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DENVER - truly amazing food?

I am visiting Denver from NYC in a couple of weeks and hoping there are some can't miss eats. Type of cuisine doesn't matter - just looking for the best of anything Denver has to offer (eg. but not limited to: tacos/burritos, sandwiches, pastries, ice cream, brunch, breakfast, salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate, anything exceptional.) I love food that's purely good (like a perfect burger or hotdog) or really creative (like Marlow & Sons in NYC) - fresh local ingredients a plus. What's worth seeking out in the mile high city?

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  1. Mausdeer - Asking for "truly amazing food" recommendations is intimidating. Some of us regulars have posted some of our favorites again and again. "Truly amazing" fine dining can be narrowed down, but "truly amazing" hot dogs or grilled cheese sandwiches? I don't know.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ClaireWalter

      Didn't intend to intimidate or come across as a total NYC food snob, which it seems I did. So sorry. What I was trying to find out is what in Denver is really special - doesn't have to be super high end at all. In fact, I generally prefer food and treats that are simple with a few quality ingredients/elements. I do have to keep it local because I'm visiting family and we're a little short on time. Maybe a better question would be, "what would you miss if you moved away from Denver?"

      1. re: mausdeer

        If I moved, one place I would miss is Lucile's for breakfast.

    2. I think Izakaya Den (on Pearl Street) qualifies as "truly amazing" Japanese/Mediterranean tapas and sushi. And if you're willing to drive up to Boulder, I don't think you'd be disappointed with Frasca, the Kitchen, Jax or Zolo. I'm also a fan of Colterra, in Niwot (just northeast of Boulder).

      But coming from NYC, I don't know - Denver's becoming a foodie town, but it's pretty hard to impress a New Yorker in my experience.

      4 Replies
      1. re: monopod

        Monopod - I like the same restaurants you do, but Mausdeer specifically asked about
        "tacos/burritos, sandwiches, pastries, ice cream, brunch, breakfast, salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate, ... a perfect burger or hotdog." And s/he specifically asked about Denver too.

        I will reluctantly toss out a few ideas: Wen Chocolates; the large egg raviolo at Prima in the Hotel Teatro, mussel night at Le Central (tho' eating mussels here when coming from the East Coast is a questionable use of time), NM-style green chile at Jack-n-Grill, breakfast or brunch at Snooze (prepare to wait; don't go just before a Rockies at-home day game); pastries from the Devil's Food Bakery. Anybody else?

        1. re: ClaireWalter

          He actually said "but not limited to" those types of food.

          1. re: jerseycorn

            Re "He actually said "but not limited to" those types of food." You're right, Jerseycorn, but given those examples, I inferred that he was looking for not-terribly-expensive food in fairly casual places and figured I was stretching it by recommending Le Central. :->

            1. re: ClaireWalter

              My understanding was "not limited to" the list as well - I was thinking just of things that Denver restaurants do particularly well. Izakaya, while not a traditional Denver offering, is somewhat unique in that there isn't a lot of very good Japanese/Mediterranean fusion around. And I mentioned Boulder because it's not far from Denver and a lot of visitors at least make a day trip (and it's what I really know). But I get it now - regional specialties, in Denver proper. Apologies.

      2. Izakaya Den and Beatrice & Woodsley on the pricey side -- Tacos y Salas #3 for the best authentic Mexican food in town (when I lived in NYC ten years ago, there was simply nothing like this place there, maybe that's changed) -- Lola does a great brunch -- I'd avoid the Italian here entirely, ditto any deli -- and while it's tough to beat NYC for Asian, Superstar Asian compares and is great, as is Kim Ba -- there's also place called J'Shabu that's pretty fun and it's right next door to a Korean BBQ joint that's good too.

        7 Replies
        1. re: jerseycorn

          Thank you for the recs. I apologize to Denver residents - I did not mean to be a snooty New York Foodie. I don't know much about Denver (or the mountain region) and wanted to get a good idea of what types of food are great there. I'm excited about Tacos y Salas #3 because as jerseycorn mentioned authentic mexican food is hard to impossible to find in NYC. Sushi and seafood seem like silly things for a visitor from the coast to seek out in a landlocked place - though I'm glad to know if I end up in the middle of the country for an extended period of time there's good seafood out there. I happen to be an oyster fanatic, but again, no shortage of those here.

