1 0 Tag Archives: LoDo

Thirsty? Check out newly opened Union Station gastropub

April 30, 2014

Portland-based Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill opened its first Denver location at 1605 Wynkoop St. in the renovated One Union Station building on Tuesday.

The first restaurant in the Union Station redevelopment to open, Thirsty Lion serves lunch, happy hour and dinner. The gastropub features 8,393 square feet of interior seating, handcrafted food, 52 beers on tap and more than 2,000 square feet of downtown patio space.

“We are extremely excited to open our newest location in the Union Station neighborhood,” said Thirsty Lion CEO John Plew. “Thirsty Lion is the perfect fit for this neighborhood and we look forward to providing Denver with great service, a diverse menu, local quality ingredients, and not to mention a great selection of local craft beer.”

Thirsty Lion’s culinary commitment is to provide an eclectic variety of multi-cultural cuisines with an emphasis on local ingredients, bold flavors and scratch recipes. A seasonal fresh sheet will focus on the changing season’s offerings including fresh seafood, quality meats and local vegetables and fruits.

The bar will feature 52 beers on tap, 28 of which are from Colorado. The gastropub also features craft cocktails that utilize combinations of fresh fruit purees, juices and premium liquors, as well as 25 different wines by the glass.

“At Thirsty Lion, we work hard to combine quality ingredients and scratch recipes to create menu items that satisfy the ‘foodie’ in all of us,” said Thirsty Lion executive chef Keith Castro. “The flavor profiles are complex, yet blend well in their simplistic approach to create ‘craveable’ food; an intense desire for more.”

Open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. For more information visit www.thirstylionpub.com/denver.

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Spring menus have sprung

April 7, 2014

Last week’s snowfall either made you feel blessed to have the moisture or gloomy as you long for spring to take a firm hold.  Whatever your take, these restaurants have rolled out their spring menus and should whet your appetite for fresh, seasonal fare from some of Denver’s finest.

1515 Restaurant in LoDo offers fresh, approachable flavors that with their unique twist, using molecular gastronomy to offer fine dining in a new light.  What to try?  Bison Two Ways, with “Ginger Beer” Braised Short Ribs and Sous Vide Steak with butternut squash mousseline, root vegetable succotash and horseradish foam.

Coral Room in Highland has just promoted long-time sous chef, Greg Lyons, to executive chef.  It’s easy to see why when perusing their mouthwatering new menus for both lunch and dinner.  What to try?  Vegetable Udon Bowl with seasonal vegetables, peanuts and Thai-ginger soy sauce.

Central Bistro & Bar in Lower Highland has seen chef Matt Selby sprinkle its menu with tasty magic since he came on board earlier this year. Sit on the patio and watch the beautiful people stroll by while sipping on a housemade gin and tonic. What to try?  Crispy Skin Chicken with Morel mushrooms, fingerling potatoes and English pea ragout.

ChoLon hasn’t completely reworked their already fresh and fab menu, but they do have several new additions to honor the season.  What to try?  Lobster Saigon Crepes with asparagus, mushrooms and lettuce cups.

Coohills, link the only downtown restaurant that sits along Cherry Creek and boasts a beautiful view of the Wewatta Bridge, has one of the largest and most comfortable patios in which to enjoy crazy colorful sunsets. What better way to take in their spring menu and sip on one of Colin Dart’s creative cocktails? What to try?  Cape Cod Scallops with grapefruit, strawberry, cucumber, prosciutto and wild cress (pictured below).

Opus in Cherry Creek North has a menu that is French inspired with a creative twist.  You can sit in their dining room with old world charm or soak in the sun on their patio.  What to try?  Beef Cheeks with fennel, orange and olives. 

Tables chefs Amy Vitale and Dustin Barrett’s cozy Park Hill restaurant with a charming picket fence-enclosed patio screams “spring”! What to try?  Shetland Island Salmon with radish-spring pea has, chimichuri-cucumber yogurt sauce and a crab and pickled radish salad.

The Ballpark nieghborhood gem, Trillium, not only has updated their menu for spring, but they’ve also launched a new happy Hour menu just in time for Rockies season. What to try?  Braised “Never, Ever” Colorado Lamb Shank with root vegetables, Danish blue cheese polenta cakes, “living” watercress and lemon gremolata.


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Sonoda’s Sushi in LoDo bidding sayonara

February 12, 2014

Kenny Sonoda, founding father of the Sonodas chain of sushi restaurants, has opted to call it quits on his LoDo eatery at 1620 Market St. after nearly 19 years.

