Tamayo's New Taco Party & Spring Menu

One of the longest-running restaurants on Larimer Square is Tamayo Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequieria by world-renowned Chef Richard Sandoval. Opened in 2003, the restaurant’s longevity and popularity are a testament to the fantastic food, drinks and service at Tamayo. The ever-innovative menu has been carefully crafted by Chef Sandoval since the start along with the Chef de Cuisine, currently Antonio Tevillo.

Taquiza photo by Matt Ritscher

Taquiza photo by Matt Ritscher

We went in last week to try Tamayo’s new tableside taco experience “Taquiza” translated as “taco party” added as a fun dining experience for groups of four or more. The party starts with Chef Tevillo greeting diners at their table and setting up the taquiza, which is an authentic Mexican taco grill. He then places premium cuts of meats, seasonal accompaniments and tortillas on the taquiza, creating a street taco party from the comfort of your table where diners build their own tacos. The traditional taquiza experience at Tamayo includes grilled skirt steak, beef Cecina, Mexican chorizo, asadero cheese, grilled nopales, charred spring onions, jalapeno, house tortillas, tableside molcajete salsa and traditional garnishments. The premium taquiza upgrades the skirt steak and Cecina to NY Strip and shrimp. This interactive experience is inspired by the authentic taquiza street taco parties of Mexico, where friends and family gather to enjoy tacos, tequila and great company.

Mahi Mahi Ceviche, roasted beet salad (top) and baby kale salad. Photo by Tiffany Candelaria

Mahi Mahi Ceviche, roasted beet salad (top) and baby kale salad. Photo by Tiffany Candelaria

In addition to the new Taquiza option, the standard dinner menu at Tamayo features a wide range of options for eaters and appetites of all types within the following sections: Guacamoles, Antojitos (starters), Sopas y Ensalada, Especialidades, Tacos y Enchiladas. We started with the sweet corn guacamole with chips and salsa to and a variety of amazing margaritas. We recommend the Spicy Mango, the Tamayo or one of their house-infused tequilas mixed into a margarita, like the pineapple-thyme or strawberry-basil. Next, we enjoyed Mahi Mahi Ceviche, the roasted beet salad and baby kale salad with strawberries, which were all so refreshing and flavor-filled.

For our main event, we experienced the taco party and met Chef Padilla who told us all about the ingredients and his joy of cooking at Tamayo. The tacos were fantastic and everyone loved getting to pick and choose their ingredients, one lady even made a mean quesadilla.

We knew dessert was coming, so we saved room for the three treats that arrived: Tres Leches Bread Pudding, Empanadas de Platano and Pastel de Mousse. Holy moly were these all decadently delicious! The pastel de Mousse was the lightest as it is a peanut butter chocolate mousse between crispy layers. The Bread Pudding and banana Empanadas were a true indulgence, served warm and gooey with a small side of ice cream. Try it with a cup of café or an after-dinner digestivo.

Tres Leches Bread Pudding & Empanadas de Platano

Tres Leches Bread Pudding & Empanadas de Platano

You can’t go wrong with their daily Happy Hour either from 2-6pm that includes $4 beers and $5 select margaritas, $2 Taco Tuesdays, and Bottomless Margarita Brunch every Saturday & Sunday from 10:30am-2:30pm.

http://www.eattamayo.com

Words & photos by Tiffany Candelaria

LOLA Coastal Mexican has Been Fully Refreshed

LOLA Coastal Mexican, which jump-started the now-thriving LoHi neighborhood’s growth when it opened there 13 years ago, has undergone a full remodel of both their interior and their menu.

Charred Octopus

Charred Octopus

The remodel was executed by one of Hollywood’s most sought-after interior designers, Kari Whitman. “We used organic materials such as twine, bamboo fabrics, and earth-friendly lighting to transport you to coastal Mexico,” Kari says. Oceanic blue tones, brass lights, and large-format photography from internationally acclaimed artist Roberto Dutesco complete the vibe.

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Surf & Turf Tostada

Surf & Turf Tostada

The new menu is created by LOLA’s new Chef/Partner, Javier Placencia, internationally recognized as Baja’s culinary ambassador and as the inventor of Baja-Med cuisine, a fusion of the culinary traditions of Baja California and the Mediterranean. Javier also runs restaurants in California and his San Diego restaurant Bracero Cocina de Raíz was nominated for a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant. Javier says, “I saw how the food scene in Denver was growing, and that got me excited to share the good cuisine of Mexico here.”


Javier’s new menu focuses on ingredients and preparations unique to Baja, incorporating the fresh seafood the region is known. In addition, Javier’s food features Asian and Mediterranean ingredients, including ponzu and olives, which are entrenched in Baja’s immigrant-influenced cuisine. Executive Chef Sheila Lucero will oversee LOLA’s  kitchen and continue the sustainable seafood sourcing standards she’s known for at Jax Fish House. Together these two chefs have created and executed deliciously fresh, flavorful and colorful dishes. We especially loved the Surf & Turf Tostada with ahi tuna and beef machaca and the variety of colorful cocktails.

Scallop Tiradito with a Smoke & Mirrors cocktail

Scallop Tiradito with a Smoke & Mirrors cocktail

From dinner to brunch to happy hour, LOLA offers a taste of Mexico’s coast right here in the Mile High City. For more information and to make reservations please contact LOLA at (720) 570-8686, 1575 Boulder Street, Denver, CO 80211. For more information, please visit http://www.loladenver.com

Photos by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB

Brass Tacks | The New Hangout on Blake Street

From the group behind Curio, comes a full scale bar, eatery and hip hangout named Brass Tacks. It’s a cool, open yet cozy space with an amazingly stocked bar showcasing over 300 spirits and a counter-service kitchen making sandwiches, sides and a few large-scale “family meals”. They opened early February, transforming the former Blake Street Vault in LoDo.

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The idea behind Brass Tacks was creating a place where people can feel comfortable coming in any time of day by providing delicious food and drink options from mid morning till past midnight in a comfortable, laid back setting. In the morning try a Vietnamese coffee, nitro cold brew or kombucha on tap with a $3 egg and cheese sandwich. For lunch we tried a couple sides and sandwiches, which are available all day. Happy hour is daily from 3-6pm and again Sun-Thu 10pm to close with $1 off beers, $2 off wine and cocktails and a few food specials. The variety of seating options, a couple TVs, free foosball upstairs, and no wait staff give guests the sense they can hang out for as long as they’d like.

