Welcome Back Legislators — Part I

“Some people like to eat octopus. Liberals mostly.” — Russell Baker

THIS IS THE NINETEENTH ANNUAL “Welcome Back, Y’all” column, with muh recommendations for scarfin’ grub within walking distance, or not more than a short ride from the state capitol. All are open for lunch ‘ceptin where noted otherwise.

This column will be two issues cuz of the large number of good eateries that abound in the surrounding area.

The list is alphabetical. It includes places that lobbyists oughta take ya to cuz you can’t afford them. It also includes some you can do on your own, or take your favorite restaurant critic to. If I left out one of your favorites, I probably don’t like the place. A bit of info: most eateries now have websites with everything from menus to reservation links. Go online and take a peek. If we could find the website address, it’s listed. Watch the spelling cuz some names get tricky. And some websites are really a pain in the pooper to get in and around. Why do they bother?

Note that, while I try to update my comments every year, menus and chefs change about as often as I change socks, so my comments may be outta date before this gets to the copy editor. Let me know if I miss something.

1515 Restaurant
1515 Market St – 303-571-0011
Gene Tang’s finest venture into dining. It has been going on for so long we’ve forgotten all the prior great eateries. The expansive menu includes seafood, game, steaks, chicken and pasta. They also have a superb Kobe beef bugger, comes with a fabulous deep-fried potato salad. Yo, mama! Just hop the shuttle to Market and you’re there. Note that they serve lunch only Wednesday thru Friday. Dinner is quite fine dining and is served Monday thru Saturday.

Annie’s Cafe
3100 E. Colfax Ave – 303-355-8197
Annie’s is the quintessential neighborhood family place where friends gather for fun & great food. The retro decor and relaxed atmosphere add even more enjoyment to your meal. A moderately priced menu with all of your favorite selections makes this a perfect spot for business lunches and family dining alike. The fish and chips are the best ever. They now offer their popular bugger in half-pound size, quite yummy.

Appaloosa Grill
535 16 St – 720-932-1700
A huge menu with munchies, soups & salads, buggers and sangies. The menu features lotsa steaks, seafood and poultry. Try the chicken salad sangie. They still serve them yummy Appaloosa St. Louis style ribs. The only thing I like about St. Louis is the style of ribs named after them. Methinks it was really created in Brooklyn. Everything worthwhile was created in Brooklyn. Ceptin’ G. The kitchen is open nitely til 1:30 a.m. Maybe the best (2) happy hours in town. Check out their website.

Avenue Grill
638 E. 17 Ave – 303-861-2820
For over twenty years this San Francisco style grill still rocks. Grub served ‘til 11 during the week, ‘til midnite on weekends. Have a bugger on a soft roll with super French fries. The menu is updated regularly. The bar is quite the happening place.

Benny’s Cantina
301 E. 7 Ave – 303-894-0788
A Mexican eatery with very good food and service. The awesome shredded beef is spicy and fresh without being torched for days; the tacos al carbon and breakfast burritos are super. Try his super spicy sirloin burrito. Open til 10 pm Sunday and Monday, til 11 the rest of the week.

Bistro Vendome
1424-H Larimer St – 303-825-3232
Operated by the very talented owners from Rioja (just across the street) this lovely eatery offers classic French cuisine. Open for dinner every nite and Saturday and Sunday brunch. The prices are very reasonable and the service is always first rate. The food? Simply superb. There are still a few folks in town who haven’t been to either restaurant. LOL. They’ll learn.

701 Grant St – 303-860-2929
After spending thirty minutes (again this year) trying to get into Bones’ website — no problem linking to the other Bonanno eateries — I gave up. Why do they have to make them so colorful that you can’t read anything, and then try and find the links? The daily changing menu at this Asian style noodle bar offers such delites as roasted bone marrow, beef short-rib eggrolls, or an elegant noodles dish that they specialize in, maybe Ba Mee (roasted spaghetti squash, mustard greens, and horseradish mascarpone cream). Prices are modest. Anywho, this is one of many Frank Bonanno eateries and since I know everything he touches turns to gold, this one has to be fantabulous. See Mizuna and Luca d’Italia.

