Two Days in Denver Area - Suggestions??
I will be attending a conference in Louisville for one week in mid April. I plan to fly into Denver a day or two early to take in the sights and some good food.
Any recommendations for great restaurants, especially any authentic regional cuisine? I am coming from the east coast of Canada, so authentic Mexican or interesting southwestern food would be great. I like value for money, including really expensive meals that are transcendent. I don't care about the wine list.
I not sure what hotel I will be staying at, but I will likely rent a car, and am willing to drive. I will be traveling alone, so a place with a nice bar and friendly staff would a bonus, but food is the priority.
Also, are there any spots within an hour or two of Denver that might make a good side trip, either in terms of food or sight-seeing (i.e mountains, ranch country, etc.)? I apologize for any ignorance here, but I am just starting my research.
Thank for your advice - I can't wait to visit!
You should definately try Efrains in Louisville. This is regional Mexican cuisine anchored by excellent sauces. A few must trys are the Ribs w/ Green Chile and the Chili Colorado (red chili w/ pork). Louisville is close to Boulder, so I am sure many will recommend Frasca or The Kitchen. Frasca can be a tough reservation, but if you are solo they usually can seat you right when they open. As far as side trips go, I suggest a drive through Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park. Just avoid the Estes restaurants. Nothing there worth mentioning. There are interesting places to check out, though, in Lyons. If you are in Lyons I recommend visiting Lyons Pinball (correct name?). They have 30+ vintage machines to play.
Louisville is about 20 minutes from Boulder, please do yourself a favor and sit at the salumi bar (no reservation needed, just be prepared to wait a little bit) at Frasca (at 13th and Pearl Street - I believe). I ate at Frasca in December and am still talking about it. Very friendly and warm front of the house, food it outstanding, well worth it.
L'Atelier is just across the street from Frasco and is wonderful too. If you can get past eating solo it would well be worth it. Radek Cherny is a terrific chef and is definately French influenced.
Denver has a wealth of great dining, but you ask about Mexican. There is a New Mexican food (as in the state and style) located at Colorado Blvd and Mexico Street right near the highway - I25) its a little hole in the wall dive called Little Anita's in a strip mall. There is Denver Mexican at Lime Cantina located in Downtown Denver on Larimer Square (which also houses Rioja - for Italian and Tomayo - for Mexican (I personally believe Lime is better) and you can finish off at Gelazzi for a nice gelato. Then you are downtown and explore the bar scene which can be fun.
In Aurora you can find a place called La Cueva on Colfax near Dayton which is very very good.
If you're in the mood for pizza, go to Virgilio's(at the west end of the shopping center just west of Wadsworth Blvd & south side of Alameda Ave.) It's rare to find pizza that good anywhere.
My recs for Indian food are Jewel of India(in Westminster-north Denver) and India's(southeast-ish Denver).
Can't agree with the Little Anita's suggestion. A point in its favor is that it does serve New Mexican food; working against that is that it's just not very good New Mexican food. It's a semi-fast food chain maybe a half step in quality above places like Chipotle or Qdoba(which aren't New Mex.) Go to Jack-n-Grill(on Federal Blvd around 25th Ave.) for good New Mexican food in Denver.
Taqueria Patzcuaro(around the 2600 block of W. 32nd Ave.) has good Mexican food.
New Saigon(also on Federal Blvd but quite a bit farther south) is a super Vietnamese restaurant.
re: Chimayo Joe
If you are in Louisville (my husband works there) and in the mood for Chinese food, Spice China on McCaslin Blvd. is excellent -- and is one of the few non-chain eateries in that fast-growing town. And yes, all those Boulder recommendations are on target. I also like Trattoria on Pearl and Black Cat Bistro, the former on and the latter just off the Pearl Street Mall. Contemporary Mexican at Tahona Tequila Bistro, on Pearl, west of the Pearl Street Mall. Seven Eurobar, next door, has a new chef and is going more Latin American. Aji, on Pearl east of the Mall, has very interesting Latin American cuisine. Also, excellent contemporary Mexican fare at Tamayo in downtown Denver and La Sandia at Northfield/Stapleton, between the airport and down Denver. Tamayo and La Sandia are under the same ownership.
Sunday before the conference go to Estes Park, as jtc suggests. The road through Rocky Mountain National Park will probably not be open yet, but Estes Park is a worthwhile destination. Get a good map and go through Boulder. Have brunch at the Stanley Hotel. Old world charm, elegance and beauty such that you will forget you are alone, and may prefer it.
Denver is not a real hub for mex or SWmex. Consider the Buckhorn Exchange, 10th and Osage. 114 years old, #1 liquor license, exotic game theme, comfortable piano bar on the mezzanine. You will remember it. Don't drive to Denver for just pizza or burritos.
If perchance you are a sushi fan, Sushi Tazu at 300 Fillmore in Cherry Creek is one of my favorites anywhere. Finally, baseball season will have just begun, and Coors field has surprisingly good eats. Enjoy Denver!
Thank you very much - I see a few restaurants being mentioned several times, which is always a good sign. I did some research on Frasca and it looks great!
The thing in Louisville is a fairly intensive workshop, so I may be busy much of the time that I am there. I expect to have more time in Denver beforehand.
Should be a good trip - from the looks of it, Coloradans are very friendly!