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The lovely bar features 20 beers on tap and a few wines and cocktails. We tried the sour on tap which was so refreshing and effervescent and a Saison which went well with our creamy Mac & Cheese and flavor-filled chicken wings. They also feature a whole fridge of bottled cocktails; one side has mixed, carbonated style cocktails, the other side has stronger, stirred cocktails. We went for the tequila based Cobble Hill which was very smooth, a bit sweet like honey, and overall amazing. One of their featured nitro cocktails on tap was a Peanut infused bourbon with Coca Cola which we had to sample. It was sweet and savory and we learned mixing peanuts with Coca Cola is a popular thing people do in Florida.

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For our entrees (pictured above) we selected the turkey sandwich which came with alfalfa sprouts, thin sliced cucumber, avocado, havarti cheese, and basil aioli. We tried this on their soft gluten free ciabatta and we were impressed by the flavor and texture of this gluten free bread. We also ordered the Chimichurri steak sandwich containing marinated grilled flank steak, chimichurri, roasted piquillo peppers, arugula, jalapeno on a fresh baguette that was tasty and very filling.

In addition to good eats and an endless drink selection, the bar features a frozen cocktail machine with rotating monthly concoctions for $9 ($7 during happy hour). For May, they’re serving up a delicious frozen margarita featuring a 100% agave tequila and quality mixers that are worth coming for this summer. Definitely check out this cool new hangout, we loved kicking back and watching the Nuggets play while eating and drinking the afternoon away at Brass Tacks.

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https://www.brasstacksdinebar.com/main

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB

Photos by Josh Stephens @freezerfilmfoto

Upstairs private party area

Upstairs private party area







Broadway Market | Denver's Newest Food Hall

 
The Bar

The Bar

The Food Hall trend has steadily made its way across the country and has found a warm welcome from Denverites. From The Source’s opening in 2013 to the brand new Broadway Market opening today, there are now over a handful of deliciously cool food halls to spend your day or night.

Broadway Market was inspired by village food halls where people have been gathering to eat and mingle for centuries, but puts a Mile High spin on its global cuisine and communal setting. Broadway Market comes from developer Mark Shaker of Stanley Marketplace and Brad Arguello, co-founder of Avanti Food & Beverage, along with Snooze’s Adam Schlegel helping curate the concepts. “We opened Broadway Market as a food hall and community gathering place that’s also a celebration of Denver’s best chefs. They have worked in this type of concept before which means they can focus on the food and their customers,” says Mark Shaker. We noticed a few of the restaurants overlap from Stanley Marketplace such as Maria Empanada, Misaki Sushi, Mondo Mini (Market), and Miette Et Chocolat. In addition to their tasty food, there’s pizza and pasta, doner kebabs and falafel, burgers and tots, tikka masala and curry, and even a cold-pressed juicery! We tried it all and loved the variety and quality of food to choose from here.

The nine restaurants in Broadway Market

The nine restaurants in Broadway Market

In addition to their nine restaurants, there’s two locally owned boutiques and a full bar in the center of it all with craft cocktails, lots of wine and even a sake on the menu. Beer lovers have their own special spot, an entire “Bottoms Up” beer wall with a dozen Colorado beers and ciders on tap. The do-it-yourself beer wall lets you fill your glass with however much you want and is priced per ounce, so you can pick and choose! Making this extra fun is your glass fills from the bottom up by way of a magnetic stopper - I’m telling you this so you don’t end up with beer all over your table like we did after curiously/drunkenly poking the bottom of our glass.

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Broadway Market makes it easy for guests to purchase from multiple vendors with an optional fob card that can link to your credit card. This card allows you to swipe away with only one charge to your credit card and if you plan on using the beer wall, the card is necessary to activate it and will show you your running total with each pour, thankfully.

As Denver, and the world, expands so too does our interest in sustainability. Broadway Market aims to be as close to zero waste as possible with the help of their local compost partner Scraps. By using real dishes and utensils Broadway Market avoids all single-use plastics: no plastic straws, no plastic condiment packets, nothing that gets used just once and then thrown in the landfill. From sourcing to preparation to dining and plate-scraping, just about everything at Broadway Market that can be disposed of can be composted or recycled. They plan to examine their operations during the first three months for the best ways to live up to their zero waste goals.

Add this new food hall to your list of hangouts as it’s perfect for a causal breakfast with your laptop, lunch with a diverse group of eaters, or a fun dinner date or drink stop. Another reason to go, it’s easy to get to -with a central location on Broadway and 9th and a free parking lot, it’s definitely our new hang out spot!

Misaki Sushi

Misaki Sushi

www.broadwaymarketdenver.com

Review by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB Photos by Samantha Bliss @RedCapturesHerBliss

Uchi Denver | Modern Japanese Cuisine

Japanese tradition and culinary innovation fuse at the award-winning Uchi restaurant in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood. Uchi Denver is the fourth Uchi concept from Austin-based restaurant group Hai Hospitality, and the first outside of Texas. From the spices and sauces used to enhance their nigiri, sashimi and makimono, to the flair they pair with their specialty dishes, Uchi’s menu is diverse and interesting. You won’t find the regular rolls you’re used to seeing here, only expertly crafted dishes with the finest ingredients from around the world.

Hama Chili (top left), Suzuki Yaki (top right), Machi Cure (center)

Uchi Denver is the first to have a full bar and cocktail program, I guess they know Denverites like to drink, in addition to their comprehensive offering of sakes, beer, and wine. To our delight, they uphold the tradition of sake social with Happy Hour from 5-6:30pm nightly with $3 sake and Kirin beer, $7 wine, and a great selection of sushi and other tasty bites!

Uchi’s fabulous food and fish is due to their close relationships with local farmers and the Fukuoka and Tsukiji markets in Japan from which they fly in seafood every day. Combining seasonal ingredients with a spectrum of seafood from around the globe, Uchi invites diners to expand their expectations and boundaries. We were recommended to experience the Omakase – Chef’s Tasting of 10 courses – and we were surprised and delighted by the diverse dishes. Uchi also offers a smaller Signature Tasting (six courses) and a Vegetarian Tasting (six course) in addition to their full menu.

