Jay Fox's Dining Guide

Welcome back, legislators

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

THIS IS THE 17TH 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. I’ve included 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 Web sites with everything from menus to reservation links. Go on-line and take a peek. I’ve furnished the info where I could find it. Watch the spelling cuz some e-mail addresses get tricky.

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

1515 Restaurant
1515 Market St., 303-571-0011
www.1515restaurant.com

Gene Tang’s finest venture into dining. This one has the critics applauding. The expansive menu includes seafood, game, steaks, chicken and pasta. They also have two superb buggers. One is their popular Kobe beef bugger and the other a wonderfully ordinary great bugger for less than 10 bucks, served 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.

Annie’s Cafe
3100 E. Colfax Ave., 303-355-8197
www.annies-cafe.com

Annie’s was always a fav of mine during the many years it was located across from University of Colorado and Rose Memorial Hospitals at the corner of Eighth and Colorado Blvd. I rarely visited Rose without stopping for a giant hand-packed bugger and chili cheese fries. Now it’s just a slight detour out of my way after visiting my family of physicians at Rose — and there are many. Alas, the menu at the new location does not offer the up-sized half-pound bugger — just the original third-pounder, but there is good news. I discovered the absolutely best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten! The menu is enormous, and the fish and chips are something I wouldn’t have wanted when there’s a hand-packed bugger. When I couldn’t have muh bugger, I reread the menu that I hadn’t really read in years. There it was, the house favorite — beer-battered
fish and chips, $11.95. An enormous portion of wonderfully prepared fish. Shuck’s ma’am, it’s all good. Don’t forget the house-made pies.

Appaloosa Grill
535 16th St., 720-932-1700
www.appaloosagrill.com

A huge menu with munchies, soups and salads, buggers and sangies. Serves something called “Highland Premium Beef,” whatever the heck that is. I guess someone thinks it’s good. Any-who, 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 a.m.

Avenue Grill
638 E. 17 Ave., 303-861-2820
www.avenuegrill.com

After almost 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. They still do the best cioppino in town. This year they are serving a lobster “cappuccino”; I think it’s the same thing. You say tomAAto, I say tomAHto.

Benny’s Cantina
301 E. Seventh Ave., 303-894-0788
www.bennysrestaurant.com

A Mexican eatery with 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. I’m waiting for Benny’s next restaurant to open, cuz he always has something on the drawing boards.

Bistro Vendome
1424-H Larimer St., 303-825-3232
www.bistrovendome.com

Operated by the very talented owners from Rioja (just across the street) this lovely eatery offers classic French cuisine. Open for dinner 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.

Brooklyn’s
901 Auraria Parkway, 303-607-0002
www.brooklynsrestaurants.com

A full-menu sports bar. Food’s first-rate, atmosphere congenial, and service as good as any in town. They do munchies, soups, salads, sangies, seafood and steaks. The crab melt and club croissants are sooperb. The Web site is STILL messed up. The Web site only refers to the Pepsi Center store, but the menu is mostly the same at both stores. Fire the Web dude. Must be no one there cares. Or reads this column.

Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th St., 303-297-3111
www.brownpalace.com

With several great eateries, this is always a fun place to dine. Bring money. The crown jewel of the hotel, The Palace Arms is ultra-fine dining (dinner only) with a price tag to match. 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 even if not on the menu. Good buggers, Great atmosphere. Churchill Bar offers lunch and dinner, but mega cigars and their odors abound as well. There are three places in North America to have afternoon or “high” tea: The American Doll store (Chicago or New York), The Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. (Vancouver Island), and at the Brown Palace.

Check this out, from the new Palace Arms menu: wagyu master premium Japanese beef, Asparagus, Mushroom, Potato Skin, Spinach, Shallots, Sherry, five ounce minimum, $20 per ounce. The price is the same as a year ago, which is a good thing. Now I’ve never had it, but if you’re buying, I’m having. I’ve paid a lot more money and got a lot less good grub elsewhere, so if you wanna splurge, this is The Place to do it. The Colorado loin of lamb is only $40. The prices in the hotel’s other restaurants are comparable to any other fine dining restaurant in town. Check out their Web site. There is an exciting new tapas menu being offered in the Atrium Lobby after afternoon tea Thursday thru Saturday from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The selection is limited, but it’s reasonably priced and very tempting. A shrimp cocktail is only $14. Yo!

Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage St., 303-534-9505
www.buckhorn.com

Alligator tail anyone? It is fried. You can get most any game imaginable: elk, buffalo, pheasant, Rocky Mountain oysters (some 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. Check out Gramma Fanny’s pot roast sangie for lunch. The sangie has been around since 1893, but I hope the pumpernickel bread is a bit fresher. Maybe one of the mighty fine buggers and some house-made soup.

The Burnsley
1000 Grant St., 303-830-1000
www.burnsley.com

This fine-dining emporium, located in one of Denver’s nicer 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. For breakfast they do a terrific hot buffet as well as a full menu, serve a yummy lunch during the week, and dinner nitely with live entertainment Friday and Saturday nites.

Café Star
3201 E. Colfax Ave., 303-320-8635
www.cafestardenver.com

Head chef Mike Carlin turns out some mighty fine grub. Salads, pizzettas and sangies comprise the menu. But these ain’t your ordinary lettuce and tomato salads, no sir reeboberoonie. Warm spinach, Mediterranean, arugula and other salads, as well as a host of sangies will tantalize your taste buds. Howsabout a meataball grinder with house-made meataballs, tomato sauce, onions and provolone on a fresh hoagie?

Capital Grille
1450 Larimer St., 303-539-2500
www.thecapitalgrille.com

Since their opening in November 2003, I’ve been there probably 60 times. Usually I get someone else to buy. While I usually favor the rib-eye steak sangie at lunch, the bugger is terrific. It’s made with onions and stuff already inside, but so so good. All the food is fantastic. Try the double cut lamb chops with the kinda chutney thingie that is unbelievable. Service is absolutely primo. If you ain’t tried the cold-smoked lox munchie, you ain’t lived. The sliced New York is great, as is the sliced filet. It’s a must for G and me for our anniversary. This year I have only two gift certificates, but it’ll do. Barely. If you’d like to send me one…

CityGrille
321 E. Colfax Ave., 303-861-0726
www.citygrille.com

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. As this goes to press, they’re picking their one millionth bugger customer.

Cook’s Fresh Market
1600 Glenarm Place, 303-893-2277
www.cooksfreshmarket.com

This secret jewel, albeit not really a restaurant, serves some of the finest food found anywhere. Most of their meats and deli items are not cheap, but they’re great values, particularly in their selections of soups and sangies. 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. Meat Man Bill-Dan will take care of you.

Corner Bakery Cafe
500 16 St., 303-572-0166
1147 16 St., 303-825-0525
www.cornerbakery.com

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.

The Corner Office
1430 Curtis St., 303-825-6500
www.thecornerofficedenver.com

The strangest Web site. Took me 15 minutes to find the menu. Looks like it was designed by the same idiot architect who designed the new Denver Art Museum addition. Gawd awful ugly. I won’t go in for fear I might fall off…or out. Oh well, hear tell the food is good. They got sangies, a bugger, salads, Asian fare and brunch grub. Supposed to be a drinking place as well. Gonna check it out, for sure. Maybe before they go out of business.

Denver Chop House
1735 19 St., 303-296-0800
www.rockbottomrestaurantsinc.com

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 something to behold. The enormous 10 oz. bugger is one fine hunka meat. The lunch menu is expansive; they offer calamari, mussels, crab cakes and a super chilled seafood martini. Check out the steak Oscar for a mere $14.95.

Diamond Cabaret
1222 Glenarm Place, 303-571-4747
www.thediamondcabaret.com

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!

Dixons Downtown Grill
1610 16 St., 303-573-6100
www.grdeating.com

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. And the buggers? Outstanding if cooked on the flat grill, but you gotta tell the server that’s how you want it prepared. The group’s original restaurant, Goodfriends, closed last May after serving Denverites for almost 30 years.

Downtown Broker
821 17 St., 303-293-9832
www.thebrokerrestaurant.com

Ed Novak opened this very popular eatery about (Nineteen) Ought 6, and has been serving fine steaks and other goodies — including the bottomless shrimp bowl — ever since. One problem: while the desserts are fantastic, you never have room for ‘em. Such a problem. They have several gorgeous private dining rooms for meetings and special occasions.

Emilio’s
338 E. Colfax Ave., 303-953-4694
www.emiliossuperchef.com

Formerly a mobile lunch truck and now in a real store, this low cost Mexican food eatery serves breakfast lunch and dinner 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday thru Saturday, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday. The Guv is a frequent diner here for lunch. Stop in or have it delivered. Free delivery within two miles. They specialize in carne asada and crispy rellenos. 10 percent off your first visit if you ask for it.

Continued next week... Cya.

Jay@coloradostatesman.com