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Downtown Denver 50th Bday dinner w/7 y.o.

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We are flying into Denver on my 50th birthday, and overnighting it downtown before we go to a dude ranch for a week. I am overwhelmed by the reviews I have read on this board, and of course, what I need to know is if they are accomodating to children (as long as I can give him a steak or hamburger or roast chicken, he will be happy). DS is well behaved in restaurants, and I always bring things to keep him occupied. We will eat early because of the time change coming from the east coast. On my list is Fruition, Frasca, Rioja, Osteria Marco, but I am open to other suggestions.

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Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer, Denver, CO 80202

Rioja
1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

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  1. I'd take Frasca off the list simply because of the extra drive to Boulder it requires, especially if you're concerned about the time change and a late night. Though Fruition is delicious, it is quite small, pretty quiet, and most tables are quite close together - even the best-behaved seven year old might start to feel confined and squirmy. I say all this not having children myself, but I'd wager that Osteria Marco or Rioja would be fine, particularly if you could (or wanted to) sit on the patio, as Larimer Square is people-watching central and that might be fun for everyone.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ShinyObjects

      If you are looking to eat rather than dine, and your kid loves burgers, consider HBurger Co at 16th and Blake. A kids' menu for your son and upscale, gourmet burgers and great cocktails for you gorwnups. Theyt use Angus beef and other quality ingredients. http://www.hburgerco.com/

      1. re: ClaireWalter

        HBurger sounds good for lunch, but I would prefer something a little more elegant for dinner.

        I will take Frasca and Fruition off the list, as suggested.

        Two other restaurants recommended on this board are Panzano and Luca/Mizuma. Any thoughts on either of those?

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        Panzano
        909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

        1. re: bawc

          You can check out menus for Luca (www.lucadenver.com) and Mizuna (www.mizunadenver.com). I have seen the occasional well-behaved child at both but neither is a place I would choose to bring a 7 year old. There are better choices out there for that.

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          Mizuna
          225 East Seventh Avenue, Denver, CO 80203

          1. re: Mimi

            Well, I am open to any suggestions that might be more appropriate with a child in tow.

    2. I have very active 6 and 8 year old boys--one of which is quite picky. I'd take them to Osteria Marco, but not the others (possibly Rioja, but probably not). In fact, I've been meaning to take them to OM, but just haven't gotten around to it.

      My kids love HBurger (mentioned by ShinyObjects), and we enjoy it too, but it's not really a bday destination. Maybe worth hitting up while you're in town though.

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      Osteria Marco
      1453 Larimer, Denver, CO 80202

      Rioja
      1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

      2 Replies
      1. re: margemayhem

        Thank you for your reply. I am hoping to run DS around enought during the day either at the science museum or the zoo or something similar so that he will sit quietly in the evening (he enjoys maze books, etc...) and pray he doesn't have a meltdown. What about Panzena, would that work with young children?

        1. re: bawc

          My 3 yr old son did Panzano at Christmas for dinner, just fine, in fact they were great. We did swing by the dollar store and pick up $5 worth of new toys that he could not open till we got there, but it was a great dinner, with 7 adults and him. They do not have a childrens menu, but made him half a grilled cheese and some noodles with butter and cheese and brought him a some sort of dessert, I want to say it was ice cream, but I don't remember, for $10. And they offered to bring his up first, so he didnt' have to wait, which was a hit for him...your 7 yr old I am sure has much more patience than my toddler, but I didn't want to push it. Also we sat up front by the window in a round booth (near the bar) and he loved looking out the window all night. I think you'd be very happy there.

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          Panzano
          909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

      2. I have taken my kids (9 & 12) to Osteria Marco and have never had problems there. You can start with a Burrata (a must try) and add meats, olives and/or almonds. That will occupy him for awhile without filling him up. The food is amazing and includes salads, sandwichs, pizza, & roast chicken among other items. Definitely save some room for dessert. If you're there early enough, you could sit outside while you dine & people watch.
        I haven't been to Rioja or Panzano but wouldn't hesitate to take my kids there. I have to respectfully disagree with some of the other poster about taking a 7 year old to either of those places. I say it depends on the particular child. If the child has been exposed to that type of dining and proven that he/she can behave, then go for it. If this is the child's first visit, then take a few minutes to explain where you're going & the type of behavior that is expected. Then let his/her reaction be your gauge on what to expect. You say he is well behaved and you will bring something to entertain him. I say that, along with eating earlier shouldn't be a problem. Of course if he's tired,cranky, fidgety, &/or hungry, you might do better to do something a little less formal. If you're set on it, then maybe ask for a table where you won't bother anyone if he get antsy.
        If you want a good steak, Capital Grille is on the same street as Rioja and Osteria Marco. I have taken my kids there and the staff was great with them.
        Along the less formal route: Marco's Coal Fired Pizza-they have traditional Italian style pizza, lemoncello wings, and nutella dessert pizza. Fogo De Chao‎ is Brazillian steakhouse that has gotten pretty good reviews.
        Denver has a number of great restaurants and you really can't go wrong with any on Larimer Square.
        Good luck, Happy Birthday & let us know where you went!

