9/22/11

Where to eat out in Denver, Colorado

It has been about a month since I've come back from a long weekend vacation in Denver. I've already shared with you my thoughts about a meal in Watercourse, photographs from a farmers' market and some non-food related activities.

Below are a few other restaurants I visited with Kenny in Denver. Alas, some of the ones we wanted to check out just did not happen: not enough hours in the day for all the delicious food.

When you go salsa dancing the night before, you want something more than just a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast. Luckily, Sam's No. 3 had many different options to choose from. Not only was it on Food Network's Diner Drive-ins and Dives, but it was also recommended by some of my Twitter friends. I was looking forward to a late breakfast there.

But we had to wait. About 20 minutes. And I'm so not a fan of waiting. Finally once my name was called, we decided to sit outside and enjoy the gorgeous Denver weather while waiting for our food.

Here's a bit of history from Sam's No. 3 site:

Sam’s No. 3™ was the third of five Coney Islands restaurants opened by Sam Armatas during the 1920′s.

The original location was at 1527 Curtis Street in the heart of downtown Denver.

On Sept. 28th, 1998, Sam’s son, Spero, with his grandsons Sam, Alex, and Patrick, re-established his most famous of the Coney Islands restaurants, Sam’s No. 3™.  In honor of the age old tradition, they made a promise to each other to continue to provide excellent quality of food and embrace the inviting, warm atmosphere started by “Mr. Sam” more than 75 years ago!

I chose a Mexican Breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled with chorizo, onion, jalapeno, tomato & Jack cheese. Served with 2 flour tortillas, side of Kickin' Pork Green Chili and refried beans. Let's just say that I could not finish the entire plate despite not eating the tortillas, and there was no lunch that day.

I absolutely loved the spicy chorizo mixed with the eggs, cheese and tomatoes. The Kickin' Pork Green Chili wasn't extremely pretty, but had a nice amount of heat and was something I'd enjoy on a cold day with a piece of sour dough toast.

Kenny ordered one of the specials: lamb chops with potatoes and poached eggs. Lamb for breakfast? Apparently it's not a weird thing ;) Who am I to talk? I can eat dinner leftovers for breakfast. The lamb was medium rare and very tender. The egg yolks ran freely as soon as they were poked with a fork. This was definitely a success.

The second breakfast in Denver took place at Pete's Kitchen. Once we stepped in the place, I felt like we were transferred a few decades back. Family photos on the walls, booths, and many framed awards made it clear this place was loved by both the locals and the tourists.

I really liked the round carousel that held customers' orders.

Once again, Kenny chose lamb for breakfast: this time it was a lamb gyro.

I had chicken souvlaki and fries. The chicken was well charred and incredibly tender inside. The garlicky yogurt sauce was perfect for dipping my fries. This was another filling breakfast, which was necessary as this was yet another late morning after a night of salsa dancing. Plus, we needed a lot of energy because following breakfast we went to the Botanical Gardens...and you know my obsession with taking flower photographs!

Check out this retro pink and green clock: gorgeous!

As I've mentioned before, there were no lunches in Denver. So here's one of the dinner destinations we visited: Sushi Sasa.

This place was recommended by a few of my Twitter friends and by our shuttle driver in Denver. I love sushi and was looking forward to some seafood after eating a few meat-centric meals. The decor of the restaurant was clean, refreshing and at the same time very welcoming. Both the manager and our server were attentive, knowledgeable and clearly loved what they did. This was the trend in Denver: great customer service!


I ordered a seaweed salad, which turned out to have Granny Smith apples, tomatoes, carrots and sprouts. I must be honest: I was slightly dubious, but the dish turned out great: crunchy, satisfying and not heavy. Kenny had one of the Sushi Sasa's soups with radishes, mushrooms and mini corn. This was the type of soup you wanted to dive into.

Here are two of the four sushi rolls we ordered. I can't seem to remember what they were. Sorry. But they were great and there wasn't a single piece left on the plate.


And finally I want to tell you about one of the best meals I've ever had. Unfortunately we were going salsa dancing right after dinner and I did not want to bring my camera with me, so you just MUST check out the stunning photos on Rioja's website. This restaurant was recommended by at least 7 people. The menu is "inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and influenced by local and seasonal products." The decor features "hand-blown glass fixtures, copper-topped bar, and exhibition kitchen."

We did not to think to make reservations and were told we'd have to wait about 2 hours. NO way. Instead, we decided to sit at the bar with the view of the open kitchen: this was a winning decision. Once again, the service was immaculate and the food...well, the food was almost beyond words.

I started with pomeginger Skyy vodka, pomegranate juice, ginger, and twist of lemon. All I can say is that I must try to replicate this at home. This was such a pretty drink and a great take on the typical pomegranate cocktail.

Appetizers:
 
rioja house salad, baby arugula, Medjool dates, gorgonzola, toasted almond vinaigrette
Main courses:
pan seared halibut, cucumber wrapped salad of: Dungeness crab, avocado, hearts of palm tarragon crème fraîche, heirloom tomato carpaccio and vinaigrette, crispy shallots, micro parsley

I had a salmon dish that no longer appears on the menu. It had little corn cakes full of the sweetest juiciest corn you can imagine!

Dessert:

beignets, sweet goat cheese and black mission fig filled pastries, ruby port wine reduction

You guys: I pretty much licked the plate. We were tempted to order a second order of these and probably should have. If you love figs and fried dough and goat cheese, this has your name all over it!

I thanked the chef at the end of the meal and was surprised the restaurant doesn't even have a Twitter account. If you are ever in Denver, you MUST check out this restaurant. They also have brunch, which alas we just could not make.

My next mini trip is to Asheville: let's see what great food I find there!

white miso soup with steamed mussels, Prince Edward Island mussels, miso broth, honshimeji mushrooms, sweet chili, cilantro

4 comments:

nicole said...

everything looks so great, i love the pics @ Sushi Sasa.

Glad to hear the weather in Denver was great!

Jena said...

How do you decide where to eat when you're in a strange city? My husband and I never seem to land in any truly memorable places. (I thought we'd get better at it with practice, but sadly, we haven't. Mostly, I think this is because my husband isn't a foodie, so it all falls on me and he gets impatient and it just becomes too stressful and sometimes even a disaster.)

sally said...

Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for sharing your food adventures.

Reem | Simply Reem said...

Finding a good place to eat when in new town really gives me anxiety....
Everything here looks absolutely wonderful...

P.S I just adore your blog and I want to pass on this award to you dear.
You can have it here http://www.simplyreem.com/from-my-kitchen/?p=537
I hope you"ll enjoy it.
Have a great day.