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Jul 25, 2008 04:35 AM

Denver- Food sourcing

I am running a hospitality suite for a convention taking place at Denver Convention Center. It starts in ten days. We will be at a nearby hotel. As my organization has a very strict budget, I will do a lot of the catering on site. I need recommendations for local places to shop for higher-end goodies without the higher-end prices. The suite will run 18+ hours each day during the convention, so I need to cover the "Hobbit" diet. :-)

(Hobbit diet- breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, tea, dinner and supper. Plus putting on the kettle for tea and filling in any digestive crevices as needed.)

What I am looking for:
local farmer's markets
ethnic markets
gourmet markets on the level of Trader Joe's in terms of pricing and of equal quality or higher
dry ice
a wine selection that won't break my budget or reputation

My limitations:
No cooking
Limited refrigeration

While I will be able to shop at places far from the convention site before the event, during the days that the convention takes place, I will be restricted to one supply run per day, preferably under two hours. Locales and addresses would be much appreciated, as none in my group are familiar with Denver and we will be relying heavily on GPS for navigation.

Also, what is the sales tax for food in Denver? From a quick glance, it seems that Colorado's tax system is a tad bit complex.

Any help would be very much appreciated!

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  1. The first wine store that comes to mind that'll be convenient (5 min.) and not too pricey is Argonaut. Website has all info:

    I can't think of anything equivalent to Trader Joe's around here...anyone else? It's either lower end or higher end. There are Whole Foods markets, of course, and even better, IMO, Sunflower, which is regional and cheaper than WF. There's one on 38th, about a 10 min. drive from downtown.

    Closest/best farmer's market as far as I know will be Cherry Creek, a 10 min. drive in the other direction.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tatamagouche

      Excellent! Thank you. Can you give me a rough idea how big Cherry Creek is or long it would take to power through the entire market? Not because I don't want to stop at every stand, but chances are that time will start to be a critical factor on Wednesday morning.

    2. In addition to Tatamagouche's rec's I've heard good things about Marczyk Fine Foods which is downtown as well.

      6 Replies
      1. re: RobynS

        Oh, that actually *is* a good call, I agree with Robyn. It's not a full-sized market like TJ's but it is a nice and convenient gourmet deli and wine shop.

        1. re: RobynS

          Cook's Fresh Market is right downtown on the 16th Street Mall. Marczyk's is actually in Uptown, around 18th and Clarkson.

          1. re: ClaireWalter

            Uptown, downtown it's all the same to me. I realize they are technically different but they're only a few minutes apart right?

            1. re: RobynS

              RobynS - It might be all the same to you, but someone in Denver for Alycon, who will be in town to run a hospitality center during the, money might be an issue, but so are time and practicality. If she (I'm guessing that Alycon is a she) will be at a downtown hotel, near the convention center, being able to get something/everything within walking distance might be REALLY useful. With all the security promised during the convention, I sure wouldn't want to be trying to drive to/from a downtown hotel. It would also be worth inquiring whether Cooks and/or Markzyk's might be able to deliver some/all of the food.

              1. re: ClaireWalter

                ClaireWalter- You are right. On the first two days, driving isn't a huge issue. But definitely on subsequent days, walkable distance is really useful, particularly as sleep and personnel become scarcer commodities.

            2. re: ClaireWalter

              Cooks is more expensive than Marczyk, however. I cannot believe some people do their regular shopping there.

              Ethnic markets for the OP:

              Pacific Mercantile Company (Larimer and 19th)
              Rancho Liborio (Colfax & Havana)

              Argonaut is a good stop for wine, and I also find that the prices at Cost Plus World Market are very low, even though their selection is limited. There's one right next to the Cherry Creek Mall.

          2. Hey Alycon - is this for Worldcon? We are arriving early and may be able to help out some. Love farmers markets and will have car!

            2 Replies
            1. re: mrsphud

              Yes it is. Any help you can offer will be much appreciated!

              My travel group arrives Monday evening and will be staying in cheap lodgings on the outskirts. Tuesday, much of the major supply runs will have to be done. but one of the constraints on how and what we can do in the morning, is whether or not we can get early check-in for our suite. Give Denver's recent streak of mid-90 temperatures, I am loath to leave anything remotely persihable in a vehicle for more time than absolutely necessary.Another reason for needing dry ice.

              In addition, the committee has advised discretion regarding bringing in food and beverage into the party hotel. . . or generous tipping to the porters. I live for these challenges

              Please e-mail me to arrange contact details. My e-address is:
              alyconart at yahoo dot com.


              1. re: mrsphud

                One more lovely challenge is that I need to have the suite open ASAP on Tuesday. I am going to enjoy this. . .

              2. Many thanks to everyone who has replied so far! Please keep the great suggestions coming. I am working out my strategy this week and will draft a preliminary plan, which I hope to post for a feasibility check.

                1. Sunflower is a great suggestion. A lot of their packaged foods are similar in taste and price to TJ's. Cook's and Marzyk's are great, but very expensive compared to TJ's and the like...

                  Would you also be interested in some delivery options?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Denveryumyum

                    Yes! I might not use them, but I definitely want to have the choices available.