Denver's five best offbeat neighborhood restaurants
Some of the most interesting restaurants in the area aren't the hot spots that just opened or the fine-dining mainstays. Rather, they're the quirky eateries nestled into neighborhoods where crowds of regulars gather for good food and better entertainment, places that engage not just the palates of diners but also their souls.
The city is home to some excellent offbeat neighborhood restaurants. Here are five favorites:
5. Fuel Cafe
When Bob Blair opened Fuel Cafe in 2008, he took a gamble, moving into a former Yellow Cab dispatch center in the Taxi development in RiNo -- which was then really the middle of nowhere. The gamble paid off. Fuel's loosely Mediterranean menu is uncompromising in its use of organic ingredients, and the kitchen commands a following of nearby residents as well as people willing to travel miles to reach this edgy, urban space and breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes that are simple, but somehow push the envelope, too.
4. Frank's Kitchen
When Frank and Dina Berta abandoned careers in construction and restaurant journalism, respectively, to open Frank's Kitchen in the Whittier neighborhood in mid-2011, they had one goal: to become an integral part of the community. It didn't take them long to succeed: This tiny corner spot, painted orange and sparsely decorated save for a vintage Coca-Cola menu board, feels like it could have been here forever. The pair has built a crowd of regulars, who come in for chit chat and an ever-evolving eclectic menu that spans banh mi, spaghetti and meatballs, jerk chicken and even a Chicago dog.
3. Mercury Cafe
After trying on several locations in its first decade, the vibrant, colorful Mercury Cafe settled on the edge of downtown more than two decades ago, where it's been a gathering spot for a huge cross-section of Denver's artists, musicians, hippies and politicos. You're likely to spot anyone in the eclectic crowd, which packs the place for all manner of entertainment, from poetry slams to high tea, from live jazz to dance lessons. Besides creating and sustaining many communities, owner Marilyn Megenity also uses the Merc to promote world-friendly living, keeping her practices clean and green, and building the menu from her own urban farm.