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Denver Cheap Eats for the Convention?

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I'm going to be in Denver for a week for the Democratic Convention and unless I'm able to get invites to a bunch of events (feel free to help me out there...I'm a lot of fun!), I'm more or less on my own for my meals. I'm looking for cheap, yet Chow-worthy eats around the Convention site. I'm pretty much up for trying anything and will be willing to walk 15 minutes or so (as long as its a safe area) to get away from some of the crowds.

In addition I'm going to be staying at the Motel 6 in Tech Center. I hear there are some diners and restaurants within walking distance. Anything that can actually be recommended?

Thanks so much for your help and I can't wait to check out Denver!!!

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  1. Downtown Denver is considered safe and will be even more so during the security-heavy convention. Convention center is 2 blocks from 16th Street Mall, which has free shuttle buses that travel aboutg 1 1/2 miles.

    Cheap AND Chow-worthy is a challenge. Most of the convention activities will be at the Pepsi Center, which isn't actually in the heart of downtown. Larimer Square with its abundance of restaurants isn't too far. The Market is a cafe serving light meals. Maybe some bar food or convention specials will be offered. If you like deli food, try Zaidy's at 15th and Market. There's also an outdoor barbecue smoker at Writer Square. Also, My Brothers Bar at 15th and Platt, and Proto's (very good pizza) around the corner on Platt.

    If you ARE downtown at all, however, check Cooks Fresh Market -- limited seating, but good take-out food. It's at 16th and Glenarm; http://www.cooksfreshmarket.com/. I am never downtown during the day, but I understand that there are some interesting food carts along the mall and near the Capitol/Civic Center Park. If permitted, some may roll over closer to the convention venue.

    I don't know which Motel 6 claims the Denver Tech Center connection. There is one on Arapahoe in/near Greenwood Village, but I have no idea what is really near the motel. Maybe someone who lives in south metro can help.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ClaireWalter

      I'll be staying at the Motel 6 on Arapahoe in Greenwood Village.

      Thanks for the suggestions. I would say my price range is for most meals I don't want to be spending anymore then $30 (mainly for dinner) and $12-15 for lunch. The cheaper the better...as long as its still edible :)

    2. Your motel is right near Smash Burger which has a great burger. My second favorite ever. The diner you've probably heard about is Gunther Toody's which I haven't been to since I was a kid but I haven't heard great things about of late. There's a mongolian barbeque place a couple blocks east on Arapahoe. While traffic isn't great in the area I wouldn't hesitate to walk around there at night. Oh, there's Brother's BBQ right there as well but I'm by no means a bbq expert so I've neither been nor can I say good or bad things about it.

      1. Your hotel should be near a light rail station that will take you up I-25 and into downtown.
        There are dining options along the route - usually national and local chains.
        I second Smashburger. It's my favorite.
        Further south from your hotel is a mall with many restaurant pads on the fringes of the mall. I'm blocking the name of the mall, but it is south of Arapahoe a few exits.
        PS - I would invite you to dinner while you are here, but we are leaving for our house in Mexico next week to avoid the crowds and congestion. Enjoy your convention. Pam

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pampatz

          That would be Park Meadows Mall.

        2. In addition to options already mentioned, walking distance (or a short ride on the 16th Street Mall Shuttle) for you downtown are Snooze (great breakfast and lunch), Proto's Pizza or Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza (both, obviously, pizza), Green (good to-go chopped salads), Little India, and Illegal Pete's (most people go for the burritos, but I LOVE their fish tacos).

          Claire recommended Cook's Fresh Market. They have some good options at their prepared food counter, but I think that most of their salads and sandwiches are pretty mediocre (stay away from the hot sandwiches in particular, which are not made to order, and get incredibly greasy). Cook's baked goods are great and the have self-serve fro yo that is a bargain.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Megiac

            Thanks all...these are great recommendations.

            Also are there any good coffee shop type places within walking distance to the Hyatt/Convention Center site? Bonus points if they have free wifi (although not necassary). Something tells me I might want to get away from our HQs (and my co-workers) in the Hyatt and coffeeshops are always good spots to camp out for an hour or so.

          2. I second Santiago's - AMAZING and PHENOMENAL breakfast burritos.

            1. For the most part Denver is like anywhere else. Corporate restaurant places dominate the market. I am quite surprised actually that so many locally owned places were mentioned. As for reasonably priced.... likely not during the convention.Most Coloradans I know see party conventions as a complete waste of money. I imaging that everyone will be taking advantage of that.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Rojellio

                "For the most part Denver is like anywhere else. Corporate restaurant places dominate the market."

                Yes, like anywhere, there are plenty of chains and plenty of independents. But I'm not sure why you're surprised to find an emphasis on the latter on Chowhound...sharing discoveries of local gems is one of this site's main purposes. Granted, you'll fare better around downtown than around the DTC.

                Chow just did a story that emphasizes the relatively cheap & accessible, (http://www.chow.com/stories/11259) although if you're looking for a 15-min. walk strictly as opposed to a 15-min. bus ride, that's tougher. I'll echo most of the suggestions here, adding that I find Happy Hour deals around town, even at upmarket restaurants and bars, to be pretty good. So if you hit, say, Larimer Square at the right time, you might find a bargain or two. (I know Zengo does HH, for instance, so maybe Tamayo does too.)

