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Denver area info needed, please:

Greetings,
I'd like to get a handle on the area, having just moved here in March. All of the unpacking is finally done, the kids are no longer in need of running around as school is finished, and now we're (my lady fair and I) ready to get down to some serious information digging. Background: we're in the outskirts of Parker (north side, almost to Aurora) and aren't opposed to going into Denver proper for the things we want, if necessary.

What we need is: an Asian market (specialty markets are fine, doesn't necessarily have to be generic Asian... Japanese, Korean, etc will do).

A European market (we already found Europa, in Aurora, and are happy with that... staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, and product is good) but would like other options, just to cover all bases.

Middle Eastern market (we have found Zaytoon International Market, formerly Global Grocery under new ownership, only three doors down from Europa... also very friendly ownership and good product... the Halal Lamb fresh daily from the family's farm for only 4.99 a pound approaches decadent)

A Latin market. Any variety, really. Puerto Rican, Cuban and Mexican in order of primary preference, but a "catch-all" Latin market is fine.

Mediterranean, Carribean, Indian are all welcome if such exists in individual markets.

"Year round" farmer's markets, fish markets. These are unlikely, I know, but I had better ask, as I might be pleasantly surprised.

A gourmet cookware store. Please, no crate and barrel, etc chain stuff. We like buying local. We've got the money to pay the difference between what mom-and-pop charge and the mega-corps chain discount. I'd much rather support a local family than a CEO a few thousand miles away.

A goumet ingredient store. Exotics, if possible, please. Fleur de Sel, Kala Namak, white and black truffles (fresh when in season), boquerones, rocambole (carpathian, german red) and purple stripe (chesnok red, persian star, metechi) garlic... That should give you an idea.

Anything else you, our good Chowhounding neighbors, might like to point out to a newly arrived pair of 'hounders. Good hole-in-the-wall type restaurant recs are particularly welcome, but would *really* like the above info first. TYVMIA.

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    1. welcome to the area.
      here are some suggestions - - everyone has opinions, these are just ours - there are many knowledgeable hounds from this area that are active posters that I'm sure will have many things to add.
      I'll start with food shopping/ cooking supply stuff. We do generally gravitate towards the small hole in the wall / ethnic restaurants over upscale, so if you are interested let me know and I'd be happy to share some of those favorites as well.
      For Asian markets: H Mart on Parker Rd., Aurora. Also, Pacific Mercantile, Denver; Pacific Ocean, Denver.
      Hispanic market: Rancho Liborio
      Farmer's Markets in this area tend to be seasonal - there may be some I am unaware of that run year round. You can visit sites like, (http://www.fruitstands.com/states/col... and http://www.denverfarmersmarket.com/lo...) for some info. I have not been overly impressed with the farmer's markets I've been to in Colorado - just not what I was used to. But, I believe Boulder has some that are far superior.
      Spices: Savory Spice Shop (www.savoryspiceshop.com) and penzeys.
      Cookware: we frequent WS and Sur La Table quite a bit because they are convenient/accessible. But, independent places I like: Compleat Gourmet (www.compleatgourmet.com), Pepporcorn in Boulder (www.peppercorn.com) and Cook's Mart in Denver.

      6 Replies
      1. re: THenderson

        Sadly, Cook's Mart closed last year. Just another step in the generic-ification of Cherry Creek North. Supposedly, their rents got too high, but the space has sat empty with a "For Lease sign" since they left.

        Boulder's main farmers' market is far superior to any of those in the Denver area.

        I don't frequent a fish-specific market, but I think the fish at Marczyk's fine foods is as good as any that I have found (Denver-Uptown). Their fish is flown in daily. They also have a number of imported ingredients.

        You did not ask for a meat market, but my absolute favorite is Oliver's Meats on 6th Avenue in Denver. They also sell fish, although I've never bought fish from them.

