The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2017

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30  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2017 WHERE WE'RE EATING 'T is the time of the year when the mountain trails around Denver are alive with the sound of . . . hikers groaning as they realize their muscles have shrunk through the long winter months, and it's time to dig out that much used bottle of liniment. Or at least to reward oneself at the end of a day of schlepping through the Rockies with a pitcher of locally brewed craft beer, or a bottle of wine from locally grown grapes. And, of course, to eat—and eat well; those expended calories have to be restored somehow, and with style is best. And, of course, what better way to start than with the Denver contribution to our national food hall trend, at the wonderful 26,000-square-foot, 19th-century former brick foundry called The Source. There are more than a dozen culinary options, led by a cousin to Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth, where Chef Steven Redzikowski serves crispy fried pickles with a green goddess aioli, Key West royal red shrimp with grits and oak-smoked pork posole with grilled Spanish gullo octopus and a hominy sopapilla—hard to categorize, but easy to eat. There's also a small-plate cocktail shop called RiNo Yacht Club, and a brick-and-mortar incarnation of a Mexican food truck that's evolved into Comida. Be sure to stop at Babette's Artisan Bakery for their fabled whole-grain French seeded rye. Great croissants in the morning, too. Stroll through Downtown Denver, working out those leg cramps, stopping at the fabled Tattered Cover Bookshop—one of the last surviving independent book stores in America— and at Rockmont Ranch Wear, inventor of the snap button cowboy shirt, on your way to Larimer Square. And visit TAG Burger Bar, home to "Continental Social Food," where Hawaiian-born owner Chef Troy Guard creates dishes with roots all over the world—fried oyster bao bun with Asian pear slaw, hamachi collar tostadas, Korean-style shrimp 'n grits (Denver chefs seem to have a thing for shrimp 'n grits) and Kobe beef sliders with duck fat fries and gorgonzola aioli. Got to restock that energy for the hike tomorrow. Or at least for some carousing in the LoDo District (Lower Downtown)—28 square blocks of restaurants and brewpubs. And to a journey to the River North District, for Chef Ryan Witcher's Sugarmill—a breakfast, lunch and dinner destination that, true to its name, really does offer a lot of desserts and pastries, but also a fine pastrami hash with duck fat potatoes, Colorado beef short ribs with white cheddar Carolina grits (yup, grits again!) and—talk about comfort food!—roasted turkey pot pie with thyme gravy and chipotle glazed meatloaf with heirloom carrots. And for those who want to enjoy the altitude in a state of beery happiness, there are more than three dozen craft breweries in Denver, including the Fiction Beer Company, which is a combination book shop and brewery, and in the beer-heavy River North District, hot spots like Ratio Beerworks and 10 Barrel Brewing Company. All of which gives a new, and wonderfully sudsy meaning to the old John Denver song, "Rocky Mountain High." Denver isn't just about Coors anymore. Mile High Meals WHERE TO REFUEL IN DENVER FOR YOUR NEXT HIKE by Merrill Shindler Tomato braised meatballs from Oak at Fourteenth, located in Boulder. Denver's Sugarmill is a breakfast, lunch and dinner destination that, true to its name, really does offer a lot of desserts and pastries, but also a fine selection of comfort food. Saigon pork shoulder burger from Denver's TAG Burger Bar. PHOTO COURTESY OF WWW.STARCHEFS.COM PHOTO: ADAM LARKEY PHOTO C O U RT ES Y OF O AK AT F OUR T E E NTH C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

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