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
www.jaxdenver.comJax 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.
1487-A S. Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210
www.izakayaden.netThe new Izakaya Den debuted in August of 2013 to unveil a stunning new design paired with authentic “izakaya-style” Japanese cuisine. An extensive sushi menu features daily fish shipments from the fish market in southern Japan offering some of the best sushi in the States, but don’t overlook the izakaya and global menus. Stunning choices include sautéed squid with coco and fava beans; lobster gnocchi with tender Maine lobster, house-made potato gnocchi finished with tomato-lobster broth and chive-parsley oil; Prince Edward Island musselswith yellow coconut curry sauce; and grilled Kama (yellowtail collar) seasoned in sea salt, grilled and served with ponzu, lemon garlic or teriyaki sauce.
711 Grant St.
Denver, CO 80203
www.lucadenver.comWhile 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.
1487 S. Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210
www.sushiden.netSushi Den was serving Denver traditional sushi even before it was popular in New York or San Francisco with the restaurant opening in 1984. The Kizakis’ third brother lives in southern Japan and visits the Nagahama fish market daily to pick the best catch to arrive at Sushi Den’s door in less than 24 hours. The menu is expansive and the “catch of the day” and “chef recommendations” are a hot tip for nigiri, sashimi, sushi and vegetarian rolls. The kitchen specializes in signature dishes such as pan-roasted Scottish salmon with grilled vegetables and yuzu plum wine sauce; Sriracha garlic shrimp with roasted red pepper togarashi chili sauce and mango salsa and miso black cod broiled with house-made miso.
TAG Raw Bar
1423 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80202
www.tagrawbar.comTroy 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.