Pretty much any day in Denver is bound to be a great day so when I realized that Alex and I had a few hours to leave the airport before our connecting flight to Montana, I called our friends Finn and Laura to see if they were available. Fortunately, Finn had some free time and picked us up for a whirlwind afternoon of food and fun on a beautiful day in Denver.
We first drove through “LoDo,” or lower downtown, past Coors Field and beautiful turn-of-the century architecture. LoDo boasts brewpubs, sports bars, restaurants, and coffee houses and seems to contain constant energy.
At Union Station, we made a pit stop for a late lunch at Mercantile. Union Station was completely renovated a few years ago and just re-opened this summer with several restaurants and retailers, a train waiting room (the Great Hall), and the Crawford Hotel (here is a long, but interesting article on the history of the renovation if you are interested). The space is classic, clean, and beautiful, and you could easily spend an afternoon eating, shopping, and people watching. If you are interested, Denver Union Station is currently offering tours (register here for $20 including a drink).
Mercantile Dining and Provisions
Lunch was at Mercantile, a concept by the chef of Denver’s well-known Fruition Restaurant. Mercantile is a combination cafe and small market, selling pickled vegetables, cheese, and fresh preserves. The restaurant was beautiful, service was friendly, and food and drinks were fantastic. Mercantile also has a separate dinner menu. What to eat: For lunch, try the Braised Short Rib or Bahn Mi sandwiches.
After lunch, we headed for RiNo (the River North Art District), an industrial turned artsy area of town. Finn took us to The Source, a warehouse transformed into a delightful artisan food market that features craft beer, baked goods, coffee, cheese, and locally made items. It is the foodie version of a one-stop-shop and is a genius concept, in my opinion. It reminded me of some of my favorite markets in Madrid. Since we were short on time, we made a beeline for Crooked Stave, The Source’s resident brewery. Most of the beers were Belgian sour beers, so if you enjoy sour beers, you will be in heaven! Crooked Stave also offers kombucha tea and unique kombucha/beer blends. You can also grab an excellent cup of coffee at the Denver location of Boulder’s Boxcar Coffee Roasters.
Our final stop was at Epic Brewing for flights of beer because, when in Rome, right? You can’t visit Colorado without sampling several local beers. Epic Brewing has a large variety of beers available, making a flight (or two) a must. Beer to try: Epic Apocalypse Black IPA.
As always, we had a great time in Denver, even if it was only for a few hours. Special thanks to our friend Finn, who is a great tour guide! If you don’t have a few hours in Denver, but have a layover at Denver International Airport, make sure you grab a bite to eat at Root Down in the C terminal. I haven’t been to too many airports that offer award-winning cuisine from a local favorite, so take advantage of the opportunity in Denver! We were able to meet Finn and Laura for drinks there on our way back from Montana and previously enjoyed a dinner at the location in Denver (read about our last “Day in Denver” here).
And with that, I’ll see you next week to tell you all about skiing in Big Sky and visiting Yellowstone National Park in the winter!
Mercantile Dining and Provisions, 1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202
Root Down, 1600 West 33rd Avenue, Denver, CO 80211 or Terminal C, DIA
Epic Brewing, 3001 Walnut Street, Denver, CO 80205
Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop, Denver, CO 80202
The Source, 3350 Brighton Boulevard, Denver, CO 80216