We made the most of our extended Christmas vacation in Denver to enjoy our favorite dining spots -- and found some new favorites in the process.
by Mandan Lynn on January 20, 2013
Edgewater Inn is in the town of Edgewater, CO -- nestled somewhere between Denver, Wheat Ridge, and Lakewood.We met some friends there for lunch around 2:00pm on a Sunday. The place was about half full when we got there, and nearly every table was full by the time we left. It's not a very big place, but they have a reputation for good pizza, and they were showing the NFL games.I had the smallest (nine-inch) vegetarian pizza. The sauce was on top of the cheese, which momentarily made me worried that there was no cheese on there, but no worries, it was there. It was piled with black olives, red onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and green peppers on a thin crust. I really liked it. One of our friends had a pepperoni calzone, which is "the usual" for him when he goes there, so it must be good. My boyfriend and our other friend had the salad, which had quite a few ingredients and looked pretty good, except it was iceberg lettuce. If it had been my salad, I would have preferred a darker leafy green.The menu wasn't that big -- just calzones, sandwiches, pizzas, soups, and the salad, as well as quite a few appetizers and four dessert options. It's also a bar, so maybe check out their Happy Hour, 3:00-6:00pm Tuesday-Sunday.
by Mandan Lynn on January 17, 2013
Talk of the Thai is an unassuming little restaurant in a strip mall in Lakewood. I never would have found it on my own, but my boyfriend and his parents had been going there for years and knew how awesome it is.We went for dinner -- at 6:45 on a Wednesday night, the restaurant was about half full. Be aware, however, that TOTT is a favorite of Mile Hi Church-goers, so if there is a service or other function at the church, the restaurant often fills up in the moments after the event has ended.All entrees have a lunch or dinner version, depending on time of day -- and like I said, we were there for dinner. So it was, of course, a little more expensive, and I'm assuming the portions were larger. However, lunchers receive a spring roll with their meal, so I was jealous of that. You get your choice of rice, but there is different pricing for rice at lunch and at dinner -- for example, if I'm remembering correctly. at lunch I think you could choose brown or white rice, but at dinner if you wanted brown rice it was $0.50 extra.My boyfriend had the ginger fish, which was fantastic. I got blinded by the idea of peanut sauce, which I love, and I ordered satay beef, failing to remember that I'm sort of over the taste of beef in Asian dishes, though I'm not sure why. Anyway, it wasn't very peanut-y, and I was actually fairly disappointed with it. Plus, it was a huge amount of food, so after I nibbled quite a bit at my boyfriend's fish, I was full and took most of my meal home with me -- which is a win-win for my boyfriend, since he will get to eat the leftovers!My boyfriend's mother ordered the sesame tofu, which was also really good. I'm not always a big tofu fan, but this was slightly crispy on the outside and had a fantastic flavor.The menu was pretty big and included lots of beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian dishes.The surprise delight was the Thai tea. Not knowing what it was, and not being someone who typically orders tea in restaurants, I never would have paid any attention to it had my boyfriend's mom not suggested it. She ordered it right away and insisted I do the same -- and I was so glad I did. It's an iced tea, orange in color, sweet and creamy and lovely. I highly recommend giving it a try.
by Mandan Lynn on January 18, 2013
I had never heard of this place when our friend requested it as the site for her (belated) birthday dinner.We showed up around 6:30 on a Thursday. We had a reservation and were promptly seated and offered drinks. I had the Cocktel del Amor Prohibido, a lovely mix of champagne, strawberry, passionfruit, and I don't know what else. It was good enough to have two! My boyfriend had a beer, his mom had a Malbec wine, and our friend had the traditional Brazilian caipirinha.Our waiter was so friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and what was happening in the restaurant that day. They always do a couple of special dishes that aren't on the menu, and that night those dishes were a blackened steak with chimichurri (my boyfriend's choice) and sea bass with a cranberry sauce (our friend's choice).His mother and I ordered two dishes to share. I got the Prato Iberico, which is like what we would have called a "picado" in Argentina -- a plate with cheeses, olives, figs, meats, dates, and more. She ordered the Feijoada de Marla (they have several versions of feijoada, which is a traditional bean stew -- I wrote about my first experience with this dish several years ago. You can read about it in my Scotland journal!). This particular feijoada didn't have any meat. It came with rice, collard greens, and fried bananas. It was all so good.We were lingering, talking, and we never felt rushed -- which is a welcome break at a restaurant in the States. After a few minutes, we asked to order dessert. There is no official dessert menu, since they make different ones every day, so the waiter came over and recited the four choices available to us that day. We decided to share the coconut almond custard and the chocolate gelato.The custard was good, but the gelato was indescribable! As our waiter said, he thinks the chef will be taking the recipe to his grave -- he went to Italy and researched and experimented with another chef there to come up with this particular concoction. The taste was fine, but it was the texture that really made it special. I don't know how to explain it, but if it is available when you are there, you should order it.
