Review: Timberline Steaks & Grille Denver Airport

Update: As of October 16, 2019, Timberline is no longer participating in Priority Pass.

I was pretty excited when Timberline Steaks and Grille at Denver Airport joined the Priority Pass network last fall. I’ve been there probably at least a dozen times since then. Having become somewhat of a regular, I know most of the ins and outs of the place, have sampled most of the menu, and, unfortunately, have seen them implement more restrictive terms for Priority Pass customers. But it’s still a heckuva deal.

Timberline is located past security in Terminal C. All gates at Denver Airport are located behind the same security checkpoint, so everyone can access it fairly easily. That said, its location in Terminal C is most favorable for those flying Southwest, Spirit, or Alaska — for everyone else, you’ll need to ride the train, which typically runs every 2 minutes.  And Timberline is located right at the top of the escalators in Terminal C, so you don’t have to walk very far.

As a United Premier 1K, I spend most of my time in Terminal B. I figure it takes a bit under 10 minutes to get over to Timberline, though that obviously will vary a bit depending on how far your gate is from the center of the concourse, how long you have to wait for a train, and of course how fast you walk. Terminal A is probably only a minute or two more, since once you’re on the train, you’re on the train.

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks & Grille seating

The restaurant itself is reasonably sized, and is sort of square shaped. The decor is rustic, befitting a Colorado themed steakhouse, with stone-like features, wooden furniture, and beam and candle-style chandeliers. It looks about as much like a steakhouse as it can, given the constraints of being located in an airport terminal and all. 

There is the main bar area, and another bar that looks out on the field, which is known as the “back rail”. The main bar is still open seating, but supposedly the “back rail” no longer is. (Again, there have been quite a few changes since last fall.) There is also some “patio” type seating out in front in the space that used to lead to the smoking lounge, which recently closed.

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks & Grille service

As you might expect, Timberline can get quite busy at times. There are actually a lot of people that go here that know nothing about Priority Pass (crazy, right?). In fact, more often than not, you can probably expect a short wait to get a table. However, the staff at the hostess station are usually pretty accurate, if not a little conservative, with their estimates for the wait. They often ask what time your flight is departing, so they can advise if you have enough time. (I prefer to do my own calculations, however.) I think the most we’ve waited is probably 15 minutes or so. Pretty much everyone is in just as big a hurry as you are, so tables turn over quickly. However, there are a few times where I’ve seen the kitchen get backed up, so even though you get a table, it can still take some time for the food to come.

If you are pressed for time, the best bet is to snag a seat at the main bar since it’s open seating and you still have access to the entire menu.

The guidelines state that you should present your Priority Pass card to the server before you order. They’ll take it and then check you and any guests in as well as explain the Priority Pass policies, which have changed a bit since they opened. You still get $28 per guest, which can be used to cover food and drinks, but not the tip. But they’ve added language recently such that you can only order one meal per guest and cannot place take-out or to-go orders.

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

It’s worth noting that you can “pool” the credit for your party. In other words, when I dine with my family of 5, I am covered for a bill of up to $140 (not including tip). In other words, it doesn’t matter if you personally order $50 worth of food and drink, while your kids only order $10, if that makes sense.

Once you place your order, they usually say it takes around 15-20 minutes for your food to arrive. I haven’t seen that it much matters what you order, the wait is about the same.

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks & Grille menu

Timberline’s menu is fairly extensive as it really is a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu featured Colorado wines, Colorado named dishes, and your classic Rocky Mountain oyster appetizers.

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport drink menu

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport drink menu

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport breakfast menu

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport breakfast drink menu

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport lunch and dinner menu

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport lunch and dinner menu

Timeberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport dessert menu

By this point, my family and I have sampled just about all of it (except the oysters), and there aren’t really any bad choices in my opinion. My family particularly likes the steak quesadillas, steak nachos, the rib eye steak, and elk medallions. (Do you see a theme there?) My wife, who is more of a foodie than me, notes that the best part of ordering quesadillas, nachos, or even a salad at a steakhouse is that they put real steak on it. I enjoy the fact that you can order a rare steak and actually get a somewhat rare-ish steak.

The sides are also good, including a loaded baked potato (no added cost), fries, seasonal vegetables, and probably a few more. It’s worth noting that unlike real steakhouses, the sides are both reasonably sized and included with the entrees. Also unlike real steakhouses, you’ll have to cut your steak with a butter knife — this is behind security, after all.

