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longtime Boston hound moving to Denver...

tatamagouche Jul 9, 2007 11:01 AM

Greetings all--

I'm a longtime regular on the Boston board who will be becoming a Denverite (? correct terminology?) as of early August. Wish Denver had its own board, but hoping to do my part to increase the activity of the Southwest forum! For now, I'd love to hear from you locals about the 2 or 3 places you think reflect the city at its culinary best, regardless of cuisine type/price level?
For what it's worth, I've thus far had highly enjoyable brunches at Watercourse and a so-so one at Mercury Cafe which was nonetheless well worth it for the setting; Black Pearl seems destined to become my neighborhood spot (though it won't quite replace Boston's Neptune Oyster in my heart); and I've had a few superb dishes at Rioja and Zengo (along with a couple of less memorable ones). Oh, and I have of course been to El Taco de Mexico.
(Much as I will miss New England seafood, I look forward to replacing it with excellent Mexican.)

Thanks!!

  1. finlero Aug 10, 2007 11:52 AM

    Hi tatamagouche,

    Sorry about the delay in following up from earlier in the week (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/428563 ), but here's my personal former-westerner-turned-Bostonian's list of chow from a few recent and not-so-recent trips to Denver:

    The Rio Grande - the Rio started in Fort Collins, but now has six locations in Colorado (and one in Austin, TX). As the name would suggest, they have really reliable New Mexican food, including some of my favorite green chile north of Santa Fe. Phenomenal margaritas; do not be the designated driver.

    Vesta - this "dipping grill" in LoDo seems like it should be a lame, one-gimmick wonder a la Fire and Ice in Boston, but the chow is good enough that it actually works. You select a relatively plainly-prepared meat or veggie as a base, to be accompanied by a host of different interesting sauces for dipping. The night-clubby atmosphere would induce a Boston wait staff to fall over itself to act pretentious and standoffish, but being in Denver, the vibe is fun and welcoming. Pretty good (if a little expensive) wine list too, appropriately California-heavy. Full disclosure: I haven't been in several years, and am not sure how gracefully this place has aged.

    Devil's Food Bakery - cute local bakery in the also cute Washington Park area, with counter- and table-service sections, as well as a lovely back patio. Nicely manicured pastries, various breads, etc. They serve a very tasty steel-cut Irish oatmeal at breakfast. I was not impressed by their espresso drinks, but their drip coffee is fine.

    Chi Bistro - also in the Washington Park area, a reasonable option for a fun, mid-scale dinner, American with Asian accents. I really enjoyed my seared halibut with "Shanghai ratatouille" and homemade spaetzle. Everything we saw was nicely plated without being overly pretentious. Pleasant front patio too.

    You likely already know about the superb Tattered Cover bookstores, but their cafes offer a nice place to sit, with pretty good espresso.

    I haven't yet tried Jack-n-grill, but they purportedly have some awesome green chile. Next time…

    To add to the herd of well-wishers, tatamagouche, you will be missed in Boston, but our loss is definitely Denver's gain -- can't wait to get back to Denver after reading about all your newly-discovered chow finds!

    1 Reply
    1. re: finlero
      tatamagouche Aug 11, 2007 10:39 AM

      Thanks finlero! May be headed to Devil's Food today, in fact...

    2. e_bone Aug 10, 2007 08:11 AM

      So much has been said that's good that I won't add much to it other than to say "ditto" to much of what's in this long thread.

      And to do my part to create more thread drift I'll add to the liquor store dialog: For "monthly load" wine/liquor shopping I go to Davidson's unless I have a reason to be west and then I do Applejacks. The recommendation for Chambers was good too- slightly more expensive than "the big 3" but if you're close... the cost of gas may keep you there anyway. They also have *pretty good* single malt selection if you like a dram. Boutique wine stores- I've always loved the products and service at City Wine on Colorado @ Alameda. They do a monthly special mixed case for $120 that creates value not to be missed. A great chance to sample a lot of different things @ $10/bottle. We have discovered a lot of neat things by doing this.

