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

DISH, Denver's all-inclusive food-and-drink sampling event, returns to Sculpture Park on Sunday, September 25.

DISH, Denver's all-inclusive food-and-drink sampling event, returns to Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Sunday, September 25.

This 22nd annual celebration of the local dining scene will feature 40+ favorite restaurants
of Westword food writers and reader, plus beverage samplings from our exclusive beer sponsor, Stella Artois, and other liquor sponsors, as well as a smokin' area dedicated to barbecue.

Adelitas, Syrup, Little Man Ice Cream, The Real Dill, Aikopops, Onefold, Biker Jim's, Americatus, Interstate Kitchen, Neighbors Wine Bar, Milk & Cake, Brazen, Keenwah, CO, Il Porcellino, The Orange Crunch, Frijoles Colorado, Amore Gelato, Jozi's Kitchen & Sheebeen, and many more will all be dishing samples at DISH.

Presale begins Tuesday, July 19 at 10 a.m. & ends Thursday, July 21 @ 11:59 p.m. Presale Promo Code: ULTRA5280

General Admission Tickets: $30 VIP Tickets: $65

Event Date/Time/Location:

September 25, 2016 11a-3:30p (VIP Reception 11-12:30) Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex Website: westworddish.com

Event Description:

Denver's all-inclusive food-and-drink sampling event returns to Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Sunday, September 25.

Celebrating its 22nd year in the market, DISH will feature 40+ favorite restaurants of Westword food writers and readers plus a smokin' area dedicated to barbecue, beverage samplings from our exclusive beer sponsor, Stella Artois, and to-be-announced liquor sponsors.

Participating Restaurants: Adelitas // Syrup // Little Man Ice Cream // The Real Dill // Aikopops // Onefold // Biker Jim’s // Americatus // Interstate Kitchen // Neighbors Wine Bar // Milk & Cake // Brazen // Keenwah, CO // Il Porcellino // The Orange Crunch // Frijoles Colorado // Amore Gelato // Jozi’s Kitchen and Shebeen 

Lifestyle | When Williams & Graham Took a Vaca, Denver got a San Francisco Treat

This past weekend from May 5th to May 8th the team from Denver’s Speakeasy, Williams & Graham took their annual staff retreat and let award-winning San Francisco bar, Trick Dog takeover.

Our first thought was, “I wonder how long the wait will be?” We decided to give it a try anyway Friday evening and walked in ready to prove to the door staff we were a hip, sophisticated group. We began spouting how we knew about the takeover and were familiar with and excited about Trick Dog in hopes of upping our chances of getting past that revolving bookcase. Turns out, we didn’t need to prove our cool, the two ladies at the door explained they were letting everybody in, no wait list, no line, just first come, first served.

We eagerly made our way down the stairs to a dim room filled with others ‘in the know’ and even managed to score a booth! Their menus were large file folders labeled “Top Secret” with tabs along each side stating different conspiracy cases. Each page listed the case, the ingredients, and the “declassified” information about the case, which was mostly blacked out. All were interesting, hand crafted $13 cocktails along with a small menu of starters, entrees, and a few desserts.

We took turns reading the crazy ingredients and conspiracy theories aloud and decided to order the “Biggie and Tupac”, “Crop Circle” and “Grassy Knoll” along with some pretzel bites. We were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of our waiter, who offered to answer questions, made suggestions, was adequately attentive, and even joked around with us! (Not sure about you, but this was quite a contrast to some of our previous interactions in this Speakeasy.)

The drinks were pleasant and surprising as well. For example, the Crop Circle was composed of Japanese whiskey, barley water, and reishi mushroom syrup. (We’re an experimental group). The Biggie and Tupac was a blend of Reposado tequila, Sherry, vermouth, two teas and honey with one of those fancy balls of ice. The Grassy Knoll was more like Bermuda grass with sticky thorns than a soft winter rye, mixing jerk spice and lime with rum and scotch. All three went down too easy and were not as large as you’d hope for $13, but we figured as much. Looking back, I wish we had tried more but we had enjoyed the hour we spent so much we were satisfied with calling it a night. I can’t remember what type of music they play normally, but Trick Dog was bumpin’ with Oldies, Motown and Disco. We were literally dancing in our seats. . . maybe the drinks were worth their weight after all.

