Eating Adventures Abroad: Denver, CO

I’m baaaccckkk! It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post. Mostly because I’ve been out of town since last Wednesday, and partly because I was busy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend with friends and family (it is my favorite holiday after all!). Regardless, it’s good to be back.

Last week I attended a service learning conference in Denver. You see, I’m in charge of the community garden we are starting at my school. School gardens increase student’s awareness of fruits and vegetables, instill pride, and help build a connection between the land and what they eat. Alright, enough about school gardens. You can tell I’m a big fan :)

I have only been to Colorado once, and that was back in the day when I was visiting a friend in New Mexico. We drove up to Durango, and rode her dad’s horses around the town. It was a pretty cool place, definitely a little “western”.

So Denver was a new experience for me. First off, the altitude kicked my butt! I just could not get enough water in me. It probably didn’t help that I had at least two beers each night. You would too if there were that many cool brewpubs to visit and local brews to sample!

Denver was a bit similar to Minneapolis. Business people everywhere, and a street like Nicollet Ave. with no cars, a bus that goes up and down, and lots of shops/restaurants. Except we don’t have skier/snowboarders walking around. Nor is pot legal. Nor can you see the mountains. Ok so maybe not that similar!

Here was the view from my hotel room:

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Yep you don’t see that every day.

The food and drinks were not too shabby either. I would definitely go back to sample some more (and next time perhaps hit the slopes!). Here were some of our stops along the way:

Upon checking in to our hotel, we headed to a place called the Yard House. Apparently they are all around the US. Although I usually like to keep my dining experiences local and specific to the city I’m in, this was not a bad place to start. Ridiculous amount of beers on tap. Had something called the Boulder Hazed and Confused. Oh my goodness, so good!

Also had the Thai Chicken Noodle Salad. With egg noodles, grilled chicken, broccoli-carrot-daikon-cabbage-cilantro slaw and spicy peanut vinaigrette. And spicy was it ever! Really fresh, with great flavors and texture. Unfortunately I did not take a picture. It was our first stop, and the last thing on my mind at that point.

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Next place we stopped at the Paramount Cafe, in the old Paramount Theatre building.

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The concession stands were turned into the bar, and the whole place was like stepping back in time. We had a really cool waiter. And being it was my birthday, he brought me one of these for free:

20130313_181340 A Cheesecake Burrito! Their homemade cheese cake, wrapped up in a tortilla and fried. Topped with strawberries, whip cream, and caramel sauce. Um, hello! It was definitely delish. But definitely not healthy. Nor was it likely clean. However, a girl’s gotta splurge on her birthday! And luckily, I had four other people to help me take it down :)

After that there was one more stop for the night: The Mellow Mushroom. Another restaurant that has multiple locations around the US. However, they make their own pizza crust in house, and man was it good! Their bar pretzels are made of the same stuff. Big and fluffy and soft. Seriously, look at these things!

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We also ordered a Magical Mystery Tour pizza, with a pesto base, button and Portobello mushrooms, feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach and jalapeños on a pesto basted crust. It was goooood. It also didn’t hurt that we were several beers in. No, I did not take a picture. At this point, I had forgotten about my blog aspirations :)

That was Wednesday. We have two more days people!

Thursday night we visited the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Colorado’s first brewpub and Denver’s first craft brewery. They brew some crazy beers, one brewed with jalapeños, another with bull’s testicles. What?! Yep, you heard me right. The beer is called Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. And no, I did not try it.

The beers were good, and so was the food. I ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. With yukon mashers, herb gravy, and a homemade biscuit. Some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. Man was it rich! The potatoes and gravy were of the melt-in-your-mouth kind. I even got a surprise side of broccoli, you know, to trick the body into thinking it’s eating healthy :)

Again, no picture. Because I’m lame! Or because I was so caught up in the moment, I forgot. Although the chicken was fried, everything else was made from scratch, so I’m going to give it an ok clean rating. However, I don’t eat this stuff on a regular occurrence, and neither should you!

Check it out online here: http://www.wynkoop.com

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On Friday I had a little time to explore on my own. Found a neat little boutique that was having a going-out-of-business “party”. Complete with free wine, beer, and popcorn. Oh and a band inside the store. If that’s how they do things in Denver, we need to follow here in Minneapolis!

Then I stumbled upon this place:

20130315_173253 The Market at Larimer Square. Everything is made in-house. I enjoyed some Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream from a local creamery. Seriously, so creamy and delicious!

20130315_173320 I highly recommend a stop at this place if you’re ever in Denver. Check it online here: http://themarketatlarimer.com/about/

Our last night in Denver, we headed to another brewpub, Renegade Brewing. It’s a smaller brewpub, having just opened in 2011. We ordered a sample of each to start. You can see my coworker trying to snag one before I snapped the pic! My favorite was the Rye IPA, Ryetous (second in from the right, if you must know!) :)

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Being we hadn’t grabbed dinner yet, we ate at the food truck parked outside, Quiero Arepas. I had the reina pepiada: shredded chicken breast, avocado and a citrus-avocado dressing stuffed inside a corn based “flat” bread. It hit the spot.

And that was my taste of Denver! Next time I’d like to hit up a few more local spots (when I’m not with a group, and have got a car!). But all in all, I’ve got nothing to complain about.

Did I mention the weather was in the 70s and sunny? It is one degree outside today in Minneapolis. ONE degree! Remind me, why do I live here again?!

Oh that’s right, I love it here. I truly do. Some days it just takes a little more convincing :)

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