Denver’s 15 most heartbreaking restaurant closures of 2023

by Lily O’Neill at The Denver Post 

Losing a favorite go-to restaurant can feel like a stab to the heart, especially if it was the kind of place that always had an extra smile ready for you, or where everyone knew your name and your order. Saying goodbye to that part of your routine stings.

While the city has been riding a culinary high since the inaugural Michelin stars were handed out in September, Denver, has also held funerals for many longtime, beloved spots. After all, with rising labor costs, food costs and labor shortages, running a restaurant is still tough.

So, let’s take a moment to remember these 15 restaurants that closed up shop in 2023, and remind ourselves that eating locally is the best way to support the Mile High businesses that work tirelessly to feed us.

El Tepehuan Mexican Restaurant

After 45 years as one of the best green chile spots around, El Tepehuan is throwing in the towel. You still have time to pay tribute to the beloved Englewood spot, known as El Tep to the most loyal of fans, before owner Graciela Corral retires and shutters the doors permanently on Dec. 31.

Denver Ted’s Cheesesteaks

In April, Denver Ted’s Cheesesteaks shut down its only location in downtown Denver after 18 years with no warning. As one of the most well-known and well-loved cheesesteak purveyors in town, Denver Ted’s amassed a loyal following for its traditional Phillies on Amoroso rolls.

Goed Zuur

Denverites enjoyed their last sour ales and butter boards from Goed Zuur before the upscale Five Points beer bar closed in October. After losing executive chef Anthony Lopiccolo to a new California opportunity in April, co-owner John Fayman, who also owns Backcountry Pizza & Tap House in Boulder, said the mounting issues since COVID were too much to handle.

3 Kilts Tavern

In September, 3 Kilts Tavern did its final Irish jig. The Irish bar in Capitol Hill, which debuted in 2021, was known for its St. Patrick’s Day parties, traditional Irish dance performances and inclusive drag and comedy shows; owners blamed rising cog costs and fewer customers.