Kinoko Nabe - 5 types of mushroom, crunchy rice, mushroom tentsuyu (broth) and egg yolk that is mixed in at your table.

We started with a Social Hour roll and the Machi Cure (pictured below) composed of yucca chips, smoked yellowtail, pear and Marcona almonds. This dish looked like a contemporary art piece and was just as intriguing on the palate. Next was their house named Uchi Salad, beautiful local greens wrapped around jicama with a cashew pesto sauce. The greens in this salad are sourced directly from the restaurant’s rooftop greenhouse, a partnership with Altius Farms and the only Hai property to have such a feature!

Machi Cure

James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole leads the team in Denver with his signature non-traditional take on Japanese food. Having trained for more than 10 years in Tokyo, New York, and Austin under two different sushi masters, he continues his path of study and experimentation each day at the restaurants in the Hai Hospitality family. Employing classical cooking techniques with a Pacific Rim perspective, Cole marries global ingredients with traditional Japanese flavors, resulting in inspired combinations of flavor, texture, color, technique, and style.

Fried Milk

If someone in your group prefers a heartier alternative to sashimi and sushi, Uchi doesn’t disappoint there either. The menu features savory meat and vegetable dishes like their Wagyu beef taster, insanely good Brussels Sprouts, tempura veggies, chicken wings, and a 72-hour braised short rib sushi.

Everyone should save a little room for dessert as these sweet endings are just as inventive and flavor-dynamic as the rest of the menu. Options range from the decadent Fried Milk (pictured above), those golden balls are the fried milk cream, with chocolate ganache and vanilla custard. Or go light with a gluten free, dairy free dessert such as the coconut tapioca, or meet in the middle with their lovely jasmine cream (pictured below) with pineapple and a honey crumble base.

Uchi Denver has become one of Denver’s hottest restaurants, with eager eaters lining up at all hours of the night to get a taste. They do accept limited reservations, so we suggest you pick a date a couple weeks out and secure a spot!

Jasmine Cream

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB Photos by Samantha Bliss @RedCapturesherBliss

Grand Hyatt's Courier Restaurant Elevates Global Classics

Inspired by its historic location at the site of one of Denver’s first newspapers, Courier market | bar | kitchen provides patrons with classic dishes made modern in an updated setting that evokes the space’s past. Focused on local flavors and ingredients, the food is thoughtfully sourced and carefully served with the menu indicating whether a dish is gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian or vegan.

Head Chef David Lillich joined the Grand Hyatt Denver’s culinary team in 2013 assisting with the launch of its previous restaurant. He was quickly promoted to Junior Sous Chef, advancing to the position of Garde Manger of the 4-Diamond Grand Hyatt Denver. Chef Lillich describes Courier’s food, “Our selections are inspired by beloved classic dishes from cuisines from around the world. Our culinary team works at recreating these classics with a modern twist using the finest local ingredients and the best seasonal produce we can find.” We went in for dinner and were impressed by the many choices, the food’s rich flavors and the substantial portions.

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We started with GNOCCHI MAC & CHEESE (V) with basil and sundried tomato that was delicious yet decadent. The gnocchi were soft and infused with basil, the sundried tomatoes were moist, and the dish was not overly cheesy. They use a blend of parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella sourced from Haystack Mountain in Boulder and Marczyk in Denver and their pasta comes from local Denver shop Pappardelle’s Pasta.

Our other starter was the BUFFALO BRUSSELS (GF,V) drizzled with hot sauce butter and cashews served with a side of honey bleu cheese. This was also delicious, full of flavors, and nothing like the Brussels Sprouts we grew up eating. There are numerous other starters on the menu including a few different flatbreads, and their Social Hour menu features chicken wings, a charcuterie and cheese board, tempura cauliflower, and chili relleno fried raviolis all under $10.

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Social Hour at the bar runs from 3-6pm daily and includes inventive cocktails like the Prosecco based Tabloid and the bourbon-and-absinthe-infused Local Edition. Wine, Colorado beers and a handful of apps round out the Social Hour menu. Guests in the bar can watch the chefs craft their apps and flatbreads in an artisan stone oven.

For entrees, we selected the popular SHORT RIB STROGANOFF and the SMOKED DUCK A L’ORANGE (GF). The Stroganoff was indeed a modern twist on the dish; the presentation and ingredients were elevated, with mushroom raviolis as the pasta portion and a beautiful piece of tender short ribs with a milk stout cream sauce. The Smoked Duck was Asian forward in flavor and came accompanied with soft forbidden fried rice mixed with crunchy snap peas, bell peppers and carrots. Their global cuisine also features dishes such as Scallops and Risotto, Ancient Grain Paella, Chicken Tikka, Swordfish Etouffee and Wagyu Steak and Potatoes.

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Located within the financial district’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, Courier serves a variety of delectable food and a noteworthy dining experience during breakfast, lunch and dinner. We loved what we ate and plan on going back again with friends to try even more!

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https://courierrestaurant.com/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria Photos by Samantha Bliss

Employees pose in front of one of Denver’s first newspaper buildings at 1720 Welton Street between 1901 and 1910. Courtesy of History Colorado Center.

Employees pose in front of one of Denver’s first newspaper buildings at 1720 Welton Street between 1901 and 1910. Courtesy of History Colorado Center.

Redzikowski Brothers Battle on Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay" January 17th


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Chef Steven Redzikowski of Boulder’s OAK at fourteenth and his brother Brian Redzikowski, Executive Chef of Kettner Exchange in San Diego are competing on the Food Network’s show Beat Bobby Flay Thursday, January 17. The two brothers will battle it out in the kitchen to determine who has the skills to compete against Chef Bobby Flay himself in this episode titled Oh Brother. The winner will be decided by Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy and Chopped's Alex Guarnaschelli and will air at 10pmEST/8pmMST Jan 17.

Steven Redzikowski’s (OAK) Thai Eggplant & Bok Choy & Chicharrones

Steven Redzikowski’s (OAK) Thai Eggplant & Bok Choy & Chicharrones

Before opening OAK with business partner Bryan Dayton, and then Acorn in Denver’s The Source, Chef Steven worked his way up in some very impressive restaurants around the US. For example, Le Cirque in New York, Little Nell in Aspen, and Boulder’s own Frasca Food and Wine. His appearance on the Food Network will add to his list of accolades, especially if he succeeds in Beating Bobby Flay!

