Ten Best Tiny Restaurants in Denver

Categories: Lists

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Cafe critic Gretchen Kurtz has been extolling the virtues of small dining rooms in recent reviews, including this week's look at Bistro Barbes. In fact, she seems to be having a summer-long, cross-country love affair with tiny, independent restaurants, writing that "they tend to exude honesty, urgency and passion."

We agree -- and her passion for small but focused eateries inspired us to make a list of ten of the top tiny restaurants in Denver. Our criteria? Aside from great food, we kept the seating limit to no more than forty (including bars and counters, but not counting outdoor tables) and listed only full-service (not walk-up or fast-casual) restaurants. Here they are, counting down from largest to smallest.

See also: Review: To the Wind Bistro Is a Breath of Fresh Air on East Colfax

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Uncle's noodle bowls are bigger than its dining room.
10) Uncle
2215 West 32nd Avenue
40 seats
The crowd outside Uncle, which doesn't take reservations, is often bigger than the number of guests eating inside, so popular is Tommy Lee's homage to Asian noodles. A brimming bowl of Uncle's chashu ramen seems more voluminous than the joint itself, which can get cacophonous at the height of dinner service. Keep your elbows in at the counter or risk dunking your shirt sleeves in your neighbor's broth.

There's as much seating on the patio as in the dining room at Bones.
9) Bones
701 Grant Street
36 seats
Bones, Frank Bonanno's joint at the corner of Seventh and Grant, is big only on flavor and accolades; the space itself has only 36 seats. Not exactly traditional, the menu at Bones typically spans Japanese and Korean flavors with typical Bonanno flair: tsukumen ramen gets a Western punch with hominy and green chiles while bibimbap receives a scattering of earthy quinoa and farro.

The best seats at Glaze by Sasa.
8) Glaze by Sasa
1160 Madison Street
35 seats
A seat at the sushi bar offers the most ambiance and intimacy at this Japanese bakery-by-day, restaurant-by-night overseen by Wayne Conwell, owner of the original Sushi Sasa at 15th and Platte streets. Expect the same precise and creative seafood dishes at this second spot, along with a few elegant versions of soba noodle bowls and cooked seafood dishes. Oh, and then there's the strangely beautiful spit-roasted cakes that emerge from the "Red Dragon," a Japanese baumcake oven that dominates the tiny space.

Keep reading for more diminutive dining rooms...

Location Info

Bistro Barbes

5021 East 28th Avenue, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


2215 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


1160 Madison Street, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Gaia Bistro

1551 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


701 Grant St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Z Cuisine

2239 W. 30th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


955 Lincoln St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Mayan Manjar Yucateco

5209 West Mississippi Avenue, Lakewood, CO

Category: Restaurant

To the Wind Bistro

3333 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Empanada Express Grill

4301 W. 44th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Naomi Wolinsky
Naomi Wolinsky

If I tell you it will just grow and it won't be tiny anymore.

Renee Ortiz
Renee Ortiz

Anywhere that makes it easier to drill people with bread and or peas.

TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

Jamaican Grill and Los Pastes would be two others.

Anita Gaydosh Bouffard
Anita Gaydosh Bouffard

That's the kind of place I always wanted to open. Unfortunately, if it is your sole source of income, it's tough. Plus the hours will kill you!

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