According to historic references and Holly Arnold Kinney, proprietress at The Fort restaurant in Morrison, pumpkins have played an important role in Colorado history and trade since the 1800s. They’ve been grown in the state since 400 A.D. in Mesa Verde, and in the 1800s, fur trappers bartered with pumpkins seeds (see more below). Today, pumpkin’s rich flavor and creamy texture make it a versatile ingredient for pastas, coffee drinks and desserts including cakes, sweet breads, pies and custards. Look no further than these Denver dessert houses, cocktail lounges and restaurants for the best of the great pumpkin.

Living the Sweet Life
1535 Central St.
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 477-8088

High above I-25 in LoHi is a sweet little bakery with lovely and decadent desserts. Living the Sweet Life bakery is owned by Erika Cunha, a baker with the ability to turn the most ordinary of desserts into something extraordinary. For instance, everyone is familiar with the recipe on the back of the pumpkin puree can — eggs, sugar, spices, evaporated milk, ho hum. But Cunha’s pie has a layer of sweetened cream cheese underneath the pumpkin and a layer of candied walnuts and English toffee on the top. If you’re into creamy desserts, try the pumpkin creme brulee with a shortbread crust. There is also a pumpkin sweet bread with loads of warm spices.


Crave Dessert Bar & Lounge
891 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 586-4199

Crave’s new fall menu includes a pumpkin dessert that will make you wish every month was November. Crave’s pumpkin dessert is aptly named Luscious Patch, with a white chocolate pumpkin brulee, candied walnuts, dark chocolate mousse, ginger coulis and a roasted pear compote. If that isn’t mouthwatering enough, it also has a pumpkin latte to go with. This can be served as is or with a shot of liquor. Pumpkin bread is also on the menu for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Related: Top Bakeries in Denver

The Fort
19192 Colorado Highway 8
Morrison, CO 80465
(303) 697-4771

Since the restaurant opened its doors, pumpkin muffins have been in the bread basket at The Fort restaurant. These make it on each table because of the role pumpkins played in Colorado history. At Mesa Verde, the food was a staple, grown side by side with corn and beans. Later, early fur trappers used the seeds to trade for guns and tobacco. Even today, Fort Lupton grows an impressive amount of pumpkins. The Fort restaurant’s founder, Sam Arnold, guarded the highly requested pumpkin muffin recipe for decades, but it’s now on the website, so follow this link for the recipe.

Trattoria Stella
3470 W. 32nd Ave.
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 458-1128

The Italians have long used pumpkin and winter squash as a filling for ravioli. Its soft texture and sweet flavor pair nicely with blue-veined gorgonzola cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from the northern region of the county. In Denver, Trattoria Stella carries on the tradition with a stuffed ravioli filled with pumpkin and gorgonzola cheese over a bed of peppery arugula, all topped with pancetta, Marsala butter and candied walnuts. The dish is so popular that it is on both the lunch and dinner menu.

Gateaux Specialty Cakes and Pastries
1160 N. Speer Blvd.
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 376-0070

At Gateaux, pastry chef Kathleen Kenny Davia makes every day a holiday with her spectacular selection of brightly adorned cakes and beautifully mastered pastries. This time of year, Davia has a few specialty items worth noting. One is a pumpkin cheesecakes with a brownie crust. One of these flavors alone is enough to get some attention but the two together will make you wonder why no one has thought of this before. Nothing is off the table at Gateaux. Try it all, it’s worth the calories. If you are looking for a great gift, Gateaux’s tea cookies in seasonal shapes are available to ship across the country.

Related: Top Autumn Desserts in Denver

Kimberly Lord Stewart is a food author and journalist for CBS Denver local, Organic Food Reporter for, and the Food, Wine and Spirits editor for Denver Life magazine. Her book, “Eating Between the Lines” tells readers about the truth and myths of food labeling. Stewart is the recipient of two Association of Food Journalist awards for food news reporting and the Jessie Neal Business Journalism award. Her work can be found at