As you roll into downtown Denver, gravitate toward the Victorian storefronts, mid-century brick facades, and strands of glowing incandescent lights. Larimer Square, the site of Colorado’s first mining camp, sparkles each night like the golden ore that first drew people to its rustic streets. With the help of preservationist Dana Crawford, this small neighborhood has evolved into a modern shopping and dining destination. Just take a look at some of the dishes you can savor at Larimer Square restaurants and you’ll be ready to join us for a tasty romp through historic shops and new flavors at the foot of the gorgeous Colorado Rockies.
Brunch lovers will pass a cozy, well-caffeinated morning on the terrace at The Market at Larimer Square near the corner of Larimer Street and 15th. Don your shabby chic weekend wear and stroll into this local landmark, sold to brothers Mark and Gary Greenberg in 1983. With a full espresso bar and over 70 varieties of tea, we’re off to a good start. Sit down with a hot breakfast burrito, or do as the locals do and spend half the morning trying to settle on one of The Market’s fresh pastries. Prepare for an afternoon snooze with a boozy hot toddy. The Cider Grog is our favorite, because it’s juicy and a little tangy, with a kick of spice and rum.
There’s an old saying: If it ain’t butter, it ain’t brunch. We made that up, but if you’re cheering “D’accord!” then come with us to Bistro Vendôme tucked between shops Frinje and Equipment de Vin. This French oasis has a lovely, twinkling patio for breezy brunches. When you’re craving decadence, nosh on the Gaufre Maison, Vendôme’s house waffles topped with bananas and Nutella syrup. For a savory palate, consider the Croque Vendôme, a local spin on the rich French classic Croque Madame. With the help of chef/owner Jennifer Jasinski, we promise you’ll meet your butter quota. Edith Piaf would say, “No! No regrets,” but you might regret not making reservations, because the secret is out on this Denver gem.
Denver has achieved that elusive balance between casual neighborhood atmospheres and upscale, Instagram-worthy cuisine. The concept at Bubu Denver is pretty simple: Pick your own combination of fresh, local ingredients, gawk as a beautiful bowl is brought to your table, and feel better knowing you’re eating a healthy, flavorful meal. With choices ranging from roasted carrots to Green Goddess dressing, and an omnivorous selection of proteins, Bubu’s chef/owner Troy Guard fuels Denver’s active community and appeals to serious foodies. Find Bubu across the street from Bistro Vendôme, halfway between 14th and 15th Street.
No tour of Larimer Square’s food scene is complete without generous portions of creamy house-made burrata cheese at Osteria Marco, next door to the Market. You won’t find anything too fancy in this underground food lair named after chef/owner Frank Bonanno’s younger son. But this Italian bistro is definitely on our list of the finer things in life. Rally your friends for pizza and cocktails or sample intricate antipasti and cheeses with wine pairings. Only vegetarians would turn down the famous house sausage pizza. Speaking of vegetarians, Osteria Marco will not make you feel like a second-fiddle diner. Take your pick of salads, panini, and pizzas, or dive into the Risotto Primavera.
If William “Green” Russell, the first miner to strike gold in Colorado, joined our foodie foray, he would probably be both overwhelmed and impressed with the culinary options available in what was once a camp for rough and tumble miners. What would he say if he happened upon a smartly dressed cocktail bar bearing his name? Spruce up and drink up, of course! During Prohibition, Green Russell, the pub, was an underground speakeasy, and for almost a century tourists and locals have descended the mysterious stairs in search of traditional and custom-made cocktails done right. Find this watering hole near Bistro Vendôme, between boutiques Equipment de Vin and Element.
Without a doubt, we would also take ol’ Green into Corridor 44 to sample their extensive Champagne collection, because he obviously sought out the finer things in life. The entire menu weaves together flavors and textures that showcase the sparkling golden beverage, and dishes like seared halibut with chipotle puree hold their own. Tuck into a cozy booth under a crystal chandelier, or reserve the back room—44 feet from the entrance—for a festive celebration. If you don’t arrive with something to celebrate in mind, the “Flight to Paris” Champagne sampler and a plate of house-made chocolate truffles will take care of that. Appropriately located in the Middle of Larimer Square, next to the boutique Posh for a one-two punch of sophistication.
Denver never disappoints, whether you want to scale a mountain or go glam. At Larimer Square, you’ll find local one-of-a-kind shops and gourmet meals with a rugged and timeless backdrop of the gorgeous Colorado landscape and Denver’s progressive contemporary community.