Tap & Burger: Top Rated Burgers & Veggie Friendly Favorites

Tap & Burger Belleview Station is not your typical sports and burger bar; turns out they are a foodie focused restaurant with a menu full of fresh plant-based dishes, local grass-fed beef and tasty sides and fries. This DTC location is their third, with the first being Highland Tap & Burger in LoHi that opened in 2010 and one in Sloan’s Lake. All the Tap & Burger locations focus on local ingredients, make everything in house, and boast a large variety of local brews on tap.

 Tap Burger

Tap Burger

Beyond their great menu, which we will review for you next, they take the time to help the Colorado community. Their efforts include working with nonprofits (four at the moment), educating high school students on sustainable farming, and doing what they can to save the most energy and waste within their restaurants.

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The menu here has a whole section of “Plant Based” offerings that include salads, a red curry quinoa bowl, and the ImpossibleTM brand, which is a plant-based meat substitute that (as the name implies) tastes too good to be true. They serve both ImpossibleTMTacos and Burgers which were deemed fantastic by both the vegetarians and meat eaters in the room. A handful of restaurants carry the ImpossibleTM burger, but their tacos allow for a delightful combination of seasoned “meat” with guacamole and pico verde that worked wonderfully. We’d love to see these tacos at the next taco festival this summer!

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Also noteworthy are the starters such as the crispy chicken empanadas, smoked Tap wings, Asian Lettuce Wraps and grilled artichoke. And last but not least, the burgers we tried were juicy, flavorful and customizable. They feature four creations on their menu but also give diners the option to fully customize and substitute beef for veggie, lamb, turkey or the ImpossibleTM

One of their four features is the Tap Burger which was rated “Top 15 Burger” by Zagat and features root beer pulled pork, onion rings, American cheese, and aged white cheddar. The pulled pork was succulent and complemented the burger and fried onion really well, with an overall sweet BBQ flavor. Another favorite was the Shroom Luva’s, rated “Top 10 Burger in Denver” by Zagat,  with just the right amount of with sautéed mushrooms and mushroom aioli, along with a nice Swiss cheese (perfect for those who really l like mushrooms).

Words by Tiffany Candelaria Photos by Samantha Bliss
http://tapandburgerbelleview.com

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5 Neighborhoods, 5 Restaurants in Denver

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Here are some restaurants to check out in five Denver neighborhoods. This is a great list to refer to the next time you're looking for a new dining destination or happen to be in one of the areas enjoying some night life. Plan on checking them out with a group? A Denver Charter Bus Service is the perfect way to make sure you're having the most convenient and safe transportation, and it's a lot easier than ordering multiple Uber rides!

LoDo

Rioja

1431 Larimer Street

Rioja is a Spanish and Mediterranean fusion style restaurant with some seriously impressive dishes throughout their menu. Their happy hour changes each month, inspired by a different country each time. Don't miss out on their weekend brunch menu, either! It features items like donuts with lemon marscapone and blueberry compote, sweet potato hash, and the rioja benedict.

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Puerto Rico 5280 Cuisine

3109 Federal Blvd

This new Puerto Rican restaurant offers a comfortable atmosphere to dine and drink when you're in the neighborhood. How can you go wrong with comfort food options like the light, flaky authentic pastries named Pastelillos? The mofongo is another amazing dish to consider ordering when you're here. It's all super fresh!

Rino

Rino Beer Garden

3800 Walnut Street

Beer lovers consider Rino to be a haven for nightlife, and they aren't wrong! With their selection of beer and enhanced bar food, this will easily become of your regular stops if it isn't already. There are large outdoor patio with fire pits and easy to share dishes, so this is always a fitting spot to gather with your friends in Denver.

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Colore Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria

2700 S Broadway

It can be hard to find good Italian food, but Colore definitely knows what they're doing. We recommend making reservations if you plan on coming here for a holiday such as Mother's Day or Valentine's Day. Some of the highlights on this menu include the roasted jalapeno artichoke dip, chicken marsala and linguine pescatore.

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True Food Kitchen

2800 E 2nd Avenue

Are you looking for a healthy option? True Food Kitchen is the place to be for flavorful vegan and vegetarian eats. Try their edamame dumplings, spaghetti squash casserole, or the inside out quinoa burger if you want to stick to the tried and true favorites. We highly recommend taking a look at their dessert menu while you're here, too.

Pepper X Ultra5280: Bad-ass Babes Behind Denver Based Brassieres

 Photos courtesy of Jaclyn Fu

Photos courtesy of Jaclyn Fu

We decided to highlight Denver based brand Pepper, for small boobies, and bad asses alike, take a peek into the journey of Jaclyn Fu.

Tell me a little about yourself, and the brand, Pepper? You must’ve reached a point where underrepresentation got frustrating if you were possessed to start your own brand. Do you feel as though the brand represents you as a person? 

I'm Jaclyn Fu, Co-founder & CEO of Pepper, the first and only body positive bra company for small-chested women that wants you to celebrate your body exactly as it is. Pepper was very much inspired by own frustrations of not being able to find a bra that fit because my size is typically an afterthought for bra companies. The brand does reflect my views on promoting self love and inclusivity, but more-so it represents our vibrant community of women who may be small but are mighty.

