Denver spots I'll miss the most
Speaking of living in LoHi, most visitors to the neighborhood descended upon the restaurants on 16th Street between the walking bridge up to where the street turned into Tejon, and rightfully so: They're some of the hottest spots in town, with great views, good food and cool cocktails. But I could spend a perfect day doing nothing but eating my way down 32nd Avenue, which was never quite as busy as the stuff down the hill. I'd breakfast on baked goods and a breakfast sandwich at Wooden Spoon. I'd gorge on multiple scoops of gelato -- loading up, especially, on the sea-salt caramel -- from Spuntino. I'd tackle a 'shroom luva's burger and a pint at Highland Tap and Burger. And I'd finish my night at Williams & Graham with a cocktail or three and a plate of gnocchi.
I'd have a hard time picking my very favorite Boulder pizza -- I love a couple of different pies for different reasons -- but I can pick my favorite pizzeria without hesitation: Pizzeria Basta. I met Basta owner Kelly Whitaker when his restaurant space was just a shell, and I was immediately taken with his passion; I'd never met anyone who was so deeply in love with his craft. And then he opened the doors to his place and I learned he also makes one hell of a pizza, applying Italian technique and philosophy and sourcing local ingredients to make his wood-oven-charred pies. I love stopping in solo to hear about Whitaker's latest obsessions over a beer and a pizza, I love hitting Basta with my family after a day in Boulder, and I have great memories of the place as the site of an excellent first date.
Frasca Food and Wine
Yes, Frasca. Frasca will always have a particularly special place in my heart because it's where it all started for me. And by that I mean my life in restaurants, because I begged Bobby Stuckey for a job and he took pity on me, thereby setting me down the path by which I would become a full-fledged food geek rather than just an avid eater. Moreover, I took lessons from working for Stuckey that I'll carry into every job I ever have. For that opportunity alone, I'd salute the place. But the reason I'll miss it runs deeper: Frasca has brought an incredible food experience to this state, and it's been excellent to watch it grow, raise the bar and extend its influence. To witness things like that is why I moved back to Colorado in the first place. And beyond any of those sentiments, I'll miss the spot's chef-oriented events, which inevitably turn into some of the most fun -- and drunken -- parties I've attended in town.
Honorable mentions: The Bitter Bar, where I learned to drink real cocktails; The Squeaky Bean, which was my very favorite restaurant in Denver before it closed to relocate downtown; Steuben's, where I can be frequently found at the bar; and The Kitchen, which became my go-to lunch spot after it added a second location in Denver.