I’ll let you in on a little secret. While I write for one of the biggest food publications in the Mile High, very little about the restaurants in Colorado impress me. I regard almost everything about my move to Denver as a life upgrade, but one thing they could seriously improve upon is their dining scene. Maybe I was spoiled by all the new restaurants in Chicago (usually in my own neighborhood, no less), or just used to the quick turnover, but it seemed like everyday there was a new spot to try. While there are a few standout chefs like Troy Guard who can seemingly do no wrong and have a new project every month or so, for the most part, Denver restaurants are rather uninspiring. My favorite Westword comment we ever got, “Denver, your food scene is seriously overrated.” Newsflash: you have to be rated to be overrated. Here’s my problem with Denver dining:
There’s a serious lack of diversity.
Food in Denver can typically be classified in three genres: Mexican/green chili, pho or farm to table, which all are done well, but that’s not enough to satisfy my international taste buds. Sure, there’s Federal Boulevard and Aurora, but where are all the ethnic hole in the walls in Denver proper? I need Korean BBQ, bahn mis, and better Greek than cheap pitas. It’s sad when the most diversity comes in the form of food trucks. And quite frankly, who has the time to be chasing those down?
Nothing is open late.
Granted I came from a city where you can get virtually anything delivered 24/7, but post-bar grub is hard to come by if it’s not on wheels. I desperately need the delivery options expanded, especially on Sunday nights where the old religious laws are still lingering in effect. Logging into GrubHub is depressing with only about 10 restaurant to choose from that include pizza, pizza or bad sushi.
The only grocery store within 15 minutes of my house is the Un-Safeway, which is about as appetizing as it sounds. The Source was supposed to be a convenient, local market, but their prices don’t exactly make it a neighbor-friendly accessible stop. Trader Joe’s finally opened in D-town, but it’s all the way across town and the RiNo area is growing so much faster than demand can keep up.
While I believe all the urban development will eventually bring new restaurants and genres (hello, shabu shabu), most of what I’ve seen so far is the same old, same old. Kitschy names with ampersands, local, seasonal this and that. Denver restaurateurs, please prove me wrong, I’m dying for a good meal I can really write home about.