It's The Most Wonderful Time For A Beer....Denver Beer Festivals Is Upon Us

Denver Beer Festivus Has Arrived.

It’s that time of the year once again. Time to don that ugly holiday sweater and head out to Denver Beer Festivus. Always in our top five events we cover every year. The Denver Festival is a celebration of all things….beer. With over 70 breweries set to take over the Sports Castle this year, add to that fun activities such as silent disco, lucha libra wrestlers, food trucks, and a pop-up coffee shop from Method Roasters paying homage to a Seinfeld cafe it’s sure to be an amazing time.

The event takes place this Saturday, December 15th at the Sports Castle located at 1000 Broadway from 3PM to 6PM. Special VIP packages include perks such as early entrance and an awesome Festivus Koozie. More ticket information can be found here.

Festivus With the Best of Us!


DC Pie Co Opens on East Colfax

There’s a cool new restaurant on Colfax that pairs pizzas and meatballs with craft cocktails and draft beer. The cozy DC Pie Co. features an 80-person dining room and center bar, with a traditional brick oven in the back imported from Italy. Brooklyn based entrepreneur Dominic Cavagnuolo (DC) and Mary Zayaruzny teamed up to deliver Brooklyn-style brick-oven pizza featuring a mean marinara sauce that’s been passed down from DC’s two Italian grandmothers.

All-beef meatballs served with homemade spiced ricotta and house marinara

“Here at DC PIE CO., it all starts with the ingredients,” said DC. “Our sauce is made from scratch every single day with ingredients sourced from local producers. We’re bringing simple recipes and fresh ingredients to Denver, just as I was able to experience as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY.” In fact, 99% of DC PIE CO.’s ingredients are made in house, from the cheese, to the dough, to their must-try meatballs, served with their marinara sauce of course!

The Italian brick oven & pizza making area

Keeping things fresh and simple isn’t too difficult with a small menu like theirs. The menu is simple, yet high tech. There are six categories, Pie, Extras, Salads, Sides, Baked & Dessert, and the menu itself is on a “Pop Up and Pay”™ tablet-like menu that allows guests to expedite their ordering and payment process. The Pizza comes plain or vegan and you select toppings like their spicy slices of pepperoni (which you can also order solo because they’re delicious) to imported Italian artichoke hearts, red peppers and portabella mushrooms, all delivered fresh daily! There are seven salads on the menu ranging from familiars like kale Caesar and Caprese to more creative combinations like celery root + fennel or the watercress + pear salad.

Pepperoni “chips” and craft cocktails

We salivated over all their Baked items: the crispy pepperoni “chips”, the juicy, all-beef meatballs served with homemade spiced ricotta and marinara, and the brick-oven baked wings drizzled in their sweet hot sauce. To top it off, all three of their Baked items are on their Happy Hour menu, which is Saturday and Sunday from 3-6pm. Monday through Wednesday’s they have a Brooklyn pie and bottle of wine special for Colfax neighbors for $24! And percentage of all profits from this are donated to the Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Happy Hour also has $2 off all drafts and specialty cocktails. They have seven Colorado draft beers and one Pennsylvania Trippel. There’re eight specialty cocktails that all feature different spirits and all-natural, house made ingredients that were impeccable. If you prefer to pair your pizza with a fine wine, DCP has you covered there too with a handful of reds, roses and white wines. For the kids, DC has six juices, soda, lemonade, or let them try a classic from DC’s childhood, a Brooklyn egg cream soda.

For more information, visit http://dcpieco.com/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB Photos by Josh Stephens @freezerfilmfoto

Brooklyn egg cream soda and Nutella pizza

Bar Helix | Easy on the Eyes & the Tongue

Bar helix, located in the RiNo District, recently launched a special, supplementary menu of twelve creative versions of the classic Negroni cocktail, becoming Denver’s only Negroni bar. Bar helix is a modern, sexy bar + lounge concept created by Advanced Sommelier Kendra Anderson (aka @SwirlGirlDenver) that showcases 16 sexy, innovative cocktails, alongside an extensive wine list and decadent small plates. Grape based spirits served up sexy is the underlying theme there.

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The Negroni was always Owner Kendra’s cocktail of choice, but it wasn’t always available at bars or the bartender wouldn’t know how to make it. In case you don’t know either, a Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail, made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel. Bar helix’s signature Negroni features a Vermont gin that’s barrel aged and infused with honey, and a lesser known Campari - this drink glides down your mouth.

