Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Cloud Nine, a Mile-High

A week ago at this time, I was high above the world, flying home from a weekend trip from Denver. I had a great time visiting two of my best friends and discovering the Mile High City.

I had always heard incredible things about the city, but the element of juxtaposition in Denver is what I loved most about this fantastic city. For decades writers have attempted to illustrate this favorite literary motif that Denver so seamlessly brings to life. The urban spread surrounded by the natural beauty of mountains. Sophisticated restaurants in a laid-back environment. The typically antonymous states that often side well with either city living or small-town life co-exist in Denver, bringing an unusual and fresh synergy to the city.

The restaurant scene is on par with that of LA or Chicago - led by restaurants like Rioja and Encore. Rioja, located downtown, offers a menu inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and influenced by local and seasonal products. The ambiance is elegant and simple. My favorite part about dining at Rioja? The gigantic bread basket that the servers brought not once, but twice to the table while we waited for our entrees. Filled with home-baked rosemary and goat cheese biscuits, lavender and orange rolls, and other mysteriously delicious morsels.

Rioja via

Encore on Colfax, located in the former Lowenstein Theatre Complex, adjacent to the Tattered Cover Book Store, offers an American cuisine with modern twists. Items like blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes and fig jam, prosciutto and arugula flat bread pizza are popular items on the brunch menu. The bottomless mimosas are said to be another favorite item as well. The simplistic and modern environment parallels what patrons love about Encore's menu.

Encore's long, narrow dining room. Via

Biscuits and maple sausage gravy and eggs. My childhood favorite!


  1. I love Denver as well! Great account of the city!

  2. Excellent article -- I've been wanting to try Rioja for weeks, ever since I drove by while in Denver on business. Now I can't wait to go back!

  3. Looks amazing...wish I lived in Denver!!

  4. Wow Kryyer! Nice work on the Denver description. You forgot to mention running into Stifler's Mom at Rioja.

  5. I definitely have to go to Denver if only to dine at Rioja and Encore.

  6. Okay, okay. All of these Denver cuisines look fabulous, but what about Milwaukee? Don't tell me you've forgotten about that good 'ol city :) We miss you, and so does the food. Gianelli's? I've found some FABULOUS new restaurants for you to try!