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        Osteria Marco
        1453 Larimer, Denver, CO 80202

        Rioja
        1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

        Larimer Square
        , Denver, CO 80202

        Fogo De Chao
        1513 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202

        Panzano
        909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

        15 Replies
        1. re: jcattles

          Thanks for the reply. He has been exposed to better restaurants, so he knows the deal. He is tough as an eater...no pizza, no chocolate, no cheese...steaks and Asian are always good bets, but we have a capital Grille here, and I wanted to try something different.
          Besides the restaurants mentioned, there is also the ? Taylor restaurant.

          I am also considering Sushi Den, since Providence lacks good sushi which I really enjoy--and the cooked options might appeal to DS. How far in Denver South from Downtown?

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          Sushi Den
          1487 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80210

          1. re: bawc

            Restaurant Kevin Taylor is the one you are thinking of, I think (he has a few restaurants around town). Very upscale for Denver, and quite good, though I would not say it is any better than Rioja (just more stuffy). Sushi Den is a short cab ride from Downtown (but definitely too far to walk).

            And Panzano is a hotel restaurant, which in your case is a good thing, as they are probably more used to accommodating picky eaters.

            1. re: LurkerDan

              Well, stuffy we don't need. Which has the better food, Panzano or Rioja?

              And are there sushi restaurants as good as Sushi Den in the downtown area? If we go there, is it easy to park our car (gps is a wonderful thing).

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              Rioja
              1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

              Sushi Den
              1487 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80210

              Panzano
              909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

              1. re: bawc

                Sushi Sasa is absolutely SD's equal, but I suspect kids are not welcome there.

                Panzano and Rioja are both terrific, but I agree w/ LurkerDan, since the former is a hotel restaurant, I'm thinking it's the safer bet in terms of accommodating children.

                http://www.denveater.com

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                Rioja
                1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

                Sushi Sasa
                2401 15th Street, Suite 80, Denver, CO 80202

                Panzano
                909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  Groupon is offering a coupon for HBurger, which would cover lunch, and work for the little guy. I think it is fairly close to the Sheraton where we are staying. I was also thinking of Mexican, since that is typical of the area, and again, not well done where we live. Any suggestions for downtown?

                  As for dinner, I will go over the options with DH and see what he thinks of cabbing it to Sushi Den, or doing any of the Italian options (osteria marco, Panzano, Rioja). Child factors asside, in what order would you rate them by food/atmosphere/decor?

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                  Rioja
                  1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

                  Sushi Den
                  1487 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80210

                  Panzano
                  909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

                  1. re: bawc

                    Well, Osteria Marco, Panzano, & Rioja are 3 of my personal faves, so I'd rate them all equally in terms of food (though I wouldn't call Rioja Italian per se—it's more broadly Mediterranean).

                    OM is the least fancy of the 3, and it can get loud. Rioja & Panzano are both upscale, though not special-occasion luxurious—simply nice.

                    Be warned that there is almost always a long wait at Sushi Den. I live a few blocks away but I almost never go because it's just too much of a hassle. However, Izakaya Den across the street, from the same owners, is a little easier to get into, and it also serves sushi.

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                    Osteria Marco
                    1453 Larimer, Denver, CO 80202

                    Rioja
                    1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

                    Sushi Den
                    1487 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80210

                    Izakaya Den
                    1518 South Pearl Street, Denver, CO 80210

                    Panzano
                    909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      Thanks for the heads up about sushi den. I can't (and won't) do a long wait especially with a child along. The one across the street might be a good option...what about sushi sasa downtown?

                      I don't care for really loud places, although I know some people prefer that with children, but it just tends to make the three of us irritable, so OM may not be the wisest choice.

                      I will review the menus for Rioja and Panzano with DH. I think he hoped to order a really nice bottle of wine, but I can't drink my first night at a higher altitude (we are coming in from the East Coast that morning).

                      In any case I think we will be eating around 5:30 because of the time change.

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                      Rioja
                      1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

                      Panzano
                      909 17th St., Denver, CO 80202

                      1. re: bawc

                        Whoops, you already replied about Sushi Sasa, I missed that before...

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                        Sushi Sasa
                        2401 15th Street, Suite 80, Denver, CO 80202

          2. re: jcattles

            Last minute help: I'm going to a corporate dinner at the Capital Grille in Denver in a couple hours. I'm from San Francisco so I generally avoid chains and I don't eat beef --> I'm clueless about this restaurant.

            Is there anything I can eat here that will be somewhat chowish???