They also have a children’s menu, which my kids enjoy. And a dessert menu, with some awesome donuts bites that are served with bacon crumbles. It’s worth noting that you cannot order the box of macarons — either for consumption in the restaurant or to-go — with Priority Pass. Again, that’s just one of the several quirky rules of the place.

Here are a few pictures of our meals that I’ve collected over many visits.

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport ribeye with loaded baked potato

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport kid grilled cheese

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport kid pizza

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport kids burger with mac and cheese

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport doughnut bites with bacon crumbles (contrary to the poor quality picture, they are fantastic)

Timberline Steaks and Grille, Denver Airport cheesecake (sorry again for the poor quality picture)

Timberline Steaks & Grille bottom line

Timberline Steaks and Grille is a welcome addition to the Denver Airport. The food is nothing extraordinary by steakhouse standards, but all solid offerings. And of course far and away better than most club food, particularly standard Priority Pass lounge fare.  It’s always good to know the wide range of options for Priority Pass members, especially as the number of members has increased greatly the past couple of years, since now there are quite a few credit cards with lounge access.

The service is fast enough that I’ll usually try to duck in for a bite if I have at least about 45-50 minutes to kill before I want to be at the gate in Terminal B, though ideally you should probably allow an hour. That can obviously make it difficult to get over there and back when connecting on United, but it’s doable. I neither like nor fully understand some of the new policies they’ve implemented, but it’s still a great deal.

  1. That burger looks awful—they couldn’t even get the cheese melted out of its plastic wrapped form.

  2. Thanks for this. Work is going to take me to Denver irregularly for the next two years or so. Glad to see that the food looks decent, as I won’t really be needing a work space (so no need of an actual lounge) when flying out but would appreciate a filling meal.

  3. Maybe it is just the lighting, but the food looks like school cafeteria food.

    I’d rather just go hungry than fly with an upset stomach.

  4. Visited Timberline a few weeks ago – had a 5 hour layover due to flight delay. At 9:30pm the restaurant was packed. Advertised closing was 10pm – but they indicated they were open later.

    Told I would have a 30 minute wait – but only had to wait about 10 minutes. Service was prompt.

    The menu is somewhat limited, lots of sandwich items, only a few entree items. I had a fish sandwich with a side salad instead of the fries. Pretty good. Prices are not high, so unless you order alcohol, you can get by with the $28. Some of the entrees are more, but not much more.

    Waiter takes the order, and someone else deliveries the food. Waiter just servers the beverages and brings check. Basically waiter just wants you PP card. It is swiped and $28 is credited to the bill. If under $28, then no amount is due. Tip is not included, so you still need to tip.

    A good experience but a bit crowded. Go if you have time, but not sure I were schedule a long layover just to go there.

  5. Ordering to go saved at least 10 minutes. The new restriction makes a Timberline visit more stressful than before when you are within an hour of departure time.

  6. Hey Travis, I know that the PP website states that you need a same day departing BP. However, the card you posted doesn’t seem to specify that restriction. In your experience, how strictly do they enforce the departure rule? What about for standby passengers?

  7. I’m based out of DEN so I visit this restaurant quite frequently. I have never been asked for a BP. Additionally, I’ve never had to present my PP at the start or indicate I was a PP customer. Typically, the check arrives and I just put the PP and CC (for tip) in the sleeve. It is a great option, but food is slow even when not completely full. You need to make sure you have time for the restaurant

  8. Yeah I agree with prior posts that majority of food looks bad. Maybe when I go next time I’ll just drink!

  9. Ate there once. The food was ok, although the doughnuts are great. The best part is the beer flight with a lot of local options.

  10. I know, an airport is the wrong place to be picky about food, but… I wouldnt eat that stuff if it was free, seriously… Given these are likely the best photos you could sample this looks plain disgusting.

  11. Jonathan: They don’t check boarding passes at all. I eat on arrival all the time, no issues.

  12. It’s dumb that Priority Pass doesn’t include tip. Tipping culture is just ridiculously dumb and also ultimately bad for customers and workers. It’s also dumb that you can’t place to go orders either. Guaranteed packed during peak travel season.

