My husband and I took the bus to Denver for the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge bike race. After finding good viewing spots at Civic Center Park that we didn’t want to leave, we made our way to Union Station for the return ride to Boulder. We were hungry and thirsty, and Hopdoddy Burger beckoned. We ordered and sat at a window table overlooking the plaza. People wearing cycling-themed T-shirts were soon joined by those wearing baseball jerseys and even a couple of topless women celebrating the Free the Nipple movement. Click here for a report.
But as Dave Barry often wrote, I digress — from my post about Hopdoddy. Cool fast-casual place that features art on one wall, a kitchen on another and big windows on the other two. The hard surfaces that look so good do magnify the noise — not a problem on the shaded patio, but my husband had had enough of the outdoors after waiting for and watching the bike race and the podium ceremonies. We started with tasty margs with black salt on the glass rims, followed by big, juicy burgers and shared fries brought out a brown paper-lined kitchen trays, just like Mercantile just across the way.
No price check, because I didn’t take notes, and the online menu doesn’t reveal.
Here I go again with another mention from another list, but I do enjoy this stuff. The Daily Meal just listed its selection of “The 101 Best Food Trucks in America 2015.” The site didn’t mention who “the brothers” might be, but here’s the write-up about the Basic Kneads Pizza truck — Colorado’s only entry (but lots for Boston):
#89 Basic Kneads Pizza, Denver
We are suckers for a good pun and even more so for a good pizza. Basic Kneads operates four different units around Denver. The brothers eschew strict Neapolitan guidelines for D.O.C. pizza so that they can integrate local ingredients, experiment with toppings, and use the family dough recipe they’ve developed over the years: a mix of organic whole-wheat flour and refined Colorado flour (they also do a gluten-free crust). There are eight pies on the menu, starting from the basics (Margherita, pepperoni, fennel sausage) to more extreme pies like their sweet Thai chili chicken.
Casual lunch & fabulous companion at Union Station restaurant.
I have an assignment to write a feature about Denver’s fabulous Union Station, and while I attended some of the opening festivities last July, have eaten in all of its restaurants and pass though every time I ride the bus to Denver and back home, I couldn’t very well write it without meeting with the extraordinary Dana Crawford, the visionary preservationist who spearheaded the preservation of the historic terminal and was instrumental in redeveloping it into the lively dining, shopping, socializing and transit hub it is now.
But this is a restaurant blog, so I’ll stop writing about my wonderful companion and note that the beautiful summer day called for eating outdoors. Mercantile Dining and Provisions’ patio was where Dana, Julie Dunn and I ate. The system is that you order inside, provide your cell phone number and are notified when the order is ready. Then, you go in to pick it up on brown paper-lined kitchen trays. Simple but a bit slow. Still, with lots to talk about and no office to get back to when lunch hour was over, we didn’t mind. Here’s what we ate:
Price check: Sandwiches, $9-$11; soups and salads, $7-$12 (plus $21 for selection of cured meats, cheese and condiments); cheese, $3-$6 per ounce; pastries, $3-$6.
Natural heritage pork is increasingly what’s for dinner.
Inc. magazine has announced that Denver-based Tender Belly, a nationally recognized purveyor of all natural heritage breed pork products, ranks No. 698 on the 34th annual Inc. 5000, a prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents what is said to be “the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent entrepreneurs.”
Tender Belly was founded in 2010 by brothers Erik and Shannon Duffy with the mission to provide the highest quality of pork products on the market. The result is natural, delicious pork that foodies can eat with clear consciences. Tender Belly’s array of products including bacon, franks, ham, ribs, various cuts and whole hogs. The brand is carried by major national distributors and in specialty stores throughout Colorado, Arizona and Texas.
Tender Belly is committed to environmentally responsible and fully traceable farming methods, as well as to animal well-being. As part of their focus on farm-to-table cuisine and local purveyors, they source from small family farms with generations of history that produce the finest quality pork.
All of the animals are fed a 100% vegetarian diet — with no rendered animal byproducts, antibiotics or hormones, and live with plenty of space to roam. This approach helps Tender Belly deliver a line-up of pork products to distinguished restaurants across the country including those helmed by big-name chefs. Click here for Colorado restaurants serving Tender Belly cuts of pork
Once a month in summer, traffic is diverted from Larimer Square, which is a street and not a square, for Larimer Square al Fresco. The award-winning restaurants of Larimer Square extend their patios into the streets] for a one-of-a-kind dining experience on what is arguably Denver’s most charming block lined with old buildings and intact enough to be a National Historic District. With happy hour festivities, dinner, live music and an evening under the stars, Dining Al Fresco is one of the city’s best summer scenes.
I was remiss in not alerting you to the June and July versions, but the season’s last is on Saturday, August 15 beginning at 5 p.m. Reservations are available through participating restaurants, which are Bistro Vendome, Capitol Grill, Corridor 44, The Crimson Room, Crú, Green Russell, Ocean Prime, Osteria Marco, Green Russell, Russell’s Smokehouse, TAG, Tamayo, Ted’s Montana Grill, Tom’s Urban 24 and Wednesday’s Pie. Bon appétit!
The Brown Palace’s opulent Sunday spread is put out at Ellyngton’s.
At a Brown Palace event a few weeks ago, I won Sunday brunch for two at Ellyngton’s, a steakhouse at night but the Brown’s bunch venue. My husband and I drove to Denver yesterday on a sunny Sunday for an early-afternoon feast. He and I are like Jack Spratt and his wife in that we eat very different foods. That’s the reason we often go out to eat. And that’s the reason that buffets are so right for us.
Potager has been around for 18 of the 27 years I’ve lived in Colorado, and despite being on my to-visit list for years, it took till friends from Vail were in town to get there. Now I wonder why I let it be so long. Potager was way ahead of its time with farm-to-table fare, well-selected wine list and a menu that changes monthly to take advantage of the freshest from leading local farms. What’s almost routine now was ground-breaking nearly two decades ago.
It is the brainchild of Terry Ripetto and her dad, Tom. Their philosophy that has carried Potager through the years is one I buy into. As the restaurant’s website explains, “We follow no style or school of cooking. We are not a French restaurant, although we serve dishes from this cuisine. I think, basically, the unifying theme is that of being immensely satisfying, locally sourced and seasonally driven. We serve really satisfying food and do whatever it takes to make it. We draw upon the season and what is grown locally.”
The restaurant is a charming country-ish place in the city just elegant enough to match the food but not really formal. In addition to a lively dining room and semi-open kitchen and outdoor dining in back. No luck getting seated there, but we were not unhappy to be in the high-ceilinged room with one charmingly distressed-plaster all, high wine racks and a shelf full of impressive cookbooks on a room divider on one side of the kitchen.
We wanted to sample a number of dishes, so we created a tapas-style experience of sharing.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.