      I may have missed it, but not sure anyone addressed your question about wine mark-ups in Denver. I don't have any solid data other than to say that I think there are a LOT of winelists in Denver that ruin an otherwise delightful spot. I love Venice on Orchard (and Chianti on Yosemite) and would be monthly regular probably if the wine lists weren't so laughably expensive. 300% markup on the cheap bottles... I think I'll launch another thread to see if folks can give direction to fun/affordable wine lists. There are plenty of spots to splurge and get a nice bottle of wine (especially love a splurge at Barolo!) but it's a short list of interesting/affordable. Look for it on a chow board near you soon!

      1. g
        gramercyfoodie Jul 22, 2007 02:40 PM

        Tata - I just saw that you will be moving and I just got to Boston! You made me feel so welcome (and well fed) in Boston - I'm glad the chowhounds in Denver are returning the favor. I hope you will continue to comment in Boston...best wishes with the move...GF

        1 Reply
        1. re: gramercyfoodie
          tatamagouche Jul 23, 2007 04:38 AM

          Thanks very much--and likewise!

        2. h
          Heyteacher Jul 18, 2007 03:58 PM

          I agree - Denver should have its own board!

          Chambers Wine and Liquor in Aurora is like a mini-Argonaut or Applejack. They have great prices and a fabulous wine senection. I'm not big on suggestions in liquor stores because I usually go in knowing what, generally, I want and because of this, Chambers is GREAT. NOW, if you are into wine tasting, Argonaut has awesome tastings for about $30, lately at Park Hill Golf Course, where you can sample about a hundred different wines, eat tasty apps and even get a discount if you place an order that night. I've been going to their tastings for years now and they are always the best IMO.

          I always like to find the off the beaten path, small, lesser known restaurants in town so I have some of those in my faves below....Denver really has some fantastic places to eat!

          Sushi Banzai
          Pagliacci's
          India's
          Jerusalem
          Star of India
          Sam's #3
          The Athenian
          Yanni's
          975
          Sunrise/Sunset
          Racine's
          The Saucy Noodle
          The Bent Noodle
          Kyle's
          Parisi
          La Casita (bfast burritos)

          I'm sure there are tons more but my mind is finally blanking. If I remember them, I will do another post!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Heyteacher
            tatamagouche Jul 19, 2007 05:53 AM

            Hey, thank you all so much! This continues to be really helpful. (Though yes, gsoconnell, there's nothing quite like a Fenway Frank at the Green Monster.)

            1. re: tatamagouche
              Megiac Jul 19, 2007 01:09 PM

              That's certainly true, but if you are in the mood for an amazing hot dog, you should try out Steve's Snappin' Dogs on East Colfax.

            2. re: Heyteacher
              c
              ClaireWalter Jul 19, 2007 03:56 PM

              Tasty apps at the Park Hill Golf Course!!!!! I belong to the Colorado Authors' League, which stopped holding its monthly luncheon meetings there because the food was so godawful. Perhaps they now have a new chef.

              1. re: ClaireWalter
                r
                rlm Jul 20, 2007 03:38 PM

                There is an article in today's McPaper (USA Today) called "Denver Scales New Epicurean Heights" that mentions Frasca, Radda, Sushi Sasa, Fruition, and Deluxe. I have the print edition (which has pictures), but I finally found the link online:
                http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/life/20070720/dd_denverdine20.art.htm

                Agree w/Megiac on Steve's Snappin' Dogs (was just there earlier this week).
                http://www.stevessnappindogs.com/

            3. g
              gsoconnell Jul 18, 2007 03:48 PM

              Hey there,
              I'm so glad to see so many posts about Denver on here-it seems like there's enough people excited about eating out in this area that we should have our own board! anyway, I am also a recent Boston transplant, and while I do miss A LOT of places back East I have discovered some great finds out here. I live in the highlands neighborhood and by far the best Mexican restaurant around is Taqueria Patzcuaro on 32nd - they have a Carnitas Michoacan that is truly to die for..other faves are Bistro Vendome on Larimer where they serve unbelievable pommes frites - sit at the bar and have the bartender Jameel recommend a great wine for you-you will not be disappointed! I've also had really fabulous meals at both Mizuna and Fruition, as well as at L'Atelier in Boulder. As for wine, I really like the Cost Plus market in cherry creek, they have a very reasonably priced, interesting selection of wines there-(although it's no Trader Joes!) and Superior Liquors in Superior also has a great selection... For wine deals in restaurants check out the coral room in the highlands on Monday nights, and Vita in the highlands as well on Tuesdays for 1/2 priced bottles of wine.......Have a great time exploring Denver's culinary options- and it's true the winters are better- though I don't know about Coors field being more fun than fenway??!!

              1. h
                hungrygirldenver Jul 17, 2007 09:15 PM

                what a great thread - just catching up on it.

                my faves: Frasca, The Kitchen (Boulder), Fruition, Luca d'italia, Mizuna, Sushi Den, Mezcal, Limon, Parallel 17, Rioja, Bistro Vendome (brunch), Zengo (sometimes), Lola, and Domo. Nothing really new here.

                I would love to comment on a "Denver food specialty", but I'm really not aware of one. I echo the Olathe corn, Western slope peaches (it's just about the season) and melons.

                On the wine store front, this year I discovered Little Raven Vineyards (downtown, across from Zengo). The owner Peter is often there, and they do tastings on Wed and Sat. Very unpretentious but passionate about the boutique wines they collect and sell. I've never been steered wrong there - if you just talk to them, they'll make great recommendations.

                1. l
                  luvncolorado Jul 12, 2007 02:00 AM

                  The best Mexican restaraunt is off of Broadway in Denver called Blue Bonnet...it is yummy. If you need help with finding the best housing markets, events, and locations for planting yourself out here let me know, I have a bunch of great sites for you to get yourself familiar with everything from food to family.

                  jkounkelwsl@aol.com

                  Have a safe trip!

                  Jacqueline

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: luvncolorado
                    tatamagouche Jul 12, 2007 06:58 AM

                    That's tremendously kind; I may take you up on that! Thanks!

                    1. re: tatamagouche
                      f
                      fourteen Jul 12, 2007 02:46 PM

                      Hmm...not sure about the Blue Bonnet, but El Taco de Mexico is definitely at the top of the list as is Chubby's on 38th; the breakfast burritos ($2) at Santiago's; Carne Asada Tacos at any number of taco trucks along Federal; Carnitas tacos Tacos Rapidos, a 24-hour drive-through on Federal and West Evans.

                      Also Dim Sum at King's Land; Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai; the falafel at Hookah Cafe on South Downing.

                      1. re: fourteen
                        p
                        Pastajohn Jul 12, 2007 04:47 PM

                        I would second your comment about the Blue Bonnet. Best dim sum is Super Star Asian across from Kingsland. Yummy Yummy is sadly gone.

                        1. re: fourteen
                          c
                          ClaireWalter Jul 12, 2007 08:32 PM

                          Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai relocated to Louisville and then closed. Try Chada Thai.

                          1. re: ClaireWalter
                            tatamagouche Jul 14, 2007 08:41 AM

                            Definitely will, b/c so far the only Thai I've had (Swing Thai) was pretty bad. Here's a new way to ask the question: What are some local/regional specialties the way, say, clam chowder, fried clams and lobster rolls are specialties in Boston? Is there such a thing as "Denver (or Colorado) cuisine"?
                            Thanks again for all your thoughts!

                            1. re: tatamagouche
                              Bill Hunt Jul 14, 2007 10:33 AM

                              About the first thing that pops into my mind are Rocky Mountain "Oysters," at the Fort in Morrison.

                              One could make a case for various "game" dishes, as well as "native" trout. These can be found in varying quality (from excellent to edible) at many restaurants. Been too long, since I lived there to really offer current info - matter of fact, most recs. in this thread are new to me, so I am taking notes.