  13. If you want steak, go to Elway’s. How anyone at DEN could go anywhere else for a proper meal is beyond me.

  14. @Travis, how do you manage your PP membership in terms of guest limits? Do you use one card for you + 1 kid and another card for your wife + 2 kids? Do they even allow you to use multiple cards for one order?


  15. Tennen:

    I have a Priority Pass card that offers unlimited guests.

    But having my wife split up 3/2 would also work. I haven’t needed to try that obviously, but don’t see any issue with it.

  16. @Isaac . Root Down (right across from Timberline) is actually phenomenal. Having the PP there has ruined going there for me now b/c awesome never trumps free for me!

  17. Thanks, Travis. I hope to hit it on a trip to DEN on AS next month.

    What is with all the negativity in the comments about the food quality? I know it’s a refined bunch that travels in rarified air, but jeez – c’mon.

    I don’t think the Timberline is going to be awarded two Michelin stars anytime soon, but what about the food that so many find offensive? I see a decent piece of chicken breast on a nice roll, a good looking hummus plate with fresh vegetables, and a fruit plate that looks delicious.

    Are feelings hurt because French fries are served with the dishes? Is that what makes it ‘sooo greasy’? Well, perhaps you can get quinoa sticks as your side then.

    Bottom line: the food looks far better than what’s offered in many domestic clubs. It’s not fast food, and it’s… free.

    If you’re so miserable – and too good to eat there – then use the $28 and order a couple margaritas and maybe you’ll feel less worse.

  18. How is the write-up of food which looks as unappealing as the photos, consistent with Lucky’s reviews of in-flight food? The rib-eye looks particularly unappetising. The blog becomes meaningless unless all writers are reviewing to broadly the same criteria and standards. How can a reader decide whether to eat at Timberline or onboard if reviews are to different standards? I can see the attraction of $120 free food and drink for a family (especially as in the comments the author says he uses Timberline on arrival too) if flying short-haul economy but that’s not the business or aspirational travel which I understood was the core of the blog.

    The picture quality is poor. For some unknown reason, there is a family selfie. Nothing at all about the drinks – no idea what they serve. Although there is a $28 cap per person, there is nothing in the text on the prices of the items shown. We know by implication that the budget works for cross-subsidies for a big family ordering, but can a couple or solo flyer manage a main each and a glass of wine? A desert shown – and looks to be one of the better items – but is that another 20 minute wait? And does that fit within the $28? We don’t know, because the text does not tell us.

    My advice, Lucky, is strip the blog back to you, Tiffany and Ford. For me, the guest authors are a decidedly negative development for OMAAT.

  19. Are there about a month ago. I had the Shrimp and Grits with Bacon and it was decent. That and a glass of Prosecco was just about $28. No wait to be seated (2:30pm on a Saturday) and restaurant 80% full. Still took around 15 minutes for food to arrive, so that seems to be a constant.
    Certainly worth the trip over by tram from the United terminal.

    This posting could really use a copy of the menu though for reference and pricing. They serve more than just steaks and burgers and kiddie meals.

  20. Donut bites with bacon crumbles…who said Americans are weird?
    @ Traveler. Completely disagree with your take. This blog has improved out of sight since the arrival of the ‘guests’, and benefits also from posts by Travis and other older contributors.
    As interesting as Lucky’s posts are, there are only so many times a review of this or that F class will resonate.
    The blog is much more diverse now and I hope it continues that way.

  21. Grant, well said.

    Travis, thank you for your review. It’s actually useful for a lot of folks (online another Xiamen or Xanimen or Wakanda airlines super first class review).

    Maybe you could add some prices just to provide better view of what we can get there?

  22. How much do you have to pay for tips? 10%? Do you pay tips by card or cash? Is it paid at the counter?

  23. @Woot 15% at least unless the service was bad but its usually if not always really good there. I always tip 20% in cash because thats the right thing to do i get a free steak and drink and dont mind handing the server 6 or 7$.

  24. I visited this place in March of this year with four adults (two PP holders) and an infant. We went for breakfast. I thought the service was somewhat slow and indifferent, but not overly so. I will say though that they were good at accommodating the two in our party who had a boarding time about 35 minutes after we sat down–once they were made aware of the time issues. I say they were somewhat slow and indifferent because we lost 5-10 minutes before someone first came by. It is a big pet peeve of mine when you are made to sit for a long period before being greeted by your server, and even more so at an airport where all staff should definitely recognize that most of the patrons are on a tight schedule, where 5-10 minutes can easily be the difference between a relatively humane and enjoyable meal and scarfing down food or skipping the meal altogether. The 5-10 minutes we waited here almost made the two in our party who had a tighter schedule get up and leave in favor of a grab-and-go meal somewhere else (in fact, they were gathering their belongings when a server finally arrived).