Tiffany Candelaria

Lifestyle | Valentine's Date Destinations | From Bae to Tinder

Valentine's Day is all about roses, red wine and paying inflated prices for a three course meal... all in the name of love. Complain all you want, but Cupid didn’t miss the target when it came to Denver dining. Whether you’re taking bae somewhere nice or trying to impress your latest Tinder squeeze, we’ve got your back… 

For those of you that have been so lucky to find someone to hold hands with on the same side of the booth, we know that upscale, classy is what you’re looking for this VDay and the following restaurants are sure to make bae swoon. 

A great starting point for a romantic dining experience in Denver is Larimer Square. Larimer Square is notorious in Colorado for upscale, delicious dining with ambience. Just stepping onto that square block greets you with twinkling lights, beautiful cars, and an array of cuisines to choose from. Here are Ultra5280’s recommendations for a memorable dinner out for those willing to indulge.

Photo Credit: Robert Castro

Bistro Vendome: Reminiscent of Paris, features traditional French bistro fare combined with seasonally-changing, local ingredients. http://www.bistrovendome.com/

Corridor 44: A classy champagne bar/lounge that also features a dinner menu designed to complement champagne, such as caviar, truffle fries, filet mignon, chocolate fondue, and crème brulée. http://www.corridor44.com/ 

Milk & Honey: This new restaurant is centered on serving approachable fine dining alongside a full bar complete with craft cocktails, elixirs, and after dinner drinks. http://milkandhoneybarkitchen.com/ 

Osteria Marco: A sophisticated Italian restaurant known for their handcrafted pizzas, meats and artisanal cheeses made on-site and a wonderful (while affordable) wine list. http://www.osteriamarco.com/ 

Rioja: A Mediterranean menu offering the best of Italian, Spanish, and French cuisine with an extensive Spanish based wine list. http://riojadenver.com/

Tamayo: Carefully crafted Mexican food with flair. Chef Sandoval blends traditional Mexican flavors with worldly ingredients and creative cooking techniques to create one of a kind dishes and drinks. Please note they are offering a special your choice 3-course Valentine’s Day menu. http://www.richardsandoval.com/tamayo/ 

Another idea for a memorable Valentine’s Dinner (or even just drinks and dessert) is adding some live music to the mix. Some great spots for this sweet combination, that will keep it romantic, are as follows.

Dazzle Jazz: This jazz gem has been showcasing amazing musicians for years and is really a great venue to relax while soaking and sipping it all in. There are still tickets available for their 9pm and 10:30pm shows Saturday 13th, free admission (reservations required) to their amazing bottomless brunch with live jazz 9:30am – 1:30pm, and tickets for the 5:30 show on the 14th.  http://dazzlejazz.com/ 

Jazz at Jack’s: This award winning jazz club is set above the 16th Street Mall and offers live music, special events, dance classes and a small bites menu. Tickets are available for their Saturday and Sunday night shows http://www.jazzatjacks.com/ 

La Cour Bistro & Art Bar: The live music performed here is tucked away in the upstairs of a charming historical house on South Broadway. In the summer months they migrate to the outside patio. Either way, La Cour makes for an intimate setting with delicious drinks and a decadent dessert menu. Best of all, there is no cover charge (but reservations recommended)!  http://www.denversartbar.com/ 

Nocturne: A beautiful, new music venue in RiNo fashioned after 1940s Supper Clubs. They will be holding two shows on the 13th and on the 14th along with a special four-course tasting menu and music from Wellington Bullings and the Scott Martin Trio Valentine’s night. Their menu is made up of small and large plates, desserts and a “Renditions” menu that changes seasonally and based upon an iconic jazz album. http://nocturnejazz.com/

Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox: A subject of our most recent Edible Beats restaurant series, this eclectic “gastro-brothel” is putting on a special show for their Valentines patrons; a 3-course dinner complete with a burlesque peepshow! They are also holding their usual live-music Sunday brunch and a “Heartbreak Ball” Saturday night at 9pm. Ophelia’s delivers memorable on a whole different level.  http://www.opheliasdenver.com/ 

If forcing conversation for 3 hours while you politely chew on foie gras sounds like a special kind of hell, take a look at our top picks for getting boozy and handsy:

Photo Credit: Robert Castro

Torchy’s Tacos: A rather new staple to the Denver dining scene, but already burning a flame straight to the hearts of taco lovers everywhere. Share a green chile queso Lady In The Tramp style and down some margaritas under the twinkling lights of their DAMN GOOD sign. Trust us, nothing says romance like Torchy’s. 

Gov’s Park: Known for being the oldest bar in Denver (probably not true) and for being the favorite local watering hole of John Hickenlooper (also, probably not true), Gov’s Park is perfect for letting your hair down and while downing strong beverages. If you’re trying to go cheap, show up during happy hour and impress your date with a round of Fireball shots. 