by Mandan Lynn on January 12, 2013
Our most recent trip to the Yardhouse was just before Christmas. We were at the downtown location and it was empty -- the friend who was with us is a Yardhouse regular, and he couldn't get over it. He said the place is always packed, and that if you want a table you need a reservation or expect to wait. It's hugely popular during Happy Hour and beyond.I didn't realize until googling them to get their website and address for you all that this is not exclusively a Denver restaurant. In fact, they have dozens of locations all over the country. I thought maybe I shouldn't even write about it because it's a chain and maybe you can experience the magic in your own backyard(house), but here is why I went ahead with the review:1. The menu is huge and the food is really, really good.2. They have so many beers on tap -- I want to say 100, but can't be sure.3. It's a crazy-popular place for the downtown Denver crowd to meet for Happy Hour, and you're not going to want to miss that vibe.On our first visit here a couple of years ago, we shared the swordfish. I wasn't overly excited about it when we ordered -- my boyfriend seemed to have his heart set on it, so I went for it, and was so glad I did. I still talk about that swordfish, it was that delicious. Sadly, this no longer seems to be on the menu, but you might not miss it -- there are so many steak, seafood, and chicken options, salads and burgers, and great appetizers like lettuce wraps and grilled artichokes.Important question for dessert lovers: is butterscotch pudding the new "it" dessert? As someone with a sweet tooth, I feel like I should know the answer to this, but to be fair I don't often order dessert in restaurants. This is the second time I've seen it on a menu recently, when it used to be just something in mom's refrigerator. Should I be expecting more of this? I can't say I'm disappointed!Dessert-wise, the Yardhouse also offers mini portions of classics like peach cobbler and creme brulee, as well as ice cream, brownies, cheesecake, and draft beer floats.Anyway, back to our most recent visit. We had already eaten elsewhere, so the guys enjoyed some beers (my boyfriend loves the half-Guinness half-pear cider concoction -- I like to drink the pear cider part) and I had what was called the House Tropic, a delightfully sweet mix of pineapple, midori, and something else I can't remember. Very nice.I prefer to recommend to you the one-of-a-kind restaurants I come across, but I can't help it with the Yardhouse. If you're near one, Denver or not, go check it out.
Although Foolish Craig's serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was introduced to it as an awesome place for the first meal of the day, and after a long, chilly walk from a friend's house, we arrived and took a corner booth.My boyfriend kept talking up the crepes, which are the main attraction. I intended to order one, but after looking at the menu I went for, of course, French toast, which I always love. My boyfriend had the crepe called Foolish Craig, and it was filled with bacon, pepper, onion, mushrooms, and had eggs and salsa on top.They also offer lots of omelets (cage-free eggs!), eggs benedict, granola, and so much more. The full breakfast and lunch menu is served all day, 8am to 5pm, so you could also order hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and salads.Foolish Craig's is a well-known and well-established Boulder mainstay. I love their commitment to recycling and using mostly locally grown/raised products!