To celebrate the brothers’ Food Network premier, OAK shut down dinner service to host a special Dim Sum party cooked by a number of accomplished local chefs from Denver and Boulder. OAK’s open kitchen allowed those who attended to smell, see, and hear the dishes being made well before the Dim Sum carts rolled up to their tables. Guests enjoyed a total of fifteen different dishes from the different chef’s along with wine, Japanese beer, sake, and the house cocktail OAK Tea Time. The food was delicious, adventurous and gave guests unique dishes they won’t find on the menu at any of the Colorado chefs’ restaurants. Below is the full menu, with those in bold being our favorites.

Pork Belly Bao Bun

Pork Belly Bao Bun

Steven Redzikowski (OAK) - Thai Eggplant & Bok Choy

Steven Redzikowski (OAK) - Crispy Wontons with pork and shrimp

Boneless Chicken Wings with bang bang sauce

Boneless Chicken Wings with bang bang sauce

Steven Redzikowski (OAK) - Crispy Chicharrones with Thai spice and trinity aioli

Brian Redzikowski (Kettner Exchange - San Diego, CA) - Pork Belly Bao Bun

Kyle Mendenhall (Arcana) - Sesame Bun

Adam Dulye (Brewer's Association) - Brisket Spring Rolls

Sarah Beckwith (OAK) - Shrimp Toast

Sarah Beckwith (OAK) - Seaweed & Cucumber Salad with sesame

Chase Devitt (BriDer) - Pork Sui Mai

Chase Devitt (BriDer) - Kung Pow Brussels Sprouts

William Cusack (OAK) - Penang Curry Sweet Potato

Paul Jaramillo (Acorn) - Boneless Chicken Wings with bang bang sauce

William Espercuieta (SMOK) - Hoisin-Glazed Pork Ribs

Kate Horton (OAK) - Coconut Sticky Rice & Mango

OAK Dining Room

OAK Dining Room

Words & Photos by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB

Hoisin-Glazed Pork Ribs

Hoisin-Glazed Pork Ribs

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

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

The Perfect Place for Vegetarians and Carnivores to Dine Together


Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Cordon Bleu Sandwich

The Pig & The Sprout restaurant in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood embodies the dual nature of its name - featuring hearty, meat-based items and lighter, veggie and based items. The physical layout of the menu is split down the middle with meat-based, heavier ingredient dishes listed under “The Pig” side and vegetarian, even some vegan, dishes listed under “The Sprout” side. This place is perfect for those couples who each have entirely different eating habits or large groups! The same goes for the cocktails; you’ll find bold, whiskey, bourbon and beer based drinks and then light, clear spirits with fresh citrus or herbal ingredients on the other side. We can’t recall any restaurant we’ve been to with such a contrasted, and clearly divided menu as this… and we think it’s wonderful.

When Andy Ganick opened his long dreamed of The Pig & The Sprout last summer, he called it his "dream restaurant that would satisfy all." Ganick is on site most nights, but is also the owner of Stapleton’s popular Berkshire Restaurant that’s been serving “Swine, Wine and a Good Time” since 2007.

Eggplant Bruschetta

Eggplant Bruschetta

We had a good time and a great feast at The Pig & The Sprout last week and want to share our thoughts with you. We started with the Eggplant Bruschetta ($8) that was a very tasty "Sprout" starter consisting of fried eggplant, Boursin (soft, herbed) cheese, smoked tomato jam, and arugula which we really enjoyed. For our “Sprout” entree we ordered the Gnocchi, ($18) which was a wonderful vegetarian dish, but don't order it because you think it'll be lighter than something on the "Pig" side of the menu. In addition to the potato pillows (aka gnocchi), there were golden raisins, sunflower seeds, candied walnuts, butternut squash, Boursin cheese and arugula, all drizzled with browned butter sauce. This dish was decadent, filling and full of flavors.

Next, the Cordon Bleu ($14) sandwich was spectacular and is one of their most popular entree items, we get why. Every component from the toasted and mayo/fondue-slathered bun to the fantastic fried chicken made this sandwich a hit. The fried chicken is actually breaded with garbanzo beans, which gave it a more savory, nutty taste opposed to just fried crunchiness, and also makes it gluten free! In fact, you can make the whole sandwich gluten free with their special buns if you prefer.  

The Brussels Sprouts & Hogger

The Brussels Sprouts & Hogger

The final dish was over the top and was a popular item we just had to try for ourselves (and to tell you about!) It was a towering assortment of pulled pork, bacon, a kurobuta pork patty from Berkshire Farms and topped with apple slaw, pig chips, and mayo. It is aptly named The Hogger ($17) and is served with fries, but we got their Brussels Sprouts ($8) instead because we were told how great they were. We were very pleased with that suggestion and got a heaping dish full of the glazed, Parmesan dusted sprouts. These however are not on the "Sprout" side of the menu because they are cooked and served with bacon. We could barely have more than a bite of this final dish after everything that came before, but I can tell you the leftovers were just as great the next day.

We only ordered one cocktail and choose the Wild Boar, consisting of El Dorado 12 yr. rum, honey, black walnut bitters and served with a spear of Luxardo cherry and prosciutto. It was like a sweet Manhattan and tasted more like bourbon than typical rum, apparently 12 years of aging will do that. Some of the other cool cocktails are their four different Mules, a Chocolate Mint Porter, and an Apple Pie Martini and Mimosa. During Happy Hour (3-6pm & 11pm-2am), ALL drinks are 25% off!

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The space lends itself to a variety of personalities as well; climbing vines by the bar, antique books, garage door walls that open up to two outdoor patios, and sleek couches for lounging and community tables for making new friends. We thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant because it provides thoughtful, creative seasonal fare for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, and carnivors alike. Even the large drink menu nods to their split personality with clever, one of a kind cocktails paired to both palates.          https://www.pigandsprout.com

Words by Tiffany Candelaria        Photos by Samantha Bliss

Vesta | 20 Years Later

Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth, is the inspiration for this Denver dining destination that first lit its hearth over 20 years ago. Owner Josh Wolkon shares his story with us, “Vesta opened in 1997 in Denver’s LoDo. I was 25 years old and driven by pure ambition to open my dream restaurant. Surrounded by young, energetic, passionate, and fun people, we created a destination restaurant before LoDo itself became a destination. The term ‘Vesta Vibe’ was later coined and became known for combining positive energy, genuine hospitality, philanthropy and fun.” Through deliciously cooked food in an inviting environment where friends and family can gather and connect by the warmth of the fire, Vesta continues living up to its name and its “vibe”.

