Downtown Denver’s dining scene is blossoming with new restaurant openings including a surge in new chef-owned bistros, brew houses, gastro-pubs and farm-to-table fine dining establishments.
“The main thing about Downtown Denver is that it is walkable—the fourth most walkable city in America, according to Brookings Institute,” says Rich Grant, director of communications for VISIT DENVER. “Delegates have their choice of 300 restaurants within walking distance of the Colorado Convention Center—many of them in this new category of chef-owned. Downtown is also ringed by easily accessible neighborhoods that are also filled with restaurants, such as UpTown, LoHi, LoDo, Highland and Golden Triangle Museum District.”
The city’s growing reputation as a culinary destination led to the February launch of VISIT DENVER’s new website, EatDrinkDenver.com. The website covers the growing list of new farmer’s markets, food trucks, festivals, beer/wine/distilled spirit tours and tastings, and array of top-notch chefs.
“Some people like outdoor recreation and some like theatre and culture, but everybody eats,” says Grant. “There is so much happening in the culinary scene in Denver that we didn’t feel we could cover it adequately on our main site, so we created a new site entirely devoted to the food and drink scene in the Mile High City.”
On the site, groups can find insightful interviews with the masterminds behind some of these chic new eateries including this week’s featured story with Chef Daniel Asher from Linger.
The 150-pax Linger opened last June in the former Olinger Mortuaries—a place where previously few would actually care to linger. The sign above the swank venue is still the same, but with a few less letters that now reads “Linger Eatuaries.” Inside you’ll find a high-ceiling dining room lined with padded gray booths and rows of tables with spectacular views of the skyline.
Owner Justin Cucci played off of the morbid locale by incorporating a Harold and Maude theme into the restaurant’s whimsical look, photos of which can be found throughout. Upon entering the eatery, groups are greeted by a hostess in a church pew and a bar brightly lit with Lite-Brite bulbs. The wallpaper is 1960s vintage; your water is brought out in formaldehyde bottles; the happy hour menu is a toe tag.
“It could get creepy with the theme but they managed to have fun with it,” says Deborah Park, associate director of communications for VISIT DENVER. “They have clinical-looking clipboard menus, they provide mini packs of tissues for guests, and there are additional little touches throughout.”
Within the menu you’ll find globetrotting street foods with small plates from Asia, Eurasia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Morocco, Indonesia, Europe and the Americas. There are no such things as entrees at Linger. Try the ginger-chili shrimp with fried brussel sprouts, scallions and sesame seeds, under the Asia section of the menu. Or dig into their signature Wagyu burger sliders topped with peppered bacon, aged cheddar and curried sour cream.
Park adds that Linger is dedicated to being very sustainable. “They use nearly 100 percent locally sourced products and change their menu seasonally,” she says.
Their 100-pax rooftop venue is ideal for group events with arguably the best views of both the city and surrounding mountains. A buyout can accommodate groups up to 250.
THE KITCHEN DENVER
The highly-anticipated opening of The Kitchen Denver is just around the corner, set to join the scene on March 20. The community bistro will follow in the steps of the The Kitchen Boulder, which opened in 2004 featuring a design ethos revolving around a homestyle kitchen.
“It’s a center of conversation and connection—the place everyone likes to hang out, serving food and drink from like-minded farmers, ranchers and purveyors,” says Grant. “I think it will be a terrific addition to Denver and downtown and really exemplify the movement here toward slow food and craftsmen who enjoy making special, one-of-a-kind food products like beers, cheeses, distilled spirits, sausages and local produce—all the things that are happening at so many of our restaurants.”
The Kitchen’s menu reflects the simple and straightforward preparation of comfortable classics. A popular dish at the Boulder location, for example, is the Colorado rabbit loin pan-seared with speck, rabbit liver spaetzle, kale and mushroom jus.
The restaurant will feature five dining areas: a bar, main dining room, kitchen including the Kitchen Table, wine room where the community nights are held, and an outdoor patio. The restaurant can host parties up to 230, or groups can reserve the 60-pax wine room for more intimate dinners.
The Kitchen and its nonprofit, The Kitchen Community, are raising funds to create six elementary school gardens in Denver, following the installation of their ‘learning garden’ at an elementary school last September. This means that the produce served in the restaurant will be grown by students.
Join them on Monday nights for Community Night, where the profits of their 4-course, family-style meal help fund these school projects.