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  I second Tatamagouche's comment about happy hour values. Panzano in the Hotel Monaco has a great happy buffet. I do wonder, however, whether some restaurants might take advantage of perceived DNC spenders and eliminate or change their happy hour specials during the convention.

                  As for chains, yes, there are more in the 'surbs than downtown, Cherry Creek, Highland, WashPark or other "real" neighborhoods. Chowhound covers them more tham adequately in a separate board.

                  1. re: ClaireWalter

                    Claire,
                    What board covers Cherry Creek, Highland, WashPark, etc.?

                    1. re: joan mar

                      I think Claire means there's a board for Chains.

                      1. re: tatamagouche

                        Yes, the Chains board is the one I referring to.

                2. re: Rojellio

                  If your inference is that restaurants will be raising their menu prices during the convention, then I'll have to disagree. If that were the case, then the same restaurants would have raised prices during the World Series, for example. Didn't happen. Only the parking lots were charging $50 for what normally would be a $10 fee.

                  I challenge you to go online and print out current menus. Then check that against real menus beginning on Monday. My guess is that they will be the same. Well, maybe an Obama sandwich will take a much bigger chunk out of your wallet.

                  1. re: chowmix

                    I didn't imply that restaurants will be raising their menu prices during the DNC; you inferred that. I merely speculated that restaurants MIGHT be changing their HAPPY HOUR policies during the convention. Changes, if they occurred, could mean different prices and/or different hours.

                    1. re: ClaireWalter

                      Claire, it is Rojellio that posted the implication that restaurants were going to raise their prices when he/she said:

                      "As for reasonably priced.... likely not during the convention.Most Coloradans I know see party conventions as a complete waste of money. I imaging that everyone will be taking advantage of that."

                      Sorry if you thought that my reply was directed at you.

                      1. re: chowmix

                        No problem, Chowmix. From the timing and positioning of the posts, I thought you were responding to my conjecture.

                  2. re: Rojellio

                    There are relatively very few chains in central Denver. There are a lot in the suburbs. That's not just restaurants. Our market is also dominated by a powerhouse local bookstore (Tattered Cover) and we have a couple of local coffee house chains that give Starbuck's a run for its money (Daz Bog and Peaberry).

                    I was actually really surprised when I moved here from NYC at how well locally-owned businesses seem to do in Denver. I think we are a lot better than many cities our size at supporting and maintaining local places.

                  3. A week in Denver wouldn't be complete without a visit to Cherry Creek North. There you will find good, affordable grub at the Cherry Cricket and Chez Jose, among others. A bowl of green at the Cricket is almost a must-have.

                    1. Very close to the Pepsi Center, you will find the Lure Lounge. They have a great happy hour from 4-7pm. $3 apps, from seared scallops to grilled pork belly; good stuff.

                      The Market on Larimer Square was already mentioned, the food isn't great, but they do have good pastry and coffee, also free Wi-Fi.

                      Another idea is McCormick's in Lodo. (17th and Wazee). They also have a good happy hours, two in fact: 3-6pm and 9-11pm. $2 cheeseburger and fries, etc.

                      I work downtown and a popular place to get lunch or coffee, as has been mentioned, is the Tattered Cover bookstore. Inexpensive box lunches, good coffee and pastry, wi-fi.

                      Depending on how far from the Hyatt you want to get, I might recommend City o'City at 13th and Sherman. Basically it's right behind the Capitol Building if you are walking from Downtown. They have great locally roasted coffee, housemade pastries and a light vegan/vegetarian menu. Great pizza. They also have a happy hour where everything is $2 off, including the beer.

                      Hope this helps and hope you have a great and safe DNC.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sazcuy

                        This all sounds great! I'm very excited to check out your city....and your food scene. If you guys ever come to DC I hope to return the favor :)

                        1. re: Elyssa

                          Looking forward to your report!

                      2. I moved here from DC two years ago, and while the thing I miss the most is the reliably good variety of food, Denver's restaurant scene had quite a few gems.

                        I whole-heartedly agree with ClaireWalter's suggestions as well as Megiac's (except for Snooze - I think it's a tad too far from downtown to walk when you'll be so busy - and the food and service is wildly inconsistent - and I've given it three tries).

                        I would add Chez Cheese in Writer's Square (around the corner from The Market) for fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches.

                        I would also add D'Corazon at 15th and Blake - way better food and margaritas than their better known rival across the street.

                        You should definitely keep your eyes peeled for happy hour specials - just about every place has them, BUT happy hour starts much earlier here - typically 3-6, BUT quite a few places do a second happy hour around 10 or 11.

                        As for free WiFi, Denver provides free WiFi along the 16th Street corridor for 2 hour at a time (not sure if they can keep it up during the convention, but give it a try - it's fairly reliable).

                        I've been to the last two national conventions, you'll have an absolute blast. And don't worry about finding events to go to, people will be practically throwing credentials at you to attend parties throughout the week.