Eating my way through Denver: the highlights

Hard Rock Cafe

We ate here out of sheer desperation. It was late; we were starving. The meal was a blur. I ordered the Hickory Barbecue Bacon Cheese Burger. It tasted alright. What can I say? I do recall they didn’t have cauliflower for the cauliflower burger a coworker ordered so they gave her salmon instead and didn’t charge her for the meal. The waiter carded me, and then made sure to tell me that he knew I was way over 21. Thanks, bud.

Casa Bonita

This place is not real life. First of all, it’s a cathedral in a strip mall–a cathedral that I am told is several stories, all of which are floors of this “entertainment destination.” Let me set the stage: We got out of our Uber and walked through the front doors. There was a super long line that eventually forked into two lines. The lines wound around kitschy and vaguely Mexican/Old-Timey decor. Around ever corner was a new smell, and none of those smells were food. Someone remarked that it was like being in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land. Eventually, after a 45 minute smell and sight overload, we made it to a cashier. We ordered some super expensive meals…starting at $15 a plate and going up from there. We kept walking. Walking. Smelling. Watching little kids licking hand rails. Finally, we made it to…a cafeteria-style conveyor belt. You grabbed a red or green tray, a set of silverware, and slide your tray along to where a little teenage girl was organizing plates of food under heat lamps and making sure customers got their food. I get to her. She slides a plate towards me…something covered in red sauce. “I ordered green sauce.” “That is green sauce.” Oook. Thanks. We continued walking, this time with our trays and plates of food. Uphill. Into the dining room. Where we waited to be seated. It was humid. Packed. There was a deep pool surrounded by fake rock walls and palm trees adorned with green Christmas lights. There were 15 year old actors “acting” out pirate skits. There was a diving show. And a fake waterfall. And an ancient arcade. Old-timey pictures. Oh, and the food. The reason we were there. It was awful. I am not being overly harsh when I say I would have much preferred Taco Bell.

Ted’s Montana Grill
We stumbled upon this place accidentally. We were looking for food carts, were running out of time, and so we settled on this place. Amazing. Handcut fries. Handformed burgers. Cute and clever waitstaff who gave me “diet whatever,” which is exactly what I ordered. “More diet whatever, Miss?” “Yassss!”  Everyone was happy with their food. I ordered a burger with jalapeno, blackberry jam, a fried egg, and bacon. Wow. My only suggestions would be to toast the buns and salt the patty a bit more. But wow. It was hard to go back to work after that meal. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Bayou Bob’s

And then it was Jenn’s turn to pick dinner. And I picked it soley because they had a portion of their menu named “Nibblins.”  Sold. We went all out here. Alligator, hushpuppies, crawfish etoufee, fried chicken, green beans, Bourbon Street chicken, crawfish stuffed mushrooms, fried pickles….It was an intense meal. My only complaint is that my dinner was over-salted. I couldn’t eat it all. But overall, this restaurant was a fun and delicious experience.

Civic Center Eats

This was our holy grail. It took us all week to find it. Several of us asked several people where this was and no one could tell us. When we got there and saw how packed and beautiful it was, we were shocked. Such a stellar place to eat and just enjoy the scenery. I got a wood-fired pizza. Perfection.

Russell’s Smokehouse
Our eyes were so big when we sat down at this place and looked at the menu.  Who doesn’t get the meat sweats purely out of anticipation? We ordered Frank’s Family meal with included: grits, pulled pork, coleslaw, smoked sausage, beans, brisket, ribs, chicken, spoon bread, and fries. It was ridiculous. So much so, I bought the three house bbq sauces and crammed them in my suitcase for the flight home. No joke.