                              Hunt

                              1. re: tatamagouche
                                Veggo Jul 14, 2007 10:51 AM

                                A rack of fresh Colorado spring lamb, grilled over smoky mesquite, with ample rosemary, garlic, and cracked peppercorns, is world-class.
                                Colorado has numerous gold medal trout fishing streams/ rivers (much of it catch and release). A legal catch of Colorado trout that had to work for a living is a platform for a memorable meal.
                                Buffalo and elk are at home here, on the hoof and on the grill. Hatch chilis from New Mexico may sneak in as a good neighbor, similarly Olathe corn from Kansas.
                                Colorado peaches brings the list to 7, I'll defer to others to round out the top 10 list.
                                EDIT: mixed up my Olathe's - the Colorado Olathe is corn central. Apologies to BH

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  Bill Hunt Jul 14, 2007 11:09 AM

                                  Rocky Ford cantalope - about the best that I've ever had.

                                  As for the "sweet corn," I thought that that was from Olathe, CO (Western Slope), though I do not recall seeing cornfields in that area. Learned something today.

                                  Hunt

                                2. re: tatamagouche
                                  l
                                  luckylily Jul 14, 2007 10:09 PM

                                  Last time I was at Swing Thai, I heard Cantonese being spoken. I agree it was pretty bad. We recently checked out US Thai in Edgewater, which I thought was good and authentic. Khow Thai (Boulder and Broomfield) has a good lunch deal. Hubby still prefers the pad thai and prig pow noodles at Zo in Broomfield (used to be named Siamese Plate - same chain as in Boulder, but recently changed names), but it's really close to where we live. It's probably not as authentic, because it didn't taste like the pad thai at US Thai or Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai. But it suits our taste buds.

                                  I still need to check out Chada Thai!

                                  1. re: tatamagouche
                                    c
                                    ClaireWalter Jul 16, 2007 03:28 PM

                                    A lot of Colorado cuisine or Rocky Mt cuisine has been developed in that last 10 or 15 years by trained chefs cooking for customers w/ increasingly sophisticated palates. The guardian of classic fare of the plains and the Rockies (and to an extent the Southwest) is The Fort in Morrison. (Yes, they serve RM oysters and many of the other foods mentioned on this thread,)

                                    1. re: tatamagouche
                                      Megiac Jul 17, 2007 09:01 AM

                                      "New Mexican" food is actually from New Mexico and parts of Colorado. Think tamales and green chile.

                                      Another Colorado must is the fresh peaches from Palisade (on the Western Slope) in the late summer.

                                      If you want to buy your meat directly from local producers, there are a number of them at www.eatwild.com.

                            2. the_next_meal Jul 10, 2007 06:20 PM

                              Frasca in Boulder
                              Rioja in Denver
                              And I think Kevin Taylor's is severly underated, but I'm in the minority there.

                              Re the wine shop tangent, Superior liquor in (you guessed it)

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: the_next_meal
                                tatamagouche Jul 11, 2007 08:18 AM

                                I did go to Rioja once and quite liked it, and do I recall correctly that the owners might run another restaurant as well, or am I making that up?

                                1. re: tatamagouche
                                  Megiac Jul 11, 2007 08:30 AM

                                  The owners of Rioja also run Bistro Vendome which is in the arcade across the street. It has perhaps the best space/location in Denver. For dinner, I think the food is just OK, but it is great for brunch, and if you are a mussels fan, they do all you can eat moules frites on Sunday nights for just $9 (their mussels are great).

                                  1. re: Megiac
                                    p
                                    Pastajohn Jul 12, 2007 08:58 AM

                                    No more all you can eat deal on the moules frites on Sundays. Still a bargain for one order at $9 though. 3 star review in Denver Post yesterday.

                                    1. re: Pastajohn
                                      Megiac Jul 12, 2007 10:30 AM

                                      I don't think I can eat more than one order anyway. They are quite generously sized!