        1. re: Megiac

          That's too bad about cook's - - I guess it's been a little while for me (oops). I agree about cherry creek - it's been frustrating to watch for the 7 years we've been here. I also like Marczyk's - slipped my mind. Never tried Oliver's - - will now. Thanks for the rec., Megiac.

          1. re: Megiac

            Thank you both very much for the replies! Hopefully there are more.

            THenderson: Please, please lay out those hole-in-the-wall/ethnic rest recs! We very quickly found Vines here in Parker, and while I'd not call it a hole-in-the-wall, I'd gladly kidnap and hold hostage forever their sommalier if the wine cellar came with! We go there about once a week or so and easily drop 3 to 500 on wines alone between the ones with dinner and the additional flights.

            Megiac: I did indeed forget to ask for a meat/fish market. Completely slipped my mind with all the other things I was asking about. Thank you for the reminder! We have Landelleys right here in Parker for beef/pork, Europa and Zaytoon for the lamb and goat, and while on drive-about (the technological, lazy-persons version of walkabout) we saw a place called Tony's that we plan on checking out soon (in Centenniel, on Dry Creek Rd), but will also very gladly explore Oliver's as well. You can't have too many to spend a relaxing day walking around in.

            1. re: parkco

              We frequent Tony's - the one in Castle Pines Village, because that's where we live. It is okay....better than other options depending on what you are looking for, but honestly it just never blows my doors off. I hesitate to put my hole-in-the-wall recs out to you because I worry that if you are spending $300-$500 on wine alone during your dining experiences, you may be accustomed to very different dining choices than the places we frequent most of the time. I encourage you to take my suggestions and do further research to determine if they are a fit for what you're looking for.

              Superstar Asian - I cannot speak highly enough of the dim sum here - better than I've had anywhere else. If you research, you'll find nonstop raves about it all over the place...it's justified. (look past the environment around this place)
              Masalaa - Indian - vegetarian, but, wow. ( again, don't be scared by the dingy "ambiance" and strip mall deal)
              Narayan's Nepal - (in boulder) Nepalese and Indian
              Shanghai Gourmet (Cherry Hills Marketplace) - small husband and wife run chinese
              Saigon Terrace - Vietnamese - (we loved this place - great curries etc. - but it's under new management and we haven't tried it out under the new folks yet - will soon, though.)
              Los Dos Potrillos - little family run mexican joint
              Jack-n-Grill - great mexican & green chile
              Little Anitas - new mexican
              Pete's Kitchen - denver institution/landmark...this is where we go when we feel like a good gyro, greek salad, or big breakfast burrito. Greasy grub, but sometimes you just have to do it.
              Zaidy's - awesome deli
              Cherry Cricket - (cherry creek) again, been there forever - imo, the best burger around.
              Lucille's - breakfast
              Toast (littleton) - breakfast
              Snooze - not as good, imo, as toast, but still very good - and fun - but crowded on weekends.
              Sushi Den - not hole in the wall, but a must try - just crowded most of the time (imo, skip Japon - used to be good and has gone downhill)
              Sushi Hai - not hole in the wall, but good (only been here once)
              Le Central - french
              Highlands Garden Cafe - top notch french
              Duo - only been there for brunch - great
              Rioja - only eaten there for lunches - but well done everytime.

              I have given you the ones that we really enjoy and have had multiple good meals from - - there's nothing really high-end here, except Highland's Garden Cafe. Someone else can guide you better there. I know we have more fav's , but off the top of my head - this is what I came up with.

              Happy Chowing -

              1. re: THenderson

                Oh, the only reason we spend so much is because the cellar is *that* good... I've dined (and loved) restaurants everywhere from the dirty back alleys of Liberty City in downtown Miami to the upscale dining in Hiltonhead resorts and everywhere in between. Good food is good food, I don't insist on seeing its pedigree, or being served on bone china with heirloom silver. When I was in the Navy, whenever I was overseas, I hunted out the restaurants off the beaten path and watched where the locals went. Usually it was down some alley and the only sign it was even a restaurant was the barrage of scents and the menu tucked into a corner of the window.

