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Dec 11, 2009 09:29 AM

DENVER - Visiting from Sunday till Friday 12/18 - need recommendations for dinners.

Price: >$35/pp (Expense account - woohoo!)
Atmosphere: Fun, Eclectic, Vibrant, Young
Food: Delicious and regular portion size. No frou frou food or chefs putting out mediocre food and then walking the dining room needing their egos stroked. We have plenty of those in Dallas.
Cuisines preferred: American, Mediterranean, Spanish, French, Steaks, Dinner with a view.
Service: Friendly, warm, inviting. If the dollar amount reflects - above reproach.

Need my fellow chowhounders help with this one. I've never been to Denver and wanting to take advantage of my free nights to drive into Denver to get a nice meal. We'll be staying in Aurora near the Airport, but are more than willing to drive for the scenery and food.
Thank you in advance.


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  1. Steuben's - American fare, laid-back, retro
    Osteria Marco - Larimer Square underground, big on pig
    Happy Noodle House - very hip, great bartenders, downtown Boulder, a little Asian and a little not
    Olivea - terrific food, Mediterranean-ish, east of downtown

    Then for a change of pace:
    Scenery + high-end American food (esp game) + SW atmosphere = The Fort in Morrison w/ sensational view of Denver and the Plains (not vibrant and young, however)
    Scenery + extraorindary food and impeccable service + lofty prices = Flagstaff House in Boulder (not vibrant and young either)

      1. For Mediterranean: hard to beat Rioja, Larimer Square. Assuming you're including Italian in Med., agree with Claire about Osteria Marco, also Panzano. Spanish and French you don't see a lot of around here, but Z Cuisine's a fine exception. A brand new tapas bar just opened up, but I haven't heard any reviews yet. Claire, don't you like a place called Solera?

        If you want a steakhouse you might as well go to Elway's; most of the other spendy steakhouses are chains, whereas Elway's obviously has some local color, esp. the one in Cherry Creek. I wouldn't call the scene young though.

        Denver's got lots of places with eclectic atmosphere, but with rather eclectic food to go along with it—i.e., contemporary American, not strictly American. I don't know if that's what you're looking for. Some of my faves include Bones, LoHi Steakbar, Table 6, and Beatrice & Woodsley (might be too froufrou for you though). A whole slew of places emphasizing craft cocktails and fun food has cropped up lately, with greater or lesser degrees of success: TAG, Colt & Gray, Interstate, to name a few.

        You'll find reviews to many of the above on my blog (, and the links to threads LurkerDan provided are very useful too.

        9 Replies
        1. re: tatamagouche

          Re "Claire, don't you like a place called Solera? "
          I do like Solera, but HalfBaked asked for " Fun, Eclectic, Vibrant, Young." Unless the wine bar part is more vibrant and young than the restaurant component, I didn't think Solera really fit the bill. My "yes but" suggestions were limited to unique restaurants with views (The Fort and the Flafstaff House)..

          Speaking of views, if you're downtown, the Peaks Lounge on the 23rd floor of the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Convention Center. The view is pretty good and would be way better if a higher tower were not being build directly to the west. blocking a good part of the mountain panorama. They serve drinks and appetizers.

          1. re: ClaireWalter

            Totally agree with you about Peaks.

            I haven't been to Solera; didn't know it skewed older...good to know!

            1. re: tatamagouche

              Peaks is indeed good for relaxing with a drink and a view, and watching the sun set and all the lights pop up around downtown is nice if you can get there early enough this time of the year. Food and service did not overwhelm me. I did like the spicy shrimp cocktail appetizer--the base would make an amazing bloody mary, but they said they use a different mix for their normal bloody.

              The Flagstaff in Boulder has a great view too, but it's better during the day and in warmer weather when you can sit on the patio. Delicious food including game, but I wouldn't say it's young and vibrant. The interior could use a rehab from the 70's/80's feel, especially at the bar.

              Bones is amazing, although it's a tiny place and the draft coming through the door is cold this time of the year. The slurp-worthy noodle bowls will warm you up though! So call or use Open Table to book and ask for a booth in the back away from the door. Same chef owns the pricier Luca (Italian) and Mizuna (French) on each side of Bones, as well as Osteria Marco on Larimer (which is more casual and cheaper than Luca but still just as satisfying). You've got Rioja, TAG, and Osteria Marco all lined up next to each other there, so I find it fun to hit all of them for drinks and shared apps.

              IMO, the best food and service in the state (and some of the best in the country) is Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder. Sneak away by yourself one night and walk in to sit at the bar. I would pass on the food at Happy in Boulder (although I have heard they revamped their menu), but the Bitter Bar in the back has some of the best hand-crafted cocktails (and yes, they make their own bitters).

