Denver: New Saigon & More
New Saigon at 630 S. Federal Blvd. totally rocked the egg-noodles with soup. The only thing that was slightly odd was the whole romaine lettuce leaves tucked into the bowl. Tore them up and stired them in. The broth was nice, the whole dish was great. I added a bit of heat and got one of my friends' fresh jalapenos. Service was friendly, Saigon Beer was light and tasty. The fresh spring roll was decent. The price was right ($8 for a bowl big enough for one hungry hungry hippo like me or two normal appetites). If I lived in Denver I'd go again and again.
The only negative was the place smelled a bit mildewed. Like the carpet had gotten wet and never properly dried.
Also went to Euclid Dining Hall...Schmancy food. It just wasn't all that great. I wouldn't give them my business again.
And Mellow Mushroom where I had tasty pizza in a casual atmosphere with good beers. I'd go here again and again.
Bones for ramen. A fancy ramen/sushi spot at 7th and Grant. I took a bus from downtown, it was easy and cost $2.25 each way. The noodles were good. It was pricier--$13-$18 for a bowl of noodles that was 2/3d the size of the bowl at New Saigon--and the decor was fancier and there was no mildewed carpet smell. At lunch, Bones was staffed by yuppies and the customers were mostly aged 50+ affluent former yuppies. I'd go here again if I was in the neighborhood, but I doubt I'd go too far out of my way.
Tacos y Salsas downtown was the best Tacos and Margaritas and Guac that I happened upon while wandering about. I'm not sure how recently the Al Pastor had been on the vertical spit, but it wasn't bad and the garnish bar had onion and cilantro. The tortillas were not great, but edible. The margaritas were uninspired, but big and cheap. The Guacamole went fast. I'm pretty sure some of the Taquerias outside of the downtown area serve better food, but we needed to walk from the Convention Center.
Panzano in a hotel. Schmancy Italian. Way too expensive for what they're doing. The calamari crust was soggy, but the squid was not tough. An interesting wine list, but very expensive. Another place that I'd skip.
Overall, Denver has what appears to me to be a terrific food and beer scene. My favorite was New Saigon, followed by Mellow Mushroom and then Bones or Tacos y Salsas.
Panzano is handy when you are staying at the Monaco and you want a cognac and you are allready in your pajamas.
New Saigon has been an institution for years, I guess when I lived in Denver the carpets at NS were fresher.
Glad you had a good trip.
Thanks for the report on Denver.
I've really only done Panzano's for Happy Hour - a good deal for some decent food. . .not earth-shattering but not typical hotel food with hotel margins.
Love Tacos y Salsas but haven't been to the one downtown. The other ones are probably just like the downtown location - simple, inexpensive and tasty. I expect the ones outside of downtown are, as you noted, are better but it's nice to have a taqueria option in downtown, I guess. :)
Right on with New Saigon. I've always enjoyed their food and haven't found much that I haven't liked there. Sad to hear about the smell. . .never noticed it myself but maybe it was a one-off day or something happened within the past 3-4 months.
I admit that I felt the same way about Euclid Hall the first couple times I visited. Solid beer selection but the food seemed a bit "unrefined" (for lack of a better term at this moment). However, after spending some time eating there, you've got to respect the wide range of housemade sausages and variety of meat dishes (outside of burgers, grilled chicken, steaks, etc.) with a tilt towards nose-to-tail eating. Not saying it's the best restaurant out there but I'll support a restaurant that has a solid concept and executes on it. . .albeit a bit "unrefined".
May have to try Bones again. I just seem to have a problem spending $22 (after tax & tip) on ramen. However, I probably should give it all another try with Bonano making it as a James Beard semifinalist for "Best Restaurateur". :)