                I appreciate the reply, and as soon as I get home from work, I'll start mapquesting them!

                Hopefully Saigon Terrace is all you remember, because I'm ready to kill for some real Vietnamese food. Is Zaidy's a "we make it you take it" type deli, or can you actually purchase sliced meats, cheeses, etc there?

                1. re: parkco

                  I hope Saigon Terrace is still good....like I said, it has new management and we haven't been there in the last few months since it switched over. It's up I-25 to Colo Blvd. -north a street or so - it's on the right side by Dardano's. It's worth a shot..please let me know if you get there before we do. As for Zaidy's - a really good deli has been one of the things we've had a hard time finding here - but we have consistently been pleased with them. They just do prepared sandys, no deli meat by pound - check out their website: www.zaidysdeli.com -I've only been to the one downtown. Love the reuben and the combination sandwich #1. We don't choose to eat healthy when we go there though....
                  Enjoy scouting around and finding what you love here...this area really is packed with possibilities. I lot of people don't realize that, but this is an area that you can eat really well and find just about anything you're looking for, if you're willing to drive a bit. If you live in Parker, you are probably used to the driving by now. We are the same way - we just know that it's a min. of 20 mins to get anywhere, really, and we're okay with that! I will stick an email address in my profile if you have any further questions or want more detailed answers.

        2. Welcome and good eating.

          People have listed some of the good markets. Many of the middle eastern markets have the same things and make sure to check the dates cause some things seem to sit longer than others. Aladdin Market is small but there is also fresh meat and somethimes fresh lamb sausage.

          There is a Turkish market on Florida and Parker. Interesting sausage.

          there are one or two Indian markets on Parker rd around Dartmouth. They even have take home and cook meals. Can't think of the names but were noted in one of the dailys or westword not long ago.

          On Leetsdale, there are 4-5 Russian markets. The one on Oneida behind the Indian rest has a great salami and smoked fish selection. Some have a very interesting sunflower seed halvah.

          Accross the street there is an ethiopian market, Marhaba.

          For chinese and vietnamese, Federal Blvd around Alemeda is where you want to head. Old stanbys are t-wa and new saigon. Some one mentioned Super Star Asian which is great and east on Alemeda, also, great asian supermarkets there for all fresh produce, meats and fish in tanks. Kings land in the same center has pretty good duck as well and dim sum. Further south on Alemeda are some great places such as Chopsticks, good noodle and Pho places and even further south there are now a number of good Mexican markets, small ones and chains such as Avanza.

          It's really kind of a wasteland for good deli here. Lived here all my life and once you get the real thing, average won't do. Zaidy's is passable to good but the meats are just average. Deli Tech on Bellview does get the Carnegie Deli meats and has a good deli feel. There are a few italian deli's to the north of denver but nothing mind blowing.

          Near Cherry Creek the Truffle cheese store on 6th ave. has a fantastic selection and often other interesting items to experiment with.

          Because Colorado limits to one the number of liquor store licenses a person can have, there are a whole lot of great small wine stores such as City Wine on Colo Blvd and Alemeda and Mondo Vino in the highlands (these are two of many). They are worth checking out as the ofter will have things the larger stores, which also can be very good, don't have.

          There are also a number of fairly good Korean BBQ places near Parker Blvd and Iliff.

          One suggestion is also to get online and check out the Westword (New Times publication) best of Denver as a good starting point and also Aurora has an ethnic food guide that is sometimes helpful.

          Some other recs.

          Limon - Peruvian food, good and extremely well priced.

          Mizuna - always in the top of the recs for denver. Never had a bad meal.

          Tamayo - Richard Sandovals upscale restaurant in Larimer Square downtown. Good food and good deck for views. Even though we have great views in Denver, few places actually have them.

          Lola - Upscale Mexican seafood also with a view of Downtown denver for a short while longer till they finish the building next to it.

