If you have never been to Colorado, you need to book a trip immediately. Denver has become a major hot spot for affordable and fun travel adventures. Denver offers everything from a delicious & unique food scene, to some of our world's most incredible outdoor adventures. My wife & I decided to take an impromptu trip to Denver as part of our 10th anniversary to explore the great state of Colorado's incredible scenery. It was a vacation action packed with awesome adventures.
We visited some really beautiful places such as Red Rocks, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt National Forest, where we did some hiking, photographed elk & buffalo herds, and just took time to soak in the beauty of nature in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our journey was also a time to let loose, and catch some great live music, hilarious live comedy, & eat at delicious eateries around the Denver area. Denver is a town with a ton of things to offer for just about everyone. Unfortunately for us, our trip only lasted 6 days, as we still have a huge list of places in Colorado we want to experience.
In this article, I am going to highlight the tremendous food scene in the Denver area. As a breakfast guy, Denver has a massive amount of AM eateries all over the place. Of course, prior to the trip, my OCD kicked in, and I did my research of where we need to eat. However, we also left room for exploring to see what kind of great spots we would stumble across. Below are the 6 spots we left wanting more:
As soon as we landed and were ready for lunch, Snooze was our must hit first spot. Several people had boldy told us to not leave Denver without having a meal at one of the Snooze locations. Snooze came with heavy hype, and I almost expected it to not live up to the billing. However, I have to say, it was not hyped enough. As a breakfast lover, Snooze is exactly the type of joint I dream about when I get a craving for a killer breakfast. Known for their many pancakes, we went with the flight of pancakes where you can pick any three of their cakes. We decided on a pineapple upside down, a sweet potato, & a blueberry danish pancake. In addition to those 3, our waiter threw in a fourth with their special of the day, the cinnamon bun pancake. Each of the pancakes are so incredibly delicious, that they do not even serve them with syrup. There is no need to add anything else to these awesome breakfast cakes. We spent the rest of our trip debating which one was the best. Amber preferred the cinnamon bun & I really loved the blueberry danish with lemon cream cheese filling. They also have a unique variety of various eggs benedict dishes. We split the early harvest benny with garden fresh veggies, on a griddled pesto cake & cream cheese hollandaise. We washed it down with a delicious pineapple mimosa. It was the perfect start to a great vacation.
After a day hiking around Red Rocks, we needed dinner & a happy hour before we headed to a painting class. I really was wanting a wild game burger, and through the help of my TV Food Finder Android app, I stumbled onto Fourteen Seventy-Two in the South Pearl neighborhood. South Pearl is a really cool ecclectic neighborhood with several great restaurants & watering holes to choose from. I chose this great spot for their famous 1472 Burger made with elk, venison, antelope, & wild boar. They pretty much covered all of my wild game needs in one delicious burger, topped with havarti cheese & a fried green tomato. The waiter recommended the au'gratin potatoes as a side, which maybe was the single most delicious item I ate in Denver. The potatoes came served as a perfectly browned & crispy patty that perfectly complimented a fine burger. Out of respect for my good friend Chris, I washed it down with an ice cold Coors Light (I mean, we were in Colorado, so it seemed fitting).
Its always important to find a top notch breakfast joint near your hotel. Amber stumbled onto First Watch, which is a Denver based chain known for their organic farm fresh breakfast & lunch. This cozy joint was a great find. We enjoyed a savory turkey sausage gravy & biscuits platter, and a market hash with two eggs any style atop a hash of fresh, seasoned potatoes, house-roasted crimini mushrooms, zucchini, onions and red peppers with spinach, melted mozzarella and herbed goat cheese. The goat cheese really made this dish come together. You could taste the freshness of every ingredient. Its a great menu, which makes it difficult to make decisions. Honestly, I don't think any decision at First Watch is a bad decision.
Several locations around Denver (as well as in Dallas)
Prior to hitting the trails, we were looking for a good healthy option that could give us energy for a hike around Red Rocks. After getting a late start to the day, we started getting hangry, so we pulled off the highway in Golden, and pulled into the nearest shopping area. All we saw was familiar chains, until our eyes saw a sign for Mod Market Farm Fresh Eatery. Turns out, its a local Colorado chain that is growing. I was extremely excited to see they are growing in Texas. We both had the spicy chipotle steak sandwich on grilled ciabatta. I added a side of their house favorite mac-n-cheese, and washed it down with a rare soda (I gave up soda 3 years ago, but they had Boylan soda with pure cain sugar & it was awesome). The sandwich had the perfect amount of steak, and the chipotle mayo gave it a nice subtle kick. We left wanting more.
As we headed out to the Rocky Mountains, we pulled into the town of Estes Park, home to the inspiration of the film, The Shining. Stephen King wrote the scary thriller while staying at the legendary haunted hotel. The hotel sits just below the Rocky Mountains, complete with a maze of shrubs, just like Stephen King portrayed in the movie (just much smaller than the movie version).
The Stanley is a really cool hotel, with an awesome bar. The Whiskey Bar in the Cascades Restaurant has a small bar menu, but its delicious. We just wanted to grab a few drinks and some wings. The bartender recommended the Honey Ghost Pepper wings, which were on point. Not as spicy as you would think, although they do have a good bit of heat. The honey mellows the heat, and adds the perfect sweetness to the crunchy chicken wing. They recommend you wash them down with the Redrum Ale from Estes Park Brewing Company. As you enjoy a cold beverage and some lunch, you can't help but feel the history in this historic inn. If you google Stanley Hotel ghosts, you will find several documented ghostly images. As long as I did not see two evil little girls chanting "Redrum" in the hallway, I was going to be fine. To make it less scary, we learned that the ski resort scenes from Dumb & Dumber were also filmed at the iconic hotel.
Every trip should conclude with a Sunday Funday. Both Amber & I enjoy treating ourselves to the occassional all you can eat brunch, and we both came across Dazzle. All of their reviews were 4 to 5 stars, and the Sunday morning jazz concert was first class. We enjoyed the smooth jazz playing in the background while we feasted on a delicious spread of breakfast & dinner items. Everything on the buffet was freshly prepared, not overdone (like many buffet brunches), and tasted delicious. A prime rib carving station, seafood selections,
corned beef hash, a custom omelette station, mac-n-cheese, cheese grits, waffles, french toast, and an incredible chocolate ganache bar with a massive variety of items to drench in the rich chocolate ganache. They also offer bottomless mimosa's for only $11. Everything about Dazzle blew us away. The quality of the buffet was incredible. The team of servers & cooks did an amazing job of putting out and serving fresh & delicious items, despite the large sold out crowd.
Dazzle is a very unassuming spot in downtown Denver, just blocks away from the state capitol building. As you walk in, you step into a room that instantly comes alive. I mean, what better way to start a Sunday Funday than with a killer brunch over some fantastic live jazz. I could have easily spent the entire afternoon there, however, they can't allow that since they have a high demand for seating. Your seating is good for 1.5 to 2 hours from the time you are sat. Plenty of time to start your day right.
Please take my advice, and get your butts to Denver ASAP. Its a great town, with friendly people. Cities like Houston & Dallas offer low cost non stop round trip airfares making Denver easily accessible on a budget. I am pretty certain that more trips will be planned in the future to visit the beautiful state of Colorado.
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