How do you even begin a project like this? How does one begin to make a model of a bra? 

Good question, my co-founder Lia and I had zero bra design experience when we started! We did get really good at talking to potential customers and listening to their pains, so we used that research to help design what a better fitting bra for this audience could look and feel like. We started by talking to friends, family, even people I met on Craigslist, to try to understand why current bras don't fit and how it makes them feel. We then did a lot of market research and came up with hypotheses on how to improve on the designs that are out there.

What struggles did you face getting started? Did anyone give you slack for what you wanted to bring onto the market? 

It was a constant uphill battle to show we were onto something with Pepper. We were doing something completely new, made most men uncomfortable to talk about, and so had a hard time being taken seriously. However we were able to find some really awesome investors who believe in us and our mission and are grateful to partner with them now to bring Pepper to the masses.

So after the Kickstarters extreme success (470% in the first 13 days is wild, btw), did you get reached out to by major brands/distributors? Who will be carrying Pepper? 

We are a direct-to-consumer brand, so for the time being will only be selling online. This allows us to really get to know our customers and develop authentic relationships with them so we can keep creating designs they'll love. We are open to major distributors in the future, however.

 

What is next for the brand? What’s next for you?

Our customers are already asking for more styles! We're currently working on a new wireless bra, and expanding our All You Bra collection with more colors and fabrics. We're also doing a lot of thinking on what it means to be a body positive brand and how we can live our ethos in everything that we do. For myself, I'm fired up to take Pepper to the next level and make an impact on an industry that hasn't been disrupted in so long!

 

What’s your favorite boobie related saying/slogan/catch phrase/silly saying? 

Embrace the 'flat' in flattering ;)

Thank you for being a Denver babe, working hard to represent all of us. Now onto a few random questions I’m sure our readers will be keen on learning about you. 

Favorite musician lately? I've been listening to a lot of Bazzi, Anthony Russo and Post Malone 
 

Favorite Denver hangout for a drink? for food? for music?

Bar Dough and Sushi Den are a few of my favorite restaurants. Love getting drinks at Death & Co and dancing at Temple!
 

Favorite Denver store?

Alas, I don't do much shopping anymore (the founder life)

Shop the brand at https://www.wearpepper.com/.

Westword Feast Hit the Spot

Last Sunday, September 30, Westword Magazine's annual foodie "Feast" event returned to downtown Denver’s McNichols Building for a few hours of food and booze-infused fun! Over 45 of Westword’s food writers and readers favorite restaurants were there sampling from their menu alongside local and national booze brands.

A VIP ticket offered perks such as early entrance, two private lounge areas (one indoors one outdoors) with an open bar, restrooms, goodie bags, and special food tasting from the Cherry Creek sushi spot Matsuhisa. All the perks were great, but for all those in GA things weren't bad at all! The lines stayed moderate all day, if one table had a long line, you could try back in 30 minutes and it'd be gone. People seemed to congregate together creating hype, and amazingly (as we see this happen all the time at foodie events) none of the restaurants ran out of food until the end! So VIP or not, everyone got the unlimited food and booze samples they were promised, even food samples to go from RxBar, Duke's Smoked Meats & Naked. Another plus, there were plenty of tables, water stations and restrooms for all.

Our favorite bites included the following: Roaming Buffalo BBQ had these (pictured above) tasty tamales with BBQ beef and pork inside. Sugar Fire Smoke House had not only pork belly, but also the most succulent béarnaise beef. Gypsy Q served their Brisket Banh Mi Sandwich and Kimchi Mac & Cheese. Frijoles Colorado served their Cuban Lechon Moro y Maduros (roasted pork with black beans, rice & sweet plantain). Jackdaw, an Irish restaurant we've never heard of showcased superb Corned Beef on homemade sweet soda bread. Milk & Cake and Little Man Ice Cream treated us to scrumptious cupcakes and ice cream.

Photos by Robert Castro Words by Tiffany Candelaria

Safeword X Ultra5280 : A Look Into the Boss Babes of Denver

 Logo by Justine Henderson

Logo by Justine Henderson

We took some time to interview Bryn Carter and Shayla Preeshl, to talk about the amazing girl power forward collective that they started. Bringing boss babes from all walks of life together, creating connections, promoting local businesses, and sharing good quality time together,

 Photo by Sara Palandeng

Photo by Sara Palandeng

Tell me a little about the bad ass babes that created Safeword. What are each of your backgrounds? What brought the two of you together? What things started happening in your life that drove you to wanting a project of this nature? What was the turning point in your life that brought you to this thing that is Safeword.

B: I’m a Midwest girl, I moved here from a city outside of Chicago called Rockford after living in Australia for a while. The two of us actually met on a shoot a year ago – Shayla was styling and I was modeling. We clicked immediately and started hanging out after that. In all honesty, the idea for Safeword was really finalized one night at my house after a lot of wine haha. But before that, we had attended creative meet-ups (where we found a lack of female attendees) and women entrepreneur events (which we found to be full of cliques) and realized there was a real need for a place for female creatives and entrepreneurs to come together and network while growing alongside one another both personally and professionally. We refer to it as our coming-to-Jesus moment that night but between the two of us, we know so many amazing women in this city and our hope is to get these women working with one another and eventually take this to other cities as well.

