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DENVER (KDVR) — If you’re a fan of Chipotle, QDOBA, or any of the other food joints on our list, you have Colorado to thank.

Some of the most popular places to grab a bite just so happened to have made their start in the Centennial State.


Love it or hate it, Chipotle is one of the most popular eateries in the country.

It all started in 1993 when the company’s founder, Steve Ells, opened Chipotle Mexican Grill on East Evans Avenue near the University of Denver.

Now, there are thousands of locations across the U.S. and in several other countries.

While the company’s headquarters are now in California, you can still eat at the place where it all began at the corner of East Evans and South Gilpin Street.


QDOBA Mexican Eats didn’t actually start off with that name when it first opened in 1995.

The restaurant first opened as Zuma Fresh Mexican Grill. In 1997, its name changed to Z-Teca Mexican Grill until 1999 when it became QDOBA Mexican Grill. Finally, in 2015, it adopted the current QDOBA Mexican Eats name.

As of 2023, there are over 700 locations across the country.

Just like with Chipotle, you can still get some food at the first-ever QDOBA at Grant Street and 6th Avenue.


Quiznos was started in 1981 by founder Jimmy Lambatos. The first location was in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, at the corner of Grant Street and 13th Avenue.

As of 2023, there are over 300 locations still open across the world.

You are not currently able to eat at the first-ever Quiznos. It was closed in April 2023 and signs said it was seized due to unpaid taxes.

Noodles & Company

Noodles & Company is another successful franchise that started in Denver in the mid-1990s. It first opened in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood in 1995.

Since then, it’s grown to have over 450 locations in 26 states.

The first Noodles & Company location has since shut down, however.


Smashburger was founded in Denver in 2007 with the goal to serve a better burger, according to its website.

As of 2023, there were over 200 locations in all, open in both the U.S. and Canada.

Snooze A.M. Eatery

The first Snooze A.M. Eatery was opened in 2006 by brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel.

Since then, the retro-style breakfast restaurant has grown to have over 50 locations in 10 states.

Its first location in downtown Denver is still open to this day.

Snarf’s Sandwiches

In 1996, the first-ever Snarf’s opened in Boulder, in what people affectionately called “The Shack.”

It’s now expanded to have over 20 stores, with several in St. Louis, Missouri and Austin, Texas.

Snarf’s also has its own chain of burger restaurants — Snarfburger — with two located in Denver and one in Boulder.