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Suvir Saran

Denver Restaurant Recommendations

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As for diners, if you hear recs for the Denver Diner or the historicDavies Chuck Wagon Diner (both on different parts of Colfax), keep in mind that you will enjoy both of these options more if (a) you are really intoxicated and starving and there aren't any other options in your immediate vicinity and (b) you really love sitting amidst both heavily-pierced club kids and truckers with Elvis sideburns.

I never thought I'd see the day that Davy's Chuck Wagon Diner hit the eG pages, but I wish to correct the notion that it's a down-and-out kind of place. Rather, it's a polished-chrome and crispy-bacon kind of diner with decent food. Saturday-morning breakfast there isn't bad at all. I've been there totally sober (and no piercings or sideburns) and enjoyed it.

But maybe it's because I grew up going there with my brother. :raz:

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(All walking distance from your hotel)

Is Duffy's still open (a Google indicates that it might have moved or closed)? If so, a great place for breakfast (think of waitresses setting their cigarette at the end of the bar before delivering your pancakes to your table) or to close out the night. Not knowing its reputation, I found myself asking directions to Duffy's at 8AM -- I got a few odd looks.

My wife still hoes to the Rocky Mountain Diner when she's in Denver for work. A good ol' hangout spot.

And I like the Brown Palace, because it's old, because it's lobby is great place for a cocktail and because the Ship's Bar puts out a decent burger with a little local charm.

Do they still have that combination Steakhouse/strip club downtown?


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I went to Davies Chuck Wagon Diner on a Saturday morning earlier this year and sat at the counter between the afore-mentioned club kids and truckers. I had their $4.95 special that included steak.

Pro: I'm not sure you can get a steak anywhere else for around 5 bucks.

Con: It definitely tasted like a 5-dollar steak.

It didn't remind me of the diners I went to growing up. Their hash browns just weren't as good (not greasy enough...heh heh). I would be interested in trying their CFS though.

I can recommend the omakase at Sushi Sasa that JWest mentioned. Sit at the sushi bar and start with the cheapest option--then let them know if you are still hungry before the desserts arrive. And get some Wakatake Sake!

Busboy, Duffy's closed. The steakhouse/jug emporium you are thinking of might be the Diamond Cabaret. The Sullivan restaurant group took over the kitchen there and it is called Oscar's. I only know this factoid because I love Troy Guard's other places like nine75 (which is slated to have a second location open next month in Westminster on 120th). I ate at the Rocky Mtn. Diner occasionally when I worked downtown (the pot roast is reliable), but I wouldn't make a special trip there.


Edited by rlm (log)

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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I went to Davies Chuck Wagon Diner on a Saturday morning earlier this year and sat at the counter between the afore-mentioned club kids and truckers. I had their $4.95 special that included steak.

Pro: I'm not sure you can get a steak anywhere else for around 5 bucks.

Con: It definitely tasted like a 5-dollar steak.

It didn't remind me of the diners I went to growing up.  Their hash browns just weren't as good (not greasy enough...heh heh). I would be interested in trying their CFS though.

I can recommend the omakase at Sushi Sasa that JWest mentioned. Sit at the sushi bar and start with the cheapest option--then let them know if you are still hungry before the desserts arrive. And get some Wakatake Sake!

Busboy, Duffy's closed. The steakhouse/jug emporium you are thinking of might be the Diamond Cabaret. The Sullivan restaurant group took over the kitchen there and it is called Oscar's. I only know this factoid because I love Troy Guard's other places like nine75 (which is slated to have a second location open next month in Westminster on 120th). I ate at the Rocky Mtn. Diner occasionally when I worked downtown (the pot roast is reliable), but I wouldn't make a special trip there.

Too bad about Duffy's.

I had a friend of a friend who dated one of the "girls" at the Diamond Cabaret (serious mid-life crisis). Turn out that the dancers hated working the steak room -- the steaks were good enough that the girls were ignored and the tips were low.

Must have been a heck of a steak. :laugh:

Is Chipultapec's still the best and possibly the only Mexican Restaurant/Jazz Club in town?


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I'm no prude, but I don't understand how anyone could eat a steak while a stranger is simultaneously shaking their nether regions and good-n-plentys in your face. Is this a guy thing? ;)

El Chapultepec is still going.

