Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone you know is heading out west and relocating to Denver these days? I feel like the Mile High City was on everyone’s lips in 2019, but I dragged my feet and did not make it out there until the very end of the year. Yet make it out there, I did. Having grown up skiing in Colorado, Denver always felt like a bit of a transient city to me, a stopover en route to white powder and bluebird days. When I decided to revisit the city, I consciously chose to spend a few days immersed in it as a destination unto itself, not a gateway to the mountains, and I could not have been more impressed. This is no sleepy city – it has an energy all its own and the combination of access to the outdoors (an understatement – it is full natural splendor), a thriving food and drink scene, and a beautiful quality of life make it a desirable city indeed. I have many more trips to take out to Denver, and already cannot wait to explore all that the warm weather months have to offer, including the elusive Red Rocks concert that has been on my bucket list for years. 2020 may just be my year.
Where To Stay
The Oxford Hotel – If you’re looking for a hotel that’s steeped in history and has an old world feel, look no further than The Oxford. It’s located in the heart of LODO just steps from Union Station, and offers a roaring fireplace, traditional touches such as the original brass keys for the room doors, and has a swanky bar to boot.
The Source Hotel – If modern and vibey are more your style, look no further than The Source Hotel, which lives in the up-and-coming River Arts District. It’s part hotel, part funky shopping destination, with Instagrammable moments abound and my favorite restaurant in Denver, Safta (more details below), inside of it.
What to Eat & Drink
Safta – In the spirit of full disclosure, I may be slightly biased because I could eat Israeli food every day. But Safta is really, really good Israeli food. Whether you’re coming for a proper dinner or posting up at the bar for some mid-afternoon mezze, you won’t want to miss the lamb ragu hummus, labne, and baba ganoush with their heavenly warm pitas.
Hudson Hill – Looking for a coffee shop filled with natural light where you can post up during the day, and grab a drink when the clock strikes five? Hudson Hill is your spot. Whether you’re working, grabbing a coffee, or heading out for a date, if I lived in Denver I would be a regular here.
Ace Eat Serve – Dinner and… ping pong? Now that’s a concept I can get behind. However, this isn’t your traditional bar food menu. This is a full Asian fusion concept, featuring crispy beef and fried brussels and shishitos that I would eat any day of the week. Get in a few games before you sit down for dinner to work up an appetite, or entertain yourselves post-dinner with a cocktail and some healthy competition.
The Horseshoe Lounge – The dive bar to end all dive bars, you’ll find some old school arcade games, board games, and a menu full of tater tots at Horseshoe Lounge. They have a pretty impressive selection of local beers here too, but I’d recommend sticking to beer or a classic well drink-style cocktail – this isn’t the place to come if you’re looking to sip an earthy red.
Coperta – For an Italian restaurant known for their pasta, I came away from dinner at Coperta thinking that all of the other menu items easily eclipsed their noods. Their wood fired skate cheeks, fritto misto, crispy sunchokes, and classic meatballs were the real stars for me, and they had a pretty impressive Italian wine list as well.
Steuben’s Uptown – You want bar food and a boozey mulled wine? Come to Steuben’s. There’s something that feels very classic Americana about this diner meets dive bar concept. Settle in for some wings and fried pickles, and don’t miss the happy hour specials.
Root Down – In truth, I liked everything about Root Down when we went for brunch on New Year’s Day. I’m an eggs girl, and while the omelette is normally not the most exciting item on the menu, it’s what I gravitate towards. Theirs was filled with mushrooms, shallot jam, white cheddar, and a lime crema and was absolutely divine. Don’t skip the bloody mary, either.
Broadway Market – With a group, want a meal, and can’t decide on one type of cuisine? You’ll want to hit up the Broadway Market food hall. Mother Tongue, a Middle Eastern concept, is my main squeeze here, but Tora Ramen also served a mean squid ink ramen and pork ribs with scallions and crispy almonds.
What To Do
Denver Art Museum – Truly one of my favorite museum experiences I’ve had in quite some time. The structure and layout of the museum are beautiful unto themselves, and it can easily be done in an hour or two if you’re only your way to brunch afterwards. The Shantell Martin exhibit interspersed through the museum is incredible, and don’t forget to check ticketed exhibits in advance, such as the Monet exhibit currently on display.
The Source Market Hall – Yes, this sounds familiar because it is the same Source as noted above as a wildly desirable hotel. Just to the left of the hotel is the accompanying market hall, which features a fun mix of vintage shopping, organic wines, restaurants, and a women’s coworking space to boot. It’s fun to wander through before heading next door to Safta for lunch.
Go Skiing – (Duh). Get an Epic Pass and ski or snowboard to your heart’s content and all of the nearby mountains.