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May 30, 2012 10:46 AM

Visiting Denver/Estes Park - Need Suggestions

I'll be in Estes Park for five days next week and plan to spend a day or two in Denver as well. This will be my first trip to either area and I need food and food shopping suggestions. I'd like to keep things on the cheaper end of things and am more interested in Asian food. Dim sum and soup dumplings, pho (or bun bo hue if I can find it) and banh mi, Korean bbq and/or yakiniku, and some Asian groceries. Also, if there are any other good, cheap eats that I should definitely check out, I'm open to all suggestions. Thanks!

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  1. Just got back from our first trip to Denver and really enjoyed Lao Wang Noodle House. It's in a strip mall on Federal, across the street from Pizza Hut (what's the deal with all the Pizza Huts in Denver?). We had the Dan Dan Noodles, which were a little different from the versions we've had in LA, but delicious. I'm still thinking about that dish. And many tables were ordering the potstickers, which we will try when we go back. You get quite a lot of food in the order. The XLB dumplings were okay, but the filling was a little too firm. And the proprietors are a trip, the "Ancient Chinese Couple" as described in another post on this place.

    On Larimer Street in downtown Denver, we really liked Osteria Marco. The Chef's Combo charcuterie and cheese plate was a treat, but be sure to ask for the burrata to be included. It's deliciously creamy and full of flavor. Also, the fried calamari dish was a hit. It comes in a baby spinach salad with thinly sliced red jalapeno. This is a terrific blend of texture, with the crunchy fried squid and fresh greens. And the acidity of the dressing perfectly offsets the fried food. We really liked this.

    Rioja, also on Larimer Street, has a brunch that we found to be pretty good, particularly the lemon curd-filled doughnuts.

    But the best breakfast by far was at Snooze. In fact this ranks up there with the best breakfasts anywhere, not just in Denver. The difference is that they use creativity for breakfast. I find it so lazy that most breakfast places basically serve the same thing: Eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc., when for dinner they become so much more creative. For example, I had the Havana Dream for breakfast. This is an open-faced sandwich with ham, pulled pork and chopped pickles, topped with cheese and a fried egg, with hollandaise sauce drizzled over the top. This is basically the Cuban Sandwich, but re-created for breakfast. Delightful. And if you order it with the tomato-poblano soup, you can dip the sandwich into the soup for added flavor elements. What a delight.

    They also have a bunch of different pancake creations, and a section of different creative benedicts. I see they're adding locations, but now I need to drive to San Diego to get them close to home.

    And if you make it up to Boulder, check out the Avery Brewing Company. It's in a weird location near an auto body shop, but they have about 20 different beers, and you can order 4-oz. tastings for $1 each, which works out to be pretty economical. The beers are well-crafted and it's a fun place.

    1. My favorite Bun bo Hue is found at the Pho joint next door to the Pacific ocean market at 120 and
      Main in Broomfield Co. which is on the way to Estes Park. If you want the traditional meats with the
      dish you must specify or they will give you gringo meat if you are Caucasian. The gringo meat is
      thinly sliced tenderloin. This can be a bit of a hassle since some waiters have a very limited command of English.