 

S: I hail from small-town Montana, and have a background in wardrobe styling and marketing. I had lived in Denver for a few years, and found it difficult in my time here to connect with fellow creative women. Another turning point for us was when we had attended a local meetup, and it felt the opposite of welcoming for the babes who attended. We realized we need to do something for the ladies, there is too much talent here that is underrepresented!

 

Tell me a little about Safeword itself. What does the word mean/why did you choose this title?. Y’all have thrown some awesome events over the last few months, I attended the last at Ft. Greene and had an awesome time. What’s the purpose of events like these?

Well, we like to play a lot with words and their meanings. For example, on our website we have a section called ‘Centerfolds’ which has always referred to usually a sexy woman in the middle of some raunchy magazine. We wanted to reclaim these words that may have been used to degrade or to put down women and now our ‘Centerfold’ section is where we interview amazing creative women and entrepreneurs who share their stories. Safeword is the same – we wanted to use a work that represented a safe place that women could come together and feel comfortable.

The purpose of these events is to do networking differently – we like to have amazing artists and business owners there who can show their work, do their work, sell their products and meet some incredible women along the way. From our previous networking experiences, we had felt a sense of in-authenticity. Interactions felt robotic and forced. We always describe our events as hanging out with your girlfriends. We have a ton of ladies who come to them alone, and end up leaving with a babe squad worth of contacts and friendships by the end.

 

What was the goal in creating this group? How has it been going and how can local babes keep perpetuating the growth of that?

The goal is simple really – get all these amazing women together in one spot so they can network and build this business while also building their friend groups. We had a lot of women who just moved to the city come to our last event and reach out to thank us after because they were having such a hard time meeting women, and after our event they had some genuine new friends to hang out with. It’s things like those moments that let us know we are doing something right and hopefully will keep growing Safeword into something great. We hope to bring this to a national level, as we know of markets that are even more difficult to meet women in these industries than Denver. One other goal we focus on is creating an open dialogue amongst women, so instead of being pit against one another we can conquer avenues together through those relationships. The support we have received locally has been overwhelming. We launched this as a passion project, but had no idea how our audience would react. The fact that it has exceeded our expectations in growth by a long shot continues to motivate us.

 Photo by Sara Palandeng

Photo by Sara Palandeng

 

What upcoming events do we have to look forward to? Any extra awesome stuff coming in the near future?

 People always ask why we aren’t doing events all the time haha and we get asked weekly to partner with people on other events, but end of the day, we are not an event company and we really have to commit to why we started Safeword and stick to the quarterly networking events. Shayla and I also do this as a side hustle – she works full -time for a bad ass, women-owned and operated PR firm in town, I am a realtor and working to open a women’s co-working space (details coming soon babes). This is something we feel so strongly about and we are beyond thankful for all the amazing women we have met and the support we have been shown. Safeword is what it is because of the incredible babes of this city. Look for our next big event in the winter but might be one or two beforehand – we will be sure to keep you informed.

Follow the Safeword website here and follow these lovely babes on Instagram to keep up with the amazing things to come!

 Photo by Kim Desmond

Photo by Kim Desmond

OmFest Colorado Review

OmFest Colorado returned for its fifth year last Saturday to Founders Green bringing Denver a day full of free yoga, barre, meditation and mindfulness.

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This year's OmFest featured the local yoga and fitness community, musicians, food trucks, artisans, local breweries and wineries! Again they incorporated fun for the whole family with yoga for all ages and free kids activities. Every hour from 9am to 6:30pm there was a yoga or fitness class, with the day culminating in a live band taking participants and the local community into the lovely summer evening. 

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The day was sunny and warm, and many people filtered in and out of the festival thought the day. The final yoga flow took place as the sun set and a cool breeze cooled everyone off. What a wonderful day of practice and community in the grassy courtyard.

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Photos by Samantha Bliss

FNG Launches Lunch, Eventually Brunch

Troy Guard’s rock n’ roll restaurant FNG is now opening at 11:30am Tuesday through Saturday to serve up your favorites during lunch hours. A great midday escape from your corporate job! The space is hip, edgy and full of music memorabilia and vinyl. According to their team, “FNG is the reminder of all that is genuine, pure and just f’n good. Our food is Rock n’ Roll and our drinks are Punk Rock. The staff is an over-educated, tattooed, eclectic band of experience-creating, hospitality rock stars.” 

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We sampled a few lunch favorites selected by the staff as well as a few of their cool cocktails. To start we had the Tater Tots & Salmon Salad which is just what it sounds like atop arugula with green and white aioli. This salad is apparently a guest favorite, which surprised both the staff and us, but we do give it points for originality.

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Another guest favorite is their Bologna Slider with Swiss, 1000 Island dressing, and potato chips on a King’s Hawaiian Roll (one of the only items not made in house because sometimes you can't beat a classic). A traditional burger, Mediterranean lamb, fried and rotisserie chicken sliders are also popular lunch options. We had the full size version of their buttermilk brined chicken slider which won this summer's Chicken Fight event! Each day there will be an added sandwich feature during lunch to test out chefs’ favorites and the FNG team will mold their lunch menu based on diners' favorites.  