Arby’s: Curly fries. 

Illegal Pete’s: Burritos, queso, margaritas and punk rock. If your date isn’t impressed and leaves you, at least you still have a burrito. Burrito = Bae. 

Taco Bell: Quesalupa, need we say more!

Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, remember that food is the quickest way to win any heart and alcohol will help ensure you get lucky at the end of the night. Happy Love Day Denver, be ours forever? 

Lifestyle | Denver’s Newest Foodie Mecca with a View | Avanti F&B

     
  
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  A new trend has been popping up in the big cities of America, starting in 2010 with the opening of Mario Batali’s Eataly in New York City. This is the food hall concept, popular in Europe, where multiple eateries and bars are housed under one roof.  Think of The Source and Union Station here in Denver, and now add to that list newly opened Avanti Food & Beverage in the Highlands.    
  
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     Avanti Food & Beverage is described as a “culinary collection of start-up restaurants, all of which are self-contained shipping containers occupying a decades-old, repurposed two-level warehouse.” When you arrive, there is someone to greet you and offer information about the space and how the process works. Inside, there are seven distinctly different chef-driven eateries, large open dining areas, and a lounge downstairs by the bar. Upstairs there are two outdoor patios with plush lounge chairs, formal table dining, and casual bar and stadium style seating options, all with an incredible view of the Downtown Denver skyline. Arguably the best in the city.

 

A new trend has been popping up in the big cities of America, starting in 2010 with the opening of Mario Batali’s Eataly in New York City. This is the food hall concept, popular in Europe, where multiple eateries and bars are housed under one roof.  Think of The Source and Union Station here in Denver, and now add to that list newly opened Avanti Food & Beverage in the Highlands. 

Avanti Food & Beverage is described as a “culinary collection of start-up restaurants, all of which are self-contained shipping containers occupying a decades-old, repurposed two-level warehouse.” When you arrive, there is someone to greet you and offer information about the space and how the process works. Inside, there are seven distinctly different chef-driven eateries, large open dining areas, and a lounge downstairs by the bar. Upstairs there are two outdoor patios with plush lounge chairs, formal table dining, and casual bar and stadium style seating options, all with an incredible view of the Downtown Denver skyline. Arguably the best in the city.

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    Many of the different eateries at Avanti are offshoots of current Colorado restaurants and these kitchens are rented for one to two years. Westword’s July 10th article states, “Leases are intentionally short so that turnover is a built-in part of the concept, which will allow new talent to come in and give their ideas a temporary testing ground before moving on to bigger things.” They all have small spaces, which means the kitchens and plating are all visible to the guests. The current collection of eateries is as followed: Poco Torteria, a torta shop from Pinche Tacos chef-owner Kevin Morrison. Farmer Girl, a farm-to-table concept from Tim Payne. MiJo, a Japanese-influenced izakaya from John DePierro. Brava, a wood-fired pizza and sandwich shop from chef David Bravdica. Quiero Arepas, Venezuelan arepas from chefs Becky and Igor Panasewicz. Bixo Mediterranean Bites, a modernized Mediterranean menu with a Mexican twist from chef Marco Gonzales. Souk Shawarma, offering Lebanese shawarmas and rice bowls from chef-owner of Bistro Barbes, Jon Robbins. 

Many of the different eateries at Avanti are offshoots of current Colorado restaurants and these kitchens are rented for one to two years. Westword’s July 10th article states, “Leases are intentionally short so that turnover is a built-in part of the concept, which will allow new talent to come in and give their ideas a temporary testing ground before moving on to bigger things.” They all have small spaces, which means the kitchens and plating are all visible to the guests. The current collection of eateries is as followed: Poco Torteria, a torta shop from Pinche Tacos chef-owner Kevin Morrison. Farmer Girl, a farm-to-table concept from Tim Payne. MiJo, a Japanese-influenced izakaya from John DePierro. Brava, a wood-fired pizza and sandwich shop from chef David Bravdica. Quiero Arepas, Venezuelan arepas from chefs Becky and Igor Panasewicz. Bixo Mediterranean Bites, a modernized Mediterranean menu with a Mexican twist from chef Marco Gonzales. Souk Shawarma, offering Lebanese shawarmas and rice bowls from chef-owner of Bistro Barbes, Jon Robbins. 