              I'll second Z Cuisine/A Cote for French. Beatrice & Woodsley has the most gorgeous interior and is quirky/funky. Definitely make a reservation there, although you could always pop next door to Delite (same kitchen as Deluxe) for a drink and an energetic crowd while you're waiting. LoHi for steaks and burgers with a smaller price tag than the big steakhouses, although you are right--it is hard to beat TX for beef (and BBQ).

              If you want to go out with a larger group, I would hit Vesta Dipping Grill. Big plates of meat and poultry and tons of different sauces to choose from. I’ve been with groups several times and we’ve passed the plates and sauces around to sample. Steuben’s is also fun with a crowd (as you can eat deviled eggs and feel like you’re hanging out in the Brady Bunch den). Plus it’s close to D Bar, where you could head for a delectable dessert.

              Steuben's Food Service
              523 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203

              Vesta Dipping Grill
              1822 Blake Street, Denver, CO 80202

              225 East Seventh Avenue, Denver, CO 80203

              Beatrice & Woodsley
              38 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209

              Osteria Marco
              1453 Larimer, Denver, CO 80202

              Z Cuisine Bistrot
              2239 W 30th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

              Frasca Food & Wine
              1738 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

              Tag Restaurant
              1441 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

              1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

              Flagstaff House Restaurant
              1138 Flagstaff Dr, Boulder, CO 80302

              30 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209

              D Bar Desserts
              1475 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80218

              701 Grant Street, Denver, CO 80203

              1. re: rlm

                I definitely agree about Deluxe/delite, except aren't they still closed since the fire? Getting ready to open Deluxe Burgers now instead?

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  I recall reading in Westword that they re-opened a couple of days later (which is amazing, but I guess the fire was isolated). Deluxe Burgers is listed as the third spot:

                  Edited to paste in the link for the story about the re-opening:

                  1. re: rlm

                    Oh, that's a relief. In that case, HalfBaked, based on what you seem to be gravitating toward, rlm's right, you'd like that one too.

          2. re: tatamagouche

            Bones, LoHi, Osteria Marco all look so wonderful and fit MY personality, so thanks for the recs. This should get me started.
            I'm going to skip Elway's as we have tons of great steak places in here Dallas. Plus, it will be a miracle if I can convince my coworkers to even venture this far out of their norm - Applebee's (gag). I will be working looong days - 10 - 12 hours, and not sure what it will be like trying to find these places with the GPS. Wish me luck.

            1. re: HalfBaked

              Would love to know where you went and what you thought, but I'll add a couple of thoughts about some of the places that were recommended (in case others read this thread later).

              Frasca Food and Wine (Boulder) - hands down, the best restaurant I've ever been to. It stands up against the best in any city in this country in all areas - food, service, wine, everything. The prices here are always creeping upward, but couple that with the economy and Frasca is no longer as hard to get into as it was 2 or 3 years ago. I wish I made more money and could go more often.

              Bones - I had a bad experience here, then a so-so experience. The bad experience - I stopped by with a friend before a show, and my friend ran in to see if they could squeeze us in at the last minute, knowing we had to make a show. They said, "Sure, just 10 minutes" so I valeted the car and proceeded to go inside and wait a full 30 minutes before they told us "Sorry, we thought something might open up." I didn't mind not getting to eat; I minded that they told us they could fit our schedule, then waited long enough to tell us they COULDN'T that eating anyplace was a challenge at that point. That's a management issue, I think. When I did eat there, I was really impressed with a couple things. The cocktails were inspired, original, and great. Credit to their bartender. The first courses we had were tremendous - the steamed buns are some of the best things in Denver. But the noodles, while tasty, didn't justify the price - just noodles in broth, with a tiny amount of lobster and some spices thrown in and the price jacked WAY up. I don't mind paying for a good dinner, but I felt like I was getting ripped off at Bones.

              TAG - for fun, eclectic, and young, this fits the bill. The food isn't the best in town, but I always end up going back (a client's office is nearby) and each time I like it a little bit more. Like a lot of "trendy" places (Root Down comes to mind), the service can be VERY spotty, but it's a younger crowd with some really good food. I like nine75 a little more (Chef Troy Guard's previous restaurant), but that's just me.

              Steuben's - also a young, trendy place. I like (no, LOVE) the idea, but sometimes the execution doesn't match up with their self-imposed expectations of cuteness, imho. Pretty good food, some of it very good, and a unique concept (sort of old school Southern food with a modern flair) that speaks to the kinds of things I like, but much like it was said about "The Godfather" in Family Guy, Steuben's "insists upon itself." They think they are just so cute and creative, and sometimes they are, but in totality they sometimes miss that mark of uniquess they set for themselves.

              1. re: AndIDontMind

                Well said, AIDM. I'm in almost total agreement with you, from the fact that I'd rate nine75 above TAG thus far and the fact that Steuben's tends to be more than the sum of its parts. The exception is that I'm a huge fan of Bones—but then, I didn't have the unfortunate first impression you did. That's a shame.