Sonoda, 65, is trying to retire, but his original spot at 3108 S. Parker Road in Aurora, a place he opened in 1995, will remain open.

Here’s what Sonoda posted on www.sonodassushi.com:

“With over 26 years in the business now behind me the time has come for me to hand up the knives and announce my retirement. And yet it is with more than a bit of sadness that I announce the closure of my Downtown Restaurant on Market Street on Feb. 15.

“In 1973 I first came to Denver, Colorado,to help build and open the Gasho of Japan, a Japanese Hibachi style steak house in downtown Denver (1627 Curtis St.). In 1976, I returned to Denver to build a free standing building of Gasho of Japan Restaurant. This time I build a replica of a 400-year-old Gasho farm house, found in Takayama City of Japan, the sister city to Denver, Colorado. This Gasho of Japan restaurant was located in DTC on Belleview and I-25 where Shanahan’s Steak House is currently standing.

“In 1988, I opened my first Sonodas Sushi Restaurant in Aurora, Colorado. I was one of the first to introduce the cuisine to Denver hen the concept of sushi and sashimi was still unknown. I worked hard to teach Denver about a tradition and a delicacy that I love so very much. I cannot say that I ever imagined that sushi would become the trend it has, but I am happy that my adopted country has grown to love it in the way that I have my entire life.

“I have been fortunate to met and get to know entire families. I have watched their children grow and have children of their own but it is no time for me to retire and enjoy the next chapter of my life. I will miss all of you. That task now falls on the shoulders of the man who started Sonodas with me so many years ago — my friend and master sushi chef Makoto Kawafne.

“Makoto will continue to serve you and your families at his Aurora location. Your Welcome Club points can be used there as always and he will greet you with the same family spirit that I have.

“And one more time, Domo Arigato.”

As a proud Auroran for more than 15 years, On the Town Junior and I, along with my On the Town sister when she visited from Chicago, made it our tradition to dine at the original Sonoda’s. We had the time of our lives! Thanks, Kenny, for the memories!


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Fruition chef Alex Seidel names new Union Station eatery

January 10, 2014

Fruition chef Alex Seidel and business partners Stephanie Caraway and Matthew Vawter have settled on a name of their new restaurant concept opening this summer in Denver’s redeveloped Union Station.

Mercantile Dining & Provision will be a European-style restaurant and market open seven days a week. The gourmet market will serve early morning coffee and pastries along with a full menu of breakfast and lunch items.

The restaurant will serve dinner only featuring Colorado ingredients with as many items as possible sourced from Seidel’s Fruition Farms.

Seidel has been named “5280 Magazine’s” Chef of the Year and one of “Food & Wine Magazine’s” Best New Chefs for 2010. Vawter will serve as chef de cuisine.

Caraway, Mercantile’s wine director, who was named Sommelier of the Year by “Food & Wine”, will oversee the wine, beer and cocktail menu to pair with the restaurant’s food selections.

For more information, go to www.unionstationdenver.com.

Alex Seidel, chef of Fruition and part of the new Union Station eater, Mercantile

Alex Seidel, chef of Fruition, and his partners are naming their new Union Station eatery, Mercantile Dining & Provision.

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Park and shop till you drop with special area programs

December 20, 2013

Cherry Creek North is giving away free parking during the Saturday Scavenger Hunt starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. Twenty-five $5 ParkSmart cards will be hidden throughout Cherry Creek North (between First and Third Avenues and University and Steele streets). Find a card, or multiple, and you also will receive a Cherry Creek North gift card for the equal dollar value. Cherry Creek North gift cards are accepted at more than 200 restaurants, spas, boutiques, art galleries and more. It’s even accepted at parking meters.

Park with a purchase at Larimer Square. Ask the store where you’re shopping about the free program that enables shoppers to park for free in the Larimer Square garage on 14th and Market streets.

LoDo is running a pilot pop-up taxi stand program between 11 p.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21. The stands will be located at 14th Street between Market and Larimer.

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LoDo celebrates Salzman’s 95th birthday on my birthday!

December 2, 2013

Downtown Denver benefactor Manny Salzman has reached his 95th birthday and some people in the ‘hood are throwing a party for him.

Manny’s Bridge, the bridge down Wynkoop Street named for him, is the home of an interactive public light art installation by artist Virginia Folkestad.

The installation is being renovated and re-lit in conjunction with Salzman’s birthday and when complete will be on display nightly year-round.

Manny and Joanne Salzman pioneered LoDo when they moved there in 1980. They worked with the city of Denver to obtain a grant to preserve the historic railroad bridges over Cherry Creek in the mid-1990s converting them to save pedestrian paths.

