Highlands neighborhood: Singular restaurants and cool, laid back vibe
Highlands neighborhood is known as a go-to area with singular restaurants, bars, art galleries and retail establishments. But it may be the most misunderstood area in Denver. First, there’s another well-known metro neighborhood called Highlands Ranch…in a completely opposite section of town, with a 180-degree different atmosphere. Then, there’s the Highland singular and the Highlands plural monikers. We’re combining adjacent Highland areas, and taking the High(lands) road.
It's located just northwest of downtown Denver, and up until the late 1990s, most people considered Highlands to be a quiet, older neighborhood on a hill, filled with dated Victorian homes that looked a little worn. A few mom-and-pop, family restaurants were doing well—but there wasn’t a lot to make the neighborhood a destination for anyone but residents and their visitors. Then, suddenly some businesses began to make waves: Highland's Garden Café and Bang! restaurant, Pirate art gallery and Mondo Vino liquor store. The domino effect spiffed up the neighborhood, and suddenly 32nd Avenue was the place to dine, meet up with friends and hang out.
Highlands’ borders vary from organization to organization, but based on popular businesses, they run loosely from 38th Avenue on the north, Speer Boulevard around the east side, 29th Avenue to the south, and Tennyson Street on the west. While retail venues have a cool, hip, very laid back vibe, residents run the gamut. Diverse ethnicities remain, with older populations that include Irish to Mexican-American and German to Italian. Since its resurgence, Highlands has become an attractive residential option for young professionals and families. It may be one of the few neighborhoods in Denver to escape the scrapeoff/pop-top craze…so that most of the Victorian residences have been updated and visually improved, but their historic exteriors and character remain intact.
HelloDenver tip: It always seems to be about parking. When visiting the area, make sure your parking brake works, since many streetside spaces are on a hillside. And be sure to check the signage on retail parking lots—tickets come easily when you leave your car and venture out to other businesses.
Posted on February 20, 2012 by Lisa Perry