          Pita Jungle - Middle eastern and good kofta kabob and garlic chicken. If the chef has not been fired, he does a great baklava, essense of rosewater.

          Damascus - Syrian and they make their own pita.

          1 Reply
          1. re: daddy can cook

            Restaurants have been amply covered. Ethnic food stores too. Marczyk's, Oliver's, Par Avion in Colo Springs and Cook's Fresh Market in downtown Denver are great gourmet food stores. St. Killian's in NW Denver and the Cheese Importers Warehouse in Longmont have good and varied cheeses. For cookware, etc., the best straight retail stores are Peppercorn in Boulder and the Cupboard in Fort Collins. Many/most of Denver's restaurant supply houses are open to the public too. Good prices. Quality goods.

          2. Har Mart or KoMart in Aurora are also really great Asian Markets. Just my 2 cents!

            1. Wow, lots of questions here...

              As for markets, most of the ones I know of have been mentioned. For Asian, go to Federal/Alameda intersection. There is a big Asian strip mall there with numerous markets. For Mexican, try further south on Federal near Yale/Hampden. Middle Eastern, there are two near the intersection of Colorado/Evans. One is called Jerusalem (on Evans) and one is called Middle Eastern Market (on Colorado). Sunflower Market on Colorado/Yale is the closest you will get to a year-round farmer's market. It is a grocery store, but they source a lot of local produce and their prices/selection are good.

              I don't cook much, so I can't help with the cookware/gourmet ingredients. Moving on to restaurants. I am all about the hole in the wall. My pics are as follows:

              Ethiopian - Ras Kassas (Boulder), Arada (Denver)
              Indian - Sherpa's Adventures (Boulder) - more Tibetan/Nepalese style, Star of India (Aurora) - great vegetarian buffet Wed nights.
              Dim Sum - SuperStar Asian (Alameda Ave.)
              Vietnamese - New Saigon (Federal Blvd)
              Middle Eastern - Damascus (Colorado/Iliff) - I have eaten here a few times a month for 4 years and have yet to be disappointed. Jerusalem near DU is passable if you want a huge portion for very cheap.
              Mexican - Rosalinda's in the Highlands neighborhood - one of the only places around that serves Nopales (cactus)
              Argentinean - Buenos Aires Grill (near Coors Field) great Argintinean pizza and empanadas.

              That's all I can think of right now.Sherpa's in Boulder and Damascus in Denver are my all time favorite restaurants.

              3 Replies
              1. re: DoriMer

                Parkco, welcome to the Denver area. I am curious how it is possible to drop $300-500 on wine per trip at Vines in Parker. Are they hiding their primo Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Barolo selections on a reserve list or are you bringing several people with you to run up a tab like that? The wines they proudly feature on the sample menu on their website don’t seem that impressive or rare. I am sure they are trying to appeal to a wide cross-section of people, but it’s hard for me to take them seriously as wine aficionados when one of their featured house wines is Sutter Home White Zinfandel. Please convince me that it’s actually worth a trip. Which items on the tapas menu are particularly exceptional? Do you know what cheeses are on their “Regional Cheese Plate” (and does “regional” refer to Colorado cheeses like Haystack and MouCo?) What are some examples of wine flights they offer (grouped by region, varietals, or cute-sy themes)? What’s your favorite bottle of wine you’ve had there? Most importantly, why do they use so many exclamation marks on their website? :)

                1. re: rlm

                  I agree there website is "annoying"! That alone makes me not want to visit! Not even to try their Krab dip!!! They do however have a hostess, 4 servers and an executive chef!!

                  http://www.vinesweb.com/index.htm

                  1. re: ColoradoFun

                    ...And everyone's a "certified sommelier!" While I feel that their Bios link takes you to perhaps the most cringe-inducing page, the Events page is a close second. :) Have any other Chowhounders been to Vines? Is it much nicer than it seems merely from looking at their website?