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    Living up to its name, there are just as many beverage options as there are food selections. We were briefly baffled when presented with four alcoholic beverage menus as well as a self-serve soda fountain and canisters of Teakoe iced black and green teas.  Their large beer selection includes ten taps from Dogfish Brewery and ten seasonally rotating taps of Colorado craft brews. There are eight wines of both red and white by the glass, plus Infinite Monkey Theorem on tap, and sake. Their cocktails are creative along with a few classics, and fairly cheap considering their quality contents. 

Living up to its name, there are just as many beverage options as there are food selections. We were briefly baffled when presented with four alcoholic beverage menus as well as a self-serve soda fountain and canisters of Teakoe iced black and green teas.

Their large beer selection includes ten taps from Dogfish Brewery and ten seasonally rotating taps of Colorado craft brews. There are eight wines of both red and white by the glass, plus Infinite Monkey Theorem on tap, and sake. Their cocktails are creative along with a few classics, and fairly cheap considering their quality contents. 

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    Avanti makes group dining a breeze. So feel free to introduce your gluten free friend to your vegan-pasta loving bestie, as this place is sure to please everyone. Picky eaters of Denver-unite! . The abundance of choices also means that you’re faced with the tricky decision of choosing where and what you want to eat. We somewhat solved that dilemma by asking for meals to-go in order to sample dishes from all of the eateries. Don’t be afraid to do the same- as there are indeed a wide variety of culinary delights. We also suggest taking your time with it all; peruse all of the menu options to craft a general idea for your foodie journey, switch up your seats throughout the venue, sip a cocktail, soak up some sun on the deck, strike up a conversation over the game on TV, relax and savor. 

Avanti makes group dining a breeze. So feel free to introduce your gluten free friend to your vegan-pasta loving bestie, as this place is sure to please everyone. Picky eaters of Denver-unite! . The abundance of choices also means that you’re faced with the tricky decision of choosing where and what you want to eat. We somewhat solved that dilemma by asking for meals to-go in order to sample dishes from all of the eateries. Don’t be afraid to do the same- as there are indeed a wide variety of culinary delights. We also suggest taking your time with it all; peruse all of the menu options to craft a general idea for your foodie journey, switch up your seats throughout the venue, sip a cocktail, soak up some sun on the deck, strike up a conversation over the game on TV, relax and savor. 

   Thoughts by Tiffany Candelaria 

 

Thoughts by Tiffany Candelaria 

Lifestyle | Bonacquisti Wine Company | Denver’s Urban Winery

In the Ultra5280 spirit of experiencing all local activities Colorado has to offer, I’ve been researching local wineries. One of Denver’s urban wineries is Bonacquisti Wine Company, located in the Sunnyside neighborhood at 46th Ave and Pecos. The vineyards used are not located in Denver, but they rely mostly on grapes grown in Palisade, CO, and more recently from California and New Mexico as well.

Bonacquisti Wine Company has been transforming grapes into wine at this location for nine years, a skill that owner Paul Bonacquisti learned from his Italian father. They currently produce 2,200 cases of wine a year and introduce three new wines each quarter. Two years ago they introduced 1 Liter growlers for guests that are refillable from any of their rotating wines on tap. This classic Italian format has caught on as a more economical way to buy wine, with 1,700 growlers sold since their introduction.

Paul keeps the Italian spirit of family, friends and good libations alive with various events, ever-changing wine blends, a tasting taproom and free tours of the winery.  “We want to make this a place the whole family can enjoy" he says as he tells me about their weekly "Fridays Uncorked" event. Each Friday from 6-9pm the winery hosts a live band and a food truck either out on their patio or inside their two-story building. The lineup for each week can be found under their website’s Events tab

They also hold special events, such as the DiFranco's dinner & wine paring event I attended. We were greeted by Paul Bonacquisti and chef Ryan DiFranco, and offered a glass of Bella Risa, a custom white blend wine to accompany a traditional antipasti meat and cheese platter from DiFranco’s restaurant. After a leisurely wine and antipasti sampling, DiFranco presented each person with their first course and an appropriate wine was poured alongside. All of the dishes were delicious and I could really taste the freshness of the ingredients. DiFranco’s Restaurant opened on 9th Ave and Lincoln in Denver in 2012, and won Westword’s “Best Italian Restaurant” its very first year. DiFranco also comes from an Italian family who loves good food. He recalls growing up, “We would be sitting at the table eating dinner, (already) talking about the dinner we would make tomorrow.”

The event was sealed up with a sweet Port style Grenache straight from the barrel and a chocolate cake and cannoli. Despite feeling satiated by the previous courses, I indulged in both desserts and may have asked for seconds on the Grenache. . .

thoughts by Tiffany Candelaria 

Source: http://www.bonacquistiwine.com