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Downtown Denver: What's good?

Steve Green Jun 3, 2007 10:40 AM

I'll be in Denver later this month for a conference at the convention center. What's good and(preferably) within walking distance? Not really looking for fancy food--just tasty, non-chain places. Fish, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, American, whatever. I guess BBQ is too much to hope for.

  1. j
    jtc Jun 3, 2007 12:47 PM

    For a unique dining experience, I suggest Domo. It is not walking distance, but is a short light rail ride away. Beautiful outdoor seating area and excellent food.

    http://www.domorestaurant.com/

    Also, try Jax for happy hour oysters and a reasonably priced seafood menu.

    http://jaxfishhousedenver.com/

    1. IslayMan Jun 3, 2007 12:50 PM

      I'll second Jax. Also:

      Bistro Vendome
      Rioja
      Samba Room
      Panzano

      1 Reply
      1. re: IslayMan
        j
        jtc Jun 3, 2007 12:54 PM

        I'll second Bistro Vendome. I haven't seen their latest menu, but I had a cassoulet there in December that was magnificent.

      2. a
        aka_zoe Jun 3, 2007 03:02 PM

        I will completely agree with Domo for traditional Japanese rustic food. The atmosphere is amazing. Make sure to make a reservation.

        For casual fish (and Jax is also good) try Wahoo's Fish Taco, they have a deep surfer vibe there that is very casual and the food isn't bad. It is quite popular and try and get a table on the street for great people watching.

        For really upscale but affordable Louisiana Style food, you can give Gumbos (on 16th street) a try - it is one of my favorites.

        Wynkoop Brewing has traditional English bar fare and great handcrafted beers.

        For reasonably priced steak house fare try The Keg and caddy corner from them is The Denver Chop House (I personally like their Chop Chop salad and their cheddar mashed potatoes are awesome!).

        Rioja gets alot of coverage here (it is on Larimer Square) but I can't be honest with a recommendation since I haven't dined there myself. Also on Larimer Square is: Ted's Montana Grille (buffalo burgers via a chain), Lime (downstairs from the street level) for less upscale but great Mexican food, and their tortilla chips are terrific), Tomayo (upscale Mexican food), and around the corner in Writer's Square is Red Square with upscale Russian food and an amazing vodka tasting menu. Writer's Square is where Bistro Vendrome is too.

        Vesta Dipping Grill is also a good choice, but lately got some bad coverage here about being loud. If you get a booth that also helps to take off some of that noise. They have a terrific menu.

        Stuebens is on 17th Street and a short cab ride and very good.

        About 8 blocks up on the corner of Curtis and Broadway (intersecting with 22nd Street) is Yazoo Barbecue (its sometimes open sometimes not, make sure to call first-303-296-3334)

        11 Replies
        1. re: aka_zoe
          c
          ClaireWalter Jun 3, 2007 03:14 PM

          I heard that The Corner Office has just opened in the cool new Hotel Curtis. Don't know anything about it, but it's on 14th and Curtis. Worth checking out.

          1. re: ClaireWalter
            j
            jephro Oct 8, 2007 09:39 AM

            I recently had dinner at the Corner Office and was quite impressed. The theme is comfort food from around the world served mostly as small and medium sized plates. I tired several dishes and all were good, and the prices seem pretty reasonable.

          2. re: aka_zoe
            Megiac Jun 4, 2007 02:08 PM

            All of these are good suggestions, and I wan't to second the Yazoo's recommendation. It does terrific BBQ.

            1. re: aka_zoe
              o
              Oh Robin Oct 5, 2007 11:50 AM

              What did you eat at Red Square? Considering it for a trip next week.

              1. re: Oh Robin
                Megiac Oct 5, 2007 02:13 PM

                With all due respect to aka zoe, I don't think that Red Square is even close to the best that downtown has to offer. If you are here on a trip with limited time, I would pick somewhere else.

                1. re: Oh Robin
                  a
                  aka_zoe Oct 5, 2007 09:58 PM

                  Oh Robin: I ordered off menu actually. I have to be honest. I don't like sour cream and ordered the strogonoff which they actually made a non-sour cream version of which was delicious. And that is impressive that they would cow tow to my weird food issues.

                  I would love to hear what your experience is when you go because it has been so long since I have actually had a full meal there. If you go please let me know!

                  But really what always has impressed me is their vodka list and the opportunity to have a couple shots of something outside of the norm and they do infuse their own... try the dill vodka, it is really delicious.

                  I also have to be honest, this was a visit we made probably two years ago. I haven't eaten there since, for no other reason that we start at the bar with appetizers and never actually sit and get a table for a full meal, it just never happens, for what reason I can't say. We have a couple of shots and snacks and we are done.

                  I listed it originally as an option for Larimer Square/Writer's Square area to a Downtown Denver visitor a couple months ago just as an option, and to clarify to Megiac, never said it was anything other than an option for someplace to go. It isn't my favorite Downtown dining, that would be Gumbos probably.

