We all need date night inspiration—when it comes to a plan, it’s easy to fall into the realm of tried-and-true. In our Date Night Denver series, we learn about coveted hideaways, culinary gems and trusted standby’s from some of our favorite Denver locals.
In the colder months, I find myself craving a bowl of steaming ramen from Uncle more frequently than I’d like to admit. Specifically, I pine for the Spicy Chicken Ramen and its silky, tahini-laced broth. When we go here, the intention is usually to linger over dinner and move on to drinks elsewhere in the Highlands, but you should know this up front: You will want to eat everything that’s put in front of you, even if it means sacrificing the future of your night on the town.
The 40-seater is clean and minimal—almost every night, you’ll find the noodle outpost aglow with huddles of wishful diners crowded around the waitlist, families, couples and solo diners alike bent over their bowls with a mixed expression of concentration and delight. My favorite seat in the house is the pint-sized restaurant’s open counter; put your name in and take advantage of the stellar beer list next door at Highland Tap & Burger. When your seats open, post up with a Modern Whiskey (whipper snapper whiskey, lemon foam) or a chilled can of sake, where you and your date can sample Chef Tommy Lee’s Hong Kong-inspired dishes—like steamed buns stuffed with soft shell crab or the addictive salt and pepper quail—and watch the bustle in the kitchen.
2215 W. 32nd Avenue
À Côté is a Parisian respite nestled on one of the most lovely corners in Denver. When I dream of French cafes, this is what I imagine: Unassuming, effortlessly charming, brimming with people so immersed in conversation that they’ve finished two bottles of wine off without realizing it. It’s a find so surprising to me in the American plains that the first time I went, I spent all two hours with my face fixed in a countenance of unbelieving captivation. I could have wept with each bite.
To this day, it’s still one of the most romantic hideaways in the city, and an absolutely authentic slice of French living thanks to Chef/Owner Patrick Dupays—whether you go for a post-work vieux carre, intimate dinner or to take advantage of their full absinthe service. Inside, it’s imbued with a sense of whimsy, all warm brick and dark wood. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to snag a candlelit, windowside table. Try the open-faced tartine, a heavenly gift from the gods with ham, bechamel, Emmenthaler, Raclette and a fried farm egg—and make sure to keep the French red wine flowing. Bonus points for the endless stream of silent movies played via projector.
2239 W. 30th Avenue
Sometimes after a long week or busy spell, I like to keep it simple, and going to the movies hasn’t ceased to be a good, clean pastime. The magic of the theatre (think darkness and expressive faces lit by the screen) hasn’t lost its sparkle—at least for me—since I saw Beauty and the Beast as a four-year-old. The experience of the movies has the ability to grow with you, and as adults, we can tailor it to anything from weekday hooky to chill date night.
For the latter, look no further than the Esquire Theatre, one of Denver’s lucky handful of Landmark Theatres. Situated on a quiet, residential stretch of Capitol Hill, it’s the more tranquil cousin to other locals, like the Mayan. The Esquire opened in 1927 as the Hiawatha Theatre with one screen and a balcony; now, it’s a cozy twin-screener with a penchant for independent and foreign cinema. Since it shares the same neighborhood locale as gems like Fruition, Angelo’s Taverna and Table 6, you can pick your poison, depending on the mood—mine is a great glass of wine and chocolate beignets at Table 6—and walk there after the show.
590 Downing Street
609 Corona Street