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Jan 11, 2010 02:21 PM

Please review my Denver shortlist

My partner and I will be coming from the Bay Area to spend a couple of days in Denver later this month. No car, so we'll be sticking to places in central Denver within a long walk or a short public transportation ride of the downtown Hampton. We tend to like restaurants with specialised or regional menus (Chinese restaurant = boring, Yunnan Chinese noodle house = fascinating). Also, I like pork a lot. We'd like to keep most meals under $25 per person total before drinks. For reference, here are my notes from my previous brief Colorado visit:

Here's our shortlist for this time:

Osteria Marco (probably over $25
)Cherry Cricket -- if we get out that way
Near hotel: Steuben's
Lunch near City Park: Encore
Near the Capitol: ?
At the airport: Pour la France?

Small eats and drinks:
Falling Rock Tap House -- had a great time here last visit
Jonesy's EatBar -- near hotel
Fluid Coffee -- nearest location to hotel serving Novo
Denver Art Museum cafe -- not Palettes -- does this exist and is it any good?
D Bar Desserts
Biker Jim's?

Beer geeks: where's the best place to sample an Oak Aged Yeti? Straight from the Great Divide brewery?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Domo is significantly cheaper at lunch. Lovely interior and good food, although the service sometimes leaves a bit to be desired (and this seems to be a common sentiment).

    Osteria Marco has a happy hour from 3:00 to 6:00 M-F (always good to call and verify, of course). They initially had two-for-one sliders and such but the last time I was in they had moved to a $15 tasting menu which included one drink (house wine, well cocktail, or draft beer) an antipasti (on my trip, you could choose from meatball sliders, mixed greens, or Caesar), and a secondi (three cheese panini, prosciutto panini, margherita pizza, or carbonara). You would be remiss to visit and not try the house-made burrata though ($9), and they do a slow-roasted suckling pig on Sunday nights. The same chef’s year-old Bones at 7th and Grant runs $5 specials from 5 to 6 (5 apps to choose from plus either sake or a sake sangria), although their delicious suckling pig steamed buns and roasted bone marrow aren’t included (it’s completely worth it to spring for those though).

    Love the lobster roll and egg creams at Steuben’s. The whiskey-braised beef and deviled eggs have both had nods on Westword’s 100 Favorite Dishes: Good cocktails, and I believe CH’s tatamagouche has blogged about their infused bacon vodka at (since you mention a love of pork). Speaking of which, you should go to Rioja and have their fresh bacon (pork belly) appetizer.

    Across from the Denver Art Museum, there is a Novo Coffee and wine & cheese bar with a Mad Greens salad spot wedged in between. The Museum of Contemporary Art has a café on the roof and you can step outside if it’s warm enough.

    I do like D Bar, and not just for the desserts. Flatbread pizza, mac and cheese, salads, sandwiches—plenty of savory starters that would allow you to make a full meal of a trip here.

    I’ve only been to Jonesy’s once and it’s a cool place to hang, but none of the food including the popular cheese fries really blew me away (although plenty of passionate fans would disagree).

    Cherry Cricket is one of those places where everyone tells you to go have the burger, but I’ve lived here for a decade now and still haven’t felt moved enough to try it.

    Encore is next to a great independent bookstore, Tattered Cover, and Twist & Shout music, although when I’m over that way it is hard not to stop into Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs for a Chicago Dog. I have been to Encore’s sister restaurant Black Pearl a few times, and there’s a new chef in the house that seems to be doing good things.

    If I have to eat at the airport, I like New Belgium all the way down one end of the B terminal. Good place to stop in for a beer and sweet potato fries. There is a branch of Denver Chophouse at DIA now, but it’s absurd to try to cut a steak or prime rib with a plastic fork. Most of their cocktails seemed to be made with bad mixers (actually muddling fresh mint for a mojito is apparently too difficult, although they will garnish the syrupy mixer with a mint sprig). They erroneously brought us out martinis with cherries instead of olives, although another server did swap them out. I will sometimes get a mimosa at Pour la France since they bring you out a split of Cava and let you pour your own, but I’ve given up on their food.

    1. Your list looks good. Just a warning, without a car, avoid Chinese and certian other types of Asian cuisines.

      If you like German food, Cafe Berlin on 323 14th Street is a good lunch deal.

      And if you happpen to be in that neighborhood, Sante Fe Cookie Company at 303 16th Street is where to drop in for apres-lunch cookies.

      I think you should take the question mark off the Biker Jim's -- it is worth a stop, and say yes to the cream cheese and onions on the dogs.

      For your future reference, several of the top East and South Asian restaurants are located south of downtown Denver, beyond walking distance, in Aurora. For example:

      Denver is mostly boring Cantonese and take out Fujianese and some Taiwanese. The only true gem that we have found is a wonderfully authentic Sichuan restaurant called China Jade located on 12203 E Iliff Ave.

      Second to Domo (for lunch -- rlm is correct) is J'Shabu on 2680 S Havana St. It is the only shabu shabu place in town, and the portions for the price are much more generous than the places we frequented when we lived in NYC, where we did not go to shabu shabu because it was too expensive for skimpy potions. J'Shabu is a happy surprise.

      South Indian:
      The only South Indian place in the Denver area is Masalaa on 3140 S Parker Rd. S Indian is hard to find even in major metropolitan areas, so if you haven't found a good place in the Bay Area, Masalaa is decent. Not 100% equivalent to what you would have in S India, I have not found one place in the US that is 100% equivalent, and I've searched all 5 NYC boroughs and farther afield.

      The decent Korean places, plus the Korean Havana Spa to visit before your meal, are down south too.

      1. I'll go for the beer question. Yes! As long as you're going to be downtown, the best place to sample Great Divide brews is at the brewery tap room.

        1. If you want a burger, I would hit City Grille (downtown near the Capitol) instead of Cherry Cricket. Honestly they are comparable. If you are there on a Monday, you get a burger, fries and a beer for $6.95.

          1. Thanks to all for the excellent-sounding tips. I'll report back in a couple of weeks.