Ocean Prime's Patio Happy Hour

Ocean Prime is a modern American restaurant and lounge from renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. Located in Denver’s Larimer Square and the Tech Center, Ocean Prime is open for weekday lunch and dinner nightly. Their fine dining menu features seafood and prime cuts of steak, signature cocktails, a Wine Spectator-honored wine list and desserts paired with great service in a lovely setting. Ocean Prime was 5280 magazine’s editor’s pick for “Best Seafood” among many other awards nationwide.

Smoking Shellfish Tower

Smoking Shellfish Tower

The chefs at Ocean Prime take great pride in sourcing the highest quality ingredients available and use simple, pure, local and regional flavors on our made from scratch menu. Seafood is selected daily for freshness and features wild and naturally harvested fish. Steaks include USDA Prime cuts and are aged for maximum tenderness and flavor. This absolutely shines through in the dishes we sampled and during past experiences dining at various Ocean Prime restaurants throughout the country. Yes, they are a chain, and no they didn’t originate in Denver , but Ocean Prime is a superb dining experience which is why Denver has two locations despite the concentration of great restaurants here.

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We highlight the opening patio party for Ocean Prime’s new DTC location that opened in November. We started with not-yet on the menu margaritas that were full of refreshing flavor and happy hour sushi rolls. Happy hour is weekdays from 4-6pm in the bar and patio and on Friday’s and Saturday’s there’s live music!

Our favorite dishes were the lamb lollipops, mini crab cakes, and ultra creamy lobster mac & cheese. The Smoking Shellfish Tower was also a favorite and great for any party, however is not part of happy hour pricing. One can order $2 oysters, $10 chef sushi roll and other great bites and drinks during happy hour here.

Don’t skip dessert, from chocolate peanut butter pie to NY cheesecake to their ever-popular warm butter cake, we always save room here.

https://www.ocean-prime.com/

Photos by Josh Stephens

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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

Surf & Turf in Style at Ocean Prime

If you’re looking for a great date restaurant or just a great meal, you can’t go wrong on Larimer Square in Denver. We treated ourselves to a scrumptious Sunday Surf & Turf dinner at Ocean Prime on Larimer Square last week and want to show and tell you why you’ll want to treat yourself to their fabulous food.  First off, this is an award-winning modern American restaurant from renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. They always source the highest quality ingredients available and use simple, pure, local and regional flavors on the made from scratch menu. Seafood is selected and flown in daily for freshness and the steaks include USDA Prime cuts and are aged for maximum tenderness and flavor.

Surf & Turf Appetizer

Surf & Turf Appetizer

Ocean Prime’s new menu addition features a Sunday night Surf & Turf special for $55 that includes a soup or salad, an 8oz filet, a choice of shrimp scampi, crab cake, or sea scallops, and a side dish. We chose, with some help from Chef Julia, the house salad, a side of jalapeno au gratin, and the shrimp. The salad was bright and crisp with candied walnuts, apple slices, and a perfect coating of slightly sweet, slightly acidic Sherry mustard vinaigrette. The filet and shrimp were succulent and full of flavor. Our side of jalapeno au gratin was so deliciously decadent we had to resist eating all of it to save room for our smoked Gouda tater tots and pea risotto (below). To top off the Sunday special, bottles of wine from their Wine Spectator award-winning wine list are half off!

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The other Surf & Turf entrée on the menu is available seven days a week and features an 8oz filet and poached lobster draped in a bright Béarnaise sauce, atop a crispy hash brown cake and sautéed spinach. This dish was a decadent deal for $60 and brought together the robust but refined flavors of their steak and crispy potatoes, alongside the lighter lobster and seared spinach. These Surf & Turf entrees are the best way to go if you want the best of both worlds, and at a restaurant like Ocean Prime we recommend you try both worlds.

Surf & Turf Daily Entree

Surf & Turf Daily Entree

Another great way to do this is by ordering their smaller in scale and much smaller in price Surf & Turf appetizer. In this dish you’ll enjoy two perfectly seared, soft supple pillows of sea scallops along with the best short ribs, they’d surely been simmering all day. Hints of parsley, a rich short rib reduction, and creamy mashed potatoes round out this exquisitely executed Surf & Turf sampling.