                  1. re: aka_zoe
                    r
                    rlm Oct 6, 2007 09:22 AM

                    I haven't eaten at Red Square in years, although I remember really enjoying their standard stroganoff. I had several pleasant lunches there but found that I was usually the only customer (which would explain why they're not open for lunch anymore). The dill vodka sounds intriguing, so I'll have to keep that in mind for our next downtown drinks-and-apps crawl. http://www.redsquarebistro.com/

                    IMO, the original Gumbo's in North Austin in the early '90's was better than the versions that were opened in other cities such as Denver after a chain acquired them. I haven't been to the Denver outpost in a long time either, as there are just too many other places I like more in the area such as Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Tamayo, etc.

                    In the Larimer Square area, Frank Bonanno of Mizuna/Luca (and the $10K mac-and-cheese challenge winner on Food Network which aired last month) is opening Marco later this month in the old Del Mar Crab House space (I personally never understood how Del Mar stayed open). http://www.osteriamarco.com/

                    Also in the area, Cru Wine Bar is a small chain that is fun (lots of wine and cheese flights and small plates which we've had mixed success with). http://www.cruawinebar.com/ Corridor 44 is a Champagne bar with small plates, and I would like to return after hearing they've hired a new chef who formerly worked at Vesta and Steuben's. http://www.corridor44.com/ I liked Sushi Han in Writer's Square for lunch too, although I never see them mentioned anywhere. I've never had anything at The Market that overwhelmed me, although it's popular (as is Ted's Superstation Montana Grill).

                    1. re: rlm
                      p
                      Pastajohn Oct 6, 2007 10:31 AM

                      FYI rlm, the "new" chef at Corridor 44 was Carl Klein and he has since left the building. No replacement named at this point.

                      1. re: Pastajohn
                        r
                        rlm Oct 6, 2007 10:39 AM

                        Ah, I see their out-of-date website has confused me. I heard the chef left and then saw a good recent review which prompted me to check their site. I assumed Klein was the replacement, but I guess I'll wait to go back.

                    2. re: aka_zoe
                      o
                      Oh Robin Oct 7, 2007 12:53 PM

                      Actually must admit (Sorry!) that I originally did a search for Red Square for the Mandalay Bay and this board came up. When I put my question in I didn't realize this was for Denver. However, I do have family and friends in Denver so this is good fodder for my next visit.

                      Anyone know if this is a chain and Mandalay Bay Vegas is another outlet???

                      1. re: Oh Robin
                        a
                        aka_zoe Oct 7, 2007 03:12 PM

                        Oh Robin: There is no similarity between the two actually and they are not owned or affiliated with one another. I have been to both and enjoyed them differently.

                        In fact the bar at Mandalay Bay was the first place I had Espresso infused vodka for the first time and its one of my favorites now, if you do make it there order shots and try different things (with in reason of course!). I do think that they serve food but we never ordered it. Hard to imagine eating after walking up and down the strip and ending up there at 3 a.m.

                        Red Square in Mandalay Bay is more bar/nightclub and Red Square Bistro in Denver is definitely more restaurant.

                2. j
                  jtc Jun 3, 2007 07:14 PM

                  Another worthwhile spot I forgot to post earlier is 1515 Market for burgers-some of the best in town. I also believe that there is a BBQ place on Broadway, maybe someone else can provide info.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jtc
                    j
                    jtc Jun 4, 2007 04:41 PM

                    Yazoo's- thats it.

                    1. re: jtc
                      c
                      ClaireWalter Jun 4, 2007 09:45 PM

                      I just returned from Denver and dinner at Maggiano's w/ friend/colleagues. I saw a BBQ stand -- closed in the evening -- at Writer Square en route to/from the Market St bus station. Is that also an outpost of Yazoo's.

                  2. g
                    Gluten Free Girl Jun 6, 2007 09:38 AM

                    Also want to mention Pulcinella, which just opened at the corner of 18th and Lawrence. The appetizer plates are great - especially at happy hour, and the prices are very reasonable for some good food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gluten Free Girl
                      c
                      ClaireWalter Jun 6, 2007 07:50 PM

                      I didn't realize that they've opened in Denver too. The original is in fort collins, and there are now scaled-down versions (less elaborate menu, smaller wine list), in Lafayette and a handful of other communities. Hope they do well there too.

                    2. Steve Green Jul 6, 2007 08:11 AM

                      Just to follow up on my trip: Thanks for the recs everyone. Unfortunately I had less free time than I had hoped, but did make it to Bistro Vendome, where I had the chicken crepes, a cauliflower gratin, and onion soup--all very good. I'd love to go back there again sometime.

                      Also went to Steuben's, where I had the Monte Crisco (er, Cristo) and some sort of cheesy broccoli. I really liked that place. The Cristo was pretty good; the broccoli soso, but the standout winner was the BBQ brisket sandwich I took along with me to the airport. Too bad the TSA made me throw out the BBQ sauce.

                      Other meals (not from the Chowhound rec list) were less successful: A burger at Paramount was just fair, as was the expensive piece of halibut I had at the hotel restaurant, Altitude (about what you would expect from a hotel restaurant--expensive and mediocre). Bayou Bob's, recommended by a friend who used to live in New Orleans, was pretty weak--after seeing Gumbo's menu, I sure wish I had gone there instead.

                      I passed by Yazoo's BBQ on the way in from the airport--sure smelled good. Hope to make it to Denver again to try some of the places I missed.

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