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FNG's all-day menu features ten craft cocktails that drift from the mainstream in their unique ingredients and booze-y bite. We loved the Almost Famous that pairs ruby red flavored vodka with coconut milk and the smoky mezcal meets blackberry cocktail Bramble On. Also tasty is the "secret" dessert menu with nostalgic favorites like Banana Cream Pie and the Dirt Cup as known from childhood. 

FNG served Happy Hour weekdays 3-6pm and if you order from their special Live Nation section of the menu you'll be entered to win tickets to an upcoming Live Nation concert! And winners also receive a $50 FNG dining credit so you can come party/eat before the show!

3940 West 32nd Avenue in the Highlands. https://www.fngrestaurant.com/

Written by Tiffany Candelaria @TCDoesFnB     Photos by Samantha Bliss @RedCapturesHerBliss

OmFest Colorado Returns to Denver Sept 15

OmFest Colorado returns to Denver for it's fifth year on Saturday, September 15th for a full day of outdoor yoga, fitness, music, and local vendors at Founder's Green.

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OmFest began when Jeannene Orofino moved to Denver from New York (where she worked as a yoga teacher) and wondered why Denver didn't have a local yoga festival. Together with two local yoga instructors, the three woman created a family-friendly yoga festival for the Denver community. “Our goal was to make a local festival that was affordable, because a lot of people can’t afford the other festivals with big-name teachers that they fly in,” Orofino remembers.

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This year's OmFest features local talent within the yoga and fitness community, musicians, food trucks, seven local artisans, local breweries and wineries! They've also incorporated fun for the whole family with yoga for all ages, kids activities and free admission for those 12 and under. Every hour from 9am to 6:30pm there will be a yoga or fitness class (or both) with the day culminating in a live DJ and drummer teaming up to take us into the evening. 

Tickets can be purchased online for $49 at http://omfestcolorado.com/

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Korean BarbieQ Pop Up Experience

Last weekend, the vacant restaurant space beneath Larimer Square transformed into a special pop-up experience themed around Korean BarbieQ. Odd concept, but cool creation that blended Barbie-themed decor and drinks with Korean barbecue. The pop up experience returns again this Thursday through Saturday August 25th, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at 1414 Larimer, Denver. Tickets include dinner and drinks - get tickets here:  https://www.thricepopup.com/#tickets

After this weekend, the BarbieQ will then be deconstructed to make way for another pop-up concept by OZ Architecture Associate Principal and Director of Brand Experience Design Abigale Plonkey. “I’ve always wanted to create a pop-up event, and I’ve seen them successful in New York and LA and thought this was an opportunity to bring it to Denver,” Plonkey said. "So we came up with the concept of Thrice — food, drink, design. It always has to have those three elements to make it unique. It can’t just drink, it can’t just be food and it can’t just be about design.” Chef Bill Espiricueta of Smok is preparing the food for this pop-up, and Shawn Campbell, lead bartender at El Five, curated the cocktails.

After the Korean BarbieQ wraps up this weekend, be on the lookout for the next concept — Cosmotropical, a David Bowie-inspired event where outer space meets tiki bar. The decor will focus on astronomy and have lots of neon. The third event will be Chroma, during which the room will change colors as different courses are served!

Photos by Josh Stephens

Our Journey To A Place Called Tacolandia

 Tacos and lowriders. (Photo Credit: Samantha Bliss)

Tacos and lowriders. (Photo Credit: Samantha Bliss)

As we have mentioned on many occasions we are pretty big fans of tacos here at Ultra5280. From al pastor to carnitas any edible morsel of goodness that can be filled in a warm tortilla we are big fans of. This year we were fortunate enough to cover another edition of Tacolandia presented by our good friends at Westword.

We had pretty large helpings of the vast selection of some of the cities best taco establishments. It is hard to pick a favorite amongst the wide selection so we will just say we enjoyed them all. What is becoming a taco lovers destination event was once again filled with food, music, a car show and an outrageous lucha libre ring.

Mariachi America (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Music from Mariachi America had everybody dancing to the rhythms of salsa and cumbias, while fellow Denver spanish rock bands such as iZCALLi and Los Mocochetes brought the local flavor. Members of the Saints and Sinner Car Club had their finest whips (it's what the cool kids say instead of cars) on display. With candy coated paint jobs to dizzying chrome wheels. The event is always a favorite of ours and if you have never been we suggest you mark it in your calendar asap for next year.

All the tacos. (Photo Credit: Samantha Bliss)

The proud traditions of the latino culture were on display. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Photo Gallery 1: Samantha Bliss (Staff Photographer)

Photo Gallery 2: Robert Castro (Editor in Chief)

Female Founders to Open Denver’s First Independent, Female Owned Sex Boutique This Saturday!

