Magazine article Sunset

The Real Denver

Magazine article Sunset

The Real Denver

Article excerpt

ASK A LOCAL

You didn't travel a mile high only to come up short. Two tour guides show you the town.

Where do you go to see classic Denver?

annelise: The lobby of the The Brown Palace Hotel. It's plush and comfortable and there's a musician named Danny Showers who's been playing piano there since I was a kid. We'd come every Mother's Day to eat at Ellyngton's, which still has the best Champagne brunch in Denver, hands down. Danny is always playing on Mother's Day. adam: I love that it's unpretentious and yet still a fancy place. It's a special environment in that way. During the National Western Stock Show every January, they parade the prized steer through the lobby. I would also recommend driving all 26 miles of Colfax Avenue to get a sense of what Denver was like when it was still a town where people stayed overnight on their way across the country. The neon signs are wonderful and give it the feel of old Vegas. You start to imagine someone in their fancy '40s car zipping through and getting excited about reaching the West.

Favorite low-key lunch spot?

adam: My go-to for authentic Mexican food is El Taco de Mexico. You'll always find Anglo hipsters there, fueling up before they cruise the art galleries on Santa Fe. The steak tacos remind me of what I eat when I'm in Guadalajara, where the tortilla is a way of getting the beef from the plate to your mouth. ANNELISE: I work right near there. Our building has 42 people in it, and every day someone is chowing on a burrito or tacos from El Taco. $; 74 Santa FeDr.; eltacodemexico denver.com.

For a fancy dinner?

annelise: I take out-of-towners to Rioja. The menu is seasonal and consistently interesting. I'm not a huge meat eater, but their pork belly appetizer is magnificent. They serve it on a bed of curried chickpeas. And as always, it's accompanied by the best selection of breads, butters, and salts. $$$; 1431 Larimer St.; riojadenver.com.

Where do you shop besides the malls?

ADAM: I like Ironwood, a perfectly curated curiosity cabinet of a store. You don't know whether things are made by an artist or some 19th-century cartographer. It's all mixed together. There might be a beautiful selection of cactus next to artist-designed sculptures. annelise: You can find crystals and air plants and locally made jewelry. I picked up these cool earrings there that are long gold chains with baby rattlesnake vertebrae.

What's a good park?

ADAM: The only place in Denver I would actually drive with my dog to take a walk is Cheesman Park. It's simple, shaded, and French in design. And it's got the most wonderful oval-shaped field of grass. annelise: It's elevated and hilly, so you can get a good perspective of downtown.

How about a one-ofa-kind museum?

adam: There's nothing like the Kirkland Museum in the world. It's inspired by the art of Vance Kirkland, a midcentury Colorado painter whose style went from realist to surrealist to abstract expressionist to space age. It's a completely eccentric collection of decorative art, midcentury modem furniture, and design objects. And it's all curated by one guy, which is what I love: There's an authenticity and craziness to it that's electric. Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art: $8; 1311 Pearl St.; kirklandmuseum.org.

Tell us where the locals drink?

annelise: The Denver Beer Co. is a very simple brewpub, with bench seats and a big patio. It's all about the beer, nothing more. I get the graham cracker porter-dark and smooth with a nutty, clean finish. …

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