Penny Parker On The Town: Writer does Denver but would rather ditch

April 15, 2013

Really, dude?

Did David Landsel, contributing editor at, get bullied by a bison during visits to Colorado? Landsel recently wrote the story 10 Terribly Overrated Destinations (And Where to Travel Instead), which ran in the “Huffington Post.” Read the post at

“Have you ever traveled somewhere that everyone told you was the absolute best only to find yourself wondering: Is that all there is?” he says in the story’s first line. “The end result? You’ve now wasted precious vacation time and money.

“Here are 10 overrated places I’ve encountered, some all too frequently, during nearly 15 years as a travel writer. If I never see any of them again, I won’t mind at all,” Landsel whines.

He goes on to blast some of my favorite cities in North America: Chicago, San Francisco (I’m from nearby Palo Alto), Vancouver, and – wait for it – COLORADO. Last time I checked that’s a state, not a city.

“Denver is a weirdly bland, Midwestern snore with an air quality problem,” he snorts.  “Vail, apart from its slopes, is suburbia in the middle of nowhere, a collection of strip malls by the side of a highway. Also, The Vail Valley is so high up in the mountains, some people are alarmed to find themselves nearly unable to breathe, let alone ski.

“The rest of the state is too often either uptight and boring (Colorado Springs) or drab and vaguely off-putting (Pueblo, Grand Junction, too many other places to mention).

“The nicer ski towns, like Aspen or Telluride? Amazing sure, but they are also buried so far in the mountains that getting there during ski season – or any season – costs time and money too many people don’t have.

“Colorado did legalize marijuana last year, which is great, because next time you go to Denver, you’ll have something to do.”

Instead, Landsel’s idea of a Rocky Mountain good time is Utah for its ski resorts and national parks. Utah? I spent the longest 18 days of my life in Utah during the 2002 Winter Olympics. You can keep Salt Lake City’s mile-long blocks and weird liquor laws. I’ll take Colorado.

Del Frisco’s Grille may leave grill marks on Cherry Creek’s other grill

I told you recently about Del Frisco’s Grille, an 8,000-plus restaurant and 9,000-square-foot rooftop patio that is part of a 150,000-square-foot office building at the northeast corner of First Avenue and St. Paul Street, which is breaking ground this fall.

More details have emerged since the former announcement of the project recently. The building will feature upscale amenities including more than 450 parking spaces in three levels of underground parking with direct high-speed elevator access; 9-foot-6-inch ceiling height on all office floors; a 30-foot-high, natural-stone lobby and mountain and downtown views.

Del Frisco’s Grille has executed a lease for 8,700 square feet on the ground floor and rooftop patio. The Grille, the younger sibling to the venerable Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House with a location in the Tech Center, is the newest offering from Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group.

The menu takes twists on the traditional bar and grill menu by using bold flavors, regional ingredients and local flair in many dishes.

“We have already enjoyed great success in Denver with Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and Sullivan’s Steakhouse,” said Mark S. Mednansky, CEO of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group. “We welcome our friends in Denver to come to Del Frisco’s Grille in Cherry Creek for a local beer and ahi tacos or a nice bottle of wine and a great steak.”

Del Frisco’s Grille also is located in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. If Del Frisco’s Grille cuisine is as good as its senior sibling (at a lower price point), the new eatery should give Cherry Creek Grill – less than three blocks away at 184 Steele St. – a much-deserved run for its money.

Unlike CC Grill, Del’s will not introduce annoying rules that dominate the ambience at Cherry Creek Grill: no sitting at a booth unless you’re ordering entrees, no baseball caps, even though they give you a beeper when you’re on a wait you have to check back with them to verify you are in fact still standing in line, and on and on and on.

At least those were just a fraction of the bossy rules when I used to go there – a billion years ago – but I still receive reports from time to time about the iron-fisted policies that are strictly enforced at CC Grill. (They even famously cut off former Broncos great John Elway at the bar, but he got the last word by opening his own wildly successful steak house.)

I’ll raise a glass to Del’s while wearing a baseball cap and sitting in a booth with my drink and appetizers.

Local notables raised charity funds on skis

Earlier this month, Vail Resorts distributed $250,000 to four Colorado nonprofit organizations as part of the Vail Ski Challenge, a competition that challenged 13 teams, captained by Colorado business and civic leaders, to ski as many vertical feet as possible during the season.

The winning charities and teams were:

* First place – $150,000 donation to Children’s Hospital of Colorado from Team Finlon led by philanthropist Cathey Finlon.

* Second place – $50,000 donation to Sungate Kids from Team Herda captained by Larissa Herda, president and chief executive officer for TW Telecom.

* Third place – $30,000 donation to the Denver Public School Foundation from Team Lynne captained by Donna Lynne, president of Kaiser Permanente of Colorado.

* Fourth place – $20,000 donation to Project Angel Heart from Team Thiry led by Kent Thiry, chief executive officer of DaVita.

Teams skied their final vertical feet in the morning before racing against one another as part of the EpicMix Racing program. For more information, go to

Fundraiser hopes to trump cancer

Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research presents the second annual Evening of Hope, beginning at 6 p.m. April 25 at The Wildlife Experience, 10035 Peoria St.,  Parker.

The event, to raise awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, will include a silent auction, drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a special presentation by SR-71 pilot Brian Shul. Shul, author of the nationally acclaimed book “Sled Driver,” takes viewers inside the cockpit of the top-secret Blackbird, the world’s fastest highest-flying aircraft ever built, by sharing his breathtaking photos and video footage never before seen on an IMAX-size screen.

Presenting sponsor of the event is Walt Imhoff, who lost his wife, Georgia, to pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research was founded by Maureen A. Shul after losing her brother and mother within months of one another to pancreatic cancer.

Maureen, founding mayor of Castle Pines, recently entered into a partnership with the University of Colorado Cancer Center whereby all efforts of Wings of Hope will focus on and benefit pancreatic cancer research, treatments and programs ongoing at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

For tickets and more information, go to or contact Maureen Shul at 720-733-0491.

Ace is the place to get juiced

Ace Juice Bar, a spin-off of the popular Ace Ping-Pong hall and restaurant at 501 E. 17th Ave. opens for business today.

Ace Juice Bar will feature six juice varieties, available for pick-up.  For something a little more substantial, Ace also will be rolling out the Ace Raw Breakfast bar, consisting of nuts, dried fruits, flax and chia seeds, almond butter and honey.

The signature juice at the Ace Juice Bar is A.C.E., made from fresh squeezed carrot, lemon and orange juices, and high in vitamins A, C and E.  Pre-orders and curbside pick-up available by calling 720-897-8002. Ace Juice Bar is open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

From left, three of Ace Juice Bar's selections, apple carrot ginger, celery Asian pear kale and beet cucumber kale apple. (Ace Juice Bar photo)


Eavesdropping on two women looking at dresses at Nordstrom Rack on Colorado Boulevard: “This color goes well with my skin tone.”

“You mean your skin tan.”

“It is my skin tone, I just bought it.”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email:

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