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The latest menu was created by Colorado-raised Executive Chef, Nicholas Kayser, whose culinary talents enhance the Vesta menu with creative interpretations and beautiful plating. Nicholas’ culinary talents and experience have come from his time working with top chefs all over the world, in restaurants from Hong Kong to New York to Las Vegas. He eventually longed to be closer to his friends and family back here in Denver and moved back and started at Vesta a couple years ago.

Ahi Tuna Tonnato

Ahi Tuna Tonnato

The menu offers seasonal, creative American dishes, plus barrel-aged cocktails, craft beers and an award-winning wine list. To start, you can try “The Full Monty” of Vesta’s own house cured meats and artisan cheeses served with house made breads and mustards, along with pickles and truffle honey. We went a lighter route with the Ahi Tuna Tonnato, a lovely sashimi grade tuna carpaccio drizzled with olive vinaigrette, aioli, and topped with focaccia. This appetizer was incredible; it was not fishy, had an easy to eat texture, and a unique combination of Italian flavors from the focaccia and aioli paired with light, fresh tuna.

We also sampled the XO Smoked Pork Ribs garnished with a fresh cilantro salad. This too was very delicious, with great flavor of a sweet heat hoisin sauce around succulent rib meat with a slightly crisp outside. For the entrée we enjoyed the Pan Roasted Branzino, which is a mild, white fish and comes with crispy roasted red potatoes which we loved, celery salad, sorrel, and winter radishes. This is a modern take on an Israeli dish and incorporates Middle Eastern spices and ingredients which was creative, but not spicy.

Pan Roasted Branzino

Pan Roasted Branzino

To cap off our dinner we were treated to sweet potato beignets. These delightful little dumplings of sweet potato and dough are rolled in cinnamon sugar and sit atop toasted marshmallow, cranberry compote, and caramelized milk. It was a sweet treat for sure, but not too intense or heavy. They have some other tantalizing treats we’d like to try next time like the Sticky Toffee Pudding with medjool date cake and their Tiramisu with chocolate honeycomb.

In addition to the great food, the restaurant has a beautiful interior with noticeable themes of warmth, sensuality and dreams reflected in the handcrafted industrial design. Curved booths, open flames from the exposed grill, and draped fabric light fixtures soften the industrial design and bring a sensuality and warmth to the space that complements the “Vesta Vibe”. Another cool component to Wolkon’s restaurants is their certification as Green Businesses through the EPA and Certifiably Green Denver. Further, since opening Vesta in 1997, charitable giving to nonprofit organizations, particularly youth-focused organizations, has been one of the restaurant group’s top priorities.

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

sweet potato beignets

sweet potato beignets

Ophelia’s Will Tantalize All Your Senses


Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a multilevel "gastro-brothel" that surrounds its guests in luxurious furnishing, flattering mood lighting, and blatantly sexy décor, aka it’s a great place for a date. In addition to dining, there’s a stage and lounge in the lower level, also viewable from the upper restaurant level that wraps around it. The name of the place is an intriguing mouthful… and you’ll find the food is as well.

Ophelia’s opened a couple years ago and is part of Chef Justin Cucci’s collection of top-rated restaurants around Denver. Located in the old Airedale building on 20th Street and Larimer, it was formerly a peep-show parlor and clearly inspired the restaurant’s décor. The menu is a tantalizing assortment of American dishes featuring globally inspired ingredients paired in intriguing ways. In addition to its vegetable forward dishes, 75% of the ingredients are organically sourced and the menu has gluten-free and vegan icons to help those with dietary restrictions.

We were delighted to dine at Ophelia’s this Tuesday and were treated to an amazing assortment of dishes that showcased the variety of foods, flavors, and ingenuity the team brings to the tables each night. We began with cocktails of course, the Never Enough gin cocktail and the Hard Eight Rye cocktail, which were both great – one sweet and citrusy the later earthy and zesty.

To start, we selected the Smoked Scallops, 600 Degree Squash and the Crispy Pork Belly. This was already more food than we could finish knowing entrees where ahead, but we are so glad we ordered it all anyway because these three dishes were outstanding. The scallops were petite, soft and smoky, served with lavash crackers, microgreens, and a chive crème fraise and hot sauce, all meant to pile onto the crackers. The creamy crème spread was a perfect balance for the smoky scallops and seed-laden lavash. We also loved the 600 Degree Squash, a collection of caramelized yellow and green zucchini with sweet, creamy goat feta and a sundried tomato sauce. The Crispy Pork Belly was especially outstanding because it was not full of fat like so often happens when we’ve ordered pork belly. It truly was crispy and candied on the outside, and soft and supple on the inside, bursting with so much savory and sweet flavor. Best pork belly we can recall!  

Next, the kitchen surprised us with their Brothel Burger and BBQ Chicken Flatbread. The burger was super succulent Elk, we didn’t even realize this while we ate it, topped with Korean BBQ, Miso candied bacon, Ponzu onions, and pickled vegetables all between a pretzel pun. We loved it. The BBQ Chicken Flatbread was accompanied by bacon, Pepper Jack, mozzarella, charred onion, bell pepper and jicama-radicchio slaw, which was an excellent addition to an overall wonderfully composed sweet, smoky, tangy pizza. All of their flatbreads and burger buns are also available gluten free.

We then made room for two of their Dinner entrees, the Steelhead Trout with Pozole and Chicken & Waffles, which were like yin and yang as far as flavors, textures, ingredients and nutrition. Pozole is a traditional Mexican stew composed of hominy, green chilies, and spices. Their pozole is topped traditionally with fresh radishes, cilantro, tomatillo salsa, and chunks of avocado, but is only mildly spicy. The trout was wonderful, not too fishy, seasoned with black pepper, and a great, local alternative to salmon. An added bonus, all of the warming spices, herbs, root vegetables and omega-3 fish make this an excellent winter dish and flu-fighter!

