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May 18, 2011 04:39 AM

Seafood?! In Denver?!?

Does anyone have any suggestions for non-pretentious seafood in Denver? Seafood that's just good and not a trendy place to "see and be seen"?

I recently returned to Denver (after almost exclusively growing up in Denver area for the first 20+ years of my life) and realized that it's difficult to find good seafood in the area. I define good by a place that serves Seafood at "market prices" without an attitude.

I've tried the following places with some "complaints":
- Fresh Fish Company: Just a dated environment. I rememer going to this place when I was a kid and I don't think much has changed. Seafood seems OK but it felt a little. . .dare I say it. . .Sea Galley-ish? Just kidding. Quality was better than Sea Galley but the ambiance just isn't today's Denver.
- Oceanaire: Yikes! Does this place always smell sulfery? Once I walked in, I was turned off from getting any seafood due to the smell and I'm NOT that sensitive to things like this. Perhaps it was just an off night? Correct me?
- Ocean Prime: NEVER will I go back after the very horrible service we received. . .at the bar, nonetheless. I was also turned off by the sub-par crabcakes which they noted as a signature item on their menu.

I'm not trying to bash here. . .just trying to find a place where I can have good seafood (excluding sushi) without the attitude (and I don't mind paying the price for it).


Fresh Fish Company
7800 East Hampden, Denver, CO 80231

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  1. Jax Fish House w/ a location in LoDo and one in Boulder is very good. The Boulder restaurant is where Hosea Rosenberg worked when he won Season 5 of "Top Chef." Both are part of the Big Red 5 restaurant group, run by David Query, a fine chef with a great culinary mind. Both Jax locations are lively and have something of a "scene," but IMHO, they do the best seafood around (and I'm originally from New England).

    While they are part of a national chain (as is Oceanaire), McCormick's in the Oxford Hotel near Union Station in LoDo and McCormick's & Schmick's in the Tech Cener area do put out pretty good seafood dishes too. The downtown restaurant feels a bit like Seattle. The one down south looks and feels like every other overblown office park restaurant. The food is similar, but the ambiance is different.

    Jax Fish House
    928 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

    5 Replies
    1. re: ClaireWalter

      Earlier today, I recommended McCormick's in the Oxford Hotel on this thread. Now comes a post on the Westword blog that the restaurant is about to close for a makeover. ( I just hope that they don't renovate the charm and ambiance out it. IMHO, it's not necessarily good news that it will be more like the Tech Center McCormick's & Schmick's.

      1. re: ClaireWalter

        Thanks ClaireWalter. I forgot about Jax. I had actually eaten there a couple times before I moved out East. I've been back to the LoDo location just once since coming back to Denver but it was only for Happy Hour. I'll have to try out the non-HH food and see how it goes. Just thinking of oysters on the half-shell now. . .mmmmmmmm. . .

        I'm not sure about McComick's. Maybe it's mental but I seem to just find the food bland - almost as if I can taste/sense the national chain through the food (if that makes any sense). Maybe a stint where I ended up eating there back-to-back in LA & DC within a couple days has messed with my brain. Nonetheless, I'm open to trying it in Denver. Didn't even realize that there was a McCormick's in Denver so thanks for that suggestion too!

        1. re: ivandwu

          invandvu - For whatever reason, I ate at McCormick's at the Oxford several times when Steven Vice was exec chef and not at all in the last couple of years. His food was really good. I think he left to cook at a steakhouse, which seems a shame -- given his way w/ seafood.

          1. re: ClaireWalter

            Steve Vice is back at McCormick's at the Oxford after a short stint at Shanahan's.

            1. re: Pastajohn

              This is good news. I hadn't kept up. Thnx.

      2. Cafe Brazil. Very seafood-focused, and great flavors. I love this place, and am surprised there's not a thread on it already. Perhaps I'll start one... :D

        Cafe Brazil
        4408 Lowell Blvd, Denver, CO 80211

        1. Whoops, was about to suggest sushi spots then saw your last sentence.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LurkerDan

            I'm not opposed to sushi - just wanted to find some non-sushi seafood. I'm sure there's an old thread or we could start a new one on sushi in and around the Denver area. ;)

          2. haven't been.. but have heard good things about Cherry Crest Seafood Market on University in Centennial. I loved my meal at the Italian / Seafood themed "Pesce Fresco" but that was 3 years ago... good menu.

            Very unpretentious but also not very exciting : Mesquite Seafood Grill on Arapahoe Rd

            As other posters have mentioned- I'm a huge fan of Jax... and not just for lucious oysters at happy hour....

            Cherry Crest Seafood Market & Restaurant
            5909 S University Blvd, Greenwood Village, CO 80121

            1. You're probably already aware of this, but remember that "market prices" here are often incredibly high, due to the lack of proximity to any major bodies of water. I grew up in Maine and it took me years to finally accept that you just have to pay more for good seafood here than on the coasts. Once I accepted that, Jax became my favorite - it seems the most like a coastal seafood restaurant of any of the places around here I've been.

              My recent discovery: I was craving a lobster roll, which are everywhere in Maine but pretty much unavailable here. Then I realized that Jax has a lobster blt, which is basically a lobster roll as a sandwich (the bread is soft white, similar to the traditional hot-dog bun that lobster rolls are served in), with added bacon. It's actually better than some of the lobster rolls I've had in Maine, and at around $16 for a big sandwich including a heap of fries, it's cheaper than a lot of lobster rolls in Maine as well. Whoda thunk it?