                                2. re: the_next_meal
                                  c
                                  ClaireWalter Jul 12, 2007 08:31 PM

                                  I join you in feeling that Restaurant Kevin Taylor is underrated -- and for that matter, so is the Palace Arms at the Brown Palace. In this casual day and age, a lot of people seem unwilling to go to a rather formal restaurant, even for excellent food, service and atmosphere -- like Frasca, however, for a price..

                                3. Veggo Jul 9, 2007 01:55 PM

                                  I did the Boston to Denver relo years back, and I'm afraid you are giving up more than you are getting, but lets be positive (after you pig out on littlenecks, Ipswich fried, and North End Italian, on your way out of town). A few things in Denver that are simply non-pareil even in Boston (and cheap!)
                                  1) bowl of green chili w/flour tortillas at The Cherry Cricket (and a killer beer selection)
                                  2)carnitas at Las Delicias (formerly the Riv) in Glendale
                                  3) ribs & brisket at M&D's barbecue on E. 28th. Soulful barbecue at its best.
                                  More generally, the middle eastern on S. Colorado and the Vietnamese on/ near Federal are very good.

                                  29 Replies
                                  1. re: Veggo
                                    tatamagouche Jul 9, 2007 02:38 PM

                                    Oh, I believe I've seen your moniker here and there on the Boston board, no, Veggo?

                                    This is great so far, folks; I really appreciate it.

                                    1. re: tatamagouche
                                      Veggo Jul 9, 2007 07:55 PM

                                      Also:
                                      1) Coors Field is more fun that the Fen:),
                                      2) Snow melts 5 times faster than in Beantown, and
                                      3) you will be a 100 minute drive to Vail.
                                      4) I had 2 cars stolen in Boston and Cambridge, none in Denver.
                                      5) Never again having to find a parking space on Newberry St. - PRICELESS

                                      1. re: Veggo
                                        tatamagouche Jul 10, 2007 08:24 AM

                                        Not to mention a considerably lower cost of living.

                                        Except for one thing--and of course I'm still hoping for other recs.? How active is the Denver contingency?--I'd swear that wine prices seem oddly disproportionate to food prices. I feel like I've been to a few places now where the dishes cost less than their equivalents would in Boston, but the bottles cost more. Am I imagining this?

                                        1. re: tatamagouche
                                          Veggo Jul 10, 2007 08:54 AM

                                          Metro Denver has 2 excellent wine stores- selection, prices, and knowledgable staff. Argonaut @700 Colfax and Applejack in Wheat Ridge.

                                          1. re: Veggo
                                            Megiac Jul 10, 2007 01:04 PM

                                            I go to Argonaut all the time, but do you really find the staff to be knowledgeable? (I agree about Applejack)

                                            One the smaller wine store front, Mondo Vino (in Highlands) and The Vineyard (in Cherry Creek North) are both great. Slight advantage to Mondo Vino for not closing at an ungodly early hour and for having a better selection in the $15-25 price point.

                                            tatamagouche: There are a couple of restaurants in town with great wine lists: Bolera Grill, Mizuna (we got a bottle of '95 Lynch-Bages there 2 years ago for only $140), Solera. And if you can make it up to Boulder, the wine list at Frasca is as good as any I've seen anywhere (and I'm a former New Yorker).

                                            1. re: Megiac
                                              THenderson Jul 10, 2007 01:18 PM

                                              Agree about applejack - it's a hike for us, but worth it especially if we are buying at least a couple cases of something...the discount justifies the drive up there. Argonaut is not a favorite. I think Mondo Vino is great, and actually have enjoyed Wines off Wynkoop - always an enjoyable experience..obviously not the wine "superstore" but conversation with staff is always fun and we've gotten great rec's there too. We are all about the "wine-finds" under $15 or so....we've done pretty well in that range so far.

