Dining in Denver

Carpe Per Diem!

I am in Denver (well, actually Westminster) for two weeks for work. Having never been to the area, I don’t know where I should eat, and going to chains just feels sad. For any locals or other visitors, where are the meals I should not miss?

A few categories I’d definitely want to hit:
Steakhouse (bonus for local meat)
Brewpub/Gastropub/otherwise beer-centric meals (I know you have more than just Coors out here)
Thai (I have 2 weeks away from the wife, who is not a fan)
Otherwise, anything uniquely local

I don’t want every meal to be $100, so a good idea on prices would also be nice.

How far are you willing to drive? I’m on the wrong side of town… so most of my recommendations are going to be a 30+ minute drive for you.

For Steakhouse, I’d hit up Lohi Steakbar on 32nd and Tejon. Awesome place, and if the steak isn’t what you’re looking for that night, they have the best Porkchop and homemade applesause in Colorado.

For Brewpub food, either the Wynkoop or Breckenridge brewery will set you up nicely, both are downtown by the ball yard.

Denver has two local Thai places, Swing Thai has four locations around town, and Thai Basil has a couple. Either one will satisfy your craving.

And feel free to PM me if your heading out. I’m always looking for an excuse for good food!

County Line Texas BBQ used to be good. Morton’s Steak House was one of my favorites.

Casa Bonita is more than just a South Park episode. The food isn’t that good, in my opinion, but it might be worth going to just for the experience.

Good God, asterion, no. Casa Bonita is all kinds of ick - the food is terrible. And I can’t say that the experience is all that worth having. (Tho’ the endless sopapillas have their own charm.)

Other than that, I have only this to add: my aunt lives in Westminster!

There used to be this place, the New York Delicatessen, on Pearl Street mall in Boulder. My mom loved the place. Every once in a while there’ll be a smell that immediately takes me back. Good food, but it’s not there anymore, I don’t think.

If you’re into pasta, there’s a place called (I think) the Blue Parrot. They make their own noodles, thick and yummy. Recommended.

Skip mortons its a national chain with poor quality and expensive prices. The other suggestions are good.

For an adventure … try The Fort http://www.thefort.com/

Check out the resteraunt section of westword.

Along the lines of the Fort with more history is The Buckhorn Exchange, it is right on the light rail line so you don’t have to drive (and park) downtown. They have excellent steaks/exotic meats. The decor is eclectic, and I think the coolest bit is the bar upstairs with liquor license number 1.

If you like Mexican style food I recommend Hacienda Colorado, a local chain. Their take on Mexican food is a bit different, but I love it.

Another more local Mexican restaurant in the Westminster area is El Jimador, there are several around town, but the closest to Westminster is:
http://local.yahoo.com/info-33703200-el-jimador-tres-north-glenn
Gunther Toody’s is a local chain of '50’s style diners. The food is good but not great, but they are fun to go to.
http://liquidcommon.com/gunthertoodys#food-specials

I will agree with everything said about Casa Bonita above, the food is awful, but the experience is fun. How often can you tell people you went to a real live location featured in South Park?

If you are heading up into the mountains at all, Idaho Springs hosts Tommyknocker brewery and restaurant, good beer, good food.
http://www.tommyknocker.com/

Enjoy your time here.

If you like meat, I highly, highly recommend the Rodizio Grill. It’s a Brazilian steakhouse, where they walk around with a wide variety of delicious grilled meats on swords and you eat what you want until meat is literally coming out of your ears. Literally. We went with some friends who live in the area for New Year’s Even one year and it was both memorable and delicious. (Although it made the subsequent dancing a little sluggish, so I don’t recommend dancing afterward. Lying on the couch and moaning is a much better alternative.)

I’ll second the Buckhorn, I had an outstanding buffalo prime rib there.

Westminster is a dead zone for restaurants. It is chain central. You are about equidistant from downtown Denver and downtown Boulder, so get a cab to either one (or both, on different nights.) The area around Coors Field is known as LoDo (Lower Downtown) and is full of good casual dining with a couple of brewpubs. The aforementioned Rodizio Grill is there as well. The Denver Chophouse is right next to Rodizio and is a nice steakhouse where a lot of pro athletes hang out after games. It is not a high-end steakhouse that will set you back $100+ per person, but is is still very nice and tasty.

