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1. Acorn

The ambiance is industrial chic with exposed bricks and pipes; the menu is contemporary creative with comfort-food overtones. Acorn is one of the anchoring businesses at The Source, the warehouse-turned-retail-and-dining-outlet in RiNo, the River North arts district that has garnered national attention. RiNo is not quite "there" yet, but it's well on its way, and Acorn is perfectly situated to become a favorite for neighborhood residents and Denverites as a whole. .


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2. Denver Biscuit Company

"You'll find Denver Biscuit Company in a space that accommodates two restaurants and a popular bar under one roof. Denver Biscuit Company serves breakfast and biscuit sandwiches for lunch, while Fat Sully's offers pizza for lunch, dinner and late into the evening. Atomic Cowboy bar supports both restaurants morning through late night. But nothing says home cooking like biscuits, which are made from scratch here and appear on the menu in a variety of ways. Most decadent: The Franklin, a biscuit sandwich with buttermilk-fried chicken topped with melted cheese and belly bacon, all smothered in sausage or mushroom gravy–egg optional."

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3. Linger Restaurant

The former mortuary building seems an unlikely place for a restaurant, but chef/owner Justin Cucci (of Root Down fame) has done it again with another Highlands restaurant, Linger. A nod to the space is found in the tongue-in-cheek reference to Linger as an "eatuary." Whatever that is, we like it. The menu is a creative and eclectic ode to global street food and there's definitely something for everyone, no matter which part of the world your taste buds prefer.

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4. Maria Empanada

On a busy corner of South Broadway, Maria Empanada is an oasis of deliciousness and charm. Empanadas come from the ovens morning to night, both sweet and savory. The menu also includes veggie-filled "tartas" made from an old family recipe, as well as Spanish tortillas made with organic eggs. There's a limited selection of wine and beer to pair with these Argentine delights. Nothing fancy here–the empanadas come in a basket that you take to the table yourself.

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5. Charcoal Restaurant

It's fine dining but in a relaxed, approachable environment. We say yes, yes, yes to that for any meal. Stop in for lunch weekdays and brunch on weekends. The restaurant offers a refined, stylish space, good service and a lunch menu with everything from small-bite delights such as bacon-wrapped dates to free-range chicken breast and pan-roasted salmon. In between is a nice soup and salad section, vegetarian items and such ethnic options as Swedish meatballs."

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6. Postino LoHi

Part wine bar and part Italian cafe, Postino is an ideal spot to linger over lunch, especially on a perfect Denver afternoon. The food menu is targeted with a focus on bruschetta, panini, artisan cheese boards, soups and salads. The dishes are satisfying and filling and go beyond the ordinary by combining unexpected flavor pairings, such as prosciutto, fig and mascarpone; ricotta, dates and pistachios; or smoked salmon and pesto.

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7. Olive and Finch

At lunchtime, it's all about fabulous sandwiches and salads here, and even those guests who don't love sandwiches will be tempted by such gourmet-inspired creations as the Nanner's (prosciutto, poached figs, brie and arugula on a baguette) or the Jamal (blackened fish, citrus tartar sauce, capers, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, avocado and roasted tomato on ciabatta, served hot). The sandwiches come on focaccia, ciabatta, baguettes, panini or bread.

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8. ChoLon Asian Bistro

This self-titled modern Asian bistro takes typical Asian fare and raises it to new levels, and perhaps more important takes presentation to soaring heights. Consider sharing several small bites with your dining companions so you can experience the fabulous range of tastes and textures. Good bets: The soup dumplings, beef skewers, tuna crudo and pork belly buns. Lunch plates, offered weekdays, include such interesting items as Korean fried chicken sliders, lobster Saigon crepes and a "Hanoi-style" fish taco. There are also wok dishes to consider.

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9. Vert Kitchen

Homey cafe constructing familiar lunch & brunch dishes for organic & locally sourced ingredients.

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10. Mercantile Dining

At Mercantile Provision & Dining, the relationship between farm and restaurant goes a step further in the in-house market where provisions from Chef Alex Seidel's Fruition Farms are sold. The market carries herbs, spices and house-made jarred, pickled and preserved items made with Fruition Farms produce and other goods. "We created an environment where we can trade the artisan products that we produce, bringing the farm full circle into the restaurant and market," Seidel says. Herbs and spices in the market also serve as pantry for the chefs.

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