Throughout the summer months, el Camino's rooftop garden blossoms with organic cilantro and mint leaves, providing ultra-fresh accouterments for the eatery's Mexican feasts. And though the small garden doesn’t cultivate all of el Camino’s ingredients, the rest of the bounty originates not too far from Highland. For example, the eatery's chefs stuff housemade tamales, tacos, and other lunch and dinner specialties with all-natural chicken, beef, and pork from local vendor Anderson Meats. They create guacamole, salsa, and each and every dessert completely from scratch, using produce supplied by two Colorado companies, Red Hat Foods and Arroyo Produce. Beyond supporting the local economy, el Camino tries to preserve the entire ecosystem by operating on 100% wind power and recycling all of its cans, bottles, and cardboard cutouts of Al Gore.
While satisfying hunger with decadent, locally sourced food, including a daily brunch, el Camino sates rippling thirsts for both beer and entertainment. The bar pours drafts from the likes of Del Norte, Avery, and Great Divide breweries, and mixes up potent bloody marys, mimosas, and sangria. Every night of the week brings a different treat, such as $1 street tacos on Tuesday and the Tito Del Barrio Malaga flamenco band every Saturday.
With owners transplanted from the Emerald Isle, Katie Mullen's Irish Restaurant and Bar is riddled with authentic Irish flourishes. The furniture, for example, was all imported from Nugent and Gibney Ltd in Ireland. Up to 500 people gather around the hand-carved tables, feasting on Icelandic cod battered with Harp Lager and burgers crowned with corned beef. Kathleen St. John of the Denver Post notes that the selection of food stands out among a sea of Irish pubs: “Katie Mullen's menu is intensely Irish, but that doesn't mean bland corned beef and cabbage.” In the kitchen, chefs combine diced lamb, veal demi-glace, and fresh herbs in slowly roiling pots of irish stew.
The fare fills the 11,500-square-foot interior with revelry, the clatter of silverware reverberating through four themed rooms: the Victorian bar, the Shop bar, the Pharmacy bar, and the Gaelic bar. Lights dangle from marbled and copper-paneled ceilings, and dark-wood and stone accents surround diners in each room. The same stonework, along with curlicues of wrought iron, warms in the sun around the large outdoor patio. On the weekends, live musicians strum their guitars and rock through ballads about how many pairs of sunglasses you should be wearing.
Nonna's Chicago Bistro, named Best Italian in 2011 on Denver's 7 A-List, lures hungry passersby with a menu of Windy City–style Italian fare, more than 20 wines by the glass, and complimentary ciabatta bread with saucy marinara. The owners, a family of Chicago natives, dedicated Nonna's to their grandmother, whose passion for hearty, homestyle fare inspired their chefs to perfect such classics as chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and slow-cooked, Chicago-style ribs. Dinners pair with a glass of Italian Da Vinci chianti or a Californian 181 merlot, or assorted well drinks and domestic brews from the exposed-brick bar.
Nonna's Chicago Bistro's dining room provides guests with an elegant eating coliseum, boasting walls painted with grapevine designs and windows that welcome a breathtaking view of the Leaning Tower of Willis. The quaint eatery also fills ear canals with live music performed by jazz trios, classical guitarists, and country crooners on weekend evenings.
A year after Scott Kerkmans created the role of Chief Beer Officer for the Four Points by Sheraton hotels, it began to get around that Denver was the "Napa Valley of Beer." As NPR later reports, the rumor is a culmination of a life spent steeped in beer culture. Before creating Colorado Beer Week and beating out more than 7,000 applicants for the title of CBO, Kerkmans was on the production side at Alaskan Brewing Company. He’s since authored articles for Draft Magazine, taught at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, and judged burped renditions of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Great American Beer Festival. He shares his taste in microbrews with more than 140 hotels and restaurants worldwide through the Four Point's beer program, but keeps his feet planted firmly on his home turf during his nine-day spring festival, which highlights the finest pours from Colorado breweries including New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Ska Brewing Company.
Voodoo Comedy Playhouse’s resident yuksters split sides four days a week, oscillating between stand-up acts, improv shows, and celebrity impersonation revues. On Saturday nights, The Fine Gentlemen’s Club opens its stately gates for a retinue of solo joke-tellers, lobbing laugh-bombs at audiences still crooning choruses from Hit and Run’s Friday night musical improv. Chuckling companions may also rain roses on Makeshift Shakespeare’s all-male cadre of bard-minded barnstormers, who deftly fuse the rich, florid prose of Shakespeare with a soupçon of gut-busting improv. Alternatively, guests can opt for a late-night lark at the Divalicious Cabaret, which raucously parades the spitting images of such fetching celebrities as Cher, Beyoncé, and Snuffaluffagus. Suds and spirits from a full-service bar irrigate arid laugh lairs as performers tread the boards beneath Voodoo’s pristine, ultramodern theater set-up.
If you’re looking to relax in downtown Denver and don’t feel like simply stepping into another brewpub, look no further than Harry’s Bar & Grill. Located just off the lobby of Magnolia Hotel Denver, the retro-designed restaurant and bar comes complete with mod lighting and funky seating, along with people-watching views of the 17th Street sidewalk. You’ll find hotel guests and locals alike hanging out at Harry’s Bar, ordering off their yummy menu of appetizers and entrées, complimented by wines, martinis and – of course – local brews. Open for lunch and dinner, their Apps & Bites menu features the popular Kobe sliders, buffalo chicken bites, white cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese and flatbread pizzas, while a wide range of larger portions involve burgers and wraps.