At Sushi Sasa, if you're really hungry, don't let them talk you into splitting the cheapest tasting menu with another person (be greedy and get your own). The Diablo Roll is quite good. I've had the omakase a couple of times and they started with oysters each time (once they were from Boston and more recently, hama hamas from Washington state) and later brought out a cooked "kitchen sampler" plate with things like miso black cod and wagyu beef followed by various kinds of sushi. I really liked a small cup of fatty toro served with a dipping sauce, and a salmon/crab/avocado/asparagus concoction rolled up in cucumbers. Pass on the dessert course and add a savory one if they'll let you, as you're not going to a sushi place for Choco-Banana Surprise, are you?


“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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Again, thanks for all the suggestions!

I'll pretty much stay around downtown Denver. If it works out, I"ll try to go to Fruition, either by cab or by public transit (#12 stops within two blocks from the restaurant).

Restaurant Kevin Taylor, Palace Arms, Rioja are on the short list now. The gourmet food store in downtown looks like a good option for lunch.

If I'm adventurous, I might try the Denver Diner on Colfax, near the Convention Center. I'm leaving next Sat. Of course, I'll have a full report when I get back.


Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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If I'm adventurous, I might try the Denver Diner on Colfax, near the Convention Center. I'm leaving next Sat. Of course, I'll have a full report when I get back.

If you can't make it to Frasca, at least don't miss Fruition. Your taste buds will thank you.

Please don't go out of your way for the Denver Diner, as its main selling point is that it's open 24 hours and relatively close to several concert venues. There's nothing adventurous about it, except for the prospect that you might be accosted by a crack head on Colfax. ;)


“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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I was in Denver for a convention at the convention center in 2005. Of the places mentioned upthread, I did have lunch at Rioja, which was fine, and dinner at Bistro Vendome, which didn't go well -- slow, rude service and disappointing food. The best meal I had on that trip was probably at Zengo.

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I was in Denver for a convention at the convention center in 2005.  Of the places mentioned upthread, I did have lunch at Rioja, which was fine, and dinner at Bistro Vendome, which didn't go well -- slow, rude service and disappointing food.  The best meal I had on that trip was probably at Zengo.

Bistro Vendome has consistently improved since the Rioja owners took it over. I didn't go back for a long time until I heard of the management change. I listed both for brunch recs, as that's the best time to go to, imo, although I've had some great dinners at Rioja too.

A problem with Denver restaurants in general is consistency, as I've had varied experiences at Zengo too (even within the span of one meal). Of course, ordering is key at any establishment in the country since every place has a few knock-your-socks off dishes that will make an immediate impact (and sometimes a few clunkers as well). I've generally had good luck in Denver asking staffers for recs (especially the bartenders), and I always scan the reviews online of local critics beforehand to see if they mention any highlights or lowlights on the menu. They don't always agree, of course, but if you can find a place or dish that mesmerizes all of them, then it's a safe bet.

The Denver Post food section has Tucker Shaw's reviews and an online dining guide. The Rocky Mountain News has John Lehndorff's reviews and an online dining guide. Westword has Jason Sheehan's reviews, a "Best Of" section that contains their annual awards, and an online restaurant search. Google any of Lori Midson's reviews online at AOL CityGuide, GoColorado or any number of other places (and nab a copy of Colorado Avid Golfer magazine for her dining column). You could also pick up a copy of 5280 magazine when you are in town.

Frasca and Fruition are my personal iron-clad recommendations for the higher end (keeping in mind that Fruition has only been open about 4 months and Frasca's been perfecting things for 3 years).


“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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Okay Denver Foodies,

I know there are restaurants listed on threads but honestly, please tell me your "must" top ten recommendations where you would take out-of-towners to dine or at least tell them to eat there.

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I'm not sure I can come up with 10, "can't miss" places.

1. Frasca (Boulder): Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous

2. Rioja: As I've said before, the pork belly is to die for

3. Potager: Especially if you're hosting vegetarians

4. Luca d'Italia: I've always been pleased, but it's had some bad reviews on this board

5: Table 6: I really like the relaxed atmosphere and the food is generally very good

Others:

Fruition? My experience was less than overwhelming (although definitely good), but others have had good experiences.

Mizuna? I haven't been in forever, but I remember liking it

Vesta Dipping Grill? Fun, but nothing you can't get elsewhere

Casa Bonita? Terrible food, but a strangely interesting Denver dining experience. :raz:

The Fort? I've never been, but it's a western experience for out-of-towners


Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.