 All photos credit to  Jessica Christie Photography  

All photos credit to Jessica Christie Photography 

 Awakening, Denver's premier sex-positive boutique and community resource, announced the grand opening and permanent residency in Modern Nomad warehouse located in the River North Arts District. The boutique will open to the public on Saturday, August 18 at 12pm. 

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Created by Tory Johnson and Rose Kalasz, Awakening was founded on the mission that sex stores no longer have to be uncomfortable and intimidating to walk into. Awakening Boutique is specifically designed to offer a modern, progressive, femme-centric take on the current sex store market, providing the opportunity and space for Denver residents and visitors to explore their sexuality and interests comfortably. 

As the duo matured growing up, they went through adolescent parallels relying on each other for support. Rose Kalasz dives into the idea that evoked Awakening. "We bought our first vibrators together when we were 18 because we were too intimidated and unsure to go into a sex store alone. Tory lived in Seattle for a long time, where we saw stores like Babeland, and She-Bop in Portland, that approached the concept of “sex shop” in a totally fresh way. They were clean, open, informed, and focused on female and LGBTQ pleasure and health." Developing into adulthood and finding the desire to open their own shop, they wanted to provide women the comfort and support they had in one another and we're thrilled they chose our city to do so. "We often wondered why Denver didn’t have something like that, and this year we both found ourselves in a situation where we could make it happen."

"Going into this, we really had no idea what to expect!" Said Kalasz, about Denver's response to Awakening. "We knew that we were passionate about it, and that there was a real need for a female-focused and sex positive resource in Denver, and that’s all we were going off of! Modern Nomad was so awesome and open minded when we approached them with the idea, and we have felt included and welcomed by everyone we have talked to there. The response from the women of Denver has been enthusiastic to say the least, so we are pretty excited to open and finally get going!"

“Many people today are uncomfortable, intimidated, or uninformed about adult novelty and sexual health products,” said Johnson, Co-Founder of Awakening Boutique. “We are seeing that consumers are overwhelmed by shopping online for sex-related products due to the lack of guidance and the broad selection and that many are too embarrassed to go into large novelty stores. We want to offer a kind of environment that is not currently available to women interested in exploring their sexuality in a more comfortable, informed, and fun way.” 

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The boutique will stock all high-end, non-toxic, eco-friendly sex toys as well as lingerie, books and home goods. Snapshot of products for sale include DAME ProductsWOO For Play Coconut Love OilWildfire UndiesTantusFun Factory, and Hey Mavens! Lingerie. All products stocked are hand-selected by Johnson and Kalasz. 

“We are very selective about the products we choose to offer and the knowledge level of our staff. Our products are welcoming to customers of varied demographics, interests, and experience levels,” said Kalasz. “First time toy buyers, couples interested in experimenting with light kink and bdsm, women looking for non-toxic, sexual health products - come on in!” 

For more information about Awakening Boutique, visit www.awakeningboutique.co. Find Awakening Boutique on Instagram here

SAVE THE DATE: 

Join Awakening Boutique in celebrating the official opening as a permanent resident to the Modern Nomad warehouse on Saturday, August 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free food, drinks, and live music. Be the first to shop all Awakening Boutique products and receive a party favor of 10% off your first purchase at Awakening Boutique. Walk out with free products - various vendor product raffling throughout the evening. To RSVP for the Grand Opening, visit Facebook here.  

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Steuben's Switches Up Some Dishes

Denver's comfort food favorite Steuben’s (in Uptown & Arvada) is known for their casual diner vibe and home cooking, serving regional comfort food at its finest. Steuben's has always evolved with the times, leading to its long life in Denver, and has recently updated their menu with some tasty, and also healthy, new offerings. We went to their "Media Mixer" last week and tried the tasty new assortment along with some summer cocktails and desserts.

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We've always loved their sandwiches, and now they have some lighter items like the Avocado Goddess Toast and the Rachel, a turkey version of a Ruben (pictured below). Both of these were fantastic and flavorful additions to their heartier standbys like Burgers, the Hot Beef Sandwich and Lobster Rolls. New entrees include a Brick Chicken (above) (brick-pressed half chicken which makes the skin extra crispy) with potatoes, veggies and chicken jus and Cayenne Etouffee (think gumbo with sausage, crawfish & shrimp) perfect for the cooler months ahead.

The cocktail menu at Steuben's has always been strong and ranges from light and summery to knock your socks off. The White Negroni looks like pure gin on ice, but it one of the staff's new favorites. Our new favorites (pictured) included That Drink which was a subtle and refreshing vodka, lemon, basil and seltzer cocktail and the No Where to Run with Bulleit Bourbon, lemon, mint, triple sec and seltzer.

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Steuben’s is also known to have delicious desserts; we recommend the lovely and light Lemon Icebox Bar or a Salter Caramel Choco-taco filled with their homemade salted caramel ice cream. The Secret Sauce team behind Steuben’s (also Ace and Vesta) are committed to using locally and/or responsibly produced ingredients and each of these locations have been certified as a green business through the EPA and Certifiably Green Denver!