First, please note that the particular Udi's I visited is in Arvada, CO -- not Denver. However, Arvada wasn't a choice in the dropdown menu of cities, and I wasn't able to just type it in! So Denver gets you close, but the real address is Arvada.I went to Udi's for lunch with six friends -- they had a fantastic large table (we could have brought five more people!) and we took it over for more than two hours. I should just start with this: I can't wait to go back. We went on a Sunday, so we were delighted to find a brunch menu (available Saturday and Sunday from 10-3) -- which we had not been expecting. I usually go straight for the French toast in these situations (and could have chosen Apple Walnut, Strawberry, or plain), but with such a great menu, I hesitated long enough to find the Eggplant panini, complete with goat cheese and red peppers. It was fantastic. And huge. And I ate it all. So good. Like all sandwiches or burgers, it came with my choice of mixed greens, French fries, or kettle chips. The brunch menu included several omelettes, breakfast burritos, and eggs benedict, as well as granola. They have a soup of the day and a variety of sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. The best part is their gluten free option -- simply make the request, and they will make your order with gluten free bread. The menu also makes mention of certain items that are not gluten free. There are options for light appetites, as well -- a hummus plate or macaroni and cheese, among othes. We didn't order any coffee, but they had a tempting and reasonably priced coffee drinks list -- I vow to go back for the Minty Mocha. The restaurant itself was quite large, and there is a parking lot for Udi's customers to use at the Arvada location. There are several other locations throughout the metro, if you happen to find yourself closer to one of the other ones.They're open seven days a week until "9 or later" as it says on the door. Service was friendly, though our waitress didn't seem overly pleased with our request to separate our checks. They also do catering!
Chad's Grill is right by Jose O'Shea's, and is owned by the same guy -- Chad, a friend of my boyfriend's. I had high expectations after my long love affair with Jose O'Shea's, and I was not disappointed.I ordered the Indonesian stirfry (after debating between that and the Chinese lettuce wraps from the appetizer menu) and I really enjoyed it. It comes with all sorts of veggies in that delicious peanut sauce -- you can also add chicken, shrimp, sausage, or crawfish if you're so inclined. My boyfriend ordered the full rotisserie chicken (you can also order a half, but he wanted some to take home) which came with some fantastic mashed potatoes. They only serve free-range chickens!They have some great dishes you don't regularly see on menus -- jumbalaya and buffalo meatloaf, for example -- with enough simple favorites like mac and cheese, salmon, hamburgers, and salads for you less adventurous eaters.As a huge breakfast fan, my mouth waters at the idea of going back someday for brunch -- lots of great selections and complimentary breads and pastries! They also do a bloody mary bar -- not my favorite thing, but I know a lot of people love their tomato vodka.Chad's does a lot of special events, as well. If it's one that you plan, they've got some great menu options. They also regularly host Super Bowl parties and the like. Happy Hour runs 3:00-6:00pm and includes lots of food options.
We went to The Hornet on New Year's Eve -- luckily, we got there early and sat at the bar, because the place quickly filled up around us. I had been there once before for a drink, and I was really excited about their menu as soon as I saw it. We ordered Thai lettuce wraps and the calamari from the appetizer menu, and both were fantastic. We also had a bowl of green chili, and between all of that it was just too much for the two of us. The calamari was probably the best I've had in Denver (maybe not saying much for a land-locked place, but still, it was good) and came with shrimp, garlic, fried onions and black olives. The lettuce wraps could have come with a few more peanuts (I found the tiny chopped pile under the carrots) but I loved the fresh jalepenos. They have a variety of hamburgers and other sandwiches, as well as steak, chicken, fish and chips, ribs and salmon. We loved it so much (and were staying close by) that we went back again on New Year's Day for breakfast! We got there around 11 and the place was hopping, but we managed to secure our same seats at the bar. I had French toast (obviously) which came with a unique banana bourbon syrup -- very good -- and two strips of bacon. The menu says it comes with potatoes, which I don't get too excited about at breakfast, so I requested that they substitute a biscuit instead -- I'd seen them going out on other people's plates and they looked so good! That was no problem, and I enjoyed the biscuit. My boyfriend had the breakfast burrito and loved it. I was so full of bread that I didn't even have room for a taste. Prices are reasonable, and they do great daily specials which are posted on several chalk boards. Enjoy!