                                              1. re: THenderson
                                                Bill Hunt Jul 10, 2007 06:03 PM

                                                I'd been gone from Denver for about 5 years, when we did a trip "back." I used to gas up the Landcruiser and head to Applejack's on Sat mornings for some serious wine buying, often stopping at Argonaut on the way back to Aurora. I was horribly disappointed in both, on that trip. Applejack's seemed to have gone exclusively to the jug wine labels and even their Port selection topped out at Graham's Six-Grape. About the same for Argonaut.

                                                I found that The Vineyard (Cherry Creek) was still good, and discovered Davidson's way down south. Things may have changed back, but I'd give Davidson's a good look.

                                                Hunt

                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                  THenderson Jul 10, 2007 06:13 PM

                                                  Thanks for the rec, Hunt - - believe it or not, we've only been to Davidson's once in 6 years...no real reason - I just always forget it's there. In general, we enjoy the smaller independent wine stores more than the superstores, but do take advantage of the superstore when we find a particular bottle we like and want quantity of it - I've found that while most of the larger stores don't have particularly knowledgeable staff most of the time, I can cash in on the discount and ignore the lack of good recommendations. While we are not wine connoisseurs by any means, the fun for us is in going to the few places we've built some sort of rapport with and asking for some new things to try. But, the next time I'm having a party and want to buy a larger quantity, I'll definitely remember to call Davidson's for price-matching before hiking all the way up to Applejack's. thanks :)

                                                  1. re: THenderson
                                                    Bill Hunt Jul 10, 2007 09:37 PM

                                                    In years past, I used to trust the staff at Applejack's. but was far less impressed on the last visit. That expertise is a great reason to frequent the "right" shops, whether large, or small. I was introduced to Port by the previous owner of The Vineyard. He took a full afternoon to educate me, decades ago. Now, I feel bad only purchasing a mixed case for "further study."

                                                    OTOH, I was very impressed by Davidson's staff. I spent time with two gentlemen and they were right-on, with their recs. and did not make one mis-step, that I could detect. Rather like the wine shop in Boulder - great folk, with a vast knowledge of wine. Doesn't hurt that the two owners are Master Sommeliers.

                                                    The staff, and their willingness to actually help you, plus a good cross-section of wines, is what it's all about.

                                                    I have been far less impressed with most of the shops in Phoenix - hence my purchasing of many cases, when I'm in Denver.

                                                    Hunt

                                                    1. re: THenderson
                                                      c
                                                      ClaireWalter Jul 12, 2007 08:23 PM

                                                      Boulder's boutique-y West End Wines (Pearl and Eighth) offers 20-25% case discounts on Mondays and/or with a coupon. The store is smaller than the Boulder Wine Merchant and doesn't have the cachet of being owned by two master sommeliers, but they do carry some interesting and unusual wines.

                                                      1. re: ClaireWalter
                                                        THenderson Jul 13, 2007 09:24 AM

                                                        you are so knowledgeable, claire. thanks for the info.

                                                2. re: Megiac
                                                  tatamagouche Jul 10, 2007 01:54 PM

                                                  Actually I've already been to Frasca--twice. What a terrific place.

                                                  This is great, folks, thanks!

                                                  1. re: Megiac
                                                    c
                                                    ClaireWalter Jul 10, 2007 03:08 PM

                                                    If tatamagouche comes to Boulder (except on a Sunday), the Boulder Wine Merchant is owned by two master sommeliers. The Flagstaff House (sky-high prices but grand restaurant) has one of the country's best wine lists. Find or make a special occasion to go there.

                                                    FWIW, Liquor Mart is the Applejack of Boulder.

                                                    1. re: ClaireWalter
                                                      tatamagouche Jul 10, 2007 03:14 PM

                                                      OK, I get that joke--I lived in Boulder once, a long time ago.

                                                      I was really asking about inordinate mark-ups on restaurant wine lists, especially relative to the food, and whether or not that was a misperception on my part. For instance, at the aforementioned Black Pearl, there are only a couple of bottles for under $40, yet the plates are all in the teens, IIRC. And I've been to a couple other places in Denver like that, so I was wondering if that was a local issue.

