Denver >Food & Dining > Rioja
1431 Larimer St, Denver, CO | Directions 8020239.747802 -104.999461
Mon. - Thu., Sun. 5pm - 10pm;Fri. - Sat. 5pm - 11pm
Neighborhoods: Northwest Denver, Union Station, LoDo
Absolutely horribe – Last night I went to Rioja in a group and it was a complete disappointment. My girlfriend and I are both vegetarians, and there was only one thing on the menu for us to eat. It came out in under ten minutes, clearly pre-prepared and reheated. We didn't even eat it and the waiters didn't offer to get something else. Also, our waiter was extremely rude and unappreciative of us as customers; when I asked her if she could slightly augment a dish by not putting artichokes in it she refused. It wasn't only me who was frustrated with the food, the other people [who actually had more than one option seeing as they ate meat] also didn't think the food was up to par. Overall, it was a very expensive night with unsatisfactory service and food. I would not recommend Rioja to anyone.
Very disappointed! – My husband and I went to Rioja on a gift certificate. Thank goodness, because we would have never wanted to pay for the food we got.
Every piece of meat was overcooked. Everything was really oversalted. It was just a terrible disappointment.
The service was good, however.
Didn't live up to t he hype – Don't get me wrong, Rioja has good food... but it definitely did not live up to the hype. Our waiter was courteous and patient. My fiancee started with some sangria which she found to be nothing special. I played it safe with a Pellegrino. Took a while for the bread to arrive. When it did, it was nice to be able to select from a unique assortment.
For appetizers we ordered the fig, goat cheese, polenta tart and the pancetta-wrapped mozzerella. Both were good. I preferred the tart but my fiancee seemed to go the other way. Neither were Earth-shattering, however.
For entrees we ordered the leg of lamb and the seared tuna special. The lamb was nothing special. Actually, I would rate it below average. It was rather flavorless. My fiancee's tuna was cooked nicely but the celery root risotto, that the server raved about, was really not that great. I will admit, however, that the risotto was much better when eating it along with a bite of tuna rather than by itself.
I wouldn't be opposed to visiting Rioja again but if I was picking up the bill I would definitely suggest somewhere else like Mizuna or Cap Grille.
Love this place. – I was impressed with the selection of items on the menu. There was really good desserts too. Not the greatest place for kids, as we got some "looks" from the hipsters everytime one made a peep, but the food was some of the best I've had in a long time.
This week was my third visit to Rioja. My two other visits were in 2006, and I walked out feeling very satisfied with my meal and overall dining experience. This time I was very disappointed. I hope this was just an off night and not a sign that the staff of Rioja are letting their usually outstanding cuisine slide downhill. The food was just okay and the service was also less than I expect. At this point in time, I would not recommend Rioja until they get their act together.
Small Plates, Great Taste – My fiance and I went to Rioja for a romantic dinner. We were seated immediately, and our server was very attentive. I ordered the horseradish and potato-crusted salmon, and it was absolutely delicious, as the salmon was perfectly cooked and the flavors well-developed and creatively combined. My fiance ordered the artichoke tortelloni, but he was less impressed than I - his plate barely contained enough pasta to feed a five year old, let alone a grown man. My plate also contained a little less food than I would have liked, especially for $20 a plate. We both agreed that the food was wonderful, however. Definitely a great place to go if you want to impress!
Perfect First Anniversary Dinner – I had heard good things about Rioja, so I booked it for our first anniversary dinner on New Year's Eve 2006. Everything at Rioja was better than I hoped for. We had a reservation, and we were seated immediately. The restaurant was full, but the tables are spread out so it was not overwhelmingly packed. the atmosphere is nice while also hip and urban. We had complimentary glasses of champagne and appetizers brought to our table as a special anniversary treat! Our waiter was very attentive, and the menu has a great variety. We both ordered soup to start, and I had the gnocchi while my husband had pork. We also ordered a bottle of Spanish red wine (they have a great selection with good wines at reasonable prices as well as higher-end pricey wines). We had a great time, and the bill at the end of the night was less than it might have been at other downtown restaurants! We also stopped at the bar at Corridor 44 before dinner (right next door) for champagne cocktails. I definitely recommend both places!
Over-hyped – We moved to CO 6 months ago so as "foodies" we are trying all the restaurants - Loved their other restaurant (Bistro Vendome - everything is great) so looked forward to Rioja - I could go into detail but it easier to say that everything was mediocre. Nothing really bad just very average.
Too loud to enjoy – After reading these reviews of Rioja, I decided to try it for a birthday celebration. We arrived early, and though they graciously agreed to seat us, they gave us the worst seat in the house (though we did not know this at the time). This was the table nearest to the entrance and bar. The nearby booths - probably good seats - sat empty for about 45 minutes. Why not offer us a better seat? At the time we entered, the noise level was high even though the front room of the restaurant was only half full. By the time we left, that room was full, and the bar crowd was allowed to spill over into the dining area. We had a great view of the rear ends of a loud, noisy group of drinkers. We had to shout to each other and to the waitress, and were forced to leave without dessert.
The service was pleasant (well, as pleasant as it could be considering we had to shout to the waitress and she to us) and the food was all right. The pear flatbread was soggy, in my opinion. Artichoke tortellini were good but the portion was paltry (5 or 6 tortellini). The gnocchi were sort of unremarkable. Wine list was decent and the waitress talked knowledgeably about the wines.
Rioja, you need to decide whether it's worth subjecting the diners in the front room to the loudness of the bar crowd. At a minimum, you need to put some sort of barrier up between those too areas. It might help with the noise too.
Sadly, I can't recommend Rioja, and I won't be going back. YMMV.
A BIG FAN – i am a definite fan of rioja. everytime i have been there i have thought the service was excellent. they have THE BEST appetizer in denver (the pork belly). this bacon dish simply dissolves in your mouth. ( i would never think to order this, but it came highly recommended by the kitchen staff) the specialty pastas are also very good (artichoke pasta being the best). every single time we've visited we've had personal table visits by chef jen and the sous chef merlin. lunch leaves something to be desired. go at dinner, and try for brunch.
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