Beers and Bites in Denver

My trip to Denver didn’t really include any food places that would knock your socks off, but there are a few dishes and some breweries (there are A LOT of breweries in Denver) that are worth checking out if you happen to be in that particular area.  However, I wouldn’t go out of your way to find any of these places if aren’t already close by.

La Biblioteca
1610 Little Raven St, #200
Denver, CO 80202

One of the appetizers at this bar pretty much made the night.  The Ahi Tuna Taco appetizer is phenomenal.  Because the bar is attached to the Zenga restaurant next door, the taco shell they use is made out of wonton.  The crunch from that, along with the guacamole, mango, sticky rice, and fresh tuna make this the single favorite dish I had in Denver.  Admittedly, it’s a little pricey ($13.50 for three pretty small tacos), but it’s something I had no problem getting over because the dish was that good.

Yum. Just yum.
Yum. Just yum.

Steuben’s Restaurant
523 E 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203

This retro diner had one of the most eclectic crowds I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.  Sitting at tables around us were, and this isn’t an exaggeration, a fancy Great Gatsby dressed baby shower (I think?), three Amish looking people, two African American guys dressed like they were extras in Straight Outta Compton, Grandpa and Grandma Joe, and, of course, a slew of plaid wearing hipsters.  Wearing just t-shirts and jeans, I’d say we were the “normal” looking group, but I’d suffice to say that each one of those tables also thought that about themselves.

Along with the diverse crowd was a fun, neighborhoody vibe.  The music was loud, the food was good, but their beer selection needs work (there are no draft beers).  Their cocktail list however was extensive.  There’s an outdoor patio for the warmer days in Denver and our waitress was super efficient.  If I was going to suggest one thing to get on the menu, it’d be the gravy fries appetizer.  It’s essentially their version of poutine.  It’s not as good as Duckfat’s, but it’s right up there.

Denver Beer Company
1695 Platte St
Denver, CO 80202

In keeping with my recent tradition of going to local breweries, Denver Beer Company wins the prize for the most dog friendly of the breweries I’ve seen.  Beyond being able to play with other customers’ puppies (which truly is awesome), Denver Beer Company is a pretty run-of-the-mill brewery.  The place has the same feel as Allagash in Portland, ME and their beers, although very good, aren’t anything spectacular.

Illegal Pete’s
Several locations throughout the Denver area

This Mexican place looks like a group of BMX bikers and skateboarders got a hold of a Chipotle and made it their own.  Imagine a Chipotle, but with skateboarder stickers all over the place, tattooed employees, and a bar with 20 local beers on tap.  The setup is the same as Chipotle where you make your own burrito, but they do offer fish, and before they roll up your burrito they mix up all the ingredients in a bowl (so that you don’t get that annoying bite of only rice).  Outside there are picnic tables and a giant bocce court.   It’s open late night as well, so you can get your Mexican fix at 2 AM after a night of drinking.

Wynkoop Brewing Company
1634 18th Street
Denver, CO 80202

My co-workers and I discovered this place because it was the answer to one of the team building scavenger hunts we had earlier that day.  Apparently it is Denver’s first craft brewery.  Located downtown, the brewery itself is actually pretty large; there’s a giant pool hall on the second floor which they say is Denver’s biggest.  We only were able to pop in for a drink and a quick pic with the Wynkoop gorilla (which sadly is on my co-worker’s phone), but the best beer of the trip goes to Wynkoop’s Cowtown Milk Stout — definitely worth a try if you like darker beers.

Cowtown Milk Stout
Cowtown Milk Stout

Panzano
909 17th Street
Denver, CO 80202

Unbeknownst to me before I got there, Panzano is actually the restaurant for the Hotel Monaco Denver downtown.  Since my company’s meeting was in that hotel, we had an informal dinner there the night we flew in.  I wasn’t really expecting that much thinking it was just the hotel restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised at how good my dish was.  The Ragu di Agnello (House made mafaldine pasta, lamb ragú, demi-glace, and Pecorino tartufo) was delicious.  Having just been in Italy a few months ago, this dish comes pretty damn close to what I had over there and I would definitely recommend it.

ragu
Ragu di Agnello

Weekend Getaway in Vermont

I think at some point everyone just wants to get away from it all.  For those living in an urban area, an escape from the city noise, computers, and hustle & bustle is all that one could want for a few days.

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Keep a close eye for the “Rushford” sign on the road. It’s very small, and you can easily drive right by the driveway if you’re not paying attention.

For my friends and I, we decided to take a recent “escape” trip to Burlington, VT.  Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes it was kind of random.  The reasoning was that A) Memorial Day was a good time for all of us to reunite, and B) a friend of ours was running the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington so we figured – why don’t we all just go up?  So we rented a house on Lake Champlain, about 20 minutes outside of Burlington, VT.

If you’re looking for a really nice getaway place, I’d recommend checking this house out.  It’s got three bedrooms with queen beds, one bedroom with two full sized beds, and one bedroom with a full size bed and two bunk beds.  There is also a random bedroom with a queen bed out in the driveway on its own, sort of like an annex (to this day, I’m still not totally sure how and/or why there’s a single bedroom/hut out there…).

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The canoe ride on the lake is really pleasant on a nice day

The house is fully furnished with a kitchen, porch, gas grill, and two bathrooms.  There is only one shower (and a shower outside), and although we thought that would be a problem for the 8-10 of us, it ended up not really being an issue.  The hot water for the shower stayed good and heated for several back to back showers as well.  DirecTV and wireless internet are available as well.

The one thing to keep in mind, the house doesn’t have heating.  There’s a nice gas fireplace on the first floor, but for the nights upstairs it can get chilly.  That being said, there were A LOT of blankets available so you can bundle up.

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Plenty of yard space for all sorts of games

Easily the best amenity of the house is its rock dock with fire pit.   Out there you can cook up some s’mores, take out the available canoe or motorboat, or try and get lucky with the fishing equipment.  Along with that there are available bikes to take out, as well as plenty of yard space for bocce or cornhole. The yard also includes a volleyball net and a horseshoe court.

The house is perfect for any group bigger than 5-6 or for a family vacation.  As for the pricing, for the long Memorial Day weekend we had the place for $1,200 pre-tax, $1,308 post-tax for the Friday through Thursday (these prices do probably fluctuate based on the season).

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Family dinner
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Late night s’mores at the fire pit

Here’s the contact information if you’re interested in renting out the house:

Marcia Rushford
dmrushford@aol.com
263 W Shore Rd
South Hero, VT 05486