I used to live near Jose's, so it was the obvious choice for lunch, dinner, happy hour, or whatever. It's a huge restaurant, with a bar and seating upstairs and an upstairs patio for those warm summer evenings. I always order a fruity margarita, and tend to bounce back and forth between mango and raspberry, though they have several other flavors as well -- including prickly pear cactus, which I tried for the first time. It's really good! I asked the waitress whether or not it was worth it before I ordered, and she said it is tough to explain, but she compared it to a Sweet Tart and said that most people really love it. It's sort of pinkish-purple and sweet and yummy. It's your typical tex-mex menu: burritos, tacos, chimichangas, fajitas. They have some nice salads and appetizers, including Mexican Egg Rolls. A creature of habit when it comes to Jose's, I ordered my favorite vegetarian fajita quesadilla -- which comes full not just of the quesadilla standbys onion and pepper, but also squash, broccoli, and more, with guacamole and sour cream on the side.When we got there, around 5:00pm on a Wednesday, we went right upstairs because we like to sit at the bar. However, Happy Hour was already in full swing (complete with a free taco bar) and there was nowhere to sit! So we went back downstairs and took a lovely two-person booth by a window. When you sit down, you receive a bowl of chips and salsa -- typical for Mexican restaurants, and always appreciated. They do a brunch on Saturday and Sunday, but I've only heard tell of that, I haven't checked it out for myself. So if you do, please share!
I've been to the Interstate three times now, most recently with three of my best girlfriends. The menu is small -- which is a relief, because everything is so good and it's hard enough to make a decision as it is! For those who insist on always trying something new (great idea!), the menu does change -- so go back to see what's new! I'm not sure how often it changes but I do know that each time I've been there, I've seen things that weren't there before. I loved my bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado sandwich, though if I had one complaint it would be that it was so huge that the toasted bread sort of scraped the top of my mouth as I tried to bite in! The appetizer menu is all comfort food -- deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken livers. They have burgers, salads, and sandwiches, and lovely creative entrees -- like pistachio stuffed pork loin. They are proud of their whiskey selection, and the dessert menu lists dessert whiskeys, but I skipped right over that and opted for a root beer float!The have a great bar with Happy Hour, some outdoor seating, and a fantastic old car in the corner -- you can eat in there! With room for two, it makes a really adorable date spot.
We happened upon Blue Agave when we were in Aurora for a meeting. Wanting to skip rush hour traffic, we left super early with the intention of having an early dinner somewhere. As we neared our ultimate destination, we kept an eye out for something that looked good -- and Mexican food, to us, always looks good.We were there at 4:30, which meant we were the only ones there. Our waitress was so friendly and engaging, and perfectly attentive throughout our meal -- which dragged out a bit.In luck, we arrived during Happy Hour, which meant half-price house margs and a couple of beer specials, to which I paid no mind after I saw the half-price margarita option. They also had a couple of half-price food specials, like nachos, but we ordered chimichangas. They were pretty good. I always think I like chimichangas a lot more than I do. Maybe I just like to say it. Anyway, I was happy enough with my meal, but the menu was pretty big and I did waver back and forth before deciding. I was really tempted by anything that had chorizo as an option, as well as by the vegetarian burrito -- because when I'm not eating chorizo, I'm eating vegetables. They had a lot of breakfast options, which did not seem to be limited to breakfast time, as well as seafood, salads, hamburgers, and sopapillas.I enjoyed this meal, and the margaritas were good (nice and sweet!), and if you're craving Mexican food and you're in the area, this is a great choice. If, however, you are venturing out into the metro with the intention of finding the best Mexican food restaurant experience that you can find, you might be able to do better. For the value, though, this was great -- our check arrived, and my boyfriend commented on what a great deal it was: two margs, three beers, and two chimis came to about $34.