          1. re: mausdeer

            Now that I too am getting more of a sense of what you're looking for:

            Agree with jerseycorn about Beatrice & Woodsley on the pricey side; it's very unusual no matter what you're from, with stunning decor. Here are two posts I did about it a while back, one focusing on their brunch, which I like just as much as their dinner. Good cocktailing too.

            http://denveater.typepad.com/denveate...

            http://www.denveater.com/denveater/20...

            Though I like it, I wouldn't put Izakaya in that category.

            Places that will really give you a great flavor of what Denver has to offer that you may have more trouble finding elsewhere:

            Mexican, of course. I'd just do a board search for Denver Mex because you'll find lots of good specific recs that way.

            I got pretty specific on this thread about some of the great bars in this town:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609998

            I also agree with jerseycorn re Italian in Denver, with one exception—Frank Bonanno's places, the more downscale Osteria Marco; it's not anything you can't get in NY, but it's done extraordinarily well. The same goes for his new noodle bar, Bones—one of the best meals I've had in ages.

            http://denveater.typepad.com/denveate...
            http://www.denveater.com/denveater/20...

            I'd finally recommend Domo simply for the experience; a lot of people like the food much better than I do, but it's a breathtaking, out-of-the-ordinary spot.

            http://www.domorestaurant.com/

            1. re: tatamagouche

              Thanks for the reminder about Domo, Tatamagouche. We went there for lunch early in '08 (http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com...) and tried to get a couple of times since but there was always a long wait. This thread is a wake-up call to try again.

              1. re: ClaireWalter

                I'll go with you; I want to give it another shot, since you & others I trust liked the food better than I did.

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  I've never had to wait when I've hit Domo for lunch on Saturdays (and it's cheaper). I like their Japanese curries, but then I've never met a curry from any country that I haven't liked. Service can be sketchy. I don't make it here that often either, but it's probably because there are so many other places in Denver I like more.

                  1. re: tatamagouche

                    Tatamagouche - Good idea (sometime after 5/25). We can trade impressions. Yours of Domo was not favorable. I am the only person on the planet (plus husband and 2 friends) to have had a disappointing experience at Osteria Marco.

                    1. re: ClaireWalter

                      Here's one more person who was not impressed with Osteria Marco.

                      And I'll go with you guys to Domo!

          2. If we are opening things up to about anything, Novo Coffee is some of the best in the country I think, the Ethiopians they roast can be unreal. They have a location in th Denver art museum and served by a few cafes around, like Fluid Coffee Bar.

            And I agree with tacos. Tacos y Salsa is a good one, but they are all over the place, and even a lot of the taco trucks are pretty good. East Colfax is where I find most of my favorites, out past Quebec they start getting thick. I have trouble picking a favorite. Almost more fun to try a different one and a different meat each time!

            We do brew beer really well. Vine Street Pub (serving Mountain Sun Brewery beers, and some day to be a brewery itself) and Falling Rock Tap House for a selection of local stuff.

            Lola's brunch is pretty unique.

            Thats all I have right now. This is one of those questions that can be answered 100 ways depending on what pops in your mind. Have a good trip

            2 Replies
            1. re: nateco

              Lola is very good for brunch, I agree. I've not tried the chicken & blue corn waffles with chorizo gravy and guajillo chili-cherry syrup, but I mean to.

              Since hot dogs have come up, Biker Jim's stand on the 16th St Mall is repeatedly praised highly. I've never been, but he does lots of game sausages like elk & reindeer.

              1. re: nateco

                Novo coffee is incredible! I usually get it up in Eagle and Summit Counties as they have easily accessible places brewing it up there and it tastes like heaven every time. I really wish they had more shops brewing it here in Denver.

              2. I lived in NYC for a while and I would definitely skip Italian, Japanese, and seafood here in Denver. The items I consider unique would be green chile and Mexican, and microbrews (more per capita than any state).

                Do a search for mexican and you will get lots of recs. For microbrews, Vine St. Pub on 17th Street has some great stuff, or you can find New Belgium, O'Dell's, Flying Dog, Breckenridge and others around town.

                I would also recommend Snooze for a very solid brunch (it does get very busy as previous poster mentioned but not so different from NY, expect to wait an hour on the weekends).