Establishment neighborhood
2215 W. 32nd Ave., LoHi
Tommy Lee's noodle shop in LoHi has been packed since it opened, and for good reason: The small restaurant’s take on traditional Japanese ramen is top-notch, prepared with long-simmered broths, custom-made noodles, and responsibly raised meat and fish. The menu is small but varied—in addition to the ramen, you’ll find offerings like their Brussels sprout salad with coconut, orange, lemongrass, and spicy cashew, plus their buns selection, which includes pork belly with hoisin, cucumber, scallion, and fried green tomato variations. (There are vegetarian options, too.) If you can't brave the crowds for a table, keep in mind that they also do takeout.
Little Man Ice Cream
2620 16th St., LoHi
It's nearly impossible to miss Little Man, not only because of the line that snakes around the block, but because it's housed in a two-story silver milk carton. The mix of flavors here is delightfully all over the board, with nostalgia-inducing fluffernutter and whopper malt alongside strawberry balsamic and Earl Grey—though, in our not-so-unbiased opinion, you're doing it wrong if you don't get the famous salted Oreo. Regulars know that when the lines get unbearably long in the summer, you can fast-track by ordering from one of two small stands that they set up on the sidewalk, which offer a smaller selection of flavors (almost always including salted Oreo).
Black Eye Coffee
3408 Navajo St, LoHi
This cute little coffee shop first opened on Navajo in the center of a residential neighborhood, offering table space for workers, a small-but-perfect menu of snacks like yogurt and granola or pastries, and tons of natural light streaming in through wide windows in the front. They recently opened a second location in Capitol Hill with a totally different identity, swapping their rustic hipster aesthetic for a more contemporary feel, and staying open into the evenings to serve small bites and alcohol. The one thing that's consistent: Perfectly roasted Boxcar espresso in the hands of expert baristas.
1416 Platte St., LoHi
Located in a massive, lofty old warehouse building, REI's flagship store is nestled up against the Platte River, and it's not uncommon to see people swimming and kayaking, or dogs fetching sticks right outside the store in the summer months (since it's also next to the Cherry Creek bike path, the built-in Starbucks is also a common pit stop for cyclists). There's a great little kid-friendly bike park out front, and the interior famously houses a multi-story rock wall that kids go crazy for. As for the merchandise, you'll find two full floors of the finest outdoor gear the industry has to offer, from tents and kayaks to fly-fishing equipment and skis.
Colt & Gray
1553 Platte St., LoHi
Colt & Gray is a little dressed up for Denver, but in a good way: It’s an upscale white-tablecloth establishment that’s still very cozy (exposed brick and a fireplace). While the atmosphere is enough of a draw, they have exceptional cocktails, fresh oysters, and best of all, a top-notch charcuterie program—it’s all cured in-house, and they’re committed to high-quality regional ingredients and nose-to-tail utilization. The rest of the menu is standard but inventive New American fare, like Moroccan lamb with kale panisse and clams and octopus with white runner beans. Bonus: There’s a speakeasy downstairs, Ste. Ellie, where you can expect the same great cocktails and service in a more intimate (and even cozier) space.
Williams & Graham
3160 Tejon St., LoHi
It's easy for speakeasy's to feel gimmicky, but not so at Williams & Graham, where you'll walk through an old bookcase to get to the intimate bar. The cocktails here are delicate and thoughtful, and while that's definitely what they're best known for (bartender Sean Kenyon has been internationally recognized for his program), the food holds up—particularly the burger, which comes topped with port salut and caramelized onions. They don't take reservations, so arrive early.
Root Down
1600 W. 33rd Ave., LoHi
Root Down is a neighborhood joint dedicated to providing ethically sourced and properly prepared health food. Brunch is pretty hard to beat on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and they also have a great raw food night on the first Tuesday of each month—a four-course raw, vegan, gluten-free dinner, crafted by raw-food-certified chef Daniel Asher. Any other day, there is ample gluten and dairy on the menu, though things stay relatively vegetable-centric. We love the baby beet salad, burger sliders with jalapeño jam, and the rack of lamb (sourced from just a few miles away). Pro tip: There’s a second location in Concourse C at the airport with a solid takeaway fridge.