This may be a controversial statement to our native readers...but Denver has never been known for its restaurants... Weed? Yes. 14,000 foot peaks? Of course. But a decade ago the only place putting us on the map was Casa Bonita! Not until these past couple of years did Denver begin to rival New York, LA and Las Vegas and start to roar its head into the restaurant scene.
Throughout the past couple of years we've been able to see the Applebee's and Yard Houses of 16th street mall be replaced by the Linger's and Rosenberg's of Denver's thriving eclectic neighborhoods. Westword's Dish is a celebration of how far we've come as a city. We have so many amazing local and creative restaurants; it's definitely a proud time to be a Denverite.
Prior to the Dish we chose to forgo food as a life source and instead relied solely on ice water and rocky mountain air. Needless to say when we arrived at Discovery Park we were wide eyed and very hangry. Luckily, entry was a breeze and there were food trucks ready with samples waiting as soon as we entered! We hit up most of the food trucks first, starting with a healthy quinoa and mushroom cup at Keenwah, then ordered a GF beef and egg empanada, and a pork belly skewer from Orange Crunch, which were both very satisfying. Now that our stomachs weren't growling, we leisurely embarked into the main food area, looking like the sophisticated foodies that we are.
The main event space consisted of five designated "food areas" with beverage companies and exhibitor sponsors mixed in. It was a bit tricky to find a non-alcoholic beverage that we could just quench our thirst with after our warm walk to get in. I really just wanted a cold water or something simple to keep hydrated and for us to cleanse our palettes before the next dish. There was plenty of booze, which we finally worked up to sampling, and kind of couldn't resist given there were some pretty unique vendors. One was Golden Moon Speakeasy in Golden, who sampled an array of spirits such as Gin, Violet Liquor, and Absinthe. Another fun one was Bird Dog Whiskey, sampling a variety of all-natural flavored Kentucky whiskies such as apple, peach, chocolate, and maple. Then there were, of course, the Colorado staples such as Mile High Spirits and Stranahan's Whiskey, both mixing up Mules.
It's easy to get caught up when surrounded by the likes of OneFold, Deep Eddy Vodka, Alamo Draft House, The Nickel, Rosenberg's, Lola's, Adelita's and Little Man's Ice Cream... So many Denver staples in ONE place! Our inner "big-boned" child was in food heaven! We each found many dishes that appealed to our tastes, and some just out of curiosity. A few of my favorites included the quick, healthy quinoa bowl and the beef empanada I scarfed down when we entered. I went back for seconds at Biju's Little Curry Shop for their coconut curry chicken roll, and Onefold's organic congee bowl of savory rice porridge with chicken confit, poached egg, green onions, soy sauce, ginger, chili oil...shall I go on? Basically, it was good enough to convince me I have to go into their restaurant asap.
Sadly, some of the restaurants I was most excited to try had already run out of samples. This was because those damn VIP ticket holders were allowed in a couple hours earlier and ate up all the best bites! Such places included Los Chingones, Table 6, The Kitchen, Milk and Cake, Fooducopia and Little Man Ice Cream. *tear* Luckily I found some great ice cream to cool the pain at God Save the Cream and some with alcohol infused at Twisted Cream.
We waltzed, we ate, we mingled and in the end we sauntered home with full bellies and even bigger hearts. We're already proud Coloradans but attending an event like Denver Dish is just the cherry on top of an amazing city. Yet another great reminder to support local and try something new! So in love with you Denver!