Brown Palace Hotel
321 17 St – 303-297-3111
With several great eateries, this is always a fun place to dine. Bring money. The Palace Arms is ultra-fine dining (with a price tag to match). It’s now open for lunch as well as dinner. The lunch menu is limited but quite elegant. The hotel’s “main” dining room is Ellyngton’s, a great room serving breakfast and lunch daily as well as the finest Sunday brunch anywhere. More relaxed and affordable for both lunch and dinner is the Ship Tavern, with great sangies and other dishes. The prime rib’s fantastic; it’s always available in sangie form. Good buggers, great atmosphere. Churchill Bar offers drinks and cigars only for lunch and dinner; you’ll tell by the odors. High Tea is served in the afternoon in the Lobby. There are three places in the world to have afternoon or “high” tea: The American Doll store (Chicago or New York), The Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. (Vancouver Island), and the Brown Palace.

Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage St – 303-534-9505
Alligator tail anyone? Howsabout some rattlesnake? You can get most any game imaginable: elk, buffalo, pheasant, Rocky Mountain oysters (real swingin’ meat), grilled duck breast and more, all served in a great room loaded with trophies. Beats the heck outta any other eatery for game grub. Still serving (since 1893) Gramma Fanny’s pot roast sangie for lunch. Or try one of the mighty fine buggers and some house-made soup. A while back they added the Dutch Lunch as well as the Executive Lunch.

The Burnsley
1000 Grant St – 303-830-1000
This fine-dining emporium, located in one of Denver’s nicest independent hotels, is off the main road, but only a four-block walk from the Capitol. Just great eatin’. Probably the best kept dining secret in Denver. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch every day, dinner in the dining room on Friday and Saturday. The lounge serves a full dinner menu nitely. They now offer a “$52.80 Friday dinner” special. Sure do look yummy.

Capital Grille
1450 Larimer St, 303-539-2500
Since their opening in November 2003, I’ve been there probably 100 times. Usually I get someone else to buy. All the food is fantastic. Try the double cut lamb chops with the chutney thingie that is unbelievable. Service is primo. If you ain’t tried the cold-smoked lox, you ain’t lived. The sliced New York is great but the luncheon rib eye is the best steak in town. It’s our place for G and me for our anniversary. The house-made dark chocolate ice cream is a must every visit. This year I have three gift certificates, but it will do. Barely. If you’d like to send me one…

Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Café
534 E. Colfax Ave, 303-861-0347
James and Tina Pachork, owners of the Royal Hilltop (18581 E. Hampden Ave, Aurora, 303-692-7738) in Aurora for the past eight years, opened this beer garden almost four years ago. They also have Cheeky Monk stores in Thornton and Winter Park. The first time I went at nite with G the place was packed with a private party, and I thought service would be slow. To my amazement, service was terrific and the food even better. G sez the mussels are the best in town. The buggers are very good and the desserts delish. The menu is loaded with great munchies (cheese croquettes anyone?), sangies (remember the monte cristo?); salads, mussels (in a category by themselves) and entrees (Flemish Beef Stew sounds yummy). Check ‘em out. Open til the wee hours nitely. Of course the Belgian Beers are outstanding if you’re so inclined. Parking can be a problem at nite. Do Not park in the Office Depot lot across the street or you will get tagged and towed.

321 E. Colfax Ave – 303-861-0726
This popular legislative hangout is packed all day during “the session.” Soups (including The Best green chili in town) are fabulous; buggers and BLT’s are yummy. They serve dinner seven nites with nitely specials. Great prime rib deal Saturday nite. Try the huge rib-eye steak sangie or the Cuban roast pork sangie. Open late. Now that smoking is banned, this is even a better spot for lunch. Ceptin’ it’s always packed. Everyone in the world has voted this place the best bugger in town, ceptin me. It’s mighty good tho.

