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The Flat-Out Best 24/7 Restaurants in Denver

DiningOut's The List

The moment you’ve been waiting for is here: the everything-food-and-drink list to end all lists. We’re undertaking a rather ambitious project—a year-long endeavor that lays out our flat-out best picks of the most exceptional culinary experiences in Denver and Boulder.

We’ll cover the usual suspects: tacos and ramen, for example. Pizza and burgers, too. But think of this as the Herculean version of Denver and Boulder’s gastronomic universe. We’ll give you the lowdown on the flat-out best neighborhood restaurants, bottle shops and butchers, food festivals, pop-up dinners, industry nights, cooking classes and kitchen stores, chef counters, spice shops and cake shops, Cuban sandwiches, Chinese hot pot, and even the best food from truck stops. Who knows? We might be compelled to feature a fantasy-filled list of strip club grub that goes beyond thighs and breasts.

Sometimes food yearnings pop up in the pre-dawn hours, long after the strip clubs have gone dark, and while Denver lags behind other major cities when it comes to 24/7 restaurants, there are still plenty of places that feed your hunger after you’ve been ejected from the bar. Whether you’re prowling for breakfast, burgers, tacos or a jolt of caffeine to keep the midnight oil burning ’til sunrise, you can count on these nocturnal haunts to gratify your late-night binges.  

1.  The Breakfast King {1100 South Santa Fe Drive, Denver; 303.733.0795}

 

If you’re lusting for breakfast at midnight, 2 am, the stroke of four o’clock in the morning, or midway through the afternoon, head straight to the Breakfast King, a venerable 24-hour standby that vividly illustrates the debauchery that often occurs past the bewitching hour. I’ve seen breakups and hookups, stumbles and falls, heated political discussions, and marathon kissing sessions between impassioned high-schoolers. But mostly, those who seek refuge at the always affable King are there to quell the alcoholic swishes in their bellies with pancakes and bacon, eggs Benedict, omelets every which way, corned beef hash, and biscuits and gravy—that’s why you go to the King, which satisfies everyone from the tipsy crowds spilling out of their Uber ride to tax accountants arriving in their flashy BMWs.

2. Tacos Rapidos {2800 West Evans Avenue, Denver, 303.935.0453; 2345 West Alameda Avenue, Denver,303.733.2944}

If you want to experience the Mexican food of Denver in a single gut-busting bite, you should probably eschew the late-night Taco Bell run and navigate your way to one of the city’s two 24-hour Tacos Rapidos outposts, which have all the shaming florescence of a Taco Bell but much, much better food. Order the carnitas plate with rice and creamy refried beans, a chopped heap of tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños, a smear of guacamole, warm corn tortillas wrapped in flimsy paper and, if you’re feeling frisky, a side of green chile and plastic containers of the red and green salsas. Like most of Denver’s 24/7 joints, there’s no cerveza, but if you’re here after last call, or you’re a designated driver, an ice-cold horchata spiked with cinnamon has a flair of fiesta. Both locations also have a drive-thru in the event that you’re disheveled.

3. Pete’s Kitchen {1962 East Colfax Avenue, Denver; 303.321.3139}

If you haven’t hit up this East Colfax joint after midnight, then for Pete’s sake, it’s time to extend your curfew. Pete’s Kitchen is the alpha dog of 24-7 diners, a Greek-ish place where booze-fueled hipsters converge with insomniacs, quirky characters with checkered pasts, post-clubbers, and just about everyone else who enjoys the comforts of a greasy spoon sprinkled with sass. It’s a packed house, especially in the wee hours of the morning, and the menu, a mashup of hangover helpers—gyros and eggs, butter-soaked hash browns, bulging breakfast burritos smothered in green chile, chicken-fried chicken, and Greek omelets — provides more than enough sustenance to keep you awake for another round of late-night shenanigans … or send you off to bed in a clearer state of haze than when you arrived.

