Culinary Odyssey in RiNo

Foods plain & fancy in River North.

A few days ago, my friend Julia Joun and I took ourselves on our own  food tour in River North (RiNo), an emerging neighborhood in Denver. Her foodie credentials are solid. She she runs the Flatirons Food Film Festival. At this point, my credentials reside mainly on this blog, which I’m proud to say has won several awards. We left Boulder at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t return until almost 6 p.m. What a great and delicious day.

Rosenberg’s Bagels

Rosenberg-logoWe actually started at Rosenberg’s Bagels in Five Points, near enough to RiNo to count. A couple of years ago, when bagel shop and deli were a bright gleam in Josh Pollack’s eye, he stopped by and dropped off a bag of New York-style bagels. Were they ever good! Read my post here.

The Welton Street light-rail stop is directly in front of Rosenberg’s door, while some customers, like us, come in the back way from Clarkson. The gal from one of the city’s Whole Foods came in that way too, to pick up the morning order. Whole Foods is fussy about its sourcing, so this is a testimonial to the quality, taste and authenticity. Knowing that we had a long day of eating ahead, we shared an everything bagel with salmon cream cheese.

Racks of bagels.
Racks of bagels.
Retro style interior.
Retro-inspired interior with big tufted banquette.

Rosenberg's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Babette’s Bakery at The Source

TheSource-logoIf one baked item for breakfast is good, two are better, so Julia and I proceeded to The Source, a renovated, repurposed and totally cool 1880s foundry that now houses restaurants, retailers, watering holes and other semi-related businesses.

011We made a beeline for Babette’s Bakery, which initially became known for its fabulous artisainal French country breads. The pastries fall in the to-die-for category too. We split one, bought things to take home — Julie snagged some bread to take home, and I bought a ham and cheese croissant for my husband.

Baker at work.
Baker at work.
Decisions, decisions, difficult pastry decisions.
Decisions, decisions, difficult pastry decisions.

Babettes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Osaka Ramen

016Sadly, I never made it to Jeff Osaka’s highly praised Twelve Restaurant, but after it closed and chef Osaka opened his namesake Osaka Ramen restaurant, I was determined not to let it slip by. It became our lunch stop. We descended to the basement to a restaurant with an open kitchen, a ramen bar and tables of various sizes.

A wall mural of the Tokyo skyline in powder blue and retro ceiling fixtures reminiscent of those in Nathan Hale Junior High School.
A wall mural of the Tokyo skyline in powder blue and retro ceiling fixtures reminiscent of those in Nathan Hale Junior High School.
Chilled green beans, fresh ground sesame seeds and shoyu-sesame dressing.
Chilled green beans, fresh ground sesame seeds and shoyu-sesame dressing.
Chicken Kara Age, which is chicken marinated in a citrus-shoyu marinade with ginger, garlic and scallion, then fried and served with spicy mayo and a lemon wedges\.
Chicken Kara Age, which is chicken marinated in a citrus-shoyu marinade with ginger, garlic and scallion, then fried and served with spicy mayo and a lemon wedge.
Tonkotsu ramen, a rich pork broth with bamboo shoots, a hunk of pork belly that looked more like a pork chop, pickled ginger, black garlic oil and a soft egg.
Shoyu ramen, a rich chicken broth, shoyu, mushroom, bitter greens, naruto, pork shoulder on the bone scallions and a soft egg.

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A dessert called My Wife's Donuts proved irresistible, even though we'd eaten quite a lot. This sweet treat consists of mochi donuts something called kinako sugar, which puzzled me because kinako is usually a soy flour or powder, plus salted butter.
A dessert called My Wife’s Donuts proved irresistible, even though we’d eaten quite a lot. This sweet treat consists of mochi donuts something called kinako sugar, which puzzled me because kinako is usually a soy flour or powder, plus salted butter.

Osaka Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rackhouse

Rackhouse-logoWe hadn’t planned to stop at the Rackhouse, mainly because we had not heard of it, but then we passed by and saw the sign for Lager, Cider, Food. This enormous industrial space, once a book bindery, features production facilities for Bierstadt Lager and C Squared Ciders — and an old yellow trolley car used, perhaps, as an office. Upstairs is the restaurant with a big bar, lots of tables and some antique equipment from the bindery days. It well past lunch, but we saw a few loaded plates brought to customers. The bartender gave us cider tastings (Alma, Ginger, Lila, Ella and Nona from light to potent — perhaps like the ladies after whom they were named). Enlightening.

Looking down from the bar-restaurant at the huge space below that once accommodated a book bindery.
Looking down from the bar-restaurant at the huge space below that once accommodated a book bindery.
Guests can taste ciders, lagers or plunge in and order. There's a well-stocked bar too.
Guests can taste ciders, lagers or plunge in and order. There’s a well-stocked bar too.

The Preservery

024Not to be confused with The Pressery, a chain specializing in fresh juices and drinkable vinegars, the brand new Preservery, Obe and Whitney Ariss’s multi-faceted enterprise — a seasonal restaurant, an artisinal bakery, a carefully curated little market and a music venue that includes all manner of music, from classical to contemporary.

Polished reclaimed wood tables in the bright afternoon sun. Later, they fill with fans of good seasonal food and listenable music.
Polished reclaimed wood tables in the bright afternoon sun. Later, they fill with fans of good seasonal food and listenable music.
The market corner of The Preservery holds a fine selection of jarred tastiness. I bought some.
The market corner of The Preservery holds a fine selection of jarred tastiness. I bought some.
Vintage bins for flour and such in the bakery.
Vintage bins for flour and such in the bakery and a baker elbow-deep in dough.

The Preservery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato