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Jun 29, 2010 10:16 AM

Moving To Denver Next Year...

I'm coming from central New Jersey, and I'm used to great Italian food, decent Chinese, okay Middle Eastern, pretty spectacular Indian food, and uninspiring (with some high points) Mexican food. I love all of the aforementioned cuisines and was hoping to get some recs about where to go to find them when I'm in the city. I had some great food while I was there, but a lot of it was just road food since we were on a budget and going from place to place (and my traveling companion was not a foodie at all).

Also, I love pizza. I really enjoyed the deep dish pie I tried while I was there (at a brewery in Boulder), but I was wondering if there's any good NY/Philly/Trenton-style thin-crust joints in case I get homesick.

Finally, I like comfortable hole-in-the-wall pubs that serve food - any places like that you guys could recommend? (Outdoor dining and minimal TVs on the wall are a plus.)

Sorry for the broad inquiry - I guess I'm looking for a crash course in Denver dining!

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  1. I hate to chime in with no real direction for you, but i just moved here to Denver about 2 weeks ago for work. I'm still trying to find my way around and moving here from Los Angeles where there are an insane amount of culinary options I can say that so far i'm pleasantly surprised. I'm working pretty close to downtown and there some excellent lunch choices. I'm going to keep an eye on this post and hope for some good responses that i myself might be able to follow up on.

    1. Heatherb - Have you browsed this board? Lots of recommendations.
      Tenbucc2 - Welcome aboard the Colorado food wagon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ClaireWalter

        I agree with Claire...since your inquiry is so broad, I'd start by searching the boards, and whatever questions aren't answered for you that way, ask away! Welcome to you both. You've moved to Denver at a time when the food scene is really exploding.

      2. just visiting, but my brother has shown me a couple of great spots in Denver.

        South of downtown, is a nice neighborhood named Bonnie Brae. There is a whole area of older shops, restaurants and other eating establishments. We stopped and had some great creamy ice cream (pretty traditional flavors, not adventurous) at Bonnie Brae ice cream.

        The Red Rocks park just south of Golden has a great Colorado Visitors center (pretty neat place too!) We picked up a map there that has a ll the neighborhoods listed. Something like that will help you get to know the city and all the neighborhoods.

        Later, Brother showed me a great Sicilian bakery named Dolce Sicilia, at the corner of Wadsworth and 32nd in the Wheatridge area.. Delectable, light-as-a-feather cookies, (regina, pignola, etc,) also sheet pizza and calzone, ciabatta and other loaves. This is in a small mini-mall with a great looking Polish meat market--Sawa Meats & Sausage (they also sell some Polish groceries). These are definite don't miss spots.Boulder has a nice Indian foods shop; maybe Denver does too.

        4 Replies
        1. re: toodie jane

          Oh thank God. An Italian bakery and a Polish meat market. Thanks for the tip:) The posts about bakeries on this board had mainly sounded French (which is nice, but ...). That was something I was really wondering about. I'm off to look for a web site now!

          1. re: Heatherb

            There's also a Sawa on the south side of town, on S. Colorado.

            Heatherb, FWIW—don't know if you've had a chance to do a board search for Mexican and pizza—some good threads on those—but in addition:

            Italian: really good Italian outside of pizza is hard to come by here, I find. Exceptions aren't cheap: Luca d'Italia, Osteria Marco, Frasca in Boulder, and 1 or 2 others...Never been to Il Posto or Barolo though I hear good things. I've had excellent pastas at Fuel and Potager, though neither are Italian.

            Chinese: My own faves are Lao Wang Noodle House, East Asia Garden (a new discovery), Star Kitchen, China Jade; for dim sum there's Super Star, King's Land, Heaven Dragon in Broomfield...for a place without a Chinatown there are some decent options, really...

            Indian: Not a lot of superb Indian around here, mostly the usual tikka masala huts. India's Pearl on Old S. Pearl is an exception, a bit fancier than most, and I've found I like India's Oven too.

            Middle Eastern: again, what there is is decent; I feel I haven't hit the best yet.

            Obviously Mexican food is what you get so much of here that you can't get out east. You'll enjoy that a lot. Also, Denver has surprisingly large Vietnamese and Ethiopian communities, so there's some of that as well.

            Along Federal is a glut of Asian and Hispanic markets.


            1109 Ogden St, Denver, CO 80218

            Osteria Marco
            1453 Larimer, Denver, CO 80202

            Il Posto
            2011 E. 17th St, Denver, CO 80206

            India's Pearl
            1475 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO 80210

            Lao Wang Noodle House
            945 S Federal Blvd, Denver, CO 80219

            China Jade
            12203 E Iliff Ave Ste D, Aurora, CO 80014

            Heaven Dragon
            1100 US Highway 287 Unit 1000, Broomfield, CO 80020

            Star Kitchen
            2917 W Mississippi Ave, Denver, CO 80219

            1. re: tatamagouche

              Good to know about the Chinese and the Italian - I've been trolling some of those threads, but it's been hard to sort through. Osteria Marco shows up pretty consistently in the recommendations for pizza and general Italian cuisine, though, so I'm very excited to try that.

