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Old 07-10-2010, 01:42 PM
414 posts, read 1,589,336 times
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I moved to Denver a year ago, and so far, that is what I've been very disappointed to find. Denver simply has one of the most godawful atmospheres for eating out, possibly even the worst for major cities in the United States. I've talked to quite a few other transplants about it, and of those who cared or had thought about it, most agreed. Don't get me wrong, I do love it here in Denver- I'm just extremely disappointed with what I expected would be a big city experience when it came to eating out. Eating out has always been one of my favorite things to do, and halfway through my time here, I basically just decided to give it up because it wasn't worth it.

It's sad, really. I have no idea what aspect of Denver it is that could have brought such an extremely poor culinary atmosphere out. It's quite remarkable considering Denver's size and the amount of people moving here. It is even worse than in Oshkosh, Wisconsin - a blue-collar town of 65,000 of which I lived 19 years of my life and wish to never return. And it doesn't even compare to Madison on any level, nor to Milwaukee or Appleton. Worst of all, the Mexican food is way better back in Wisconsin too!

Granted, I haven't been to a huge amount of cities, but of comparable cities I've been to, all have been significantly better. SF, Minneapolis, Boston, D.C., Chicago, Des Moines, Iowa City, just to name a few, all seem significantly a bit more on the ball when it comes to serving up delicious food. It's just pretty sad when you are so disenchanted with the city's options that you and your friends decide to drive almost 20 minutes away to go to a Buffalo Wild Wings...

Last edited by ComfortablyNumb; 07-10-2010 at 02:01 PM..
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:51 PM
Location: Denver, CO
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I think you need to get out more... the world is a much bigger place than Denver, Madison and Oshkosh. You yourself said you haven't been to many cities, so what is the basis for comparison?
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
I think you need to get out more... the world is a much bigger place than Denver, Madison and Oshkosh. You yourself said you haven't been to many cities, so what is the basis for comparison?
I don't mean I haven't been to any cities at all. I've seen my fair share of the country from coast to coast, but I didn't want my tone to come across as if I had been all over the place. And in any case, getting out more would be what I needed to do if I thought Denver's food was fantastic, unless you are suggesting that going to bigger and more cosmopolitan cities would make me realize food in these other places is actually worse...
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:02 PM
Location: Golden, CO
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I wonder if the altitude has anything to do with it?

I've noticed a lot of upscale restaurants in LoDo and Cherry Creek especially and while I'm not really a 'foodie', I've wondered if the food is decent or if those places just stay in business because of the upscale atmosphere they offer.
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:38 PM
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I think the easy access to a huge variety of foods is one thing I'll miss about SoCal. The good news is that we'll eat in more which is cheaper and better for you anyway.
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:39 PM
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Try Watercourse or City-o-City. Good vegetarian and vegan eats...even if you arent a vegetarian its something different to try every now and then to break the boredom. I've noticed this about Denver too. Being from the south I'm used to there being a barbeque or chicken and catfish joint every couple miles to offer authentic flavors of the area. Denver seems to be more about beer than food.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:50 PM
Location: Littleton, CO
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Admittedly, Denver restaurants are mostly chains. Perhaps because Denver's growth is mostly post 1970s. I must disagree about your Mexican food comments. I've had the Mexican food in Wisconsin and it was terrible. You must be going to the wrong places.

Maybe you live in a bad restaurant neighborhood.
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:28 PM
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This is my biggest complaint too. I *have* lived in 12 different states in the past 18 years, and enjoy a good meal out. In the 10 months I've been her with my wife, we're 1 for about 20 and that one, while good, was not great (and was Quite expensive).

I'm sure there are some good places out here, but those with lots of good online reviews have all been a bust. Ironically, the better the reviews, it seems the worse the food (I think a lot of reviews are about the "ambiance" or "hipness", and have nothing to do with the food). Restaurants out here also think a LOT of their food, because prices are quite high for what's offered.

But I'm holding out hope that there's something good out there. It's just finding these places, you get discouraged trying place after place, feeling like you've wasted tons of money on mediocre food.
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:40 PM
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I disagree. To say it is the worse is wrong. The food in Denver, both variety and higher cuisine, is on par with many other cities of similar size and location in the Midwest and the west. It does lack the seafood influence of a seaport. It does lack the extensive ethnic influence of larger cities. However, it does have a ethnic influence of independent restaurants, Asian and some European, if you know the neighborhoods. Of course, it has a more varied and extensive Hispanic and Southwest Cuisine than many other cities in the Midwest or the east.

If you decry the chain restaurants then try some of the restaurants in the older neighborhoods of Denver on Broadway and Federal. Good Cuisine is actually just good cooking. It does not have to be the most expensive or the most rare or the most sophisticated preparations. It does not have to be served in the most posh environment. It does not have to reflect the current culinary trend.

To say you judge an areas cuisine by the availability of Buffalo Wings is ludicrous. Yes, it is delicious and can be considered a good simple preparation of cooking but it is just an easily prepared bar food and appetizer.

I grew up in New York near the ethnic working class city of Buffalo. It had some good cooking reflective of the influence of the ethnic working class of Polish, German and Italian. But I never heard of Buffalo Wings until after I returned from the Army.

I graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, many years ago and I worked in New York City at some of the best restaurants and hotels. When I worked in Denver, as a Chef and Purchasing Agent, I noticed that the area did not have the availability of food that was comparable to NYC. That did not make the food in restaurants bad; it just reflected the different region; the different demand and the less ethnic influence.

You would assume that the Beef was better in Colorado being a State known for cattle raising and feed lots. That was not true when I came here because the sophistication of Beef is related to the fabrication. I found that I had to import some specialty cuts and aged beef from Eastern Cities, Kansas City and Chicago. That is particularly true for many cured meat products. In addition the extensive variety of Bread were not then available. Certain produce, ethnic and specialty products were not to be seen in the market. However, that was over 30 years ago and today much of those products are readily available in Denver and some locally produced.

Denver has come a long way and it does now have a more extensive cuisine, more good restaurants and a better supply chain. It is not New York City; It is not San Francisco; It is not Los Angeles because the wide demand of a larger more diverse population, of ethnicity and wealth, does not exist. Do you really want that? For to have to live in a larger populated city, like New York City, has its problems; has its stress and assuredly has its higher cost of even the simpler foods. Having lived and worked in NYC, I would live in Denver even if I cannot get "baloney on a roll" as one would call a hot dog at Coney Island--I will be satisfied living a relaxed life with a Burrito in Denver.


Last edited by livecontent; 07-10-2010 at 04:48 PM..
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:47 PM
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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I kinda agree with you and kinda don't. I don't think it's all as bad as you do, but it's not as good as it should be either.

Basically in Denver you can find at least one or two restaurants from most parts of the world, although there are some glaring exceptions. There's some decent Middle Eastern food. There's a large selection of Vietnamese and Korean. There's some decent Indian places. There's also some oddball stuff you wouldn't expect such as a Russian restaurant.

Unfortunately Denver is lacking in South American food: there are NONE except for, like, one Peruvian restaurant and that's it. And it's not open for lunch.

The problem I see with the restaurant scene is that the food, although good, is not spectacular and there's not enough restaurants or variety. This I believe is due to the fact that Denver does not have large populations of immigrants from other countries. It has "pockets" of immigrants but no defined neighborhoods that give it character.

Still, it's better than what we've got in Grand Junction.

I had the good fortune to be in San Francisco last week and you can bet I took advantage of it.
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