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By Douglas Brown | December 19, 2016 | Lifestyle
With top-shelf dining and culture, a reinvigorated Denver has travel-minded Aspenites thinking local.
The oldie-but-goodie Hotel Teatro, in the theater district, provides ballast to the newer hotels popping up around town.
Those who study the migratory patterns of 20-somethings find them flocking to Denver. A booming job market, access to the mountains, and, yes, the legal status of cannabis have turned the city into one of the hottest locations in the country for setting down roots. But Denver is also attracting visitors. Tourism numbers have steadily increased for the past ten-plus years—and for good reason. Long-established neighborhoods like LoDo have been freshly rejuvenated, and areas that five years ago were melancholy industrial zones now seem incandescent with energy.
Restaurants, bars, boutiques, and more have sprouted amidst the tech start-ups, breweries, and other businesses moving to the Mile High. One must-stop spot: Denver Central Market (2669 Larimer St.), a new food hall in the fizzy RiNo neighborhood (see “melancholy industrial zones,” above). The 12,000-square-foot marketplace supports 13 vendors, like Culture, a fabulous meat and cheese shop from Denver restaurateur Justin Brunson, and SK Provisions, which slow-roasts meats in a pair of antique rotisserie ovens. Fish market? Check. Italian joint? Yep. Chocolatier, bakery, butcher, bar, coffee shop? Yes to all, and more!
A warm artichoke salad with roasted shiitakes, micro fennel, and porcini dressing, at Avelina.
Make plans to hit nearby LoDo, too, where longtime local chef John Broening and his wife, acclaimed pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, have opened Avelina (1550 17th St., 720-904-6711). The gorgeous space, enveloped in warm earth tones and textures, offers a smart menu divided into small and large plates. Broening’s beloved duck liver mousse joins new items such as a roasted chicken for two with chorizo, flageolet beans, and spicy greens. Lozada-Hissom’s sweeter contributions include a coconut panna cotta and a citrus olive oil cake. Downtown, enjoy coffee, lunch, or drinks on the roof of the excellent Museum of Contemporary Art (1485 Delgany St., 303-298-7554).
But first tour the museum’s three new exhibitions, each on view through late January 2017: a solo show by sculptor and installation artist Nathan Carter; the first major survey of work by Boulder artist Kim Dickey; and a group show, “Bodacioussss,” with pieces from 20 digitally influenced artists. Capitol Hill—at once charming (historic housing stock) and gritty (Colfax Avenue)—ups the charm factor with Black Eye Coffee (800 Sherman St., 303-955-1205), an Art Deco-inspired spectacle of interior design.
Terminal Bar is the toast of Union Station’s updated roster of high-end food and drink options.
Want something stronger? Swing by Terminal Bar in Union Station (Union Station Food Court, 720-460-3701), the city’s recently overhauled transit hub (with light rail to Denver International), which now offers a swell cast of restaurants, from fine dining to deli. Terminal Bar stands as its throbbing heart, serving drinks inside and to tables throughout the open-air station.
For lodging, several outstanding new hotels dot the city, but the leader remains the historic favorite Hotel Teatro (1100 14th St., 303-228-1100), in the theater district. The swank spot, with its excellent restaurant, The Nickel (720-889-2128), is a paragon of class and service, repeatedly winning “best of” awards for its excellence. From the looks of it, the rest of the city is following suit
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARC PISCOTTY (TERMINAL BAR); KELLY SHROADS (MCA).
OPPOSITE PAGE: ENRIQUE PARRILLA (BLACK EYE COFFEE); D’ARCY LECK (HOTEL TEATRO); COREY ANTHONY PHOTOGRAPHY (AVELINA)