We went to Breadworks in Boulder for lunch with a friend and my boyfriend's mom. It was a weekday, 11:30, but already the place was hopping. I noticed the yummy pastries and other treats in the case right inside the door, but of course we reluctantly moved past that and toward healthier fare.Breadworks offers a huge variety of salads, soups, sandwiches, as well as other entrees like pizza and pineapple curry, which was very tempting. It's a cafeteria-style set-up, so we wandered through the whole line before deciding what we really wanted. My boyfriend's mom ordered the spinach pie and some steamed vegetables, which were both fantastic. I had the vegetarian chili, which came with choice of bread -- I had the honey whole wheat, which is now in my refrigerator (minus two bites), waiting to be made into French toast. My boyfriend and our friend both had some sort of a fish chowder, tomato based, but I can't remember what type of seafood.You can order to dine in or to go, and there are also ready-made options available if you are really in a hurry. I was browsing their quick breads, whole loaves of which were in the grab-and-go area -- blueberry yogurt, lemon poppyseed -- YUM! They also make a wide variety of yeast breads. I didn't see them sitting out, but my boyfriend told me about some of them, and five of them were available as choices to accompany the soup. And don't forget the mountain of sweet options: cookies, pies, cakes, muffins -- you name it. And they run a wholesale business, as well -- so don't be surprised to see your favorite Breadworks treats showing up in nearby restaurants or grocery stores.Vegans, vegetarians, and even gluten-free eaters will definitely feel at home here -- there are plenty of options for the non-carnivore.
The Med has a huge place in my heart because it was the dinner location for the first date I had with my wonderful boyfriend and travel partner. It was so packed when we walked in that night -- we gave our name at the door to be put on the waiting list for a table, and we found room at the bar for a drink while we waited. As the night went on, we never heard our names called -- I'm sure we just missed them -- but we didn't care! We had a great time, and we ordered food there at the bar between glasses of wine.That night, they had a buffalo steak special, which we shared and loved.Upon returning recently, even though we weren't really intending to eat, I spent a little more time with the menu, which includes an impressive variety of seafood, pastas, salads, steaks -- including rarities like duck leg confit, lamb shank, shrimp kabobs, and paella. We couldn't resist Happy Hour and the fried artichoke hearts, though, so we thoroughly enjoyed that, my boyfriend with a beer and I with an out-of-this-world white sangria.(Do yourself a favor and order the white sangria.)It's a big place, sharp and modern, with a nice bar and friendly bartenders. I also admire their gluten-free options, and that they are willing to accommodate various dietary needs if they are able to do so.I love The Med. I would highly recommend making a reservation if you are hell-bent on eating there, and you should be.
The Flagstaff House is truly a fine dining experience in Boulder -- one of the area's nicest (and thereby most expensive) restaurants. It's a special occasion restaurant, as far as we're concerned, but special occasions abound -- so you'll want to make a reservation, and plan on spending two or three hours for your meal.The waitstaff is very well trained and knowledgeable. They explain what they're serving as they go, everything is incredibly prim and proper, and you won't be welcome (or even comfortable) wearing sneakers or t-shirts. Even so, the restaurant doesn't feel stuffy -- it feels friendly and homey. It's in Colorado, after all. And you can't beat the view! If you like wine, they've got 12,000 bottles in their cellar.We were there with my boyfriend's parents, and we had a table for four in the middle of the room. The menu is subject to change, and they do special meals for holidays like Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. I had the lobster soup for my first course and the filet mignon to fill up.First courses range in price from about $15 to almost $300 (caviar!). Mains run between $30 and $70. If you have any tummy space left over, dive into the dessert menu (or have coffee or tea). I had the chocolate bag -- which is a little box made of chocolate (there really shouldn't be any other kind) and filled with white chocolate mousse, almond cake, and berries. The chocolate was really the best part, with the mousse a close second. The cake was okay, but when you're already full enough that you probably shouldn't be eating any more, you might skip it. I couldn't even finish the whole chocolate box. When we come upon the next special day worthy of a Flagstaff dinner, I plan to order ice cream. They have amazing-sounding flavors like salted caramel, white chocolate mint, and -- get this -- white pepper and goat cheese (the curiosity is eating me). They also have organic filled chocolates, which you can take home in a gift box.The food is spectacular, but it's really about the atmosphere and experience that makes it worthy of life's happiest events. I look forward to going here again.
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