehouse is a favorite local restaurant in Golden, Colorado. Photo by Rich Grant

Hometown Favorites:

  • For a small town, Golden offers a worldwide array of tastes. The Ali Baba Grille, offers Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare in a true Arabian Nights setting of carpets, old lamps, and ceiling wall hangings.
  • The Sherpa House recreates a farmhouse from Nepal with menu offerings from India and Nepal that include Yak stew, naan bread cooked in a traditional clay oven, curries and lamb and chicken Daal Bhat. Don’t miss the tremendously popular lunch buffet of a wide range of dishes, which can be taken outdoors to sit by their fountain and beautiful patio setting.
  • Thai Gold is located in an historic house from 1907 with a full bar and patio and a menu of traditional Thai items ranging from soft shell crab and Thai Jasmine rice to a wide variety of noodle dishes.
  • The family-owned El Dorado Mexican Restaurant has wonderful mountain views from their patio and tasty Mexican dishes homemade from scratch.
  • Woody’s Wood-Fired Pizza is a local legend with one of the best Western views in town since it sits under South Table Mountain – the famous western butte featured on billions of cans of Coors Beer. The world’s largest brewery, Coors, sits at the base of the rocky butte. Woody’s is known not only for their pizza, but also for the slow wood-fired pulled pork and whiskey sauce sandwiches, and all the pizza you can eat lunches.
  • Old Capitol Grill & Smokehouse Here’s where to go to have history with your pulled pork.  The brick building that houses this BBQ emporium was the first capitol building of Colorado territory! Back then it was a frontier saloon. Today, it mixes great pub fare and BBQ.  Try a Barmen Pilsner, a specialty German style  beer made at Coors and only available in Golden and a few other select places. It takes seven minutes to pour this beer, which can only be served in a special pilsner glass. So you may want to order a quick Colorado craft brew first, while you dig into a whole Colorado trout, steaks, and their specialty, smoked meats.
  • Trailhead Taphouse & Kitchen is a great place to go before a blues concert at Red Rocks or the Buffalo Rose. They dish out jambalaya and gumbo – the perfect accompaniment to blues, blended with a huge variety of Colorado craft beers on tap.
D'Deli
Grab a sandwich from D’Deli Sandwich and have a picnic along the river trail in Golden. Photo by Rich Grant.
  • D’Deli Consistently ranked as the No. 1 sandwich shop on the Front Range, D-Deli offers all the traditional subs but is also the place to get a true Colorado sandwich that you can’t find elsewhere — a Buffalo Ruben or smoked elk sandwich. Get it to go and head to a picnic table along nearby Clear Creek. This beautiful stream flows through the very heart of downtown Golden, and there are many picnic spots along it where the only noise you will hear is the rushing of water and the clouds sailing by overhead.
  • The Table Mountain Inn Grill & Cantina This adobe palace is like taking a trip to the Southwest. The adobe exterior blends with beautiful indoor tile, rugs, lamps and fireplaces to offer a variety of dishes that blend Mexican foods with the tastes of New Mexico and Colorado. Relax over brunch with the famous Mesa Bloody Mary, dig into a succulent TMI burger with sweet potato fries over lunch, indulge in happy hour or dive into a flavorful dinner with Rocky Mountain trout or fire-roasted chile rellenos.
  • Sassafras This is Cajun cooking and breakfast dishes at their best, served on a lovely patio right beside Clear Creek. Try the Catfish Po’ Boy, green tomato, Cajun gumbo, or shrimp and grits with a full bar and brunch specials, while you people watch the bike path and listen to the sounds of the river splashing by.
Bridgewater-Grill
Bridgewater Grill. Photo by Rich Grant.
  • Bridgewater Grill Here is another creekside dining beauty where you can relax on the porch to the pleasant sound of the river while nibbling on Colorado Proud ingredients including Rocky Mountain Miners Salad, the Summer Spinach Salad with White Truffle Beets, Blackened Ahi Tuna Street Tacos, Rosa’s Award-Winning Pork Green Chili, the Pepper Seared Pacific Salmon BLTA, a variety of craft burgers and much more. Start with Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Smoked Trout Dip and House-Smoked Pulled Pork Nachos.  Entree selections include Grilled Bone-In Ribeye, Coors Beer Battered Cod Fish and Chips, Sautéed Trout and Mac and Cheese with Herman Joseph Bison Short Ribs.
  • Miner’s Saloon Right in downtown is a modern day saloon reminiscent of Golden’s mining days in the late 1800s. With a rustic, cozy interior and a perfect balance of period details and modern comforts, Miners provides an old West saloon feel with a contemporary edge. They have 24 taps (the most in downtown Golden) and more than 50 beers in bottles and cans, as well as their signature Miners Margarita on tap. Try the cheese or homemade sausage boards, spiced candied bacon (there goes the diet!), wild game chili and salads and sandwiches.
  • The Golden Diner is an old-fashioned, family owned downtown diner serving breakfast all day with eggs and corn beef hash browns, omelets, chili, pancakes, burgers and sandwiches in a classic diner setting.
  • Bob’s Atomic Burgers has only one mission: this locally owned burger joint wants to give you the best burger at a reasonable price in a fun setting.  And that’s why they have become a downtown Golden legend for burgers.  Located opposite Coors Brewery, this locals hangout has so many trimmings, that just picking them out is half the fun.  It’s also popular with students from the local School of Mines.
  • Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar Whether for their excellent wines, served by the glass even at Happy Hour, or for a weekend brunch, lunch or dinner, this little bit of elegance in downtown Golden is the place to go for flatbreads, handheld sandwiches like Prime & Cheddar, Shrimp Linguini or Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast.

If You Go to Golden, visit www.visitgolden.com

Planning a trip to Colorado? Head to our Colorado Travel Guide for the inside scoop on where to go, eat and stay in Colorado.