While Denver may be landlocked, choices for fresh, pristine seafood are vast. Beyond the crab shack and corporate fish houses, these restaurants continue to receive national acclaim for quality and creativity. Go fish!
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
1539 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Jax Fish House has been a downtown favorite since 1995. Taking its name from Jack Kerouac, who lived in the building years ago, the restaurant is well known for its raw bar featuring a staggering amount of oysters, clams, lobster and crab. The daily menu has a great variety of crudos and cold plates as well as caviar and roe. The kitchen specializes in whole fish such as grilled whole Colorado trout with roasted autumn squash, pan-fried almonds and Fresno chiles; pan-roasted Steelhead trout with potato rosti, frisée and bacon-infused trout roe; and the signature Maine lobster roll with bacon lardons, celery and aioli on a split top roll.
The Asian Cajun
2400 W. Alameda Ave.
Denver, CO 80223
The name of the restaurant shows just how creative the menu is here. Both Asian and Cajun style cuisines are known for seafood, so you’ll find lots of fresh fish and shellfish to enjoy. Serving up everything from frog legs to crawfish and even alligator, The Asian Cajun knows how to blend these very different cuisines into one cohesive dish. If you aren’t sure where to start, try The Boil, which comes with a full pound of crawfish, shrimp, baby clams, mussels and snow crab — and no, not one pound total, but a pound of each. It’s the perfect boil to share for a fun date night where you can both get a little messy. If you are looking for something fried, then check out the Asian Cajun Platter which is another huge dish filled with perfectly fried servings of catfish, shrimp, oysters and crab. Who knew that these two ethnic styles would go so well together?
711 Grant St.
Denver, CO 80203
While Luca D’Italia might pay homage to Italian culture and cuisine, don’t overlook the expansive seafood menu. Named for Frank Bonanno’s son Luca, the cozy dining room and excellent service consistently turn out beautiful dishes. Standouts include baby octopus with house-made sausage, charred frisée, Romesco, potatoes and marcona almonds; Sicilian calamari with capers, crushed Calabrian chili, sultanas and house marinara; seared scallops with salsify, celery root, Bergamot orange beurre blanc and roasted carrots; and smoked Steelhead crudo with Stracciatella, Meyer lemon, trout roe, pickled mustard seed and dill.
Max Grill and Grill
1052 S. Gaylord St.
Denver, CO 80209
Max Gill and Grill is one restaurant that proves you can still get fresh seafood in Colorado. This lovely restaurant, located in the historic Old Gaylord district in Denver, offers an amazing raw bar and lots of different daily specials. On Mondays you can dine on two dollar oysters all night. If you’re a crab lover, then you’ll want to show up on Tuesdays for the snow or king crab deals. Fridays are the Maryland blue crab feast, while Saturdays you can get a full Maine lobster for under $20. The seafood is always impeccably prepared and the patio out back is a beautiful hidden gem. Make sure to order the parmesan truffle fries as your side dish, you’ll be glad you did.
TAG Raw Bar
1423 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80202
Troy Guard’s TAG Raw Bar turns out bright and healthy fish with a twist. Playful interpretations include raw fish tacos with house-made salsa, guajillo sauce and corn nuts or taco sushi with salmon, ahi, avocado, spicy aioli and sushi rice. Sashimi is served with bean sprouts, kale, soybeans, cabbage and scallions while specialty rolls include Sake 2 Me with Skuna Bay salmon, shiso, cucumber, avocado and caramelized miso. The Ceviche Imagination Shot rotates daily and is a must while selections of fresh oysters are shucked daily.
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Wine Festival, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Cochon, Top Chef and numerous destination
restaurants and master mixologists. She has beeen Examiner.com‘s Denver’s Fine Dining writer since 2009.