Westword Dish Served Up Another Great Food Event

This weekend’s Westword Dish marked its 22nd year of bringing bites and booze from across the Denver area to foodie fans. The Dish was again sponsored by Stella Artois in the Performing Arts Center’s Sculpture Park on Speer Blvd. Westword’s Dish publication explains how much has changed on the food front since its first Dish back in 1995, “Denver has witnessed a restaurant boom in recent years that has presented diners with more options than ever before. The rich dining tradition and burgeoning new scene bolstered by recent transplants have helped this list grow.”

We had a couple of tickets to the event we also got to attend last year and were excited to see who would be serving up tasty bites and libations. Most of the time events where there are multiple restaurants vying to sample to patrons attract newer restaurants hoping to market and introduce themselves to the foodie scene. What makes the Dish a bit different however, is the eateries invited are comprised of Westword staff and reader’s favorites from the year. Thus, every year there’s a great selection of restaurants to try, many of which are newer, which gives guests the unique experience to try out different places they've likely heard of and probably planned to go, but just haven’t had the opportunity yet.

The newbies ranged from good, ole' American BBQ, which was the “special section” this year serving up brisket, pork, lamb and sausages, to Thai, Sushi, comfort food, and tacos, which we feel is the ultimate comfort food. As for those we saw at last year’s Dish, (we’re not sure if they are favorites of the staff because of their food/booze or more for their business partnerships) but they included Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, The Nickle, Golden Moon Speakeasy, Stranahan's Whiskey, Little Man Ice Cream, and Milk & Cake.         

Angelo's Oysters: Before & After

Angelo's Oysters: Before & After

We made the rounds, starting at the beginning with the special BBQ booths which were all hearty, saucy goodness. From there the restaurants seemed to be randomly lined up, with palettes and offerings all across the board, with booze booths thoughtfully placed every 5 or so booths, until the end where the desserts were grouped together. Some of the more memorable dishes we tried were the Tuna poke bowl from Ohana Island Kitchen, a Croque Monsieur from the equally fancy Art Hotel’s Fire restaurant, Gorgonzola topped oysters from Angelo’s Taverna, deep dish at Patxi’s Pizza, beef brisket tacos with BBQ and chimichurri sauce from R Tacos and pulled chicken tacos with red chilies from Degree Metropolitan Food+Drink. And all of the desserts were delicious but seemed to run out first, funny how that works.

R Tacos & Degree

R Tacos & Degree

These food events are always fun and flavorful, but they can also be tough and not always worth the price if you don’t know how to play it right. For example, first timers will find if they skip or miss a booth and try to go back later, the booth will be empty except for business cards in place of delicious food. The ultimate disappointment after spending a pretty penny to rush around. Many guests choose to divide and conquer or forgo sitting down or setting up at a table until they know they’ve tried it all. It is common to see friends separated, standing in lines alone, or ending conversations early in order to get the goods before they run out. However, this event lasted a bit longer than some of the other ones we recently attended and we were grateful.

Azucar Bakery cookie, Bignets from Syrup & Little Man Ice Cream

Azucar Bakery cookie, Bignets from Syrup & Little Man Ice Cream

Because of these common food festival snags, there is always an incentive to go the VIP route. VIP tickets generally offer early entry, additional alcoholic options and booths, and at the Dish, Stella Artois passes out the beautiful glass goblets as seen in Stella’s advertisements to drink your full size VIP beers in. VIP guests are also able to relax in their own shaded area with lots of tables and seating. One improvement I noticed this year was even the GA area had many more high-tops and picnic tables, some with umbrella coverings so guests weren’t forced to stand in the sun while juggling their drink and samples. Another great thing was water coolers and a couple of soda booths so GA guests could keep hydrated and sober if they chose. Oh and Mile High Soul Club played the perfect mix of sunny, Sunday afternoon tunes!

While we and most of our readers are patrons, we don’t often think about the other side of the event, the vendor’s experience. In a sea of new concepts, restaurants, and fusions, it is one of the few ways for vendors/restaurants to set themselves apart and literally introduce themselves to Denver diners. That being said, we notice some do it better than others. Sometimes you go to booths that hire a promotional team and their lack of knowledge or care seeps its way out to the guests through experience or even the food. Other booths know this is their opportunity to convince us to make our way to suburbia for bomb BBQ or book that expensive reservation for our next date night. These booths are full of enthusiasm, offer out their menus, dish out details, offer coupons, and invite guests to happy hour.

