Retro Dining Part I: Steuben’s

Cool Denver eatery’s American classics & funky atmosphere

When Steuben’s Food Service opened in 2006, it was an out-and-out tribute to partner Josh Wolken’s great uncles, Max and Joe, who ran a Boston eatery by that name — without the “Food Service” part.  The original Steuben’s grew into a landmark downtown restaurant, nightclub and hotspot from the 1940s through the ’60’s.  Mention The Vienna Room, The Cave or The Blue Room to Bostonians of that era and they’ll tell you which was their favorite and what kind of music was played there. Denver’s Steuben’s, a sister restaurant to Vesta Dipping Grill, is tricked out in a mid-century style that takes a bit from diner decor, a bit from the land-cruiser automotive era and a bit from rock-n-roll’s early days.

A framed menu from Boston's old Steuben's shows dishes and prices from yesteryear.
Denver's Steuben's puts out a limited "In Between Menu" served on weekend afternoons.

Much of the food is also a throwback — comfort food, as it is now called. My husband and I stopped there on Sunday during that food-service equivalent of no man’s land — after brunch but before happy hour and dinner. The restaurant was out of some items on the ‘tween-times menu that I wanted. In particular, I had hoped to try the crispy Brussels sprouts, and they were also out of my first choice of wine from that ‘tween menu, but the waitress brought a replacement at no charge. The patio was pleasant, the total tab was reasonable and the food was fine. I guess I’ll have to return for the Brussels sprouts.

Steuben's gazpacho is a spicy tomato base with chopped sweet peppers, onion, corn and herbs, Big crouton cubes on the side are a considerate touch, because they don't get soggy 'twixt kitchen and table.
Green chili cheeseburger with iceberg lettuce and a tomato that looked more like a winter import than a local summer one. That was clear from a different angle, but trust me on this.
Skin-on, shoestring fries cleverly served in a tissue-lined crabmeat can.

Price check: On the In Between menu, appetizers, $6-$8; soups and salads, $2.50-$12; sandwiches, $6-$20 (most $6-$9; only the New England-style lobster roll breaks the double-digit barrier); sides, $2-$3.

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