Kendra wanted to share her love of the Negroni with Denver through introducing and “educating” her guests to this classic cocktail, along with a variety of classic Negroni spin-offs, so everyone can find a version they love. She relishes in the opportunity the bar provides her to chat and interact with others about her extensive knowledge on spirits and wine - her and Bar Manager Victoria really know their stuff!

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On their new Negroni menu, guests will find a variety of versions from the familiar (Campari, Death’s Door gin, Dolin sweet vermouth) to the esoteric (Cappelletti aperitivo, Casa de Valor cava brut, and Casa Mariol vermut). From December 1 through 31, guests who drink any twelve full-sized negroni cocktails will win a holiday-themed negroni gift package, a $25 gift card to bar helix, and get entered in a drawing for a chance to win a $200 gift card to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts! They’ve coined it “The Twelve Negronis of Christmas”. Or, guests who sample twelve baby Negroni cocktails during the month of December will also win a special Negroni themed gift.

The luscious bites are also not to be missed. Kendra (who was once a chef) developed a “sexed-up bar food” menu along with Chef Sam who runs the kitchen. Bar helix makes 85% of the menu items in house, from deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail to the garnishes in you cocktail.

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Kendra’s vision to make great things accessible, like fine wine, champagne, caviar, and Negroni is absolutely apparent in bar helix and the aesthetics provide a sexy, yet sophisticated environment to take your mind off the mundane. We recommend you stop by for “Woman Crush Wednesdays”, a date night, or for an “Afternoon Delight” aka happy hour 4-7pm Wednesday-Sunday.

Visit barhelixdenver.com & follow @barhelixdenver on Facebook and Instagram

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB & Samantha Bliss @redcapturesherbliss

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Cheesman Bark's Charlie Brown Holiday Portraits

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Good grief! The holidays are upon us and it’s only appropriate that we celebrate with portraits of our pups. Thursday December 6th, CheesmanBark will be photographing pups in honor of the beloved Charlie Brown character, Snoopy.

We will be creating a custom photo set that will include this iconic scene from Charlie Brown! A sad Christmas tree and a reproduction of Snoopy’s doghouse will bring the set, and your pups pic, to life!

As if you needed another reason to attend, 10% of all of the portrait sales will go to the MaxFund Animal Adoption Center! A wonderful organization who we are proud to align with once again.

CheesmanBark’s Charlie Brown Holiday Portraits:

Thursday Dec 6th 6-8pm @ Skylight

There will be 100 portrait spots for this event and it’s sure to sell out! As of right now, we will only be accepting online reservations.

Each portrait spot is $40 and will include just a few minutes in front of the lens. The purchase of $40 include one printable digital image. Additional images are $25

We’ve done over 40 of these events and typically photograph between 7 and 9 dogs every ten minutes! 1-3 minutes is enough for you to have 3-5 GREAT images to choose from.

IMPORTANT: We will only be photographing one dog per portrait spot, so if you have multiple dogs you must purchase multiple spots! No exceptions!

Things you can do to make sure your dog is a perfect poser:

Exercise them before they come

Arrive early 15-20 minutes early to let them sniff the area and get comfortable

Practice sit and stay in an environment of high stimulation

If your pet has reactivity concerns, let us know! We will gladly make accommodations to ensure your pet’s portrait experience is a successful one!

Denver Holiday Markets

Denver Christkindl Market | Nov. 16 - Dec. 23 

This annual event brings authentic German and European holiday traditions to Denver’s downtown (1515 Arapahoe St.)! Guests can find delicious cuisine, festive German drinks, handmade jewelry, toys, clothing, gifts and much more. Live entertainment is featured inside the festival tent every evening, and dancing is encouraged! This market is planned and executed by the German American Chamber of Commerce – Colorado Chapter (GACC-CO).

 Denver Christkindl Market

Denver Christkindl Market

Union Station Holiday Market by Denver Flea | Friday's-Sunday's Nov. 23-25, 30-Dec. 2, Dec. 7-9 & Dec. 14-16th, 2018

The Union Station Holiday Market by Denver Flea will include four weekends of shopping, festivities and winter fun - kicking off on Black Friday, Nov. 23 at the historic Denver Union Station! 100s of Colorado’s best makers and artisan brands will pack the Plaza of Union Station each weekend throughout the season along with music, eats, drinks, activities and more. We’ll be there opening day (Friday 23rd) so check our Instagram @ultra5280 to see this year’s market in action! Tickets are $5.