Steuben’s Uptown, 523 E 17 Ave, Denver, CO 80203  https://www.steubens.com/#menus

Review by Tiffany Candelaria    Photos by Josh Stephens

The Big Eat 2018 Delivers Just That

The Big Eat is Denver's signature food-and-drink showcase that brings together more than 60 of Denver chefs/restaurants to show off their best bites. Unlike many of Denver’s other food and booze events, the Big Eat is one of our favorites because it brings the restaurant scene together in camaraderie rather than competition and provides a comprehensive scope of eats and drinks in a fun, laid-back environment.

This year’s Big Eat was last Thursday and kicked off Denver’s second year hosting Slow Food Nations festival. Click here to read our coverage of that festival. For the past eight years, Eat Denver, a non-profit network of independent restaurants, has organized this event to highlight the hard work and delicious dishes of our local eateries. The event provides Denver diners the opportunity to sample small plates from the big names such as Root Down, Vesta, Jax Fish House, Snooze and Racines, while introducing them to the lesser known gems.

As always, this year’s event was full of fabulous food, craft cocktails and beer, and short lines! Take a look at our photo gallery below for the full picture and let us tell you what our favorite eats were this year, in no particular order. The “Batman & Ruben” from Vine Street Tavern was a scrumptious smoked beef pastrami brisket with Brussel sprout kraut, mustard and Russian aioli. Fish & Beer was serving two types of oysters (garlic or spicy) fresh off the grill which were wonderful. The best sweet and savory combo was found at Cap City Tavern in their Pork Belly Donut Hole with bacon fat caramel!

There were a few fantastic tacos at the Big Eat and our favorites were the Smoked Salmon Tostada (above) with jalapeno goat cheese from blueAgave and the Carne Asada tacos with fresh guacamole from Borracho Taco.

Aside from all the heavy, protein laden dishes, this year the event aimed for one-third of the dishes to be meat-free. So we saw pastas, salads, a soup and a couple vegetarian dishes along with a few desserts such as cupcakes, cookies, ice cream and fancy pancakes!

The water stations and of course cocktail kept us going, with neighborhood-themed spirits from Colorado distilleries such as the Family Jones Spirit House and Woody Creek Distillers and beers from The Post, Ratio, Vine Street, LowDown and Prost Breweries. The Big Eat lives up to its name and is a foodie fest not to be missed!

http://eatdenver.com/the-big-eat/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria     Photos by Samantha Bliss

Denver Comic Con Returned To The Mile High City For Another Amazing Weekend

Denver Comic Con arrived back in Denver with a slew of characters. (Photo: Jason Pendleton)

The comic con scene is alive and well in Denver nowadays. Denver Comic Con continues to grow exponentially year after year with bigger crowds and more importantly bigger guest celebrities. This year was no exception.

This year boasted the likes of childhood heroes of mine such as Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy of Sixteen Candles fame. Val Kilmer was in attendance, Mr. Iceman himself. A who's who of current television stars such as Jason Momoa (Justice League and Game of Thrones), David Harbour of recent Stranger Things fame and Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy). The list goes on and on.

This year's crowds seemed on par with last years  in terms of numbers. Vendors still maintained their strong threshold with a vast opportunity to get your collectables. With 3 Main Events stages, 25 session rooms, and almost 750 hours of celebrity Q&As, panels, workshops and demos there wasn't a dull moment at this years con. There was something to keep you busy all three days.

Lot's of time and dedication went into this years cosplays. (Photo: Jason Pendleton)

The amount of hours people put into their cosplays this year did not go unnoticed, vast amounts of different array of costumes adorned the convention hall, from your usual Star Wars and Dr. Who to more intricate costumes from the world of anime and comic books.

Photo Gallery: Jason Pendleton

This years attractions such as Opening Night, Celebrity Summit, Artist Valley and Booktopia provided guest unique and one of a kind experiences. It is these experiences that people love to come to and participate in.

The Riverdale panel with KJ Apa, Skeet Ulrich and Molly Ringwald. (Photo: Austin Voldseth)

This years panels were a big hit. (Photo: Austin Voldseth)

Photo Gallery: Austin Voldseth

Top Taco | Showcase of the Best Tacos in Denver

Once a year when summer finally starts, Top Taco takes Denver as the largest taco and tequila festival. In its fifth year, over 60 local restaurants participate in serving up hundreds of their top tacos and cocktails to hungry Denverites. The event has grown into a large-scale taco and tequila extravaganza with two live music stages, lucha libre wresting, lounge areas, lots of giveaways from the booths and vendors, and some of the best chefs and mixologists in Denver. Be sure to scroll the gallery below.

A ticket provides guests unlimited tacos and drink samples, and there are over 50 brands of tequila and other spirits served straight and/or in cocktail form to get you every penny’s worth of your ticket price. There’s also plenty of water and other non-boozy beverages available to keep you in check, in fact, this festival wins for best water stations and tasting trays of any foodie festival I’ve been to. There were large coolers set up around the grounds full of ice and water bottles, and I never saw them run low. Everyone receives a tray upon entry, and they were properly sized, made of sturdy plastic, and had a great built in cup holder. These trays let you fit a few tacos, a cocktail, and a shot on your tray before retreating to eat.

