By Pat Miller, the Gabby Gourmet
Whether your tastes run to Italian, seafood, farm-to-table or somewhere in between, there is something exciting for you in Colorado!
193 Gore Creek Dr., Vail
Love at First Bite—the way to describe Mountain Standard in Vail. The sister restaurant of Sweet Basil (37 years young), Mountain Standard is on the creek level. The super looking space features a lovely patio and a fabulous bar where you can gather, dine, and just enjoy for starters. The focal kitchen is awesome and a tour is mandatory. The party starts with divine bread, coal roasted olives, flatbread, onion rings, carpaccio, bone marrow, three little pigs, shrimp and grits, and clam chowder. The best is the whiskey braised pork belly with soy molasses, jalapeno, grilled pineapple and cashew. It could be the best pork belly ever. The raw bar offers oysters, shooters, shrimp, snow crab, and tuna crudo while salads include a divine Caesar, mixed greens, tomato mozzarella, and rotisserie chicken salad. Bring on halibut, whole trout with snap pea amandine, awesome salmon with coal-roasted veggies, Korean chili paste, black sesame, and apple dressing. There’s more with the pork chop with Mexican corn, lamb shank, and steak. At lunch, the corned pork Reuben might be the best thing ever. Whatever you do—do not miss Mountain Standard. Chef Paul Anders is charming as is the front house staff, and after you visit, you just want to go back. Might just have to make it my ‘hood from Denver.
1518 S. Pearl St., Denver
Scott Parker, the amazingly talented chef formerly of Table 6, took a big step and joined the Wynkoop Group to head Session Kitchen. The design is great, seating 280, with 100 upstairs in the “Back Bowl” and seating with “Session Bar,” Park Bar” and “North Face” areas downstairs. “Sessioning” with globally inspired dishes to share is one menu you really have to try to see how it works. Dishes come at two prices so you decide. “Jam Session” (jarred, cured, preserved) offers persimmon vinegar pepper slaw, pork rilettes, fennel sausage with pretzel noodles, and fried Brussels sprouts with preserved lemon. Move on to “Herb Session” with roasted chicken, chopped Caesar and raw blackfin tuna or go for “Wealth” with waffles Cubano, Piadina, mushroom manwich, and brisket bacon burger. Finally the “Group Session” offers roast chicken, franks braised Brussels sprouts, smoked brisket, and lamb collar, salmon, and belly-on pork chop. With great food, drinks, and ambience, Session Kitchen rocks on South Pearl.
Multiple locations in Denver and Boulder
Modmarket is a terrific choice for great gourmet fast food. It is comparable to upscale restaurants with fresh, organic, farm-to-table ingredients at affordable prices. Order at the counter and pick up your food when called. Breakfast specials are available, but more focus is on lunch and dinner. The sandwiches are great; Thai basil chicken, turkey, vegetarian, spicy chicken, and more between the bread are awesome in taste with tempting sauces and spice. Salads start with a super salad with kale, quinoa, and more, or the sliced chicken over greens with grapes, almonds, corn, and feta with delicious dressing. The aroma from the pizza oven makes you want to order one no matter what you had in mind. The crispy, not-too-thick crust is topped with cheese and bacon, margarita, sausage or your choices. The staff is incredibly friendly, and prices are very affordable. You’ll be addicted after one visit to Modmarket.
10125 W. San Juan Way, Littleton
Bacco Trattoria is a dream of a neighborhood Italian restaurant, offering everything—and the right way. The place is small and friendly with one room and an open kitchen as a focal point. The charm is in the staff and the food. Start with fire-roasted artichoke, mussels, baked clams, eggplant caponata, and veal or salmon carpaccio. The arugula with preserved lemons, goat cheese and pancetta chips is worth the trip. The pastas are fabulous with risotto, lasagna, ravioli, Bologenese, fruitti de mare, and gnocchi. If you have room, enjoy decadent desserts. Bacco Ristorante is just what a neighborhood Italian restaurant should be.
620 E. 6th Ave., Denver
Angelo’s has been around Denver for years, but now there is new excitement as owners Eric Hyatt and Craig Jones designed a bar ambience with focus on oysters, pizza, and pasta. The décor brings big windows, the original old brick walls, the focal bar lined with liquor and wine, and the kitchen that peeks out into the room. The menu starts with calamari, arencini, garlic bread, and antipasti platters along with traditional apps. The pasta dishes bring bison or cheese ravioli in marinara or cream sauce, chicken or zucchini parmesan, meatballs, lasagna, and a terrific Bolognese. The pizza stars with so many different versions, or build your own. There is even gluten free for those in need. Leave room for delicious tiramisu, cheesecake, or fried zucchini ravioli sweetened and topped with ice cream. Angelo’s brings great fun and dining to the neighborhood and is perfect to relax and enjoy the crowd.
1700 Humboldt, Denver
Enter Humboldt and be ready for a delightful experience. We all remember Strings but the new space brings a new look and new life here. The ceilings are very high, wood floors, a great bar as you enter with super lighting, big community tables, and a huge open kitchen. Start with oysters, fresh, delicious crispy fried, charbroiled, and baked. Small plates of edamame, shrimp cocktail, calamari, mussels, crispy broccoli, steak skewers and tuna crudo are perfect for sharing. There are signature steaks including steak Diane for a traditional presentation, and several large plates that start with a terrific hamburger or fish sandwich. Add pork tenderloin, spiced tuna, whole crispy fish, chicken, and scallops to make decisions difficult. There are pastas and several salads too. The special page shows the fish selections daily that come with super sides of your choice. This is really special and the sauce choices make the flavors perfect for every taste. Dessert brings chocolate caramel cake, bread pudding, and key lime pie. The owners have done a super job to bring a new look and feel to a favorite neighborhood spot and with all the touches offered, Humboldt is a big favorite in the ‘hood that is ready to open the new guy with open arms.
Pat Miller, AKA The Gabby Gourmet, hosts The Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Show on KHOW, AM 630 on the dial, every Saturday afternoon from 1-3pm. On air for over 35 years, Pat also writes the very popular Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Guide. The 28th edition, Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Guide 2014, is available throughout the Denver area. Visit www.gabbygourmet.com for more information.
Daniel Junge is a documentary filmmaker, director and won an Academy Award and 2 Emmys for his film "Saving Face." Learn more in recent CE!