              But yeah, I kind of figured Indian and Middle Eastern would be trickier, and my searches of the board kind of have led me to conclusions very similar to your suggestions. I have a hard time finding good Middle Eastern around Central NJ, too, and I so do love baba ghanouj! (Tragic sigh.)

              Thanks for the recs! I'm coming back to Denver in January probably to look for a place to live, and I'll definitely be checking out the suggestions here.

              Osteria Marco
              1453 Larimer, Denver, CO 80202

            2. re: Heatherb

              We stopped at both the bakery and deli on Friday before a trip to see family in Colo Springs. We picked up some Sicilian cookie treats and ciabatta rolls at Dolce Sicilia. They were delicious and very well-received! The cookies are traditionally not rich, nor overly sweet, but they were soooo fresh and without the chemical overtones found in their commercial counterparts. (yeah, that's YOU, Stella D'Oro.)

              The rolls came in handy as buns for our Sawa Deli Polish meat treats: four types of kielbasa (from different regions) and two types of smoked bacon, both butt and rasher style. The kielbasas were very good; not overly salted (yay!) and delicately smoked. We grilled them and they were surprisingly lean. Yummy-oso. Both bacons cooked up beautifully with low heat, no sugar stick-to-pan reaction, and were lean, even the rasher style was very meaty. Lovely with poached eggs and crunchy ciabatta toast. This would be my bacon of choice if I were an area resident.

          2. I am originally from CA and struggled for years to find restaurants, especially good authentic Mexican. I have my faves below.....the hubs and I love to go out and try new restaurants and I prefer indepedent or family owned, small, low key restaurants....

            El Real De Minas - the one on Colfax is the only one to go to...fabulous Mexican from salsa to chile rellenos to spicy shrimp dishes
            Santiago's - I am obsessed with breakfast burritos and theirs are the BEST in town. I frequent the location on Leetsdale but there are a few around town.

            Pagliacci's - Italian place that's been around for YEARS, known for their minestrone, really good food
            Saucy Noodle - since moving to Bonnie Brae I have been re-introduced to SN and it doesn't disappoint
            Carmine's on Penn - great family style restaurant, love it!

            Star of India - I am a huge CTM fan and theirs, IMO, is the best I've had in town, love their tomato soup and pakora too
            Masalaa - wonderful hole in the wall vegetarian Indian place.....SO spicy and so tasty!

            Middle Eastern ( still struggle with this one in terms of consistentcy)
            Jerusalem - I like their vegetarian offerings but can be spotty......

            Bonnie Brae Tavern - wow, SO so good! We usually just grab it to go but you have to hang out at least once.....very quirky and been around forever
            Anthony's - delivery pizza, NY thin crust style, sooooooooo good

            Other recs (you didn't ask but...)
            We LOVE breakfast out and a few of our faves are Sam's #3 (diner known for bfast, Mexican and Greek offerings), Lucile's (Creole and so very tasty), Bagel Deli (great Jewish deli hole in the wall and family owned, love their bfasts as well as their matzo ball soup) and Sunrise Sunset (total dive but heavenly.....I don't usually like pancakes out but man oh man, between those and their spicy menu, super tasty! they have a few locations around town but locally owned)
            The 9th Door (tapas) - great date night vibe, not low key but SO tasty
            GB Fish and Chips - if you are a fan, they are the best in town!
            Big Fat Cupcake - love their cupcakes, kick butt frosting and unique flavors
            Cherry Cricket (burger joint) - I dont' eat beef but their turkey burger is FAB and the hubs love the regular ones, customizeable toppings and awesome onion rings...been around forever

            That's all I can think of for now......enjoy and welcome to Denver! I can tell you that the only thing I miss about CA is the beach...CO is great!

            9th Door
            1808 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202

            Cherry Cricket
            2641 E 2nd Ave, Denver, CO 80206

            Bonnie Brae Tavern
            740 S University Blvd, Denver, CO 80209

            Sunrise Sunset
            9134 W 6th Ave, Denver, CO 80215

            Bagel Deli & Restaurant
            6439 E Hampden Ave, Denver, CO 80222

            9 Replies
            1. re: Heyteacher

              OMG - this is great! Thanks for the breakfast fill-in and the matzoh ball soup heads up, in partic. I hadn't even thought to ask about them. (And I love matzoh ball soup. And breakfast.)

              NJ Middle Eastern cuisine also tends to be spotty at best, so that will be nothing new:)

              Yeah, I think my mind is already in Denver, which could cause problems over the next 10 months:S

              1. re: Heatherb

                One more I forgot.....the best locally family owned Greek place IMO is Athenian in so good and the owner, Angie, personally comes around to greet everyone. Great service and even better food!

              2. re: Heyteacher

                how is Snooze near the old medical school complex downtown? Is it really line-worthy?

