GREAT RESTAURANTS PLUS EXTRA TREATS
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.