Highlands, Denver is one of the most popular foodie spots in Colorado. It is considered the home of some of the best food in the state. It features various food landmarks which are famous among locals and tourists alike.
Learn about the rich historical background of the Highlands. Find out how the neighborhood evolved over the years into one of the food centers of Colorado. Discover which key businesses and families made an impact on its culinary heritage. Learn how to become part of the culinary history of the Denver Highlands.
Early History of Highlands, Denver
The Denver Highlands was founded by General William Larimer in 1858. His purpose in establishing the Highlands was to gain additional real estate so that the new township could become a part of Denver. Highlands was originally a single city, yet it gradually grew into multiple districts as various immigrant groups occupied different sections of the area.
According to redT Homes, the creation of streetcar lines in 1871 encouraged immigrants to settle in the Highlands. The first wave of immigrants in the late 1800s was of Welsh, Scottish, and German ancestry. The second wave of immigrants had Italian, Hispanic, and Irish roots.
The Highlands has a distinct personality even if it is technically an annex of Denver. That’s why it is considered a special place by both residents and visitors.
Culinary History of Highlands, Denver
Over time, the Denver Highlands evolved into a well-known foodie destination in Colorado. There are several key businesses and families which played a major role in the growth of its culinary heritage.
Olinger Mortuaries and Linger
Surprisingly, it was the founding of a mortuary that eventually led to the Highlands’ development as a foodie spot. The Olinger Mortuaries was built on the top of a hill in 1890. The presence of this business jump started the expansion of the neighborhood. Later on, it became known as Linger Eatuaries as a play on its original name.
The former mortuary is now a restaurant called Linger. It showcases plant-based meals conceptualized by chef Justin Cucci. It mainly features an assortment of vegan and vegetarian dishes, but meat dishes are available as well. This unique eatery is built on the original location of the mortuary.
Gaetano’s Eccelente Cucina & Cocktails
Gaetano’s Eccelente Cucina & Cocktails is one of the original food institutions of the Highlands. This traditional Italian restaurant was established by the Smalldones, an Italian family with a mobster background. Eugene, Clyde, and Clarence Smaldone first opened the doors of Gaetano’s in 1947.
Eater Denver explains that the Smalldones family contributed to the Highlands community by nourishing Italian immigrants during the 1940s and 1950s. They delivered meals to the homes of families who could not afford to eat. They invited boys from the orphanage Mullen Home For Boys to dine at their restaurant for free.
Gaetano’s Eccelente Cucina & Cocktails was bought by the Wynkoop and Breckenridge restaurant group in 2005. The group renovated the eatery in 2012 to update the eatery while preserving its historical authenticity at the same time.
Lechugas Italian is an iconic food establishment in Highlands, Denver. It started as Carbone’s bakery in 1961. After it became famous for its original sausage cannolis, it transformed into a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant.
Even up to today, the Lechugas team still uses the same recipes which the founders used during the early days of the eatery. That’s why their dishes are considered food staples in the community of North Denver.
Tap & Burger
The relatively new Tap & Burger has only been around since 2010, but it is already one of the most popular burger joints in the Highlands. Kris Slocum, Kevin Eddy, Brad Beale, Juan Padró, and Katie O’Shea opened this upscale burger restaurant together.
The group of entrepreneurs aims to nurture the growth of the Colorado community. That’s why they order fresh ingredients from local farmers and merchants, which they use while cooking food at Tap & Burger. They actively support local businesses and non-profit organizations in the area.
They also promote public education by funding athletic, art, and music after-school programs in local public schools.
Become Part of the Culinary History of Highlands, Denver
The Denver Highlands has gone a long way from a single city to a lively neighborhood that is composed of several districts. From its humble beginnings as a simple place, it has blossomed over the years into one of the famous culinary centers of Colorado.
At present, the food scene in the Highlands neighborhood continues to grow and thrive. Modern foodies can become part of the rich culinary history of the Denver Highlands by eating at one of the food landmarks in the area.
Dine at one of the iconic restaurants In Denver today to experience the unique joys of Highlands cuisine.