On the other end of the spectrum, the Chicken & Waffles were decadent, sweet and crunchy. It comes with two pieces of herb and potato laden waffle between three pieces of crispy, fried chicken topped with bacon bits, a flavorful cinnamon apple butter and chili honey – my goodness! On the side, there’s a bit of healthy greenery for you with apple slices and dried cranberries.

Throughout all of this wonderful feasting, live musicians took turns on the stage below for open mic night. Wednesday’s and Sunday’s Ophelia’s has jazz bands, and the rest of the week generally has live music events as well. Ophelia’s is much more than just a delicious restaurant; it’s a happening hangout with plenty of pleasing offerings. The bar and lounge areas provide really nice drinking spots, and the wrap around restaurant is an awesome medley of fabulous food and dynamic entertainment below. We absolutely suggest you go!

https://www.opheliasdenver.com/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @tcdoesfnb     Photos by Samantha Bliss @redfollowsherbliss

Chicken & Waffles

Devil's Myrtle Hill Cookery & Bakery | A Long-Standing Staple in Wash Park

Whether you’re a Denver local or a visitor passing through, Washington Park is a main attraction. From the parks radiating with life to the old historical landmarks telling their own story, you can’t help but to immerse yourself in all that it offers.

Within the vicinity, you’ll also come across an array of charming places down Gaylord street—delectable restaurant choices, unique boutique shops, and magical night lights that tie it all together. The history of this street is exquisite, especially the Myrtle Hill Trolley stop which once used to run through the little town. Passing by, there’s a little gem that can’t be missed: Devil’s Myrtle Hill Cookery and Bakery.

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What once started off as a bakery in 1999 has now expanded into a full Cookery with the Bakery now it’s own cafe three doors down. The expansion occurred in January and has been a welcome addition to the Wash Park Neighborhood.

The feel of the bakery is unlike any other, and that’s because owner Angela Pilloud embarked on a cross-country adventure to find pieces that complemented her cookery. One might compare it to a vintage café in Paris, with the 100-year old wood floors all the way up to the tin ceiling tiles, to the wallpaper from the 1930’s. Even with all the vintage design catching your eye, your taste buds are still salivating over the best part of the place: the pastries and coffee.

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Made with local ingredients, the pastries are displayed in antique showcases as they come out fresh from the oven. Don’t worry, the options are endless and guaranteed to satisfy even the sweetest tooth. To wash it all down, grab a coffee, hot tea, or kombucha on tap.

If you’re in a hurry, get your goodies packed up to go. Have some time to kill? Find a spot on the beautiful seating options throughout the bakery including the darling tables next to the French doors that open up to Gaylord street.

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For a delicious breakfast or lunch, make your way three doors down to the Myrtle Hill Cookery. Charmed by the 40’s era, the restaurant features an old piano, cheese graters on the wall, an antique kitchen and church pews for seats.

It truly feels like breakfast at grandma’s; and yes, the food is just as good as grandma’s, too. The freshness and seasonality of the menu is as innovative as it gets. No matter how traditional or eccentric your palate is, you’ll be sure to find a favorite (or two) on the menu.

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A spin on a classic, the Chicken and Waffles are topped with sausage gravy and Vermont made syrup. And, we could never forget their pancakes—the fluffiest stack of all time. A bit more on the adventurous side, mouths water when tasting the Quinoa Cakes and Eggs, Eggs and Ratatouille and the Short Rib Hash. Flip to the other side of the menu and you can also find some great lunch options like Butternut Gnocchi and a sweet yet savory Baby Glazed Carrot salad. I have tried almost everything on this menu and have yet to be disappointed.

The man behind these tasty creations grew up in the South Bend of Indiana and chased his dreams all the way to Denver, Chef Joel Urbany. I had the pleasure to sit down with him while trying his refined menu and I was blown away. His humble yet passionate attitude goes hand in hand with this charming place.

By his level of expertise, you’d never guess he is only in his 20s. How passionate is Chef Joel? Well, he starts his journey down at a local farm picking fresh produce to suit each of his seasonal dishes. His passion easily transfers to the plate—carefully crafting each dish before it leaves the kitchen.

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One of my favorite things I heard about Chef Joel from fellow employees is regarding his leadership. He’s as patient as he is kind, and encourages accurate techniques and continued learning in the kitchen. With a great team behind him, he never falls short in reiterating how thankful he is to have them and that shows every day as the cookery is packed to the brim with new and returning customers.

From back of the house to front of the house, Devil’s Myrtle Hill Cookery and Bakery is something special. They put genuine love into everything they do and that’s what keeps people coming back after 18 years, and what led to the newest expansion.

Butternut Gnocchi

Butternut Gnocchi

If it’s coffee and a pastry that you’re craving, swing by the bakery for a pick me up. Or, if American-style breakfast comfort food is on your agenda, then the cookery is the place to indulge. Denver is lucky to have this place, and I look forward to coming back for the years to come.

Written and photographed by Samantha Bliss

Marcella's Ristorante | Italian Favorites & Our New Favorite Happy Hour

Outside & Inside

Outside & Inside

Italian cafe and restaurant, Marcella’s Ristorante, Pizzeria and Wine Bar, recently opened on Central St. in LoHi. Just by the looks of the beautiful façade and the extremely inviting, comfortable yet upscale interior, we knew this place would be a worthy addition in the distinguished Highlands restaurant scene.

Marcella’s was named after a house manager and chef at a villa in Tuscany, Italy, that founder Cameron Mitchell visited with his family. Cameron is an Ohio-based restaurateur who also runs two Marcella’s in Ohio as well as Ocean Prime on Larimer Square. Their Executive Chef Jacob Glowacki worked at several Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and also relocated to the Denver venue to head up Marcella’s here.

Braised Veal Meatball

Braised Veal Meatball

The menu features dishes such as a braised veal meatball with tomato sauce, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, chicken entrees, and Italian desserts. Their drink menu is just as expansive with a selection of 50 Italian wines served by the bottle, half bottle or glass, sangria, draft beers, and over a handful of interesting, Italian-geared cocktails with house-made liquors and syrups. What we were most impressed by was that such an upscale, lovely place offered such an incredible Happy Hour every Monday through Friday from 4 to 6pm! All the drinks are half off, meaning all the beer is only $3 and fancy cocktails $5.50! For Happy Hour food, the entire menu is half off minus the entrees, so salads, cured meats, cheeses, antipasti, appetizers, and even pizzas (gluten-free available) are half priced!

From Left: Milan Manhattan, Grapefruit Basil Fizz, Italian Rye

From Left: Milan Manhattan, Grapefruit Basil Fizz, Italian Rye

We sampled so many of these Happy Hour dishes that by the end it was clear Marcella’s definitely has one of the best bang-for-your-buck and largest Happy Hour selections in Denver. Our favorites were Grappa Cured Salmon, Braised Veal Meatball (they are known for this one), Melted Pecorino with crostini, apple and truffle honey, their Sweet Sausage with roasted peppers and cheese, and of course the Pizzas. We sampled the Crispy Potato Pizza which was a flavor overload in a good way, and the lighter, more mild Pesto Shrimp.

Crispy Potato Pizza top, Pesto Shrimp bottom

Crispy Potato Pizza top, Pesto Shrimp bottom

After all of this Happy Hour goodness we really didn’t need anymore food, especially as we already had full to-go boxes, but we forged ahead and tried their Gnocchi Bolognese and Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The Carbonara is made of only a few basic ingredients but was overly saturated with oil or butter, the Gnocchi was great however, hearty, flavorful and melted in our mouths. Other entrées we didn’t try but want to include a daily risotto, chicken marsala, linguine & clams, and the Chianti braised beef short rib.

Tiramisu and Chocolate Almond Cake

Tiramisu and Chocolate Almond Cake

For dessert we were treated to a traditional Tiramisu, a moist Chocolate Almond Cake, and their flaky Cherry Crustada that has a hint of almond and vanilla gelato on top. All three were delicious and met different flavor palettes, but the Cherry Crustada was our favorite.

We recommend you make your way to Marcella's  someday soon to fully indulge in all their Happy Hour has to offer - it's worth skipping out of work early for or fighting that 5 o' clock traffic! https://marcellasrestaurant.com/locations-menus/marcellas-denver/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria      Photos by Samantha Bliss

Family Jones Spirit House | Unique Drinks & Surprising Eats

The Family Jones Spirit House, a distillery and tasting room featuring crafted spirits and food, opened this Saturday, Nov. 11 in LoHi next door to Root Down. The location is fitting, as one of the “family members” is Justin Cucci, chef and owner of Root Down, among other notable Denver restaurants. The rest of the “Jones Family” includes pioneering distiller Rob Masters and entrepreneurs Jack Pottle, Denielle Nadeau and Paul Tamburello, and bar manager Nick Touch creating what could be the ultimate blended family. “One of the perks of being an adult is choosing your family,” said Pottle. “Another perk is choosing your home away from home, and now we have that place: The Family Jones Spirit House.” The new venue emphasizes the relationship between distiller, chef, bartender and guest, with a focus on hospitality.

Designed and built by Tres Birds Workshop, the space was really cool, pairing industrial elements with rich wood details. The high ceiling showcases the second-floor loft where a beautiful 17-ft. copper still distills their special spirits - everything from vodka to gin, whiskey and rum. The still is a beautiful, shining focal point above the crescent concrete bar below. Guests enter the space through a large, square, wooden door made from reclaimed, on-site materials. Inside, they are met with juniper-lined concrete walls (a nod to the key flavor component in gin), low-slung seating, deep blue booths and soft lighting.

“We are making things that push the boundaries of a traditional cocktail bar; we are putting our own spin on it,” explains Masters. “This is a distiller’s dream – to create all sorts of crazy things in small batches. It’s a test kitchen: If it doesn’t work, we can try something new.” Cucci agrees and says his collaboration on The Family Jones was a no-brainer, “Getting to work with Chef Tim Dotson and Bartender Nick Touch, as well as entrepreneurs like Paul and Jack has been incredible; we are all committed to excellence. What we have come up with is a surprise, and we are excited to share it with Denver.”

Their experimentation and surprise elements extend to both the food and cocktail offerings. The menu offers 12-15 small plates, as well as a variety of cocktails made exclusively with The Family Jones spirits, which we sampled during their preview party. Both menus are designed to be clean, vibrant, accessible and had a wide range of flavor profiles and unique ingredient pairings like their classic martini that uses a house-made crème de violet and crème de cacao to add a unique twist. Their Rock-n-Rye blends Stop Gap Rye whiskey with a selection from the more than 100 botanicals and spices made in their distillation lab upstairs! Highlights from Executive Chef Tim Dotson’s menu include three-cheese fondue, served in an heirloom pumpkin with vegetable skewers, and a spin on pork and beans with house-made sausage, heirloom beans, sour cherries, pistachio, collard greens and a chorizo vinaigrette. A tableside bar-cart tasting service rounds out the eclectic, one of a kind experience at The Family Jones.

The Family Jones Spirit House is open from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday—Thursday; 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday; 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday; and 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. www.TheFamilyJones.co

Words by Tiffany Candelaria          Photos by Samantha Bliss

Bremen’s Wine & Tap Brings Seasonal Fine Dining to LoHi

The Ultra5280 crew had the opportunity to dine at the new LoHi restaurant Bremen’s Wine & Tap in anticipation of their new Fall/Winter menu that debuted Monday, October 23. We were very impressed with the variety of dishes, the quality of food and flavors, and the overall presentation, complete with drink pairings. While savoring, we got to know new Executive Chef Isabel Ranney, Bremen’s eco-friendly practices, and learned the restaurant is entirely woman-owned!  Bremen’s Wine & Tap features handcrafted, seasonal, American cuisine, craft cocktails, local beers, and an extensive wine list.

“The inspiration behind the menu is based on the seasonality of the produce and of the herbs and spices that are beneficial to our bodies at this time of year,” said Chef Isabel. “Also, I cook food that I like to eat. The fall menu includes soul-warming dishes that are perfect for the cool weather. The new items are a play on comfort foods that people crave when the weather is cold, but they are refined.”  The new menu includes a Seasonal Butcher Board, Kale and Beet Salad, a Farro Bowl, Duck Breast, and a Prime Rib Sandwich. Especially fun for the season are their Pumpkin Coconut Chai Martini and the Earl Grey Old Fashion.

