At the intersection of love and lust, done and over it and single and maybe ready to mingle, there is, in fact, a restaurant.
That’s one of the many-splendored things about restaurants — they are vast and different and unique and appeal to different sorts of people. Just like you and love and tacos and whatever other metaphor you want to add here.
Whether you’re unattached, permanently affixed, attempting to couple up, in-between or all of the above, we’ve got a restaurant for you.
Single, and not wanting to make friends
You want a good meal without having to speak to another living being. Totally valid. Birdcall (various locations) uses kiosks for the ordering of its fried chicken sandwiches, which means you dine in solitude without having to employ any pesky eye contact or, well, words. You may have to talk to your server at Annette (2501 Dallas St., Aurora) — or you could try gesturing; whatever — to order the exquisite meal you deserve, but this small amount of social interaction will be worth it for the gnocchi and roasted whole fish. (And, yes, you can eat the whole fish alone. We believe in you.)
Single, and wanting to make friends
If you’re on your own and wanting to meet new people, there are plenty of spots that promote intercourse of the social kind. Barcelona Wine Bar (2900 Larimer St., Denver) is always happening, and we bet you a tapa that, if you’re open to it, you’ll leave with a new pal. The communal tables and friendly vibe at White Pie (1702 Humboldt St., Denver) make conversing with strangers easy, while Uptown’s Vine Street Pub & Brewery (1700 Vine St., Denver) pretty much specializes in laid-back camaraderie over beers and burgers.
Meeting an online date
You don’t know how it’s going to go and, let’s be real here, it’s probably not going to go well. Your objective: to eat something good (so at least you have that), without spending too much money or time. Oh, and there should be alcohol. Brass Tacks (1526 Blake St., Denver) has reasonably priced drinks and a food window slinging sandwiches, salads and appetizers for $5-$13, while Biju’s Little Curry Shop’s (1441 26th St., Denver and 4279 Tennyson St., Denver) flavor-packed curry bowls top out at $12.95.
Need even less commitment than a full-on meal? Ice cream and booze just might be the perfect summer date, and Frozen Matter/Retrograde (530 E. 19th Ave., Denver) has both. The scoop shop/speakeasy means ice cream and liquor pairings, like the hazelnut toffee with a shot of vermouth.
A first date to impress
Maybe it’s a long-time crush, an office romance in the making or the cute guy/gal from the dog park who you finally asked out. You’re a little more invested in this first date going well, so you want something good but not over-the-top, adventurous but not too out there. These three clutch spots have you covered.
If they don’t fall for you while chewing on Cho77’s (1555 Blake St., Denver) dumplings then, sorry, it ain’t happening. Dio Mio Handmade Pasta’s (3264 Larimer St., Denver) tight menu of noodles and shared plates is pretty much a white tablecloth experience at non-white-tablecloth prices. And to wow your date with fantastic mole and a mezcal selection that rivals your affections in scope and agaveness (just go with it), Palenque Mezcaleria (13 E. Louisiana Ave., Denver) is where you need to go.
Now that you’re more comfortable with each other, you can be a little bolder with your choices. You’ll never get bored with the pages and pages of options at New Saigon Restaurant (630 S. Federal Blvd., Denver). Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant (7225 E. Colfax Ave., Denver) most likely has something great that you’ve never tried. You’ll have plenty of time for conversation waiting in the long queues at Blue Pan Pizza (3930 W. 32nd Ave., Denver and 3509 E. 12th Ave., Denver), and you’ll need a partner to share the thick, crispy, cheese-filled pies with anyway.
Ain’t no service like Frasca service cause Frasca service don’t stop. Frasca Food and Wine (1738 Pearl St., Boulder) is Colorado’s gold standard for special occasion dining, and many a question has been popped within its walls. If meat gets you in the mood, Guard and Grace (1801 California St., Denver) is the perfect spot at which to toast milestones and accomplishments over a flight of filet mignon. (Yes, they really sell a flight of filet mignon.)
You’ve eaten dinner together thousands of times
The committed might need more help than anyone else. Heck, breaking out of food monogamy could be as challenging as maintaining relationship monogamy. You want to be somewhere comfortable, but still somewhere that will give you something new to talk about, because again, monogamy. The Way Back (3963 Tennyson St., Denver) and The Populist (3163 Larimer St., Denver) do interesting menus in a solid way. At the very least, you’ll have fun trying to pronounce “okonomiyaki” and debating which course of the chef’s tasting menu was your favorite. You need to eat during the day, too, and the quirky, innovative Revelry Kitchen (4140 W. 38th Ave., Denver) is the perfect place at which to tell your loved one they’ll always be your little churro doughnut.
To break up
You’re seriously going to break up at a restaurant? We urge you to reconsider, but if you must, go somewhere crowded, where you’re unlikely to bump into anyone you know and where potential weapons are not readily available. You’ll also want to be able to make a quick getaway, so you need somewhere you can get in and get out without waiting 20 minutes on a check. This is where the chaos of a food hall works to your advantage. The constant buzz of activity at Denver Central Market (2669 Larimer St., Denver), Avanti Food & Beverage (3200 N. Pecos St., Denver) and Denver Milk Market (1800 Wazee St., Denver) means the crowd won’t be focused on the drama going down at your table. But again, we urge you to reconsider the whole breaking up in a restaurant thing.
After the breakup
This is where you go when you’re broken-hearted because you were too needy and blew it with the guy who made you Rice Krispie treats and you’re distraught because who’s going to make you Rice Krispie treats now? Or, you know, whatever your unfortunate breakup situation is. Drown your tears in a bowl of Uncle’s (2215 W. 32nd Ave., Denver) soothing ramen, where the healing powers of the shoyu broth will make you forget Rice Krispie treats ever existed. Plus, it’s so loud and chaotic in there that no one will hear the sounds of your sobs.
Classic comfort food — fried chicken, mac and cheese, maybe some collard greens if eating something green will help you feel better about your day’s decisions — works well, too, and CoraFaye’s Café (16251 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora) is the place to go for the comfortiest of the comfort. Remember: Time may heal all wounds, but so does a slice of coconut cake.
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