denver botanic gardens offshoots cafe

Where To Eat When: Visiting the Denver Botanic Gardens

Colorado is all about the adventure, but where to eat before, during, or after the fun? Check out the five best places to go.

BY Linnea Covington


While the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG) offers delights all year round, it’s the spring through early fall when the greenery and flowers are at its finest. But sniffing roses, learning how to draw plants, spotting bee houses, and marveling at tiny bonsai trees can make one hungry. Famished even. 

That’s why we’re here, to give you a nudge in the right culinary direction. After all, though picnics are allowed on the grass at the DBG, visitors may not nibble on the flowers, roots, or berries scattered about the grounds. Plan your next trip to this marvelous place with these five eateries in mind. 

Offshoots Café and Hive Bistro

Offshoots Cafe at the Denver Botanic Gardens. | Photo by Linnea Covington
Offshoots Cafe at the Denver Botanic Gardens. | Photo by Linnea Covington

The easiest way to fill up is by never leaving the DBG at all. The institution offers two delightful fast-casual dining options, Offshoots Café and Hive Bistro. The first resides in the main building, next to the Water-Smart Garden. 

Eaters of all ages will find plenty to choose from. Start with a breakfast sandwich ($10) made on a butter croissant with scrambled egg, chive cream cheese, and cheddar (with bacon available for a $1 add on). The flatbreads prove tasty too, especially the Fennel Central ($18) with roast beef, cherry tomato, arugula, mozzarella, roasted fennel, and homemade garlic sauce. Other options include salads, wraps, sandwiches, a simple kids menu ($10 for the whole meal deal), and pastries perfect for snacking on while walking down the garden path. 

Further in the gardens, by the Monet Pool, the Hive Bistro is perfect during summer concerts and seasonal events. It’s also a great spot for lunch. Just keep in mind sometimes tables become scarce and often there’s a line to order. 

See the water lilies while enjoying lunch at Hive Bistro. | Photo by Linnea Covington
See the water lilies while enjoying lunch at Hive Bistro. | Photo by Linnea Covington

The menu here differs completely from the other café. Burgers ($14 to $17.50) come in an array of styles, with gluten-free buns available for $2. Wood-fired pizzas feed hungry kids and their adults, and epic salads give diners a taste of the season. On a hot day the addition of an ice-cold cup of lemonade hits the spot. 1007 York St., Denver,


There’s nothing fancy about this quaint Japanese restaurant, but it satisfies on all the right notes. In fact, it’s been in the same spot since 2010, so you know the chef does something right. The daily menu ranges from sushi to teriyaki to tempura, with really great lunch deals daily. And, if feeling really fancy, splurge for one of the over-the-top sushi boats after a lovely 12-minute walk from the DGB.  2301 E. Colfax Ave., Denver,

Chef Zorba’s

If hungry after a walk in the gardens, head to Chef Zorba’s for a diner feast. | Photo by Linnea Covington

Heading out of the gardens, Chef Zorba’s is just a 10-minute walk or two-minute drive. The Greek diner has served Congress Park since 1979. While modern touches pop up here and there, it’s still a classic spot for breakfast all day, giant platters of Greek finger foods, gyros, dips, and spanakopita. Weekend brunch can get pretty busy, but you can always check the online waitlist and put your name on it. 2626 E. 12th Ave., Denver,

Saucy Bombay

Grab Indian food to stay or to take out at this casual eatery. From the DBG it’s less than 5 minutes by car, or around 17 minutes to walk there, which might be easier given parking in the area. The restaurant caters to gluten-free, meat eaters, and vegans, and features a menu of build-your-own, be that a wrap, bowl, or entree platter (starting at $13). 

Begin with a base such as rice, greens, or the special yogi mix, a chilled medley of cumin-spiced garbanzo beans, corn, black eyed peas, and kidney beans. Next pick the protein, for example chicken, lamb, paneer cauliflower rounds, and chickpeas. Sauces range from traditional tikka masala to creamy spinach to ginger-laced kadai. 2616 E. Colfax Ave., Denver,

Shells and Sauce

Spend the nine minutes it takes to walk to this iconic Italian-American restaurant in Congress Park. Happy hour is where it’s at, and from 3:30 to 5 p.m. diners can order $9.95 small plates of chicken parm, wild mushroom flatbread, a small portion of bolognese, and $22 bottles of wine. At dinner, start with a spicy cucumber martini ($12.95). Next order the restaurant’s name sake, the Stuffed Shell Duo ($17.95) or a dish of homemade lasagna. Keep in mind Shells and Sauce is closed Sundays and Mondays, and opens at 3:30 p.m. the rest of the days. 2600 E. 12th Ave., Denver,

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Linnea Covington

Linnea Covington is the managing editor of DiningOut. She comes to us with a long background in food, restaurant and drinks journalism. Over the last two decades she’s written for tons of publications including Denver Post, Washington Post, Forbes Travel Guide, 5280 Magazine, New York Magazine, New York Times, Time Out New York and more.