Maple Duck Breast

Prior to becoming executive chef, Chef Isabel was the sous chef at Bremen’s and previously at the Magnolia Hotel. She has held a number of positions across Colorado and in Washington since starting in the restaurant industry when she was 15-years-old. Aside from her spectacular, seasonal dishes, we love her commitment to the environment, ensuring good practices in both the front and back of the house. She has spearheaded the restaurant’s composting program, aims to use every ingredient in three different ways, and always works to improve their carbon footprint. Chef Isabel is a certified herbalist and uses this knowledge to incorporate ingredients that are beneficial to our health and energy per the season, “The lamb shank uses elderberries and rosehips which are packed with antioxidants and are antiviral, so they help people’s immune systems without them even realizing because of how delicious it tastes.” She also focuses on growing relationships with farmers and vendors to bring the best ingredients into the restaurant and its guests. What a woman, and what a chef!

Butcher Board

Both Chef Isabel and owner Dina Castillo have truly taken the time to make their dining experience as environmentally friendly and Colorado based as possible. Chef Isabel serves her Butcher Board on a rustic wood board from Colorado beetle-killed trees, and picks fresh produce and herbs for a farm called Rebel Farms located right here in Denver. They have a strong passion for supporting local businesses, so at Bremen’s you will see local beers and wines from all around the state, including right here in Denver. While digging into the dishes, we also learned the name Bremen’s was created from a favored children’s book that was written about the city of Bremen, Germany.

Whether you’re in the neighborhood, live on the other side of town, or are just visiting Denver, Bremen’s is a must visit within the thriving culinary scene here in Denver. With their wide variety of dishes and drinks, there is something for everyone. Bremen’s is open for dinner Monday - Saturday, happy hour daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with lady’s wine night on Wednesdays, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. Read on for a detailed description of the dishes we devoured and photographed.  http://www.bremenswinetap.com/

Asparagus Tartare

Asparagus Pear Tartare: This dish is a play off traditional tartare, featuring raw asparagus finely diced, mixed with red onion, scallions, avocados, pears, pear-herb vinaigrette, and surrounded by heirloom grape tomatoes, tangerine oil and topped with crispy asparagus ribbons. Served with house made lavash rubbed with jalapeno agave syrup.

Butcher Board: Chef’s choice (changes bi weekly) of charcuterie and cheese, house made grain mustard and pickled vegetables. We tasted Prosciutto di Parma – aged 18 months, High West Whiskey Salami, Ossau-Iraty (French sheep’s milk cheese, dates back to one of the first cheese ever made), and the aged English Cheddar. Also served on this beautiful beetle kill board from Colorado, are house-pickled, seasonal vegetables. Boards come with toasted sourdough bread from local bakery, Hinman’s, “34 Degrees” crackers and salted almond crackers.

Maple Leaf Duck Breast: House made potato gnocchi that are seared to create a crispy outer glaze. The gnocchi get tossed with a wild mushroom and leek mixture deglazed with white wine and finished with butter and fried sage.

Sea Scallops with Risotto

Fresh Catch of the Day: Three pan-seared sea scallops served atop a bacon and corn risotto, topped with a red wine vinegar reduction and fried mint. (This was divine!)

Isabel’s Seasonal Crumble: Tequila-soaked pears topped with Bremen’s secret pecan crumble, served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.

Words by Tiffany Candelaria        Photos by Samantha Bliss

New PALEO Cafe Will Please the Whole Family

Its no surprise the Denver food scene is becoming more and more health conscious as we are such a fit, foodie, on-trend city. As Denver expands so too do the amazing variety of dining options and new to the scene is Just BE Kitchen in the Confluence Park/LoHi neighborhood. Just BE Kitchen is pretty unique however for a few reasons.

The main standout is that everything on the menu is PALEO, which means no gluten, grains of any kind, or refined sugars! They’ve also designed the place to inspire presence and mindful eating with calm colors and quotes hung on the walls. Everything on the menu is healthy and delicious, offering salads, burgers, hashes and sweet treats like cookies, muffins and “milk” shakes! The other main difference is their hours are 7am – 3pm daily and feels more like a café with their order-up counter, coffee offerings and cozy/cute interior.

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Given those hours the menu at Just Be is a bit breakfast-centric with many egg and (coconut milk) yogurt dishes, but also offers a few salads, a cheeseburger, green chili and a … Meatzza! The Meatzza is their paleo take on a pizza with a pasture-raised, grass-fed pork sausage patty taking the place of normal dough crust. A sugar-free, house-made tomato sauce and a bacon pineapple jam are spread on the base. To top, they fry fresh kale in tallow and sprinkle nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. I hear it is every bit as indulgent as it sounds!

We went for breakfast and of course tried as much as we could. We started with the Chia coconut yogurt topped with a great grainless granola and berries that tasted light and creamy with the only sugar coming from the berries. Then we had a lovely seasonal salad called Enchanted with arugula, pickled onion, roasted beets, their granola and almond feta. This was really tasty with all the ingredients perfectly coated by the almond feta and vinaigrette.

For our main dishes we ordered their burrito and the seasonal veggie hash. Both were delightful and filling without leaving us weighed down or bloated. The burrito’s tortilla was very much like a regular flour tortilla, except better because it’s free of grains, refined sugars and dairy! It was soft and doughy but dense enough to keep the hearty fillings wrapped inside (even after a night in my fridge it stayed put together and as good as when it was served). The shredded sweet potatoes in both dishes were so flavorful and sweetened up the basic eggs in the burrito, along with the savory, juicy sausage inside. Add a side of their pork green chili and it was the tastiest healthy burrito I’ve eaten!  The veggie hash was beautiful, seemed much healthier, was full of flavorful and texture, making it an amazing meal for a vegetarian. We topped ours with a poached egg shown at top.

In addition to their menu being gluten-free, so many of their dishes are easily made vegetarian, making it a really wonderful place for friends or couples with different dietary needs to eat together. Their manager explains, “Our goal is to cater to many different food sensitivities with a very modular menu.” There’s even a yummy kids’ menu priced at only $6. For drinks you’ve got bullet coffees and lattes, espresso, fresh juice, Kombucha, and natural sodas. There’s even a “bone broth bar” with 48-hour broth that comes with a handful of toppings to choose from. This place is seriously a unique gem in the Denver dining scene and we hope you find the time to treat yourself to something satisfyingly delicious and nutritious!