    The food, at least for breakfast, was pretty good. It is not a restaurant I would ever go out of my way for, but it is certainly “worth it” when it is “free” as part of the PP benefits. Again, make sure you have enough time and if you are pressed, communicate that in a nice way to your server (who hopefully will present him or herself promptly).

  25. Your experience pretty much mirrored mine in May to a “t”. The restaurant was busy at around 12:45 on a Saturday, but we were seated with no wait, and we were in and out in about an hour (though I eat slow, and we had a toddler to keep occupied). We weren’t asked to show our boarding pass. My son enjoyed planespotting from the windows in the back, which was a bonus. I guess the only thing I’m confused about now is what exactly constitutes a “meal”, and how that gets enforced. Seems like they’re setting themselves up for arguments on that issue.

    For those concerned about the appearance of the food – I think it’s the lighting more than anything else. The food, while unspectacular, was perfectly fine. A typical 3-star experience in my estimation. Certainly much better than the typical PP lounge packaged hummus, stale pita bread, and snack towers of sadness.

  26. I’ve heard good things about this place, but those pictures look like they serve some nasty “food”. Other than the cheesecake, not sure anything looks remotely appetizing. It looks like food from every Applebees in America.

  27. Post saying “..I agree with prior posts that majority of food looks bad..”

    Gotta love the duchies bagging on (insert food/drink here) to look “high and mighty” as they eat their Taco Bell at their computer. Last month it was that Tito’s vodka sucked (for when United pulled it). Vodka man, freakin’ vodka. And uhm, Timberline is airport food. Decent food all considering for a PP (went last month). Good review.

  28. To those concerned about time. Order food right when you sit down and give your card when waiter comes back after serving entree (not after you get the bill). <40 mins every time.

  29. I went to Timberline about a month ago (also with PP) and had a good experience. It was a Tuesday afternoon, didn’t have to wait for a table, food came fast, and we both got salads with salmon that were excellent.

  30. Matthew — I enjoyed your review too. I actually considered closing the post with “And FWIW, I’ll take Timberline’s steak and eggs over whatever United is serving for breakfast any day!” 😉

  31. I visited today and had a great experience. My server, Brian was excellent and welcoming and the food was good. This certainly is not a gourmet restaurant, but the quality I found to be quite good. It’s a good alternative, and if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, theoretically you could feed your entire family.

    Remember comrades, tip on the entire amount of the check, not just what it is after the Priority Pass credits. Our servers need to make a living wage and they work hard!


  32. I added pictures of the menu to the post. I took those pics on a different visit, and forgot to include them. Sorry about that! (And thanks for reminding me.)

  33. hmmmm, I wonder why they removed ‘to-go’ orders from the program. I wonder if they would not give you a ‘leftovers’ box if you can’t finish your meal.

  34. TJ: Ask for a leftovers box at your own risk! Trust me. I’ll try to make a separate post on that. 😉

  35. Weird question, how long do I have to wait to use my pass a second time? I have a 4 hour layover and am wondering if I can order some food and then get a drink later as a second check-in.
    I have an unlimited priority pass.

  36. beth — That’s actually not a weird question at all, or at least it is a question I have sort of wondered about too. If it were a proper lounge, you could just hang out for 4 hours, and eat twice from the buffet, or whatever. Or if there were two Priority Pass restaurants, you could leave one, and go check-in at the other (Ben has done that!). But what if you want to dine at the same restaurant on the same day? Good question.

    I’m going to suggest we ask Ben and Tiffany!

  37. Here’s a follow-up, though. Does the check-in happen when I pay for the food or when I arrive?
    If it’s when you arrive, I can see taking some time to eat your food and then going for a short walk and coming back. If it’s when you actually get the bill, it would be harder to maximize.

  38. Beth — I always present my card as soon as the server comes to take the drink order. Now I have a good reason — to start the clock ticking!

  39. As for the 2 hour rule. No longer exists. I was told “yeah, that lasted for like 6 months.”

    I’d assume one use per /4 hours at this point.

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