denver restaurant week[end]

This has been the ultimate foodie week through and through [as if that weren’t the case every week around here].

But seeing as though Jason’s mom was in town to visit a couple of her children in one fell swoop, we simply had one more excuse to do what we all do best: EAT!

Mom to Jason, Michael, and Natalie—and mother-in-law to one lucky me—Rebecca is the definition of a free spirit. She is a top-notch professor and published researcher at Lamar University, as well as a collector of experiential fun and a refined foodie. This is, after all, the person who inspired Jason’s love for the kitchen!

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Even today, so many of their conversations revolve around sharing cooking notes or reminiscing about quintessential family memories by the food that was on the table.

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Generous and loving, fun and sincere, Rebecca is such a delightful guest and visitor because she’s up for experiencing almost anything, as long as it involves delicious food, at least one round of Rummy, and plenty of morning coffee.

The last time we saw Rebecca was in New Orleans for our Nolaversary. As you might recall, Rebecca and her husband, Bo, ensured that our second wedding anniversary was one to remember. They researched all of the best Nola restaurants and treated us to some of the finest meals of our lives.

After knocking our socks off in Nola, we knew that it was our turn to do the same for her in Denver.

Denver, however, is not your conventional foodie town. Sure, there are great steakhouses, popular breakfast spots, excellent Colomex green chile establishments, and semi-decent pizza joints, but the thing that Denver does best is the unconventional. The city is proud of its bold Western railroad heritage, but it also recognizes its creative and enterprising growth—a dichotomous pairing that is most apparent in its food.

Restaurants dedicated to fascinating dipping sauces or eclectic Colorado meats; institutions plating up retro-style home cookin’; tantalizing Mexican-infused brunch options; and south Federal noodle houses turned universally coveted hotspots… the food scene here is the opposite of straightforward to say the least.

Rebecca had already tasted her way through some of our favorites: the chips and dip and various poutines of Euclid Hall; the pork belly buns of Parallel 17 bistro; the relaxed, eco-conscious veggies of True Food; and the clean modern seafood and salads of The Kitchen, to name a few. After seeing so much bone marrow and chocolate mousse variations wherever she went, this Texas-Louisiana lady was completely mystified.

Thus it was our challenge to impress her yet again this weekend. It began first at Acorn, one of the city’s most lauded restaurants and my number one pick for my belated birthday dinner out. Located in the booming RiNo district, Acorn is one of the many vendors taking up shop inside the Source artisan food market. Industrial and adventurous, the Source is one of those best-of-the-best, one-stop-shop collections of eateries and merchants that make Denver feel on par with the cool, coastal cities.

Sister restaurant to Boulder’s famous OAK at Fourteenth, Acorn is all about the locally sourced, wood-fired small plates that constitute a more than memorable urban date night. Graffiti accents the brick walls, and the open kitchen is always humming with activity. Since there were four of us, we had the distinct pleasure of ordering nearly everything on that week’s evolving menu. The flavors were eclectic to say the least, and the standouts were perhaps the less conventional: the melt-in-your-mouth house made gnocchi served with ricotta, kale, and chili, as well as the red wagon farm beets with goat cheese, clementines, and arugula. Finished with the banana-hazelnut and amaretto pound cake desserts, we left with confused [yet undeniably engaged] tastebuds and an altogether impressed attitude.

Saturday was Natalie’s day to spearhead the dining charge. Her first choice was breakfast at Sunny’s, an organic breakfast spot in the Highlands serving up exciting twists on eggs benedict. The grilled cheese eggs benedict, roasted veggie latkes, and “pigs in a blanket” were surprisingly fresh and different, if not filling and indulgent.

sunny's denver

Veggie latke breakfast at Sunny’s

We made the necessary stops at one of our favorite spice shops, as well as a newly discovered and now beloved charcuterie, il Porcellino Salumi, before Natalie and Rebecca struck out on their own for a night on the town. Their dinner reservations were at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, yet another comprehensive Denver eatery memorable for its “gastro-brothel” setting, fascinating cocktails, and ostrich burger offerings. It was the perfect place to take Rebecca for a glimpse into the new and edgy energy driving Denver eateries today.

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il Porcellino Salumi charcuterie

Finally, it was Sunday and there was no better flavor we wanted to leave Rebecca with than Linger’s international street food fare. A go-to favorite for any Highlands or downtown dweller, Linger is one of those places where anything you order is good and interesting, to say the least. Along with Euclid Hall, it is in among our top spots to recommend to visitors, because it never does us wrong. The Cubano sandwich, the Mongolian BBQ duck bun, the adobo pork eggs benedict, and the hangover ramen were the epitome of diverse yet comfortable cuisine and a lovely, “lingering” last supper with mom.

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Hangover Ramen at Linger

We know what you’re all thinking… “Where’s the recipe?” Well, we figure it’s highly unlikely that we will eat this extravagantly in Denver for awhile, so hopefully this serves as an inspiration for any locals looking for a rare night out. At the very least, maybe it convinces a few more friends and family to visit us more often to take a bite out of the multifaceted and highly underrated foodie destination Denver has become.

Drop ins and reservations welcome!

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