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My son would like us to take him out to a really nice restaurant in Denver for his 21st birthday. We will be coming from San Francisco and are willing to pay for a nice dinner; but, I would also like it to be a fun place (not stuffy or too dressy). Any ideas?

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  1. What type of food are you wanting? Any price range?

    3 Replies
    1. re: tesnjen

      Price range is unlimited, but I would prefer to avoid sushi, Asian, Mexican, and steak houses.

      1. re: ThreeRabbits

        Well I was going to say Bones, but that's Asian Fusion type...then possibly the Fort, in Morrison, but it more of a steak house. So then I'd suggest, Vesta Dipping Grill, fun with a group, lots of choices. Restaurant Kevin Taylor would be nice, but a much more formal type setting. If you don't mind travelling to NW Denver, Parisi's (italian) has a really fun downstairs dining room now, with great food and they'll do special requests for groups. I would absolutely hit D Bar Desserts for your after entree sweet tooth. And if you have a large group, call ahead. I was there for a friends Anniversary last month, and they asked her favorite ice cream, when we got there, they had a homemade flaming pepermint ice cream cupcake for her, it was incredible and on the house!

        1. re: tesnjen

          Thank you for your suggestions they were very helpful. We're not going to be a big group, maybe 6 of us. I love the idea of going to D Bar Desserts.

    2. What is your definition of "nice?" Could you give us examples of places you like in SF that meet your criteria? That might help us come up with comparable selections for the Denver metro area. Does it have to be in Denver proper or are you open to Boulder or other surrounding towns?

      3 Replies
      1. re: rlm

        Good question. If I were going to take my son to a fun, nice restaurant in SF, I would consider: Gitane, Bix (supper club atmosphere), Boulevard, Foreign Cinema, Greens (great views and vegetarian menu), La Folie, Kokkari (Greek), Zuni Cafe, Chez Panisse (for its iconic reputation), or Quince (for exceptional food even though the atmosphere is elegant). This is quite a variety, but I think the theme here is high energy, best quality food, great bar drinks, and unique decor.

        1. re: ThreeRabbits

          I absolutely love Quince, and if you love them you should consider Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder. Chef Michael Tusk and sommelier David Lynch were at their truffle dinner this past December and are good friends with the Frascans, and both restaurants have a similar devotion to exceptional quality without being stuffy. Frasca's not as elegant as Quince's new space (more casual), but their MS/co-owner Bobby Stuckey came from the French Laundry in Napa and is able to source wines you just won't see elsewhere.

          1. re: rlm

            If you are married to Denver proper, a couple of ideas for high-quality food are Rioja and Fruition (although the latter is very tiny and not really high-energy). I agree that Vesta is quite fun with great cocktails, including a section made with Colorado spirits. Edited to add that I also concur with D Bar for desserts.

      2. Hey, I understand your question! The Fort is great but not that much "fun." Coming from San Francisco, I wouldn't be recommending Italian in Denver. The rec for Vesta is spot on and was going to be my suggestion, too. The food is great and it's a unique experience. Nothing like it in San Fran. The atmosphere is eclectic. This is where you should go. You and the new 21yo won't regret it!

        2 Replies
        1. re: PitLab

          I agree with pitlab, somehow I missed the SF part, stay away from seafood and italian, it sucks here (comparted to SF anyway). I think you'll love Vesta, fun downtown location, cool booths, be sure to make a reservation, even though you said you only have 6, they book up fast on weekends and since it's a tasting type of restaurant, the wait can be unreal without one.

          1. re: tesnjen

            Hey, I'm from Boston, and while I agree that most Italian here doesn't hold a candle to the coasts, Osteria Marco and Luca d'Italia are excellent, as, obviously, is Frasca. Not to hijack the thread.

        2. Colt & Gray in the Platt River Valley. Very hip and youthful with interesting food and a good wine and cocktrails list. (http://bit.ly/8kJomO). Fruition on E 6th Ave. Contemporary, fresh and tasty. Has the ambiance of a very nice neighborhood with excellent food (http://bit.ly/4XEbHs. scroll down). Maybe Olivea, which I've never been to but heard good things about?

          Happy birthday to your son.

          1. I checked out the website for Vesta. It looks perfect. So far, this is my first choice; but if anyone else has another idea please let me know. I also like the idea of going to D Bar for dessert. Thank you everyone!

            2 Replies
            1. re: ThreeRabbits

              you should call vesta and talk with the chefs I know they are friends with Keegan at D bar and you (or they) may be able to bring a D bar dessert for 6 in that night so you will not have to head up there. Also a party of 6 in D bar is pretty much the whole space. I think colt & gray is another great idea but small and they are not very nice there, its kind of a scene. A great 21st birthday place in my opinon would be Steuben's and its close to D Bar. Good luck and happy birthday

              1. re: ThreeRabbits

                I like the food at TAG on Larimer. Definitely a young vibe.

              2. What about Beatrice & Woodsley? I haven't personally been, but I've heard good things.

                1. As a follow up to my original question, we finally decided on taking my son and his friends to Vesta Dipping Grill. It was the perfect choice for his 21st birthday. The food was terrific, and the idea of various dipping sauces made it unique and interesting. I loved the atmosphere, and it was definitely high energy and fun. I hope to go back again. The night before, we went to Fruition. The food was very good, but I wasn't too thrilled with the overall ambiance. The restaurant decor was unimpressive, and just didn't fit the sophisticated look of the food or its prices. I think I will try Rioja next time. Had a great Italian lunch at the recently renovated Panzano at the Hotel Monaco, and really good onion soup at the Rialto Cafe. All in all we ate very well in downtown Denver.

                  Vesta Dipping Grill
                  1822 Blake Street, Denver, CO 80202

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ThreeRabbits

                    With you on Fruition. It needs a makeover.

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      I would just like to see Fruition knock out a wall and add a real bar. I would eat there more often if I could walk in and dine at a comfy bar. They would probably need to move in order to expand though unless they buy up other properties on the block.

                      Thanks for the report, ThreeRabbits.