Explore Your City Denver
My travel aspirations have been to visit every "major" American city, and so far I've put a pretty good dent in my list. Colorado was a state I had left at the bottom of my list because I had no outdoor aspirations to ski or do any intense hiking, but the time had come to see what the city streets of Denver had to offer.
Without dragging it out, I didn't love Denver. The scenic views I was able to experience in Boulder and Red Rocks were worth the trip, but overall I can't say I ever want to return to the city itself for any particular reason.
Regardless of how I felt about the city overall, there was still some great places we explored worth sharing for anyone taking a trip there in the near future.
In my personal opinion this was probably the best market we visited. There was a nice variety of vendors, plenty of seating, and it merited multiple trips. The popular coffee shop Creama has a small booth here which is where we first stopped once we got settled in our Airbnb down the street. This market had a lot of good food options including a great quick fire pizza from Vero Italian.
Out in Aurora we ventured to Stanley Market, and I sorely wish we hadn't visited on a Monday since many of the vendors were not open for business. We did however get to try the much-hyped Denver Biscuit Company which did not disappoint, although my stomach did ache for a bit after I devoured the Dahlia. A biscuit beast stacked with house-made sausage patty, apple butter, fried egg & maple syrup.
I would recommend visiting this market when all vendors are operational, and to be clear it seemed like much more than a market. There were what appeared to be office spaces upstairs as well as a gym, so this felt like a really well done large community hub more than anything else. Would love something like this in Orlando.
No market is a bad idea, but not all markets are created equal. The Source Market looked cool, but I found myself ready to leave after one quick lap as nothing really reeled me in.
The highlights were an amazing root beer latte from BoxCar Coffee that I'm going to need someone in Orlando to get on RIGHT NOW! Another vendor, Mondo Market served up a pretty sweet charcuterie board as a mid-day snack, so all was not lost here. It just didn't merit a visit longer than a half-hour including a snack.
I think I bookmarked more coffee shops than restaurants for this trip, so coffee lovers note that Denver has plenty of cozy latte'd corners for you. One of my favorites was Lula Rose. It looked like it may have been an old converted diner, or maybe even a small gas station. Either way, it was small and beautifully put together and it didn't remind me of any other coffee shop I had been to, anywhere, which was refreshing.
A popular spot over in the RiNo District, Crema was full of young creative types with laptops and terribly delusional conversations, but the coffee and the baked goods were worth a quick stop.
Truthfully, I can't tell you too much about Huckleberry Coffee Roasters because I only stopped in quickly for a (good) latte to drink on the drive to Boulder, but the place was pretty packed out. You don't really see the larger seating area in the photos below, but it was much busier than the other shops I visited. It's a bit out of the city's central area, but there must be something special filling up those seats.
I'm not gonna lie to you. Denver for me, was not a foodie city. That doesn't mean there wasn't good meals, I just wasn't overwhelmed with options and left stuffing my face all hours of the day to take it all in. One of their most popular brunch spots is a chain that I first came across in Houston, so I wasn't sure what hype to trust.
While in Boulder we stumbled upon Fior Gelato, a tiny little shop with homemade gelato, waffles, and coffee. It was a perfect place to sit and share a few sweet bites. Oddly they had two location on the same stretch of walk-able shops on Pearl Street.
Next Door Eatery
Another great meal we had in Boulder was at Next Door, also on Pearl Street. We shared a perfectly cooked burger, but the star of the meal was the Calamari Fritto Misto with zucchini, pepperoncini, lemon & sriracha aioli. I think of it still.
My stomach still weeps when I look at this platter we tried to conquer. When you start ordering taco after taco because you are starving, and the waitress says you can get 12 tacos for $44 it sounds like a solid idea. We did our best to devour the platter filled with octopus, shrimp, and various meats and vegetables. While not every single one was a winner, the ratio was definitley in our favor.
THESE DOUGHNUTS!!!! I loved everything about this place. The music that was playing, the branding, the hip hop inspired names of the items, but most importantly the doughnuts. You can add liquor to any doughnut that you purchase so I opted for one with half a shot and one without.
I believe that more desserts should be tiny morsels packed with enough sweetness you can only handle one. That would help me cut myself off from gorging much easier. Peteybird was a very small shop specializing in probably the tiniest ice cream sandwiches I've ever come across. They were honestly so rich, I don't think I could have eaten more than one!
Of course the best meal I had was only quickly captured via my iPhone in bad lighting, but that's alright. Sometimes it's more important to just enjoy the moment and the food, and keep the over-sized DSLR in it's bag when in a small intimate restaurant.
After some mouthwatering and perfectly crispy potato croquettes, I ordered the Tandoori Chicken as my main dish. Kale Saag Paneer and lentils accompanied this very succulent and flavorful dish. Definitely the best meal I had while in the city. It wasn't a cheap dinner, but it was worth every cent.
On our last day I went to Stowaway for a quick coffee and breakfast, but I wasn't expecting for it to be the amazing little gem it was. I got the Colorful Colorado dish, and colorful it was. Actually, the presentation for such a intimate little cafe took me aback to be honest. However, it was much more than just a pretty plate. Salt + vinegar hash, Niman Ranch ham, avocado, pickled radishes, asparagus + spicy adobo sauce with poached eggs all co-mingling in perfect flavorful harmony. I loved every last bite and I still think about trying to recreate it at home. I would highly recommend this spot to anyone looking for a delicious and unique breakfast.
If you know me, you are aware that any venture to a brewery is to appease my husband. What I can tell you about Epic Brewing is that there was a lot of seating, indoor and outdoor. There was a delicious smelling taco truck outside. You can get flights and they had a few beers I was able to almost finish. That was quite the review, wasn't it?
As you drive up and down the well-retailed Larimer Street, you do a double-take when you notice this gorgeously painted building. At the first few glances I had no idea what it was. Once we realized it was a brewery we knew we had to check it out before we left. The doors opened promptly at 4 p.m. on this particular weekday and within minutes the community had gathered, old and young. Speaking as someone who isn't well-versed in beer I can tell you my beer snob husband enjoyed his fresh tasting brews, and I found something I could drink. The staff was kind and welcoming to my questions for suggestions which is always appreciated.
I'll never lie to you guys, so I will tell you with no shame that I went here just for the floors. I had a particular photo in my mind that I wanted to capture, and of course lighting had other plans for me, but I still got a shot I loved. What I failed to take note of before going here was that this is a bar in a hotel. That definitely felt a little weird once I came to that realization upon walking up to the door, but the bar was pretty much empty, drinks were good, photos were plentiful, and it gave us a chance to sit down and warm up with cocktail.
THINGS TO DO
I did have a great time visiting the local museums in the city. The Denver Art Museum had some great exhibits including one that unexpectedly got me right in the feels called "Her Paris", showcasing women artists in the age of impressionism.
The Denver Museum of Science and Nature was worthwhile as well, with several exhibits worth spending half-a-day or so and a pretty sweet view of the Denver Skyline.
No trip to any city is complete for us without visiting the comic book/gamer shops of the city. One of the biggest was Mile High Comics. A huge warehouse of books, collectibles, and merchandise. Pack a snack bag, you could be here for awhile.
I will leave you with glimpses of some street art that did help brighten up the cold and dreary days of exploring Denver. Most of it was found in the RiNO Arts District, but as you drive along you still may find pops of art scattered throughout the city.
Lastly, here is a pic of me in nature, proving I did for a moment hike a part of a mountain.