If you decide not to go the Surf & Turf route there are plenty of other options: sushi, raw bar, salads, seafood, chicken, chops, and a handful of prime cut steaks and sides. Some of Chef Julia’s favorite menu items include the Alaskan Halibut feature; the Teriyaki Salmon and the Chilean Sea bass are fantastic she says, and two of the most popular dishes; and the Prime New York Strip steak has great marbling & flavor.

I highly doubt you’ll be able to share a starter and eat your entire entrée with sides and still have room for dessert, so you’ll want to make sure you pace yourself because their desserts are exquisite. They include chocolate cake with ice cream, a mile high carrot cake, a chocolate peanut butter pie, crème brulee, sorbet, and this amazing creation pictured below named the warm butter cake. We blissfully breezed through the whole cake, ice cream, berries and all; even the non-dessert eaters thought it was heavenly.

https://www.ocean-prime.com/

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Words by Tiffany Candelaria    Photos by Josh Stephens

Slow Food Nations Recap!

         Taste Marketplace

         Taste Marketplace

Colorado’s first ever taste of the Slow Food Nations took over Larimer Square last weekend with a plethora of events, interactive workshops, tastings, educational talks, and many exhibitors, companies, and producers of foods from around the nation and globe. The Taste Marketplace at Larimer Square was the main focal point with over 100 exhibitors of good, clean, fair food, and was free and open to the public Saturday morning through Sunday evening. Various renowned chefs, leaders in the Slow Food Movement and in sustainability, curated dinners, and hands on workshops made this event truly unique and marked Denver as increasingly relevant in terms of a foodie city that values various cultures, sustainability and accessibility.

                 Taste Marketplace

                Taste Marketplace

The event drew people from all over the state, as well as from different parts of the globe as their involvement with the Slow Food Movement encouraged their members to attend either as guests or as participants. The movement is focused on peoples’ access to grow and share good, clean and fair food throughout the world.

             CO-Made Block Party

             CO-Made Block Party

To kick off Slow Food Nations, they held an all-inclusive Colorado-Made Block Party on Larimer Square to celebrate Colorado farmers, ranchers, producers and chefs. Unfortunately, we were disappointed by their poor start to the festival as it was the low point of the weekend and hopefully didn’t discourage people from attending the other offerings or the Taste Marketplace that took place over the next two days. There was a line by 6p.m. and when you entered at 6:30 you were struck with the thought, “is this it?!” Yep, not even an entire street block was designated for the CO-Made Block Party and only about 4 tents, with two restaurants each made up the event. There was certainly no demonstrations or hardly even conversations between the chefs/restaurants and guests as the lines were so outrageous and the chefs were busy trying to keep up.

              CO-Made Block Party

              CO-Made Block Party

It was shocking almost and I heard nothing but complaints from the other guests, even the restaurants participating were upset because they were told to provide bites for 250 and ended up running out or having to serve even smaller bites in order to last the two hours. I feel bad for the 250 people squeezed in that little square who shelled out $70 to experience a “taste of Colorado” and only got about 10 bites if they showed up when it opened and waited in every line. For a two hour event on Larimer Square and touted as the kickoff party to the Slow Food Nations Festival, we all had much higher hopes, but instead were left squeezing through crowds, waiting in lines, and needing to buy dinner after.

Luckily the Big Bad Breakfast on Sunday was a much better experience. It featured Southern dishes from John Currence, a James Beard Award winner and Top Chef Masters contestant, along with notable chefs from select Southern cities. The ten or so booths served up a wide variety of tasty, hearty Southern cuisine.

                   Big Bad Breakfast

                   Big Bad Breakfast

             CO-Made Block Party

             CO-Made Block Party

This event was also held in the same small square as Friday’s Party, and cost $70, yet there were far fewer lines and seemly less people. One big factor I can attribute to this was every place served a full size portion, not just a few bites, and the dishes themselves were hearty and took time to eat. This meant people would get a dish or two and then sit down to eat and socialize for a while. It also helped that there were plenty of Bloody Mary’s ready to take from the team at Snooze & The Real Dill, they even had servers walking around with trays-full! The event finally provided cups next to the water jugs today and had jugs of tea too, which was a life saver as it was a hot morning full of spicy food and Tabasco products!