In 2006, then Mayor John Hickenlooper dedicated the bridge to Manny, and a plaque describes that effort. The Salzmans were also instrumental in the designation of LoDo as a historic area and the formation of the St. Charles Neighborhood Group.

At 95, Manny still pedals his bike daily across the Platte and up the hill into the Highland neighborhood.

Manny Salzman

Manny Salzman on the bridge named for him in Lower Downtown. (Diane Huntress photo)


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Penny Parker On The Town: Couple comes to (vise) grips with wedding vows at McGuckin Hardware

July 29, 2013

Lovebirds Randy Richmond and Theresa Blanding started feathering their nest in Boulder landmark McGuckin Hardware 12 years ago.

The couple spent so much time in the Boulder store, that they joked if they ever married, the nuptials would be cemented in the tools department.

On July 21, accompanied by a small band of well-dressed family members and close friends, Richmond and Blanding walked hand-in-hand down aisle 16 — in the Tools department — to hammer out their future together.

The betrothed, being snapped by Blanding’s son, Lucian, strode in sync along the waxed floor lined with circular saws, which should not be misconstrued as a metaphor for their married life.

“McGuckin’s has been here forever and it’s so useful and practical,” Richmond said. “Marriage should be practical as well as romantic. We were in here every day for something anyway… rope or clips (TMI!).”

The couple have bought an array of items from the hardware store throughout the years, including Richmond’s favorite pair of overalls.

The groom is no densa, he’s a Mensa member who has excavated ancient Egyptian sites. “You’re not talking to a chimp here,” the University of Arizona Egyptologist and psychologist told McGuckin employee Steve Wilke. Richmond met Blanding 14 years ago in a class in Sedona, Ariz., and says that his future bride “hated him off the bat.”

She complained about him to her friend and obsessed over his antics for months. “I wore her down like water on a rock,” Richmond said. “Love and hate are tied very close together.”

Blanding, a mother of three, is a consultant and award-winning jewelry maker whose work is featured in an Arizona showroom, but her goal is to have a gallery of her own in Boulder.

“For me personally, I lived up at 8,500 feet in an old miner’s house as a single mom,” she said. “I was always coming to McGuckin’s to figure things out, and they were so helpful.”

Aaron Tye, a McGuckin automotive employee, made the celebratory announcement over the intercom system. Customers greeted the news with  resounding cheers and robust applause from all four corners of the store.

Not surprisingly, the couple requested McGuckin gift cards for wedding presents. The couple is planning a honeymoon in Paris.

“People need consistency in their lives,” Richmond said. “All roads lead to McGuckin.”


Theresa Blanding and Randy Richmond walk down the aisle — aisle 16 at McGuckin Hardware, in fact — during their July 21 wedding ceremony at the Boulder landmark.3_Deed_is_Done  (Photos courtesy of McGuckin Hardware)

Little Italy

Westword, Denver’s favorite snarky, alternative newspaper, has had a couple of stories recently worthy of repeating. Because I am a Capitol Hill dweller, any new restaurant news grabs my attention.

Westword restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz recently reviewed the tiny restaurant DiFranco’s, a “tiny spot creating big buzz” in the long-suffering Beauvallon building at 955 Lincoln St. That space has represented revolving doors for retailers and restaurants alike ever since it was built.

But Kurtz says the little Italian spot that could is well worth a visit. On a recent Tuesday night, the place actually ran out of food, according to Kurtz’s review, even though there was a hungry mob waiting in a long line.

Hours are 11 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Phone: 720-253-1244 (just to make sure they haven’t run out of food).

Check out Kurtz’s review at www.westword.com/2013-07-25/restaurants/difrancos-restaurant-review/.

Also at Westword …

Music editor Dave Herrera discovered an obscure cable station MTVOther (who knew about MTVOther?), which features short pieces about lesser-known cool music enclaves including a short called “This is the place: Denver.”

Host Dave Hill introduces viewers to bands that I have never heard of (but then I’m old). No matter which way you 5280, it’s still good pub for our fair town. Check it out at http://mtvother.com/.

16th Street Mall garden block

Celebrate the grand opening of the Downtown Denver Garden Block during an afternoon event from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7 featuring live music, giveaways, light snacks and drink specials from restaurants on the block. Come mingle in the lush garden and learn more about the importance of this project and its events planned this year.