Churn & Burn BBQ

Churn & Burn BBQ

So where can you expect to catch us in the near future? GQUE BBQ won us with their BBQ sauce and smothered beans and Piggin’ Out Smoke House with their selection of meats with Kale citrus salad and a buy one, get one coupon. Churn & Burn BBQ Truck was also a top pick because they offered beef brisket with jalapeno chimichurri atop baked mac & cheese and a corn bread waffle chip. Now that was a great way to be greeted upon entering the Dish! Beyond BBQ, we mentioned Ohana Island Kitchen satisfied our sushi cravings and gave us a coupon to use on delivery. Angelo's, a classic Italian Denver staple, offers oysters for $1 on happy hour along with other apps and cheap drinks. The two tacos we had were not only satisfying but substantial in size. And lastly, Little Man Ice Cream sampled their Mexican Chocolate and a Blueberry Marshmallow ice cream, that surprised us, but yet didn’t as they are always coming up with magical mixtures. After we had come full crescent (that was the layout) we were back at the beginning and ready for a Stella and a seat in the shade.

http://www.westword.com/

http://angelostaverna.com/denver/

 http://www.degreerestaurant.com/

http://gquebbq.com/

http://www.littlemanicecream.com/

http://ohanadenver.com

https://www.patxispizza.com

http://www.pigginout.com/

http://www.rtacos.com/index.html

Lifestyle | Dish'n Bout Denver Dish

IMG_2338-1.JPG

This may be a controversial statement to our native readers...but Denver has never been known for its restaurants... Weed? Yes. 14,000 foot peaks? Of course. But a decade ago the only place putting us on the map was Casa Bonita! Not until these past couple of years did Denver begin to rival New York, LA and Las Vegas and start to roar its head into the restaurant scene.

Throughout the past couple of years we've been able to see the Applebee's and Yard Houses of 16th street mall be replaced by the Linger's and Rosenberg's of Denver's thriving eclectic neighborhoods. Westword's Dish is a celebration of how far we've come as a city. We have so many amazing local and creative restaurants; it's definitely a proud time to be a Denverite. 

Happy bagel Bakers from RiNo's famous Rosenberg's.

Happy bagel Bakers from RiNo's famous Rosenberg's.

Prior to the Dish we chose to forgo food as a life source and instead relied solely on ice water and rocky mountain air. Needless to say when we arrived at Discovery Park we were wide eyed and very hangry. Luckily, entry was a breeze and there were food trucks ready with samples waiting as soon as we entered! We hit up most of the food trucks first, starting with a healthy quinoa and mushroom cup at Keenwah, then ordered a GF beef and egg empanada, and a pork belly skewer from Orange Crunch, which were both very satisfying. Now that our stomachs weren't growling, we leisurely embarked into the main food area, looking like the sophisticated foodies that we are. 

The Nickel has a new executive chef (right) and an amazing new and innovative menu!

The Nickel has a new executive chef (right) and an amazing new and innovative menu!

The main event space consisted of five designated "food areas" with beverage companies and exhibitor sponsors mixed in. It was a bit tricky to find a non-alcoholic beverage that we could just quench our thirst with after our warm walk to get in. I really just wanted a cold water or something simple to keep hydrated and for us to cleanse our palettes before the next dish. There was plenty of booze, which we finally worked up to sampling, and kind of couldn't resist given there were some pretty unique vendors. One was Golden Moon Speakeasy in Golden, who sampled an array of spirits such as Gin, Violet Liquor, and Absinthe. Another fun one was Bird Dog Whiskey, sampling a variety of all-natural flavored Kentucky whiskies such as apple, peach, chocolate, and maple. Then there were, of course, the Colorado staples such as Mile High Spirits and Stranahan's Whiskey, both mixing up Mules.

Stranahan's Whiskey charming the long lines. 

Stranahan's Whiskey charming the long lines. 

It's easy to get caught up when surrounded by the likes of OneFold, Deep Eddy Vodka, Alamo Draft House, The Nickel, Rosenberg's, Lola's, Adelita's and Little Man's Ice Cream... So many Denver staples in ONE place! Our inner "big-boned" child was in food heaven! We each found many dishes that appealed to our tastes, and some just out of curiosity. A few of my favorites included the quick, healthy quinoa bowl and the beef empanada I scarfed down when we entered. I went back for seconds at Biju's Little Curry Shop for their coconut curry chicken roll, and Onefold's organic congee bowl of savory rice porridge with chicken confit, poached egg, green onions, soy sauce, ginger, chili oil...shall I go on? Basically, it was good enough to convince me I have to go into their restaurant asap.

Sadly, some of the restaurants I was most excited to try had already run out of samples. This was because those damn VIP ticket holders were allowed in a couple hours earlier and ate up all the best bites! Such places included Los Chingones, Table 6, The Kitchen, Milk and Cake, Fooducopia and Little Man Ice Cream. *tear* Luckily I found some great ice cream to cool the pain at God Save the Cream and some with alcohol infused at Twisted Cream.

On the scene.

On the scene.

We waltzed, we ate, we mingled and in the end we sauntered home with full bellies and even bigger hearts. We're already proud Coloradans but attending an event like Denver Dish is just the cherry on top of an amazing city. Yet another great reminder to support local and try something new! So in love with you Denver!