In Boulder, walk down the Pearl Street Mall and take your pick from fine dining to the most casual of joints. Just off the Mall is The Med, a nice Tapas place, and a few doors away is the Rio, a Mexican joint. Be careful of the margaritas - trust me on this.

On one end of the Mall is Jax Fish House, a nice place for drinks or dinner or both. It is a hopping place run by a winner of Top Chef. On the mall you’ll find ethnic restaurants of all kinds, plus a few oddball joints. The Kitchen is all kinds of awesome and very Boulder. If you’re by yourself you might be able to snag a spot at the bar at Frasca Food and Wine, one of the best restaurants in the country. It is booked months in advance but saves a few spots for singles each night at the bar.

P.S. Casa Bonita is the worst restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. It is aggressively bad. Go if you must, but don’t order food unless it is chips and salsa.

D’Corazon (mexican) downtown has pretty good margaritas.

We also went to a place called Jax Fish House which was pretty good.

Try Tocabe - it’s an American Indian restaurant, and shouldn’t cost more than $20. The food is incredibly fresh - fry bread with all sorts of toppings, including buffalo; it will knock your socks off. My husband and I go there often :slight_smile: It’s owned and run by Native Americans and is located at 44th and Lowell.

Hey, I grew up in Albuquerque. Trust me, I knew the food wasn’t very good. But OMD did say he was looking for something uniquely local.

Besides, I’ve gotta give an old poker buddy bad advice. Next time he won’t believe me when I say I’m not bluffing.

Well, then he could double up the per diem on a real meal…he might even get THREE per diems out of it while it blows through his system.

Casa Bonita: A Westword blog probably described Casa Bonita best, saying “It’s like Disney had sex with Tijuana and left the goofy-looking bastard to fend for itself in a random strip mall on Colfax.”

+1 on D’Corazon…get the Carnitas. Do NOT settle for the Rio across the street. The Margs are better, the food is MUCH worse.

Well, along with the meal money, I also have a rental car and willingness to drive when it’s worth it. So anything in either area is fair game.

One thing I didn’t mention before: I’m along with a fish-is-fine vegetarian. Options to accommodate (or cater to) her are also appreciated.

I know where you should go to satisfy your own wishes as well as your co-workers. Get on 36 (main Denver-Boulder highway that runs through the heart of Westminster) and go West towards the mountains. You never have to leave this road to get to your destination. It takes you right into the heart of Boulder (about 10-12 miles) and becomes 28th street. Pearl Street will be a main crossroads with a stoplight, and just a couple hundred yards on the left will be a restaurant called Chez Thuy. Turn in and there is a parking lot behind it. It is a Vietnamese place, but has a lot of Thai dishes as well, and half of the entrees are vegetarian.

It isn’t elegant by any means, but it has fantastic food at great prices. It is a Boulder institution that few people outside the city know about. If you like Asian cuisine with vegetarian options, this is the ploace. It is absolutely fantastic. Trust me.

On the way back, you can go a couple of blocks north to Valmont Street, turn east, then south on Wilderness Place to the Boulder Berr Company. It is a brewery/pub with a nice patio to have a fresh beer on. As you leave, turn right and almost an immediate right again onto Foothills Parkway. This will dump you back out onto 36 heading back to Westminster.

I am trying it now. Fresh and delicious.

Past days have included Jax Fish House in LoDo (every bite was delicious, if a bit small on the fish portion) and Boulder Cork up in Boulder (good steak, miserable veggies)

My wife and I ate at Potager when we were in Denver. It is a really great little place in a very attractive space. The food though was absolutely outstanding. I take my food seriously and that was a memorable meal. I am going to be in Denver for some training at some point and I can’t swear I won’t just eat there every night.

It is one of those locally oriented places that tells you where every ingredient originated. Sometimes that is just trendy marketing, but the food is wonderfully prepared and very fresh.

Check it out at http://www.potagerrestaurant.com/.