                                                      But as long as we're on the subject, the wine lists that interest me are especially quirky, small-producer-oriented ones.

                                                      And, since Veggo mentioned it, what about Italian food? Any particularly interesting spots?

                                                      Thanks!!

                                                      1. re: tatamagouche
                                                        Megiac Jul 10, 2007 05:17 PM

                                                        Italian:

                                                        Luca D'Italia
                                                        Barolo Grill (which I mistakenly called Bolera in my last post)
                                                        Panzano's
                                                        Carmine's on Penn (more of a red sauce Italian place)

                                                        And I've only been to Venice once about a year ago, but was pleasantly surprised by how good it is.

                                                        Not Italian, but I also wanted to suggest Potager and Z Cuisine for your "must try" list.

                                                        1. re: Megiac
                                                          IslayMan Jul 12, 2007 09:25 AM

                                                          My current favorite Italian in Boulder is Trattoria on Pearl. Monday and Tuesdays are great bargains because they offer any wine at 50% off the menu price with entrees. For a limited but interesting selection of small vinyard, quirky wines try the wine shop connected to Restaurant 4580 on North Broadway.

                                                          1. re: Megiac
                                                            c
                                                            cisindenver Jul 16, 2007 12:51 PM

                                                            Il Posto on 17th has been open for about 6 months and is wonderful. Truly authentic Italian with amazingly fresh ingredients.

                                                            1. re: Megiac
                                                              alpine chef Jul 22, 2007 03:12 PM

                                                              also a fan of panzano's, luca, and barolo...

                                                              rioja, vendome, opus in littleton, le central

                                                              look for incredible wine and spirits in dtc ............

                                                            2. re: tatamagouche
                                                              THenderson Jul 10, 2007 05:34 PM

                                                              You can joke about Applejack all day, but if you know what you are specifically looking for, or you're having a large gathering where you need mass quantities, it saves money - period.
                                                              I have left the commenting of the "culinary best" to those from Denver who always seem to know the best.

                                                              1. re: THenderson
                                                                tatamagouche Jul 10, 2007 05:40 PM

                                                                Well, when I lived in Boulder I was a Liquor Mart regular when it came to buying the hard stuff--so I hear you.
                                                                But why leave off commenting--I'd love to hear every hound's definition of Denver's culinary best! That's what I come to this board for, a range of opinions...Chacun son gout, after all...

                                                                1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                  THenderson Jul 10, 2007 05:57 PM

                                                                  I appreciate your "chacun à son goût" point of view....and I welcome you back to the area! I, for one, look forward to hearing your continued finds....and getting your input on new places to try. I always hesitate to give many restaurant rec's - have only done it a couple times on this board. We usually go for cheaper eats/ethnic mom and pop type grub...and I get less heartburn recommending an $8 plate. Here is a link to a recent discussion based around our frequent eats:
                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/414348

                                                                  1. re: THenderson
                                                                    r
                                                                    rlm Jul 10, 2007 06:47 PM

                                                                    I am going to sound like a broken record, but my top two recs for the higher end are Frasca in Boulder (no one can touch them in any aspect) and Fruition on E. 6th Ave. in Denver (tiny place with an equally itty-bitty wine list, but amazing food and really nice people). I like some of Megiac's recs in her various posts, except I've never figured out the appeal of Carmine's on Penn. (Maybe I don't know what to order or I'm expecting too much for what it's trying to be?)

                                                                    Tatamagouche mentioned Mexican food, so check out:
                                                                    Tacos Jalisco on 38th, Tacos Y Salsas on Federal, Pupusas Sabor Hispano on N. Broadway in Boulder for Salvadoran & Mexican (I have to give food/travel writer Lori Midson credit for drawing me to these), the costillas in green chile at the Efrain's location on 63rd in Boulder, the fried steak tacos with avocado at Mexico City on Larimer, the tamales at La Casita in the Highlands on 44th, the take-out tamales at La Popular on Lawrence...There are lots of places in Denver for you to explore, so welcome.