Cook’s Fresh Market
1600 Glenarm Place, 303-893-2277
This secret jewel, albeit not a restaurant as such, serves some of the finest food found anywhere. Most of their meats and deli items are not cheap, but there are great values. They even have a direct sangie order FAX line (303-893-2299). In addition to some of the finest beef in the state, they make terrific sangies. The menu offers over a dozen sangies daily, plus lotsa salads and sumptuous soups and maavelous pastries, cakes and pies. Check ‘em out. As for the butcher shop, you get what you pay for. You want the good stuff, call for Bill. I’m trying to get the city to put in a parking space out front just for me. Otherwise, parking is tuff.

Corner Bakery Cafe
500 16 St – 303-572-0166
1147 16 St – 303-825-0525
Founded on a philosophy of creating a place for people to relax at any time of day with a casual atmosphere, fresh breads, salads, sandwiches, pastas and sweets, Corner Bakery Cafe delivers a premier bakery cafe experience in the heart of neighborhoods. Check out one of their terrific paninis.

Denver Chop House
1735 19 St – 303-296-0800
Next to Coors Field, the joint is packed day and nite cuz the grub’s as good as the service. And it’s perty. Super munchies, fab steaks, chops, and other entrees. The portobello mushroom munchie and the onion rings are super. The bugger is still terrific, a giant 10-ounce patty. Check out the herb-crusted lamb lollipops with peach chipotle chutney. Yowza!

Diamond Cabaret
1222 Glenarm Place – 303-571-4242
Yeah, yeah, all you suckers will rake me over the coals cuz I wrote about a strip joint. So you know who goes to this place? Yuppie lawyers and old-fart businessmen. Food and service are really good. Hey, weren’t you born nekked? Friday lunch is all you can eat prime rib. Yo! Our old friend, Cliff Young, is now running the steakhouse. I’m told the steaks and service are terrific. G won’t let me go alone, and won’t go with me.

Dixons Downtown Grill
1610 16 St – 303-573-6100
A sister eatery to Racines, sans parking. Food and service are similar. I luv the place. Try the Mexican fare or one of the dozens of munchies, sangies, salads, or entrees. Leave room for dessert. Sunday brunch is still muh favorite meal here.

Downtown Broker
821 17 St – 303-293-9832
Ed Novak opened this very popular eatery about Ought 6, actually 40 years ago, and until this past summer, was serving fine steaks and other goodies including the bottomless shrimp bowl ever since. His business partner, Jerry Fritzler purchased Ed’s interest, so that Ed could semi retire. Actually, he did that about 35 years ago, but anyway, nothing else has changed. The menu is still huge, with sangies, salads, buggers, and entrees. Howsabout a lobster and crab club sangie? One problem: while the desserts are fantastic, you never have room for ‘em. Such a problem. I’m still waiting to try the triple chocolate mousse.

Emilio’s Super Chef
338 E. Colfax Ave – 303-832-2388
This Mexican eatery serves inexpensive — some say cheap — food and margaritas. They also offer exceptional breakfast burritos. The patio is very popular in nice weather. I guess even the panhandlers can afford to eat here and pay for their own meal.

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen
1317 14th St – 303-595-4255
The team of Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch has opened their third greatery (that’s a new term I invented for “great eatery” — maybe next year it will land in the dictionary). This one is a complete change from their other two greateries, Rioja and Bistro Vendome. Here the menu offers salads, appetizers (fried cheddar curds, pig ears, bone marrow, steamed PEI mussels and more). The hotspot of the new menu is the beef short rib kielbasa (Polish sausage) and the other sausages including an all turkey kick-ass corndog. Hey, I didn’t use the dirty word, that’s what‘s on the menu. They even serve poutiness, whatever the heck that is. Maybe they’re a cuz to pralines? They also serve a bunch of sangies, schnitzels and entrees. And some foo foo items. Check out the pretzel fried pies or the funnel cake fried bananas. Yo!

Green Fine Salad Company
110 16th St – 303-629-9127
1137 16th St – 303-279-0173
What do I say about a salad joint? Check out their menu on line and you decide. They offer a wide variety in different sizes, including a Caesar salad one with beef tenderloin in it. I’d go for that.

This is the first of two “Welcome Back, Legislators” columns from Jay Fox, The Statesman’s bipartisan restaurant reviewer.

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