 Denver Flea

Denver Flea

Stapleton Holiday BAZAAR | November 29, 2018

Shop, Sip, and Mingle with Colorado’s finest craft, fashion, and art makers for one night only at Stapleton Holiday BAZAAR inside The Shops at Northfield. This BAZAAR will feature over 40 craft vendors including Beer, Cider, Wine & Spirit tastings throughout the evening, along with festive music and more! 4-10 PM, GA Admission is free.

 RiNo Holiday BAZAAR

RiNo Holiday BAZAAR

RiNo Holiday BAZAAR | December 7-9, 2018

Taking over Walnut Street at 28th St. from December 7 – December 9, the RiNo Holiday BAZAAR hosts over 100 hand-picked local craft, fashion, and food vendors, with local breweries, cideries and mead booths onsite pouring holiday-themed drinks and participating in the BAAZAR’s Shop & Sip program.

A combination of outdoor pop-up shops sprinkled with fashion trucks and cozy, heated tents, the RiNo Holiday BAZAAR will spark the festive spirit for all with warm drinks and fire pits, funky music, and a selection of Denver Metro’s best food trucks on hand and a full bar! RiNo BOOZ hall, located in the heart of the BAZAAR, will be open all weekend long serving an array of Colorado crafted spirits and has bottles available to purchase.

Admission to RiNo Holiday BAZAAR is free until 7 PM on Friday, and before 12 PM on Saturday and Sunday, with GA tickets available for $5 at the door. Or RSVP at denverbazaar.com for free admission all weekend! Drink sampling packages are also available, with a range of options to fit your Shop & Sip experience. Please click here for details and more information on all Shop & Sip packages.

Yes Please Makers Market | December 8 & 9, 2018
Keeping it real this holiday season with a free, maker-hosted, vendor-friendly market starring 100(ish) of our favorite makers. After being part of the local Denver market circuit, Yes Please founders Kiwi Schloffel (of Craft Boner) and Taylor Barkin (of Moore Collection) wanted to create something with the vendor experience in mind: accessible, affordable booth pricing, attention to locals-only goods, and a friendly, supportive community. Tickets are free, but an RSVP is required. The first 50 people to show up each day get awesome totes from Craft Boner. 

 Yes Please Makers Market

Yes Please Makers Market

By Tiffany Candelaria

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.

Highland

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.

SoBro

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.

Cherry Creek

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.

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

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

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)

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

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

New this June at Denver's Longest-Running Block Party | People's Fair

People’s Fair Art & Music Festival is Denver’s largest and longest-running block party, which celebrates its 47th year at Civic Center Park, June 1-3, 2018. People’s Fair celebrates the best of the Mile High City, including music; culture; fitness; food and beverage; fine art; and a makers’ marketplace produced in partnership with Denver Flea.

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They are kicking things off Friday, June 1. with a featured concert from MAX, who's current hit, “Lights Down Low,” ft. gnash, hit number one on Billboard’s Emerging Artists and Adult Pop Songs charts earlier this year. A variety of free concerts will follow MAX’s performance throughout the weekend: a full day of bluegrass performances on the festival’s main stage on Saturday, June 2, featuring Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs, Turkeyfoot, Lonesome Days, Kitchen Dwellers, and Trout Steak Revival. Sunday, June 3, Moon Taxi will make their only Colorado appearance this summer at 4:30 pm, with The Other Black  opening for them at 3 pm. Additional live entertainment will showcase an eclectic range of Denver talent, including performances from Dazzling Divas Drag Show, Colorado Mestizo Dancers, and dance groups performing everything from ballet to belly dancing!

The Mural Project is back this year, a live art competition in which teams of young, local artists paint murals onsite during the festival. Many teams return to the Mural Project year after year, allowing attendees to witness transformations in the up-and-coming artists, who develop positive self-expression, time management, critical thinking and more through participating in the project. There is also a fine art show featuring more than 100 artists, beer & wine garden, a variety of fitness vendors, fitness-oriented events, such as free community yoga classes courtesy of CorePower Yoga, hosted at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday on the main stage. New this year, the “Outdoor Adventure Fest” will invite attendees to experience the Colorado outdoors in the heart of the city, with a climbing wall, a kayak pool, goat yoga and more.

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In addition to highlighting the unique communities found in every corner of Denver, People’s Fair raises funds for nonprofit organizations. The event primarily benefits Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, although all of the beverage booths at the festival are staffed by volunteers from various nonprofit organizations, who raise funds via tips received at their bars. 2018 community partners include Project Angel Heart and Colorado Gay Rodeo Association.


Reserve VIP tickets, your free yoga ticket, or $5 general admission ticket to MAX at  https://peoplesfair.com/tickets/

Photos by Ryan Cox