Essentially America

DELICIOUS DENVER

GREAT RESTAURANT­S PLUS EXTRA TREATS

- By Mary Moore Mason

Denver, Colorado’s splendid capital city, is not only well known for its scenic ‘Mile High’ location near the Rocky Mountains, its colourful Western heritage, and its great museums, sports events and shopping but also, increasing­ly, for its delicious dining.

A great place to start is in the city’s grand old Denver Union Station’s

unique Mercantile dining & provision

restaurant and market combo (www. mercantile­denver.com). Its James Beard Award-winning chef and owner Alex Seidel focuses on ‘elevated comfort food’, some of it, such as Shepherd’s

Halo Cheese, SheepSkyr and seasonal vegetables, produced on his own tenacre local farm. His creativity knows no end. Try the home-made fennel sausage, the almond-crusted sole with potato pavé and parsnip crema or the poached Alaska king crab, and make sure to leave room for the passion-fruit custard or the pumpkin cheesecake. You can also take away delicious charcuteri­e, cheeses and other treats from the premise’s Europeanst­yle market.

Also worth noting is Denver Union Station’s impressive 1914 Beaux-Arts architectu­re and its transforma­tion into a transporta­tion hub as well as a dining, shopping and entertainm­ent centre. For an overview, indulge in a Cooper Lounge

cocktail sipped on the balcony overlookin­g the transforme­d ticket hall. For more familiarit­y, stay overnight in the 112-room, luxurious, independen­t Crawford Hotel (www.thecrawfor­dhotel.com).

Lively, adjacent LoDo’s (Lower Downtown’s) Larimer Square, where Denver began as a rip-roaring Gold Rush frontier town back in the 19th century, is also rich in tempting restaurant­s. Among them is Rioja (www.riojadenve­r. com), which boasts another James

Beard Award-winning chef, Jennifer Jasinski. Elegant in décor, with an exhibition kitchen, copper-topped bar and hand-blown glass fixtures, it features Mediterran­ean-style cuisine produced from locally-grown produce. Check out the spice-rubbed lamb loin served with farro couscous, falafel, roasted garlic yogurt and strawberry-mint compote.

Nearby, TAG (www.tag-restaurant.com)

specialise­s in Asian fusion cuisine under the guidance of acclaimed chef Troy Guard, who proclaims that his food and

handcrafte­d cocktails are “unrestrain­ed by national boundaries”. This stance obviously benefits from his experience in Singapore, Japan, New York and Hawaii. So you might discover on the menu a taco sushi, miso cod or something called an Angry Volcano Roll. But be sure to leave room for the signature banana cream pie. For delicious, grass-fed beef or seafood, you could head for TAG’s sister restaurant, Guard and Grace (www.guardandgr­ace. com) in the lobby level of an office building in downtown’s California Street.

Worth noting while in the Larimer Square neighbourh­ood are Tattered Cover, one of America’s best independen­t book stores; the Museum of Contempora­ry Art Denver, designed by London architect David Adjaye (check out its rooftop bar); Wynkoop Brewing Co, Denver’s first and largest brewpub; and Coors Field, home of the Colorado

Rockies baseball team and featuring a great craft beer bar and rooftop views of the Rocky Mountains. And then there are all the neighbourh­ood’s delightful boutiques and gift shops.

Head for the trendy Highlands

neighbourh­ood, north-west of downtown for Linger (www.lingerdenv­er.com),

located in a historic mortuary overlookin­g the Denver skyline and offering food from around the world. While in the area, check out the Tennyson Street Cultural District with its art galleries, book stores, boutique clothing shops and other restaurant options.

Or venture into RiNo (the River North Art District north of downtown) for

Work& Class(www. work and class denver. com), focusing on Latin and American food, sited in a shipping container and promising “a square meal, stiff drinks and fair prices”. This is one of Denver’s trendiest neighbourh­oods, full of street art, galleries, performanc­e spaces, live music venues, cutting-edge eateries, the colourful Denver Central Market and the city’s highest concentrat­ions of craft breweries and wineries.

And speaking of food and drink in general, two events to include if you are in Denver at the time are Slow Food Nations

(July 19-21), which features 100 exhibitors, cooking and gardening events, talks and one-of-a-kind dinners, and the Great American Beer Festival (October 3-5), which boasts ‘the largest collection of US beer ever assembled’. Or at any time you can follow the new Denver Beer Trail,

which features 39 craft breweries, many within the walkable downtown area.

 ??  ?? Enjoying the October Great American Beer Festival
Enjoying the October Great American Beer Festival
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 ??  ?? Historic Larimer Square is a hub of restaurant­s, shops and nightlife
Historic Larimer Square is a hub of restaurant­s, shops and nightlife
 ??  ?? Rioja’s awardwinni­ng chef Jennifer Jasinski with the catch of the day
Rioja’s awardwinni­ng chef Jennifer Jasinski with the catch of the day
 ??  ?? Union Station’s unique Mercantile dining & provision focuses on ‘elevated comfort food’
Union Station’s unique Mercantile dining & provision focuses on ‘elevated comfort food’
 ??  ?? A plate of tuna tartar at Rioja overlookin­g Larimer Square
A plate of tuna tartar at Rioja overlookin­g Larimer Square
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 ??  ?? The Denver Central Market is a culinary draw for the RiNo neighbourh­ood
The Denver Central Market is a culinary draw for the RiNo neighbourh­ood
 ??  ?? There are great views of the Denver skyline from Linger’s roof terrace
There are great views of the Denver skyline from Linger’s roof terrace
 ??  ?? The Modern Italian room in the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art
The Modern Italian room in the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art
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