1950s ephemera decorate Gunther Toody's eight Colorado locations, lending an extra boost of Americana to plates of classic diner food such as burgers and meatloaf. The menu even draws its inspiration from American pop culture of yore, with Elvis fries, burgers named for Howdy Doody, and Big Bopper breakfasts served on platters of chantilly lace. Classic ice-cream treats including shakes, malteds, and black cows help lead each meal to a suitably sweet conclusion.
For the four Denver residents who founded The LocaL, their community is the driving force behind their hearty eats. The team’s commitment to all things local begins in their kitchen, where chefs forge Mexican-inspired cuisine classics for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Throughout the day, the staff brews coffee made with Denver-roasted Pablo’s beans, arranges strips of antibiotic- and hormone-free bacon alongside local eggs, and grills burger patties formed from The Local’s proprietary blend of local beef.
Within their welcoming dining space, cheery green walls and a '50s diner–style counter set the scene for leisurely feeding frenzies. On the outdoor patio, guests can sample the diner’s 12 flavors of housemade ice cream under the protective cover of umbrellas.
Established in 1927 and featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, Sam’s No. 3 in Denver is a family-owned restaurant that embraces its old fashioned diner personality. There’s plenty of seating inside the large space, with traditional vinyl booths and long counter seating available to all, plus a bar in the back for anyone looking to grab a quick drink. Serving oversized portions of breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu at Sam’s is a creative mix of American classics and tasty Tex-Mex meals, with a few Greek options thrown in for good measure. That means char-grilled burgers, large, looming burritos and shaved Greek gyros. Looking for a chili fix? You’ll get your fill here with their family recipes of red chili and kickin’ green chili ready to top any item on the menu, while its downtown location makes for great people-watching.
Kyle's Kitchen churns out American favorites, from eggs and hash browns to monthly meatloaf specials, thanks to two short-order cooks named Jerry and Liane. Seven days a week, this duo douses pancakes with maple syrup and tops burgers and hot dogs with grilled onions. They also craft meatless options such as salads and vegetarian green chili. When entrees have been consumed, Jerry and Liane dole out scoops of ice cream that they made by milking a block of ice.
Cebiche's chefs forge aromatic Peruvian dishes from recipes steeped in the country's Incan heritage and peppered with Spanish, African, Asian, and European influences. Citrusy ceviches encompass a suite of seafood, such as the shrimp, squid, and octopus. Bisteck a lo pobre presents a fine cut of fried steak, and aji de gallina veils shredded chicken in a creamy parmesan-walnut sauce that trickles onto accompanying steamed rice. Diners can sip pisco, a strong peruvian wine dating back to the 16th century, on an outdoor patio, or savor velvety spoonfuls of crème volteada—a Peruvian spin on flan—amid the indoor dining area's collection of native trinkets. Additionally, many dishes on the menu can be prepared vegetarian or in full Technicolor upon request.
Though many of North End Diner's recipes are straight from owner Jackie's own mother, the 50-year-old diner has also adapted to changing times. Though the menu now includes locally sourced Callicrate beef burgers and several gluten-free items, twangy vintage guitars still blare from the jukebox and hand-scooped shakes clatter onto tables. In the dining room, the aromas of baking meatloaf and simmering gravy make guests feel at home and mashed potatoes feel extremely nervous. A daily blue-plate lunch special arrives within 10 minutes of ordering, and at the fully stocked bar, diners question servers about North End's live jam sessions.