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Apr 6, 2009 01:29 PM

Dive loving Foodie coming to Denver - Need Recs!!

I'll be in Denver May 7th for 5 days and was hoping to get some great recs for the area's must visit restaurants - specifically I would love to know what dives or funky places have the best food. I'll have a car, but I'm staying the Capitol Hill area, so if it's close, that's even better!!

I've heard good things about Rosie's Diner, My Brother's Bar, and Cherry Cricket, but what are the signature dishes at these places?

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  1. You're in luck—Denver's the best mid-century dive town I've ever been in.

    My Brother's Bar's known for its burger, as is the Cricket. If you're into the whole Beat tour, you should check out Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill on Grant & 10th.

    You should also really hit Colfax though for a string of old greats: the Satire Lounge, the Lion's Lair, the PS Lounge. The latter, which is known for giving every lady a rose with her first drink, serves as the unofficial dining room for the pizza place, Enzo's End, next door—which I think is among the best basic parlors in town.

    The Satire serves Mexican that I've heard is pretty good, but I can't comment firsthand, I've only drunk there.

    Down the block is a great looking old restaurant called Bastien's, which some regulars like, but I've never been.

    Meanwhile, west on 38th, you'd encounter a string of great Mexican joints: Los Carboncitos, Tacos Jalisco, Santiago's, and the original Chubby's (which, however, is only a walk-up window).

    PS A lot of folks give Brewery Bar II love; I found it pretty blah.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tatamagouche

      Thanks tatamagouche. I'm excited now! I better bring my tums! So who has the better burger - Cricket or MBB?
      Charlie Brown's has a good happy hour, right?
      I've heard good things about Enzo's, but I grew up in NY and have heard that it's hard to get pizza right in Denver with the high altitude. I'm sure I'll end up sampling some while I'm there, but it's not at the top of my list.
      Of the Mexican joints: which is the best? My guess would have to be Chubby's being that it's only a walk-up window. The best mexican seems to always come from a window, whether it be just to-go or from a food truck, IMO.

      Thanks again for the recs!

      1. re: ash0529

        Well, Chubby's is really known for their green chile above all. So go for that and then go for a whole meal at any of the others—I adore Los Carboncitos, although two counts against it in your case are 1) it prides itself on Mexico City-style cuisine, not Denver Mex, and 2) no liquor.

        Charlie Brown's has a GREAT happy hour (at least when you're up for the cheaper, the better). Actually I have a post about that too.

        I agree about the pizza, BTW; I haven't found much to wow me here. But Enzo's is solid—and the PS Lounge is just so cool.

        Personally I'd go for MBB; both are good, but MBB has the way better backstory.

        If it's not *just* full-on dives but also places with some funk you're looking for, you might also try, downtown, Mario's Double Daughter's Salotto (no food, though, just drinks, though they're attached to another pizza place


        or Billy's Inn a bit further out (but not much further than the Mex places), which used to be a dive but then did a revamp that maintained the spirit but not the grunge, I guess.

        Oh, finally, you might want to check out Steuben's. Again, not a dive, but it's got plenty of character.

        Oh, oh, and finally, a place I can't believe I haven't been yet—the Wazee Supper Club downtown.

        I think the food gets props for what it is.

        Oh, oh, oh, and then there's the Cruise Room, which is great decorwise, even if I'm not a big fan of their drinks or of McCormick & Schmick's, where they get their food from.

        Whew! You'd think I didn't have a job. Oh, wait, I don't.

    2. Cherry Cricket is great and now with the smoking ban, it's not the smokiest restaurant in town!

      My favorite dive in town is Sam's #3 - awesome any time of day and they're known for their breakfast and Green fare...super tasty and cheap!

      Not that it's a dive per se, but it's not on the best part of Colfax...favorite Mexican hands down is Real de Minas. It's SOOO good and very authentic!

      1. My Brother's Bar is a great spot for a burger and the fact that its the oldest bar in Denver is fun. I'm a little skeptical of the Cherry Cricket's lore. I loved it when I was younger, now I am overwhelmed by the smell of stale beer that permeates the place. IMHO the Crickets burgers just aren't that memorable if you haven't consumed lots of alcohol prior to eating them. I enthusiastically agree with the Sams #3 suggestion - especially for breakfast/brunch. The whole Sams #3 atmosphere, complete with the old time photos of the founders, the delicious and unapologetically grease laden fare screams diner/dive.

        I am going to go out on a limb and recommend - Benny's. Benny's famous sloppy burritos are simply classic. There are certainly better, more authentic Mexican cuisine spots in Denver, however Benny's optimizes that beloved diner style smothered in green chili, drowning in cheese, dripping in sour cream and guacamole comfort food. (It is also located close to where you will be staying). Finally, Pete's Satire Lounge is a very late night diner with red naugehide booths and a colorful apres bar hopping crowd. The Satire Lounge might be deserving of some consideration - I haven't eaten there in years but have fond late nite memories!

        Lastly, I should mention Bud's bar in Sedalia for its legendary burgers. (It is about a 30 minute drive so you may not be interested in the road trip). It is a complete hole in the wall that serves a double cheese burger that people absolutely go crazy for. No fries - just the burger. Food for thought. :-0

        2 Replies
        1. re: mommy3esq

          I just can't agree with you about Benny's, but I appreciate the seconding on the Satire. "Colorful" is indeed the word for it.

          1. re: tatamagouche

            Wanted to second you on Benny's. Wasn't it the 5280 reader's choice mexican place? We went once and were utterly underwhelmed. It was a HUGE place filled (really!) with a bunch of drunks, and the food was completely unmemorable. Maybe you have to be wasted to appreciate it but that doesn't really make a good restaurant, does it?

            Also re the Steuben's rec - especially since you're going to be in Capitol Hill - definitely check it out. It's not a dive but it's got a hipster old-time feel and everything there is delicious!

        2. I greatly appreciate all the input and certainly welcome more!

          Steuben's is definitely on my list. Anything in particular they're known for?

          I'd love to make it to Bud's Bar to see if it can live up to all the hype but I doubt I can convince my buddy to drive that far for a burger...especially considering the fact that he swears by Cherry Cricket.

          It looks like we're going to do a happy hour Friday before a party - Does anyone have a must see place with an emphasis on good food specials over drink specials?

          Is there any BBQ that's worthy of trying in Denver?

          2 Replies
          1. re: ash0529

            BBQ—I really, really like M&D's, though I've heard there are purer shacks.


            Steuben's: actually, the bar's where they're doing some really interesting things these days—e.g. bacon-infused vodka "martinis" with maple-sugar rims. I've said many times I think the place is better than the sum of its parts, and I often end up eating lots of apps and sides (hush puppies, habanero honey fried corn, deviled eggs, etc.).


            Happy hour: neither Delite or Panzano are must-sees in terms of the colorful dives you're looking for. Both, rather, are mid-range lovely—and have great happy hour nibbles.

            1. re: ash0529

              I would recommend Dazzle for happy hour, and I second M&D's for BBQ. Don't go to M&D's on Sunday, they get a big post-church crowd.

              Dazzle Supper Club
              930 Lincoln St, Denver, CO

            2. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Santiago's. There are 17 locations all over town and serve terrific $2.00 breakfast burritos. The hot will clear your sinesis for week. They have a full Mexican menu also.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pampatz

                I did, up thread...

                Keep hearing interesting things about Dazzle. The name's so goofy, but those casserole dips sound good...