                                                                    1. re: rlm
                                                                      THenderson Jul 10, 2007 06:59 PM

                                                                      Geez, I have got to get to Frasca - everyone LOVES this place. Any suggestions on ordering there - what not to miss? From what I hear, everything is great, but what do you particularly enjoy?

                                                                      1. re: THenderson
                                                                        r
                                                                        rlm Jul 10, 2007 08:03 PM

                                                                        Since Frasca’s menu changes daily (at least small tweaks are made depending on what is fresh and of the highest quality), it’s hard to recommend a favorite. I’ve definitely had preferences for some things over others over the last three years, such as the different incarnations of pork belly and braised short ribs. The best thing I can recommend is chatting up your server or the bartender (or even gregarious co-owner/master sommelier Bobby Stuckey when he’s in the house) to let them know your preferences and then ask them for recommendations. The staffers are all well-versed in the menu (you will see them dining there on their nights off) and can pair reasonably-priced wines by-the-glass (including half-pours a.k.a. tajuts for a lower price) to marry perfectly with your dishes (or beers or spirits/cocktails if you’re so inclined). Definitely start with the salumi plate with some Tocai though, especially when they put their lovely Scarpetta on the list (although the house pour of Anselmi or their recent offering of Scubla will also do fine). They are all in Italy right now for a staff trip, but will re-open on the 17th. Their $35 Monday night three-course dinners (with optional wine flight) are a slammin’ value where the kitchen tries out new creations to meld with the wines on offer (and they invite incredible wine-world people like Hubert Trimbach and Aleks Simcic to drop by and chat about their wines with you). I love that they make the wine experience approachable and non-intimidating, whether you’re a newbie wanting to learn more about wine or a seasoned expert.

                                                                        1. re: rlm
                                                                          THenderson Jul 10, 2007 11:49 PM

                                                                          Thank you so much for taking the time to give me the run-down here. I did notice the Monday tasting menu...I thought that this might be the way to go - with the wine pairing. Crazy reasonable in terms of price, too. It makes sense to me now that their online menus are out of date if they've been gone on their annual trip. thanks rlm - i appreciate the info.

                                                                        2. re: THenderson
                                                                          IslayMan Jul 12, 2007 09:29 AM

                                                                          OK, I have my kevlar vest on. I "like" Frasca and it's a fine restaurant. But IMNSHO it is not the ultimate Shangri-La of food. And let's be honest here folks, the new darling of fine dining - pork belly - is bacon! $18 for a 2" x 3" piece of bacon, which I've had at Frasca is a bit extreme.

                                                                          1. re: IslayMan
                                                                            THenderson Jul 12, 2007 09:40 AM

                                                                            :) thanks for your opinion. I thought it'd be a nice excuse to get up that direction...(it's been a while for us) - also, besides many of the ch's that seem to enjoy frasca, i have friends that are highly dissapointed in me for having not experienced the joy of frasca yet. I get lazy in my dining choices - hitting the same places a lot...and it's good for me to try new things...all ideas are appreciated. thanks....

                                                                      2. re: THenderson
                                                                        tatamagouche Jul 11, 2007 08:18 AM

                                                                        Cool, thanks!

                                                              2. re: Megiac
                                                                tatamagouche Jul 14, 2007 03:14 PM

                                                                FWIW, I was in Divino on Broadway today and quite liked it. Some very eclectic/boutiquey stuff, among both the wines and the spirits.

                                                    2. Megiac Jul 9, 2007 12:15 PM

                                                      Welcome to Denver! On the high-priced end of the spectrum, I think that Mizuna and Fruition are two of Denver's very best places for a great meal.

                                                      On the low-priced end, I love Chada Thai.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Megiac
                                                        c
                                                        ColoradoFun Jul 9, 2007 01:25 PM

                                                        I would recommend Deluxe (South Broadway), Domo (kind of downtown), and Tula (Cherry Creek North).

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