El Five Adds Brunch & it's a Hit

Like its Edible Beats sibling restaurants Linger, Root Down, Ophelia’s and Vital Root, this Spanish/Middle Eastern hot spot for tapas transports guests to a unique setting serving amazing dishes and delightful drinks. El Five sits high above the offices of LoHi in a fifth-floor penthouse and is also the fifth restaurant in the Edible Beats family, hence the name El Five. Stepping off the elevator on the 5th floor guests are greeted with the smell of spices coming from the open kitchen and a vibrant atmosphere full of color and a spectacular view.

Dungeness Crab, Shakshuka & Iberico Benedict

Dungeness Crab, Shakshuka & Iberico Benedict

Like Linger next door, El Five capitalizes on their perfectly perched location with a large patio and floor to ceiling windows/doors that showcases Denver’s downtown skyline. The décor is bright, bold and eclectic, the last word describing all of the Edible Beats restaurants. Colorful faces from midcentury Egyptian and Turkish movie posters are painted on the walls and reflected in little hexagon-shaped mirrors. The vibe is fun, funky, swanky and sexy. It’s a great place for a date, whether dinner or just drinks, the setting and menu lends itself perfectly. 

Photo taken from El Five’s website

Photo taken from El Five’s website

We went to try their new Sunday brunch and of course, we were impressed. El Five‘s menu is clearly Mediterranean inspired, but creatively combines flavors and ingredients from multiple countries in that region. Thus, El Five has created a unique cuisine coined Tapas De Gibraltar, as the countries are all connected by this body of water. Indeed, everything we tried here had a unique twist that either tantalized or surprised our taste buds.

 We started with Coda coffee, Bhakti chi and a pastry basket with sweet treats like chocolate Baklava. We then moved on to the Pintxos tasting plate which we noticed all the tables around us had also ordered and was just like the tapas you get in Spain!

Pastry Basket with orange jam

Pastry Basket with orange jam

Pinxtos Plate

Pinxtos Plate

For entrees we selected the Dungeness Crab with Potato Latkes, Iberico Benedict, Garlic Shrimp with Manchebo Polenta (our favorite) and the North African dish Shakshuka. All four dishes contained very different ingredients and flavors, having originated in different parts of the Mediterranean. While the menu is Mediterranean, the 10+ entrees on the menu provide a diverse spectrum to please any palette. 

Garlic Shrimp: Sunny Side Egg, Manchego Polenta, Crispy Ham, Ibérico Brown Butter, Chilis, Salsa Brava

Garlic Shrimp: Sunny Side Egg, Manchego Polenta, Crispy Ham, Ibérico Brown Butter, Chilis, Salsa Brava

To conclude we ordered a Moroccan Pancake, an Apricot FROSÉ (our favorite drink on the menu) and a Sangria con Frutas. A sweet ending indeed!  

The brunch prices are very reasonable, only a few dollars more than their cocktails lol. But don’t let the price steer you away, dining or even just coming for a cocktail is worth every dollar.  

Moroccan Pancake: Farmer's Cheese, Nutella, Apricot, Pistachios, Orange Blossom Syrup

Moroccan Pancake: Farmer's Cheese, Nutella, Apricot, Pistachios, Orange Blossom Syrup

Rooftop Sangria & Apricot Frose

Rooftop Sangria & Apricot Frose

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

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

The Raw Deal at Vital Root

Vegetarians aren’t messing around these days. Owner of Edible Beats, Justin Cucci, opened up vegetarian restaurant Vital Root on Tennyson Street a year and a half ago and it has been a hit ever since.  Whether you’re on the run or able to stay awhile, there’s an open seat inside or on their two patios and heaping flavors waiting for you in this fast-casual dining concept.

Using only the freshest organic ingredients in each dish, you are sure to leave feeling revitalized and satisfied, and ninety-nine percent of the menu can be prepared vegan and/or gluten free upon request. Not a vegan or gluten intolerant? Try ‘em out anyway - your body will thank you later.

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Vital Root also places a huge focus on sustainability from the front of the house to the back. Supporting over 55 growers, farmers and food artisans, 50% of the ingredients are sourced within Colorado. Edible Beats’ homegrown produce comprises 40% of the produce used in all dishes across the six restaurants. It also supports local wind and solar projects through national clean energy provider, Arcadia Power, to help reduce America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels.

We were cordially invited to their monthly Raw Pop Up Dinner held on the first Monday of every month. Why raw vegan cuisine? Vital Root’s chef says, “Raw food has not been heated over 118 degrees, leaving all natural enzyme and nutrient activity of the ingredients completely in-tact and maximizing bio-availability. The raw diet encourages harmony with nature, a nonviolent lifestyle, boundless energy, a healthy relationship to food-as-fuel, and is a remarkable way to experience the beautiful ingredients.”

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Upon being greeted at the door, the hostess kindly led us to our seats where we anxiously awaited diving into the raw experience.

The first course presented before our eyes and our salivating palates was the Giardiniera, served on a spoon and ready to be devoured. Simple yet refreshing, the dish was comprised of eggplant relish, basil tomato and daikon thread. It set the tone for the rest of the meal and left our taste buds wanting more…which is exactly what we got.

The second course came in an array of multi-color roots. It was almost too pretty to eat, but that didn’t stop us. Served in a beautiful radicchio leaf, the Radicchio Beet Hummus executed on presentation and texture by utilizing the ingredient in two ways. We were given a variety of organic vegetables including carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers to enjoy with the hummus. To add a hint of sweetness to the dish, dates were also included.

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The third course was the one I was most intrigued by, and that was the Squash Lasagna. I asked myself, “How are they going to serve warm cooked lasagna that resembled lasagna without the power of a hot oven?” Let’s just say, I was absolutely blown away. First off, the presentation was beautiful. Secondly, cutting into it felt just like eating momma’s homemade lasagna. It was dense yet light, and didn’t come with the typical sluggish aftermath, even after eating the entire plate. What made this dish even more unique was the vegan spin on the cheese. From ‘rawmesan’ and macadamia ‘ricotta’ to walnut pesto and a winter salad—it had me more than convinced.

And for the final course: the Blood Orange Granita, a Sicily-inspired shaved ice bursting with flavor. The dessert melted in my mouth like cotton candy, and refreshed my palate at the same time with the addition of the fresh basil.

If you’re sitting there living vicariously through my words, stop. You can reserve your spot for the next raw dinner through the Vital Roots website. What makes this experience even more thrilling is that the menu is a total surprise! You won’t know what’s coming to your table until it’s presented before you. Get your palate ready and imagination going for the eccentric yet inviting meal at next month’s raw dinner.

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If raw food isn’t your cup of tea, no worries. Vital Root offers a wide array of options and is open Tuesday-Thursday from 10am-9pm and Friday-Sunday from 9am-9pm. Additionally, Happy Hour is Tuesday-Sunday from 3pm-6pm with specials including $1 off beer, $5 wine and cocktails, $2 Banh MI or Avocado Tacos, and $3 Korean BBQ Veggie Wings.

Don’t wait any longer—see what these vegetarians are raving about! http://www.vitalrootdenver.com/

Written and Photographed by Samantha Bliss-Red Follows Her Bliss Photography