A wine tasting should take place without frills. At least, that’s what Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar’s owner David Schneider thinks. “The wine experience that a guest will have at Row 14 is all about trying and enjoying wine without the pretense that can be associated with it,” he explains on the restaurant’s site, adding, “Wine should be casual and conversational.” He opened his eatery in March of 2011 to bring his envisioned atmosphere—one that’s “sophisticated yet approachable”—to Denver. He partners an understandably extensive wine list with a menu that changes seasonally. All of the ingredients used are thoughtfully sourced from local farmers who adhere to sustainable practices. Items ranging from cheese plates and PEI mussels to lamb bolognese and roasted duck breast join glasses and bottles or reds, whites, and sparkling wines. The décor is minimal and modern, with sheer golden curtains matching honey-colored booths. Gray walls hoist abstract work above a deep brown, tree-like divider that runs through the center of the eatery. Overhead, gray lanterns cast soft light over the wooden tables, and an outdoor patio allows for al fresco dining.
One of Denver’s oldest coffee houses, Paris on Platte, located in Lower Highland, is an artsy hangout for sophisticated students cracking the books and prowling the internet, caffeine junkies, philosophers discussing the world’s woes and old-timers wistful for nostalgia. The bohemian space, bedecked with kaleidoscopic artwork, creaky wood floors, weathered wooden booths and tables and a fully equipped barista counter, encourages lingering, and people post up for hours, sipping cappuccinos and snacking on sandwiches, soups, salads, pizzas and a full board of desserts. At night, the adjacent wine bar, located next door, features live music, a chill vibe and a weekday happy hour from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Lala's imported-olive plate, served with roasted roma tomato and homemade crackers ($8), or the daily meat and cheese plate (3 for $14 or $6 each) are sociable starters to a wine-enhanced feast. Select from dozens of sips offered by the half glass and glass ($3.25–$20) or reserve bottle ($26+)—all organized according to types, tastes, and ability to withstand being thrown out of a fifth-floor window. Flatbread pizzas, served crispy, are Lala's standout dish. With an extra-virgin-olive-oil-and-roasted-garlic base, the Il David ($9.75) layers a blend of three cheeses, roasted garlic, oven-dried tomatoes, and Peppadew peppers with a generous smattering of herb-grilled chicken. The menu also includes salads and paninis ($7.75–$10.50). For dessert, the basil frolino ($5.50) sandwiches homemade basil gelato and fresh strawberries between lemon-hazelnut shortbread. Lala's also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring blood orange mimosas and Bloody Marys ($6.50 each), and a variety of crespelles, frittatas, and brunchy pizzas, such as the pizza Durango with chorizo, scrambled eggs, poblanos, and fontina cheese.