The Downtown Denver Garden Block is an oasis on the 16th Street Mall bringing a unique environment to the block between Champa and Curtis streets. Installations of various small gardens, representative of those featured at Denver Botanic Gardens, create a pocket park on the 16th Street Mall by giving downtown visitors, residents and workers a beautiful place to meet, linger and enjoy the urban landscape.Sponsored by the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, in partnership with Denver Botanic Gardens, Bellco Credit Union and the Colorado Garden & Home Show, the Downtown Denver Garden Block will continue to showcase additional features throughout the summer, including more seating, a place to read and play games, weekly lunchtime performances and events, and downtown’s newest Wi-Fi hotspot provided by local internet company www.Forethought.net.

Giveaways include two tickets to a Park-to-Table dinner at Skyline Market on Friday, Aug. 9; two tickets to a Denver Botanic Gardens concert and four family-pack tickets to Denver Botanic Gardens.

Part of Denver’s Garden Block on the 16th Street Mall. (Photo courtesy of Downtown Denver Garden Block)


Eavesdropping on a woman at Zocalo: “We invest so much time in finding a new man only to end up hating him later.”

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: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker’s On The Town: A night of bites in LoDo

August 8, 2012

Take a bite out of LoDo during the annual LoDo District Inc.’s LoDo Bites tasting event from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 21.

An anticipated 1,500 participants will sample snacks and sip drinks from a host of different restaurants in Lower Downtown.

Holly Barrett, executive director of LoDo District Inc., said, “This event is terrific because it gives people from all over Denver and beyond the chance to try up to 26 different restaurants in one night. They’ll get a snapshot of the restaurants’ atmosphere and cuisine, and it’s a great opportunity for LoDo restaurants to really shine to a crowd that might not normally stop by.”

The participating restaurants are: 1515 Restaurant, Ambria Food & Wine, Backcountry Provisions, Bistro Vendome, The Celtic Tavern, Charlie Palmer’s District Tavern, Chloe, Common Grounds, Coohills, Euclid Hall, Fado Irish Pub, Fogo de Chao, H Burger Lounge, Howl at the Moon, Keg Steakhouse & Bar, The Kitchen, MCA Cafe, My Favorite Muffin, Red Star Deli (Studio F), Tavern Downtown, Toppings, Vesting Dipping Grill, Wazee Supper Club, The Wine Loft, Wynkoop Brewing Company and Zydeco’s.

Tickets are $40 per person or $45 the day of the event, free run 5.0 +3 femmes if available, at www.lodo.org/lodo-bites and at Wines Off Wynkoop (1610 16th St.). I can tell you from personal experience that this is a great event for the price. Some restaurants (the smart ones) really put out a great spread.

Girl power

Girl Scouts of Colorado is announcing the 2012 inductees into the esteemed Women of Distinction program in the Denver metro-area during a private reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the home of 1997 Woman of Distinction Barb Grogan.

This year’s seven honorees were selected by their peers and chosen based on their contributions to the community. The women of Distinction commit to supporting Girl Scouts of Colorado and serving Girl Scouts today.

The 2012 Women of Distinction are: Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, vice president of government and external relations, Kaiser Permanente Colorado; Peg Bradley-Doppes, vice chancellor for athletics and recreation and Ritchie Center operations, University of Denver; Juanita Chacon, realtor, Re/Max; Tricia Downing, disabled athlete and spokeswoman for Challenged Athletes Foundation; Melba Johnston, community volunteer and lifetime service to Girl Scouts; Denise O’Leary, corporate director, US Airways; Maren Stewart, president and CEO LiveWell Colorado.

The women will be publicly honored at the Women of Distinction Thin Mint Dinner on Oct. 23 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. More information: Amy Myers at amy.myers@gscolorado.org. Tickets at www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/women-of-distinction-denver.

Blue Bonnet sonnet

Gary Mobell, owner of the iconic Blue Bonnet Cafe at 457 S. Broadway, threw a tasting party for press recently to try out some new additions to the menu.

Coming soon or on the menu now: gazpacho, ceviche with gluten-free chips, strawberry basil Margaritas and cucumber fire roasted jalapeno Margaritas, root vegetable latkes with salsa bar Autumn salad, rosemary and lemon Margaritas, sun-dried tomato rajas house tamales, signature winter tacos, family style rice and beans, ginger lime Margaritas, pumpkin flan, Mexican popsicles and sopapillas.

Build a burger

Greenwood Village-based Red Robin opened its third Red Robin’s Burger Works location in Colorado on Monday at 2700 Arapahoe Ave., on 28th Street and Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder.

Burger Works features some classic Red Robin burgers, free run 5.0 femmes but also gives guests a build-your-own-burger option with a variety of toppings including sautéed portabella mushrooms, beer mustard onions or Thai chili ketchup.