4. Denver Diner {740 West Colfax Avenue, Denver; 303.825.5443}

The “Denver Diner” neon sign shines brightly upon this landmark institution that suffered a fire in 2014 and rose from the ashes in the fall of 2015, complete with a $1.4 million makeover. Still, despite the hefty rehabilitation tab, the all-day, all-night temple to old-fashioned home-style cooking has retained most of its throwback allure, including the preservation of the antiquated chrome cash register. The scene is serene during daytime hours, but once the ticker strikes midnight, the iconic joint starts filling up with hungry locals spilling over from the nearby clubs. And now that the Denver Diner has a full bar, you can continue to fuel your buzz while inhaling a burger, a triple-decked sandwich or a plate-spanning breakfast

5. Leela European Cafe (820 15th Street, Denver; 303.534.2255}

It’s late, you’re the last to leave the club, and you’re energy is collapsing faster than a soufflé—but you’re bound and determined to make it an all-nighter. Combine the best parts of a coffeehouse with a pinch of grunge bar and what you get is Leela European Cafe, an urbanized downtown den that even at the unholy hour of 4 am, is open and serving streams of caffeine, steaming chai lattes, hot chocolate, cocktails, and a full menu that fills the holes in the booze sponge. It’s hip, it’s cool, and its a chill spot, too, for students burning both ends of the candle. And if you happen have a late-night yearning for a chess match, there’s a high-top table intended for that very purpose.

6. Raliberto’s {4084 Wadsworth Boulevard, Denver; 303.467.6810}

After a few too many beers at Clancy’s or Colorado Plus Brew Pub, you wake up somewhere before dawn in Wheat Ridge with a gurgling stomach that signals hunger. Lucky for you, Raliberto’s keeps its doors open 24 hours a day, every day, plying alcohol-glutted guts (sober ones, too) with things like nachos that rise above the threshold of consumption, carne asada fries draped with melted cheese and an obscene amount of full-fat green chile, a chimichanga that’s a meat-and-cheese-bundled monstrosity tricked out with more cheese, sour cream and guacamole, and pudgy breakfast burritos, which may compel you to deplete more than one. The bright-lit space isn’t particularly forgiving if you’ve had a rough night, which is probably why the procession of cars inching toward the drive-thru window is longer than the average motorcade.

7. McCoys {4855 Federal Boulevard, Denver; 303.433.9511}

A territory that’s conducive to all-night conversations, bottomless cups of hot coffee, and old-school cocktails, this yesteryear hash house on Federal Boulevard is as classic as it comes: tattered vinyl booths, counter stools, waitresses that won’t put up with your snips and snaps, and co-mingling crowds that zigzag from teenagers to truckers taking a break from traversing the long stretch of I-70. The people watching is reason enough to stumble inside, and the menu of good old-fashioned staples—French dip with house-roasted beef, a stacked BLT or grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich, pork chops, meat loaf, huevos rancheros, cinnamon rolls, waffles and biscuits and gravy—is a stabilizing reminder that everything is right with the world.

8. Deno’s 6 &85 {5555 Colorado Boulevard, Denver; 303.295.7672}

When you’re heading back to Denver from a tedious road trip and you’re hungering for a pit stop to give you one last bounce of stamina before hugging your pillow, consider pulling into the dusty parking lot of Deno’s 6 and 85, Colorado’s oldest truck stop. Plop down on a bar stool, exchange pleasantries with patrons of the big rig culture and balloon your belly with huge portions of default American nostalgia, Mexican-American staples and comforting slices of pie. Bonus: Along with a full bar that always has drink specials, the joint also features live bands, karaoke sessions, a dance floor, free games of pool and numerous TVs that are usually tuned to a sporting event. A twenty-four-hour restaurant and lounge with entertainment is a rarity in these parts, which makes the neon side that illuminates Deno’s all the more magnetic after a long and lonely day behind the wheel.

By Lori Midson

Below is a master roster of our flat-out best lists published to date.

Best Beer Caves in Denver
Best Barbecue in Denver
Best Ethiopian Food in Denver
Best Reuben Sandwiches in Denver
Best Butcher Shops in Denver and Boulder
Best Food Carts on the 16th Street Mall
Best Rooftop Patios in Denver
Best Dishes at Avanti Food & Beverage
Best French Dips in Denver
Best Clam Pizzas in Denver
Best Cocktail Bars in RiNo
Best Thai Restaurants in Denver
Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Denver

Best Sushi Restaurants in Denver and Boulder
Best Bars with Live Music in Denver
Best Candy Stores in (and around Denver)

Best Bowls of Pozole in Denver and Boulder
Best Delis in Denver
Best Pie Shops in Denver
Best Enchiladas in Denver
Best Dishes and Drinks from Denver Central Market
Best American-Style Fried Chicken in Denver
Best Chinese Hot Pot in Denver
Best Pancakes in Denver
Best Spring Food-and-Drink Festival in and around Denver