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While we’ll get to the judge’s choice and people’s choice winners, we want to tell you which tacos and cocktails we thought were standouts! If you’re game for rabbit, you’ve got to try the rabbit taco with crunchy potato from Lola Coastal Mexican. I actually went back for another later in the night and one of their bright hibiscus margaritas. The Edge Steakhouse served a high-end steak taco with bacon that was so flavorful and juicy. Their thyme infused margarita was also one of our favorites because it had a nice balance of flavors and wasn’t overly sweet like many of the other drinks we tried. For Most Creative, Range served a Mediterranean style taco on a pita with taziki and radish. For the Traditional taco category our favorites were Adelitas Cocina, Comida, Que Bueno Suerte and Uno Mas Taqueria.

Now for the Judges and People’s Choice winners, and these may have been the best, but apparently we didn’t make it to the winning taco tables – there was just so much to do, and drink, and eat!! For Traditional Taco Los Dos Potrillos Mexican Restaurant took first place from the judges, but Adobo Food Truck won People’s Choice. Necio Latin Eatery won Judge’s Best Creative Taco and Dos Santos won their Best Vegetarian vote. The Top Cocktail winner was from Former Saint (inside Hyatt Regency), Los Chingones took second, and in third place was Los Dos Potrillos Mexican Restaurant (they also won best traditional taco).

Just like Top Taco festival, Denver has a ton of taco restaurants that deserve a visit. Tacos are cheap (usually), so go out and eat and find your favorites. Top Taco 2018 supported Denver Urban Scholars, a non-profit service organization, that partners with high poverty, high performing schools to unlock the potential of students facing added challenges by creating individual pathways to career and college.

Written by Tiffany Candelaria     Photos by Bridget Burnett

Bonanno Opens 16-Venue Marketplace Downtown

Acclaimed Denver Chef Frank Bonanno has created his most ambitious venture yet, bringing together sixteen individual local dining and imbibing concepts under one roof in the new Dairy Block development on Wazee and 18th Avenue. The aptly named Denver Milk Market opens June 1st - a century after the Windsor Dairy first opened in the same location. As Bonanno tells us, just as Windsor Dairy nourished the community with its dairy products, we strive to do the same with a focus on family, community and a love of celebration within our doors.” His dedication to the community is also evident in his decision to donate one percent of all sales at DMM to the neurology department at Children's Hospital Colorado. and we have the insider sneak peek of all the delicious eats and drinks you'll find inside this lovely 18,000 square foot marketplace.

Guests can grab pastries and coffee in the morning; enjoy a freshly chopped salad or hot sandwich for lunch; meet friends and colleagues for evening cocktails; and pick-up fresh meat, seafood and house-made pasta by-the-pound to enjoy at home. Bananno tells us, "Each concept is rooted in a family member, a favorite trip, or favorite dining experience, so the design is not only meant to be engaging and fun for the guest, but is also a love note to every memory that each space represents." Below are the 16 carefully crafted concepts and what you can expect at each:

Morning Jones:  Coffee and nitrogenized oat milk and almond milk lattes; hot chocolate on tap; and pastries. For convenient grab-and-go, Morning Jones features a walk-up window in the Dairy Block alleyway!

Bao Chica Bao: Celebrates the cloud-like and perfectly steamed bao buns that have been a neighborhood favorite at Capitol Hill restaurant Bones. The venue is one of only two U.S. restaurants to serve jelly beer, a popular drink in Thailand that’s likened to a beer slushie. A walk-up window in Dairy Block’s activated alley allows for quick grab-and-go.

MOO Bar: Adorned with a one-of-a-kind chandelier that speaks to the space’s former life as a dairy, MOO Bar is the striking centerpiece of Denver Milk Market that serves up craft cocktails, beer and wine. Many of Bonanno’s greatest boozy hits appear on the menu, made using house-made bitters and syrups.

Lou’s Hot|Naked: A Denver favorite has been resurrected! Fans of Lou’s can expect the same juicy and spicy Nashville Hot Chicken that made their former Sunnyside neighborhood joint famous. 

Stranded Pilgrim: Offers guests an all-Colorado list of brews previously only available at brewers’ taprooms. “Frank’s Honey Blonde” – brewed exclusively for Denver Milk Market by Great Divide Brewing Company – is a nod to Frank’s wife and partner, Jacqueline, and is only available here.

Albina by the Sea: A tribute to Frank’s grandmother, whose cooking inspired him as a child, offers seafood favorites like crab cakes and lobster rolls, along with fresh fish, house-made cocktail sauce and other necessities to create a seafood feast at home.

The Green Huntsman: For lighter fare, guests will find freshly chopped and perfectly dressed salads at The Green Huntsman, in addition to house-made drinking vinegar and nitrogenized green tea.

Mano Pastaria: Mano, meaning “hand” in Italian, features quintessential hand-rolled pastas to enjoy at Denver Milk Market or at home. Pastas and sauces are available for purchase by the pound, as well as antipasti and pizza dough from neighboring Bonanno Brothers Pizza. 

Bonanno Brothers Pizza: Named after Frank’s two sons, Luca and Marco, Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria celebrates decades, and generations, of Bonannos crafting delicious, freshly-spun pizza.  

