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“Artists in the Kitchen”
Review of Rioja

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Ranked #9 of 3,039 Restaurants in Denver
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $41 - $80
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Downtown
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level 6 Contributor
313 reviews
187 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
“Artists in the Kitchen”
Reviewed December 18, 2013 via mobile

Rioja made my weekend trip to Denver even more memorable. One of the amazing restaurants on Larimer square, the cuisine and the ambiance exceeded my expectations.
I was fortunate to get a seat next to the open kitchen so that I could watch the chefs work in harmony to create consistently great dishes. It's as if I was there with them. The chefs are fast and efficient; still they reproduce the same dish with the same precision and artistry as the previous one. I cannot imagine a better run kitchen.
I ordered the mango salmon lomi lomi as a starter. Exciting plating and just delicious leaving wanting more. Next came the artichoke tortellini... Tasted so good, but felt I needed a bigger portion. And finally, on the recommendation of my waiter, I tried the flourless chocolate-ancho cake: Fantastic!
The service was at the appropriate level for this quality of food. And you get a sense that there is a nice camaraderie between the staff members.
I highly recommend Rioja to anyone visiting Denver. Hopefully I'll get the chance to experience it all over again in the future.

Thank Alexis B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,533 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Golden, Colorado
Level 6 Contributor
194 reviews
74 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“Wonderful evening!”
Reviewed December 14, 2013

The thing that separates one restaurant from other excellent restaurants is that special "it" factor. Rioja has "it"! It's not just about the food, which is superb, but the total experience. On December 11 we were fortunate to have one of those special evenings. From the greeting at the door to the good-bye when we left - it was all perfect. Service was spot-on. Water glasses always filled, timely service of food and plate clearing - we were never rushed or waiting. We loved the bread basket, and our starters and entrees were all remarkable. We were especially pleased with the bison sausage appetizer and the Petaluma chicken. Who knew a chicken could be prepared so flavorfully?!?! The beignets and cappuccino were the perfect ending. But the crowning glory to the evening was the visit to our table by Chef Jen Jasinski. She is a delight, and so is her restaurant!

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Graciel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gillette, Wyoming
Level 6 Contributor
108 reviews
68 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“Rioja did not disappoint - excellent!”
Reviewed December 10, 2013

I enjoyed my birthday dinner at Rioja with my husband and three friends. My husband and I had eaten there a couple of years ago and wanted to go back. The four of us each had a different dish. Appetizers were Fresh Bacon, Sunchoke and Apple Soup and Mango Salmon. Don't let the name "Fresh Bacon" scare you, dishes were great, but the Bacon was the best! Entrees were Grilled Salmon, Lamb Two Ways, Black Truffle Skirt Steak and I had the Chestnut Fried Quail. Everyone was estatic over their dishes, I was ok with the Quail, but was a little disappointed that it was breaded and fried. Didn't expect that. The bread, the bread, let me not forget the beautiful arrangement of breads and biscuits they bring by during your entire meal. Try the goat cheese biscuits and the lavender sourdough. You'll be glad you did! The way Rioja blends the spices and flavors together makes this a dining experience to savor. The prices are a little high, but I'd go again and again, to enjoy how this chef can really bring out some amazing flavors.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Padookahead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“The best meal we have had in a while!”
Reviewed December 8, 2013

I've been meaning to write about Rioja for the past couple of weeks and I finally have some time. I wanted to take my wife to a nice dinner in Denver for her birthday, and I found this place entirely based on TA reviews. We decided to pass on our table and chose to sit at the counter overlooking the dessert station. (We both like watching the chefs at work... and many times you have a chance to taste different dishes.) Well the food was awesome! We went entirely by the suggestions of our server...
We started with the bacon and salmon lomi lomi appetizers. (I know that some reviewers have put their noses up on the idea of an establishment offering "bacon", but they obviously didn't try it...) We then had the beet salad and the "lamb two ways" dishes. I don't want to sit here and talk about each individual dish because the overall food was definitely a sensory experience. We loved every part of the meal, and we do eat out a lot. It was such a wonderful experience that we are planning another trip to Denver just to go back to Rioja.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank davemann17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
215 reviews
131 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
“Small menu & portions, way over rated.”
Reviewed December 7, 2013 via mobile

I asked a local or two for one of Denver's best, both said Rioja. Checked TA for reviews which show it highly rated. Upon entering the loud average looking place, being seated next to server station, and seeing menu starting with apps like Bacon, I quickly saw I was not in a great place. Only fish was a farm salmon, only steak was a skirt steak, poor food selection. We almost left but server assured us it's great place. Dishes are small and pretty. Quality, ok, with my "lamb two ways" dish being one small overcooked tbone and one lamb meatball they called sausage. The skirt steak was also small, nicely presented but not flavorful. Should have followed instinct and left before we started.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Kaelan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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