Denver would not have been complete without a return trip to Snooze, the breakfast place that won my heart last time. After a week of car, cabins, camping, conversations, caverns, canyons, chex mix…we ended at breakfast. Matt, the waiter, said I could halve any benedict dish (I had smoked salmon benedict with leeks, marinated & roasted tomatoes, and cream cheese hollandaise) and pair with a pancake of my choice (sweet potato with caramel syrup and ginger butter). Which was a no brainer. And Matt, the waiter, told us about Falling Whistles.
Next up: New Orleans.
We drove into Denver hungry for lunch. After being snowed in the mountains for a couple of days, hot soup and sake sounded wonderful to me, and we headed straight to Domo, a country Japanese restaurant that Anna recommended as a MUST. The food was great, and the garden will be amazing in about a week and a half. The country Japanese environs were wonderful.
After a huge Vietnamese meal and ice cream there was only one possible choice left. Beer. At Wynkoop Brewery downtown. I had the milk stout which was very smooth, but not my favorite (which is Mother’s Milk from Kingston, NY). Heidi loves the IPA.
Yes we ate lots, but we did take a quick break to read children’s books at The Tattered Cover.
The tour continued with ice cream at Sweet Action, where the flavor of the month was compost. I, however, am a traditionalist, so I stuck with garam masala.
Also knowing I love Vietnamese, Anna (a Denver native) pointed me to New Saigon on Federal Blvd. Heidi led us on her own culinary tour of Denver which started on Federal. I could only remember that Anna’s restaurant had Saigon in the title. Luckily for Denverites, Federal is swarming with Vietnamese restaurants. We ended up at Saigon Bowl which was not at all disappointing. There were also a plethora of taco trucks on Federal, solidifying a spot for Denver in the top 5 cities to consider moving to.
Colorado Springs, Co, at 6000ft high, wasn’t the best place for my running. But that didn’t interfere with my hunt for the best food in town. It had a lot to live up to following Paonia’s produce, but for a small city, it provided a few tasty surprises.
Alex found Jack Quinn’s when he wanted to catch a soccer match. I hit it up when I was craving shepherd’s pie (yeah, it happens!). It serves Irish comfort food, it reminds Alex of Irish pubs in Spain (clean, wooden, green), and it plays football from Ireland and beyond. When I arrived, I wanted more veggies than flesh, so I went for the cottage pie (veggie and barley stew topped with mashed potatoes and cheddar) and Murphy’s Red.
The most important question I ask locals in any town is, “Where is your favorite place to eat breakfast?” This has been known to result in a diatribe about how they never eat breakfast or an ihop recommendation, and I graciously back away. Many times it leads to absolute gems. We first went to Adam’s Mountain Cafe for breakfast. The buckwheat pancakes were simple and sweet and delicious. Then KRCC (public radio with great music!) gifted us some gift certificates, and we returned for dinner. It was a treat, a splurge, a delight. We feasted on 2 appetizers (chick pea cakes w/ tahini sauce; crositini w/ fig, goat cheese, caramelized onions, candied walnuts, and pear); harvest crepes with butternut squash; barramundi w/ cashew coconut curry; Alaskan cod with leek/goat cheese sauce and swiss chard; and finally, tiramisu and chocolate cake.
Finally, if you can’t go to Shuga’s in Coloardo Springs, at least you can go to their website. It alone sold me on Shuga’s. The soup and sandwich fare was good, the drinks were fancy, but the young and cool vibe was just fun on a Saturday night.
Also enjoyed, Raven’s Nest Coffee, Smiley’s Bakery and Cafe, Taste of Jerusalem Cafe, and Poor Richard’s cafe/bookstore/toystore.
If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’ll just lay it out there: I’m a sucker for breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, toast, morning radio, oatmeal, mugs of coffee, morning light, quiche, diners, hash browns, all of it. On our only morning in Denver, some extremely lovely and hospitable locals took us out to a great neighborhood breakfast joint (instantly winning cool people points). As we sat down and began to survey the mouthwatering menu, the cheery waitress asked us if we were new. She made recommendations, and I ordered the caprese benedict (poached eggs, fresh mozarella, basil, balsamic vinegar). Shortly thereafter, a waiter (he looked in training) came to our table, ostensibly sent by our waitress, bearing what he called their “secret pancake.” It was a cinnamon roll pancake that apparently can be ordered at any time simply by saying the words, “secret pancake.” One more time in unison, “secret pancake.” I don’t mind if they tell every new customer (or just every customer madly taking photos). That morning we shared a pancake drizzled in cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar that tasted divine, and for a moment we shared a delicious secret.
We went to Denver on our way to Colorado Springs and caught a Rockies Game. I do enjoy a good baseball game, but I know all three of us were going for the food. We were going to stick with the ol’ classic hot dog, until we heard of Rocky Mountain Oysters, aka fried bulls testicles. Who would’ve thought we’d find something unusual at a baseball stadium named after a shitty beer? They don’t exactly sound appetizing, but there’s no way I wasn’t going to try one. They were served with cocktail sauce (to expand on the whole oyster thing?) and tasted neither good nor bad, just fried. But, hey, we tried.
I can’t wait till cars are cool again because I love driving, riding, moving. We left Paonia and headed east through the mountains to Colorado Springs. I love driving in the west because the landscape changes so dramatically that my jaw is consistently dropped. Another favorite reason to move on? Roadside diners.