The free Taste Marketplace at Larimer Square was also really enjoyable and offered a really great selection of booths with products from around the US. It was designed much like a farmers market, where you have all your great food and health products with the growers/makers right there to talk with you about their items. However, unlike the local farmers markets we regularly frequent, every vendor was new! There were about 20 different cheese makers from around the US, various honey and chocolate booths from around the world, healthy snack companies, lots of charcuterie, coffee, lotions, and even crickets! Turns out kids are much more willing to try a cricket than the adults.

Everything in the marketplace was available to sample and to purchase and there were lots of great eats. Slow Food Italy, Mexico, and Turtle Island were featured in international pavilions on Larimer Square itself and offered full meals to purchase and information. We were surprised how easily two and a half hours passed in the Taste Marketplace and were happy the main event was a success for Slow Food Nations Fest! I heard rumors it will be back again if you missed it!

https://slowfoodnations.org/

Review & Photos by Tiffany Candelaria

                 Big Bad Breakfast

                 Big Bad Breakfast

                   Big Bad Breakfast

                   Big Bad Breakfast

Slow Food Nations Festival | Coming to CO for the First Time

Have you heard, Denver is gearing up for Slow Food Nations, a unique food festival coming to Colorado for the first time! Their movement focuses on peoples’ access to grow and share good, clean and fair food throughout the world. The weekend will combine the energy of a street food festival, the rigor of an academic conference, and the inspiration of a cultural exchange allowing guests to pick and choose their experience. Enjoy dozens of interactive workshops, delicious tastings, local tours, educational talks, and many meals and parties around town. Slow Food Nations connects farmers and families, leaders and eaters to share our stories and shape the future of food. The main festival is free and open to the public, with select-ticketed workshops, talks, dinners and tastings.

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The free festivities include an array of culinary demonstrations, guest appearances, tastings, and other entertainment. The Taste Marketplace at Larimer Square will feature international pavilions, local producers, and a variety of concessions. Slow Food Italy, Mexico, and Turtle Island will be featured in international pavilions and over 100 exhibitors of good, clean, fair food will be featured in the Taste Marketplace to tell their stories and let you sample and buy their delicious products. The exhibitor space will be open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 15th and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 16th. Also ongoing, The Food Underground, is a series of discussions, workshops, talks and panels located in the gallery rooms in the basement of Union Station. These free talks will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, focusing on topics like food justice and access, agricultural policy, the science and history of food, sustainable seafood, and more. Outside you’ll find The Denver Union Station Farmers Market on the plaza from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday featuring over 40 local Colorado producers and live music.

To kick off Slow Food Nations Friday night, they’ll be throwing an all-inclusive Colorado-Made Block Party on Larimer Square to celebrate Colorado farmers, ranchers, producers and chefs. Featuring Colorado food through demonstrations and tastings and drinks at the Colorado-Made bar showcasing the best spirits, beer and wine Colorado has to offer. Tickets are $69

Saturday, July 15, Chef Sheila Lucero from Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar will host an Oyster 101 Workshop with celebrated Baja Chef Drew Deckman as well as Chef Renee Erickson from Seattle. As part of Slow Food Nations’ educational curriculum, guests at this special event will get to learn about oysters from 3 different regions—Baja, the Pacific Northwest, and Virginia—and taste a signature dish from each chef, showcasing the unique qualities of each oyster. “We are so excited for Slow Food Nations,” Chef Lucero, “some of the country’s most talented, informed, and influential chefs and purveyors are coming to our city to share ideas and celebrate our country’s incredible culinary traditions.” Tickets $40

If you’re still craving more on Sunday, you should get tickets to Big Bad Breakfast Block Party with John Currence, James Beard Award winner and Top Chef Masters contestant. John gathers his big bad friends to cook up the ultimate southern brunch and Bloody Mary bar. Recipes from his best-selling book, Big Bad Breakfast, will be highlighted in this all-inclusive brunch party 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tickets $69

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat and how it affects the world around us. Since its beginnings, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries working to ensure everyone has access to good, clean and fair food.

There are so many amazing events, demonstrations and tastings to choose from it can be hard to coordinate them all, so the site provides some curated sample schedules to help you find the best events to match your interests: https://slowfoodnations.org/sample-schedules/

Free Taste Marketplace: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 15th & 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 16th.

 https://slowfoodnations.org/