            1. re: artemis

              I have only eaten there once (and ate beef) but while it is a chain, it is a chain of high-end steakhouses, so they should have good seafood, I would guess. The menu looks decent, at least.

              1. re: LurkerDan

                Thanks LurkerDan. I ended up ordering the seared ahi, and having a little conversation with the waiter about really wanting seared, 95% raw ahi. And he really delivered, I had no complaints. The jasmine rice that it came with was bizarrely crunchy and mushy in different spots, but probably better for me to not eat it anyway!

                I got the salad du jour, with berries, goat cheese, and greens. The salad had more than a few slimy greens in it, which was why this week's Top Chef contestant went home. For those prices, I would have expected them to pick the leaves a bit better. However, there were a couple absolutely perfect blueberries in it, which made up for it to a degree.

                All in all, my first experience at CP was fine. Can't complain about a massive serving of sushi grade ahi, but I am sure Denver has more unique and exciting restaurants.

                Now I just need to figure out where I want to eat, by myself, on an expense account, tonight!

                1. re: artemis

                  I would choose Rioja or Fruition. I have eaten at Rioja and it was fantastic, and I really want to try Fruition. Or if you have wheels, Frasca in Boulder.

                  1. re: LurkerDan

                    Rioja looks really, really great, but since I'm staying at the Brown Palace, I'm going to try the Palace Arms tonight. It's somewhat easier for me to slip a hefty dinner bill through accounting if I'm not also trying to push taxi receipts. It's also easier, relatively speaking, if the dinner bill shows up on my hotel receipt, as opposed to multiple receipts.

                    I will report back!

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                    Rioja
                    1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

                    1. re: artemis

                      Just back from dinner at the Palace Arms. Would I recommend it? No. It's not that I had a bad meal, but at those prices, it should have been much more impressive.

                      Service was great. Everyone I interacted with was friendly, and would stop by to chat with me a little. Perhaps it's unusual to have a single woman dining alone. I appreciated the staff stopping by at various times for random conversation, before they would slip away. My only quibble is that they would drop off my dishes and not remind me of all the different components, so I had lots of "hmm, what's this?" moments.

                      The wine was also great. I told the waiter (possibly the wine guy, he seemed to handle everyone's wine in my section) that I was looking for something with a really beautiful nose, crisp, somewhat dry. He suggested a Sancere that I'm pretty sure I had before somewhere. It had a gorgeous nose and was great.

                      The food. Hmm. Lots of almost right, but not quite. I started with the crabcake. Perhaps I should have read in between the lines of the menu a bit more, but it turned out to be a rather strange thai-style curry. The spice balance was off, and it was missing the touch of sweetness that Thai curries traditionally have. The crab cake texture was not to my personal preference - very smooth. I prefer a lump crabcake, but I realize others like the smoothness. The lone cake (diameter of a tennis ball, perhaps smaller) was resting on vegetables so that it could maintain some crispness instead of sitting in the sort-of curry. There were green beans, peas, a few undercooked young carrots, and a halved mini patty-pan squash, with microgreens on top. It was a strange dish, imbalanced. I wouldn't recommend it.

                      For entree, I had the duck. Again, almost, but not quite. The duck was properly cooked, though the skin and fat could have used additional rendering for crispness. The dish's first problem is that it was served in tower form, as in, I had to knock over the tower of food to eat. That plating style is both annoying and very dated. The sauce was vaguely asianish, but too sweet, and way too much of it. I could barely taste the nicely cooked duck. There was also a simple but good vegetable rice vinegar slaw made of finely shredded cabbage and cucumber that nicely cut the richness and sweetness of the rest of the dish. There was some baby broccoli raab as well, somewhat overcooked. And the same microgreens on top.

                      After working my way through most of the dish, I discovered there was some kind of folded wonton wrapper stack at the bottom. I wasn't really sure what to do with it - cut a piece of the rather dense pasta and eat with the duck, pretending it's peking duck? Another confusing and imbalanced dish. I wouldn't recommend it.

                      All in all, service was great, the ambiance was interesting, but thank goodness I can expense this meal. At $90 after tip, yikes. I'm somewhat sorry I didn't trek to Rioja, but it is awfully nice to be back in my room five minutes after dinner.

                      Maybe I ordered the two clunkers on the menu (another table got the tableside caesar salad, but unfortunately that's a 2-serving order), but I was not impressed at all with the food.

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                      Rioja
                      1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

                      1. re: artemis

                        That seems to always be the impression of the Palace Arms. Personally I like just drinking at Churchill Bar...

                        Yes, you will be happy with Rioja. I personally am not as big a fan of Fruition as everyone else is; I find it uncomfortable...for that kind of money I'd rather go to Beatrice & Woodsley or Luca d'Italia.

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

                        Rioja
                        1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202