Ruth’s Butchery: A one-stop-shop for the best meats, Ruth’s Butchery is a tribute to his wife Jacqueline’s grandmother, who famously made the best hamburger around. Guests can try it and a selection of other hot sandwiches here.

S&G Salumeria: After 15 years of perfecting cured meats, S&G Salumeria offers Frank’s expertly house-cured meats, as well as house-made and imported artisan cheeses. Guests can observe as fresh mozzarella and burrata are crafted behind the counter, while enjoying a sandwich made popular at Denver Highlands’ neighborhood restaurant, Salt & Grinder.

MoPoke: Offers the ultimate Hawaiian experience, with fresh fish over rice, and the perfect accoutrements to transport taste buds to the islands.   

Cellar: Cellar allows guests the unique opportunity to purchase a bottle of wine from a carefully curated selection and bring the opened bottle with them through the Market. Wine is also available by the glass.  

Fem: With just three ingredients (flour, eggs and milk), Fem turns out simple, yet seriously tasty crepes.  

Cornicello: Cornicello transports guests to the streets of Rome with deliciously indulgent gelato, boozy milkshakes, soft serve and other delicious dairy treats. The creamery also features a walk-up window in Dairy Block’s alleyway, ideal for warm summer evenings.

Engine Room: Open late and the perfect way to end a night out, Engine Room serves up delicious New York-style slices and Sicilian pies from the walk-up window located directly on Dairy Block’s activated alley, on 19th Street.

To celebrate the opening, Denver Milk Market is offering a variety of activations Friday, June 1 through Sunday, June 3, many of which are free and open to the public. Events will include yard games in the Dairy Block Alley, photo booths, a Rockies Rally Happy Hour with cocktail and beer specials, community yoga, a violinist brunch and more. For a full list of events, visit DMM’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/denvermilkmarket/

For more information, please visit http://dairyblock.com.

Photos by Robert Castro

Surf & Turf in Style at Ocean Prime

If you’re looking for a great date restaurant or just a great meal, you can’t go wrong on Larimer Square in Denver. We treated ourselves to a scrumptious Sunday Surf & Turf dinner at Ocean Prime on Larimer Square last week and want to show and tell you why you’ll want to treat yourself to their fabulous food.  First off, this is an award-winning modern American restaurant from renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. They always source the highest quality ingredients available and use simple, pure, local and regional flavors on the made from scratch menu. Seafood is selected and flown in daily for freshness and the steaks include USDA Prime cuts and are aged for maximum tenderness and flavor.

 Surf & Turf Appetizer

Surf & Turf Appetizer

Ocean Prime’s new menu addition features a Sunday night Surf & Turf special for $55 that includes a soup or salad, an 8oz filet, a choice of shrimp scampi, crab cake, or sea scallops, and a side dish. We chose, with some help from Chef Julia, the house salad, a side of jalapeno au gratin, and the shrimp. The salad was bright and crisp with candied walnuts, apple slices, and a perfect coating of slightly sweet, slightly acidic Sherry mustard vinaigrette. The filet and shrimp were succulent and full of flavor. Our side of jalapeno au gratin was so deliciously decadent we had to resist eating all of it to save room for our smoked Gouda tater tots and pea risotto (below). To top off the Sunday special, bottles of wine from their Wine Spectator award-winning wine list are half off!

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The other Surf & Turf entrée on the menu is available seven days a week and features an 8oz filet and poached lobster draped in a bright Béarnaise sauce, atop a crispy hash brown cake and sautéed spinach. This dish was a decadent deal for $60 and brought together the robust but refined flavors of their steak and crispy potatoes, alongside the lighter lobster and seared spinach. These Surf & Turf entrees are the best way to go if you want the best of both worlds, and at a restaurant like Ocean Prime we recommend you try both worlds.

 Surf & Turf Daily Entree

Surf & Turf Daily Entree

Another great way to do this is by ordering their smaller in scale and much smaller in price Surf & Turf appetizer. In this dish you’ll enjoy two perfectly seared, soft supple pillows of sea scallops along with the best short ribs, they’d surely been simmering all day. Hints of parsley, a rich short rib reduction, and creamy mashed potatoes round out this exquisitely executed Surf & Turf sampling.

If you decide not to go the Surf & Turf route there are plenty of other options: sushi, raw bar, salads, seafood, chicken, chops, and a handful of prime cut steaks and sides. Some of Chef Julia’s favorite menu items include the Alaskan Halibut feature; the Teriyaki Salmon and the Chilean Sea bass are fantastic she says, and two of the most popular dishes; and the Prime New York Strip steak has great marbling & flavor.

I highly doubt you’ll be able to share a starter and eat your entire entrée with sides and still have room for dessert, so you’ll want to make sure you pace yourself because their desserts are exquisite. They include chocolate cake with ice cream, a mile high carrot cake, a chocolate peanut butter pie, crème brulee, sorbet, and this amazing creation pictured below named the warm butter cake. We blissfully breezed through the whole cake, ice cream, berries and all; even the non-dessert eaters thought it was heavenly.

https://www.ocean-prime.com/

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Words by Tiffany Candelaria    Photos by Josh Stephens