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Like BekkiM, I am not sure I truly have 10 clear-cut “can’t miss” places in mind for the Denver area like I have for SF. I immediately thought of 4 (with numbers 2 through 4 subject to change based on my own personal culinary schizophrenia). 100 other places are tied for slots 5 through 10. There are many different types of places here that I enjoy equally (from sushi to Mexican to sandwiches to steak), and I’m excited that the dining scene keeps getting better. There are particular dishes like the duck confit leg at Café Star or the $3 rajas con queso pupusas at Pupusas Sabor Hispano (thanks to critic Lori Midson for the rec) or the cassoulet maison at Z Cuisine that can rock with the best of them. But while Denver is no longer a “cow town,” we still lack places that are particularly dressy and formal like Per Se (except for maybe high tea at the Brown Palace, but you can't really compare that to a place like Per Se either).

Here’s my current 4 (with the number one slot being unchanged since August of 2004 when they opened):

1. Frasca Food and Wine-Boulder. Simply unbeatable, especially if you love wine, whether you’re an aficionado or a newbie. Not many places in the country have a down-to-earth master somm walking the floor (along with a cadre of knowledgeable somms and servers) giving your Aunt Edna from Toledo detailed advice on Barbarescos.

2. Fruition-Denver. It just opened this year, but I’ve been stunned at the quality of the food. It’s small and they have an equally tiny wine list, but they are so friendly and welcoming and I hope they make buckets of money.

3. Rioja-Denver. The pork belly is indeed to die for. I have to throw in my love for their weekend brunch (especially if you just walk in, sidle up to the bar, and throw back a Loca Hot while perusing the menu).

4. nine75-Denver. This place is more funky and casual than the others, but Troy Guard has got the “goods” when it comes to the food. It also helps if you have fond music memories from the ‘80’s and can effortlessly switch between eating sushi, meatloaf, quesadillas, and cotton candy in one sitting. I will forgive them for forcing Journey upon me when I click on their website.

My out-of-town guests vary, so I try to take them to places I know they will enjoy (although I love nudging people outside of their comfort zones too). My friends who have procreated DO love it when we take their offspring to the evil Casa Bonita since they’re running around elated at the cliff divers and ski-ball. Mi madre is a teetotaler and wouldn’t appreciate Frasca (she would be mortified to see me quaffing Prosecco), so I take her to places that are more her speed (I won't give them any publicity though).


Edited by rlm (log)

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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I am ashame to say that I live 45 minuts from Denver and 30 minutes from Boulder and unfortunally i never go out for dinner ( time and life :-P ).Only excuse is that I am not from here :raz:

Anyway at the end of June is our anniversary and I would like to treat my hubby to a fine dining experience .I was checking , la Frasca ,Fruition and Mizuna.

I have seen la Frasca and Fruition are pretty popular and well reccomended ( even thought I dont do particolarly for north italian cusine and I am from Italy ).

Any suggestion , I would like a nice atmosphere ,something special , we havent done anything in a long time and woul love to have the best experience.Maybe go to a show after or before , something nice :smile:

Thank you


Vanessa

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Frasca is, hands down, the best restaurant in the Denver-Boulder area. There's just no comparison. But, if you're not interested in Italian cuisine, I don't know much about Boulder places, but can heartily recommend Potager as a great, romantic venue. The seating in the back gardern is small (teensy, weeny tables), but lovely and the enclosed (at least roofed) seating in the back is also very romantic. What I really love about Potager (besides the fresh, seasonal produce, the fabulous bread, and the relaxed yet comprehensive service) is the wine pairing. Every course has a suggested pairing and you can order very reasonably priced half-glasses of each so that you rememeber your last course as clearly as your first. If you go the bottle route, the wine list is short, but the prices are good.

The drawback for Potager is that they don't take reservations and by 7:00, the place is pretty full. However, we arrived at 6:00 last Saturday and were immediately seated out in the garden. The early seating, though, could be perfect if you wanted to catch a show at DCPA.

Dessert on Saturday? The caramel ice cream was right up there with one of the best desserts I've ever tasted--led only by the chocolate malt at Frasca and the chocolate soup at Fifth Floor.


Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.

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Bekki, thank you for the tip!

Looking at the Frasca website , I was happy to see they have a nice twist on the norther italian cusine.I am intrigued by the wine list and the chance to pair our meal with some good wine.

I guess I will go for the Frasca then ,I aslo remebered that someone at work mentioned the Frasca to me ,asking me if I ever tryed and higly recomended.

Thank you for your help and input :smile:


Vanessa

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Okay Denver Foodies,

I know there are restaurants listed on threads but honestly, please tell me your "must" top ten recommendations where you would take out-of-towners to dine or at least tell them to eat there.

Rita--

As you probably know, choosing a top 10 "must-eat-here" list isn't an easy task. That said, when I'm pressed to choose, which is often, here's where I send people. These are also the restaurants that I eat at time and time again, not because I must, but because I want to.

1. Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder

2. Fruition, Denver

3. Mizuna, Denver

4. Deluxe, Denver

5. Rioja, Denver

6. Vesta Dipping Grill, Denver

7. Z Cuisine, Denver

8. Duo, Denver

9. Nine 75

10. Cafe Brazil, Denver

As an aside, Denver also trumpets a litany of excellent ethnic joints.


-Midson-

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart, who looks at her watch

-James Beard-

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We just got back from the Colorado grand tour, but tragically, the highlight of our dining experience in Denver WAS Casa Bonita. I tried to talk the kids into a more cultured choice, but you can't argue with cliff diving, guys in a gorilla suit, and unlimited sopapillas.

And I will say this -- although overpriced for the quality of food served (guess some of that pays for the entertainment and the light bill), the food WAS better than my last trip 16 years ago. It was NOT cuisine, but it was maybe a half-step up from Taco Bell. It was hot (temperature, not Scoville level), and the service was prompt and friendly. And it made my kids happy, and no one got sick from it.

Maybe by the next time the girls will be old enough to get dressed up and dine someplace nice.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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We just got back from the Colorado grand tour, but tragically, the highlight of our dining experience in Denver WAS Casa Bonita.

Wow. If Casa de Hades was the culinary highlight, I almost hate to ask where else you ate. :raz:


“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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Hi----I'm new here. :-)

My new favorite restaurant is Aji in Boulder. The arepas with lobster? To. Die. For. I have no idea what is in that incredible butter stuff they serve alongside, but I would happily dive in a bathtub full of it!

I went to Potager for the first time about two weeks ago. I was totally looking forward to it, having heard so many people rave about it. But to be honest, I was a little disappointed. The food was good, and I really appreciate that they source their food from the Boulder Farmers' Market. But I thought that for the price (which was steep), I would have liked to see more artistry from the kitchen. The food was very straightforward, mostly things like roasted chicken, corn/zucchini saute, and so on. It did let the quality of the ingredients shine through, but hey, I've got those same ingredients in my fridge since I shop the farmer's market too.

I'd love to hear about some more mid-price restaurants in Denver---maybe not places as wonderful as Frasca or Fruition, but convivial places with good food to go on a Saturday night.


_________________________

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn

"Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn." ~Garrison Keillor

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Welcome to the Society Bruschetta! Looking forward to many great posts.

I used to go to a Moroccan restaurant sort of near the airport - any idea if it still is around? They were very friendly and the food was pretty good as well.

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Welcome to the Society Bruschetta!  Looking forward to many great posts.

I used to go to a Moroccan restaurant sort of near the airport - any idea if it still is around?  They were very friendly and the food was pretty good as well.

Which airport? If you mean the old Stapleton, there's a place called Mataam Fez that used to be a little kitchy (belly dancers!) but with terrific food. They had a bistella appetizer that was really good. The Boulder location is closed, but I think the Denver location on Colfax Ave. is still open.


_________________________

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn

"Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn." ~Garrison Keillor

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See my report on Fruition here. To those of you who recommended it, thank you for doing a lot to make an unscheduled visit to Denver a pleasure! I'm impressed with the city and look forward to a scheduled visit in the future.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Hey! I am not from Denver, but I just visited, and I have to put in a plug for one of the best Japanese restaurants I have ever enjoyed -- I don't know Denver well enough to know if it's in the Denver top 10, but if it isn't, Denver must have some amazing places to top it. We ate at Domo, a Japanese restaurant with both excellent food and a really unique and elegant ambiance -- you could eat outside in a lovely Japanese garden, or inside, which was almost equally impressive. I ordered the daily special nabe -- they have a number of seafood stew options -- and I enjoyed it extremely. My friends who eat there frequently say that pretty much everything on the menu is that good. They had an exciting array of teas too -- many different kinds. And there was a fascinating room full of Japanese artifacts. Also given the quality and amount of food and the lovely atmosphere, the price was extremely reasonable. So I can't speak to rest of Denver cuisine, but Domo is phenomenal.

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As an outsider who is looking to move to the Denver area soon, and I cook for a living so I obviously want to know more about the current food scene, how does Potager and Restaurant Aix stack up against places like Fruition and Mizuna? Also is Luca D'Italia, the sister restaurant of Mizuna, any good? As is authentic Italian. And what is the story with places like the Palace Arms and Kevin Taylor's? They seem to be doing interesting food but are they busy?? And any other thoughts and restaurants that you think are great please just let me know! Thanks guys...(Info from other local cooks is greatly appreciated)

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