Eavesdropping on a woman to her husband after running into a friend: “Friends don’t let friends wear gaucho pants.”
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: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker’s On The Town: Diner destined for Larimer Square

Tom’s Urban 24 Diner, a new concept from the owners of Smashburger, will set up shop in the former Samba Room space on the prime corner of 15th and Larimer on Larimer Square.

The restaurant will be a 24-hour operation, the only one in LoDo, and will likely be a hungry haven for nightclub crawlers looking for a late-night nosh.

“I’ve actually wanted a 24-hour operation on Larimer Square for many years,” said Joe Vostrejs, chief operating of Larimer Associates. “There’s been a hole in downtown for this product. free run 5.0 +3 femmes If you wanted something to eat at 3 a.m. where do you go?”

The space sat empty for two years after Samba Room’s parent company filed bankruptcy while the Denver restaurant was in the midst of major repairs from faulty plumbing that leaked into Comedy Works below. Comedy Works filed suit over the soggy situation.

The diner, which will serve more upscale food similar to the quality of Steuben’s on 17th Avenue, is named after Tom Ryan, managing partner and chief concept officer at Denver-based Consumer Capital Partners, an investment and operations company. Ryan was one of the big brains behind the Smashburger chain.

Stacie Lange, spokeswoman for Consumer Capital Partners, called the Larimer Square spot “an ideal location for us”.

“We’re still working on details about the concept, but should be able to talk more about it in the next 30 to 60 days.”

Vostrejs said the goal is to have the diner open by the end of the summer.


Was Saks Fifth Avenue plotting a comeback to Denver after closing its only store here last year?

That was the mistaken message posted last week by indeed.com, which listed several job openings for the “Denver” Saks.

“I got some calls from people asking if Saks was revisiting opportunities in Denver,” said Nick LeMasters, general manager of Cherry Creek Shopping Center where Saks shut down. “I picked up the phone and called our home office, but apparently some mistake was made.”

Saks Fifth Avenue spokeswoman Lexi Miller said the job posting faux pas was the result of “a glitch through our third party service provider.”

“Upon discovery last week, we removed that immediately,” she said. Miller added that there are legit job openings at the Off 5th stores in Lakewood and Castle Rock.

Nod to the Nuggets

The crowd went wild Sunday when a group of Denver Nuggets, including Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson, were spotted by concertgoers who had come to see rap stars Drake and J Cole at the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre.

The players, who had just come off their loss to the Lakers in the playoffs, were escorted to a special spot by the soundboard right before J Cole took the stage.

Wine time

Two local fine dining spots in Denver are holding worthwhile wine events that will please your palate without wiping out your wallet.

Join Elway’s Cherry Creek sommeliers Todd Rocchio and Aaron Foster for a pink party on the patio from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday to help them choose rose wines for the summer.

Samples of 20 Roses from France, Spain, Austria, California, Italy and Greece will be poured, and attendees can vote for their favorite flavors to help the sommeliers create a summer Rose flight for the Elway’s wine list.

Executive chef Tyler Wiard will prepare a few specialty treats to accompany the tasting. Tickets are $35 including tax and tip. Reservations: 303-399-7616.

Check out this can’t beat bargain: Ambria Restaurant (16th Street Mall and Larimer) is holding a Jordan Vineyard and Winery four-course wine dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for $80 per person including tax, tip and parking in the Tabor Center Parking Garage.

Chris Avery, Jordan’s national sales director, will pour a Chardonnay along with four vintages of Cabernet dating back to 2002. Jordan was founded in 1972 by Denver oil man Tom Jordan and his wife, Sally. Their son, John, now heads the company .

Ambria chef Gabe Balenzuela will pair the four-course meal with the wines (check out the menu at ambriadenver.com). Tickets (hurry!) are available at blacktie-colorado.com.

New installations

Former Gov. Bill Owens moved his offices into Trinity Place at 1801 Broadway shortly before the building installed The Dawn of Autumn, a panoramic Thomas D. Mangelsen photographic print.

The building recently underweent an free run 5.0 femmes extensive lobby renovation incorporating all new finishes. Can’t say the same about the former guv who’s looked refreshed and rejuvenated ever since leaving office.

Owens is the principal and managing director of Renew Strategies, a private equity water fund and asset manager.

The seen

Former Colorado Avalanche defenseman (now with the Toronto Maple Leafs) John Michael Liles at Mail It! Pack It! Ship It! in Cherry Creek North on Tuesday.

Eavesdropping on a woman when I introduced myself at the Travel Writer’s Reception at the Denver Botanic Gardens: “Are you still Penny Parker?”

My Facebook page has moved. Be sure to like it! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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