                1. re: toodie jane

                  no not really unless you like hanging with snotty yuppy types...try Annie's cafe off Colfax and Steele a few blocks away....Mimosa's and other good stuff

                  1. re: Galaxie68

                    I do NOT get this Snooze hype - I went once to the original location and had the pancake flight.....for a place that supposedly specializes in pancakes, these SUCKED. Really....I couldn't believe it and to top that, they were expensive! I think not!

                    1. re: Heyteacher

                      i just went yesterday; took my parents that were in town visiting from CA. i was telling them how much everyone said Snooze was amazing, lines out the door on and one. we all left very disappointed. mom had the pancake flight, i had the salmon hash and dad had the 3 eggs w. hash and bacon. my dish and my dad's dish were incredibly salty...we all agreed it did not match the praise nor the prices...

                      1. re: liveloveat34

                        I've had superb dishes there, and I've had just okay ones. The hype has to do with the retro vibe, which many find charming, I get that, and the creativity of the menu, which I definitely appreciate. It just doesn't always work.

                        It's good most of the time. It's great occasionally. It's mediocre some of the time. It might be worth the wait if you're not as impatient as I am.

                      2. re: Heyteacher

                        OMG--what a tip to preciousness-- a pancake "flight"??

                        Yes, I'd prefer a hash-house atmosphere any day--but good food is the bottom line. Sorry to hear it's not at Snooze

                        Thanks to Galaxie68, for the tips above for Steele and Annie's. What do you like about these places? Any house-made hash? Unsual dishes? Favorites?

                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Mmm...again, I disagree it's not good. Snooze can be very good. I can understand why the hype frustrates people (because it does me too), and sometimes it's not as good as it thinks it is. But it *is* worth a visit before you rule it out entirely. (Forget the word "flight" and just think "mix-and-match.")

                          I should add I haven't been to the newer branch; I'm talking about the old one near downtown. Suppose that could make all the difference.

                2. You didn't ask about groceries, but Sunflower Market (by founder of Wild Oats Natural Foods, which was absorbed into Whole Foods) in Arvada has nice selections of reasonably-priced produce, nice meats, large 'natural foods' and supplement sections, fresh breads, ready-to-eat meals and salads, and a large bulk products section. Clean and well-lit, lots of parking, etc.

                  10 Replies
                    1. re: toodie jane

                      Oh wow. Totally never even heard of Sunflower. Will check them out online. I just was relieved when I saw all the Whole Foods where-ever I looked. We only have one in my area, and it is not conveniently located for me at all. However, I am pretty distraught that there are no Trader Joes in Colorado. We JUST got one near me and I've become addicted. Sounds like Denver won't be seeing one anytime soon though:(

                      1. re: Heatherb

                        Nearest one that I know of is in Albuquerque; probably one in Santa Fe.... only 5 hours away! :)

                        As toodie noted, Sunflower's produce prices are amazing, better than your standard supermarkets (& obviously way better than WF). Pretty cool.

                        1. re: tatamagouche

                          There should probably be a separate Sunflower thread now, but since there isn't, I'll chime in. I find Sunflower's produce inferior to Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Sprouts, and of course, local farmers' markets.. OK if you use Sunflower produce quickly, but it wilts or overripens fast. And in the height of the local basil season, they have had plastic packages of basil from Mexico. What's that all about?

                          1. re: ClaireWalter

                            Claire, I agree completely about Sunflower produce. I believe it is cheaper because it is not as good.

                            1. re: LurkerDan

                              I actually don't disagree...but it's still better *and* cheaper than the regular grocery store. I just can't afford to shop at WF regularly.

                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                IME with the Boulder Sunflower, it has the worst produce of any grocer in Boulder, including the wretched produce at the 28th street asian market. Maybe it is just that location, but I won't buy produce there any more, and have not had a single good experience at that location. I much prefer the newer Sprouts on Baseline, although it is still somewhat limited and no where near as good as TJs. And usually I shop at Safeway since I live next door, so I don't have high standards here...

                                1. re: lotuseedpaste

                                  Hmm. Maybe it's a branch to branch thing. I've found perfectly decent, again not always as good as WF but half the price, produce at the one at S. Colorado and Yale and the one on 38th, both in Denver.

                            2. re: ClaireWalter

                              A one -time visitor's impression will be superficial; residents will see any given store on a continuom. I think it may be hit or miss.... from the Arvada location, we had some of the 10 for $1 corn and it was fresh and sweet. Pretty much everything on our list was nice.

                              We also shopped the Colo Spgs. location, and the store was not nearly as sparkling as Arvada; fewer checkers for long lines, bread slection not as good; so there are some differences between stores which can be probably attributed to management a the store level.

                              What impressed me about Sunflower was the adequate lighting. I depise the low 'boutique' spot lighting that WF and Safeway use. Easy to hide below par produce and dirt that way.

                              Are there any area markets that specialize in buying local products and produce?

                            3. re: tatamagouche

                              You are correct. There is a Trader Joe's in Santa Fe, which is only a 6 hour 18 minute drive from Denver, according to Google Maps.