Tag Archives: Denver

A detour back to Denver

Before talking about Maine, I really needed to tell you about Osteria Marco, my hands down favorite restaurant in Denver.  It wins that title because of its casual but very cool atmosphere, its fairly varied menu, and delicious and well priced food.

Osteria Marco is in the very pretty Larimer Square.  We sat outside since we try to avoid enclosed areas when eating out with Future Foodie.

We started with their meat sampler, which was a sampling (duh) of their own house made salamis.  The soppresata was out of this world, J and I were fighting over the last few pieces.  There was also a wild boar salami, which was very good as well.  All of the salamis were sliced paper thin and delicious.

We also ordered a whole grilled artichoke as an appetizer.  I wasn’t sure about it, because to be honest, we have ignored artichokes for a long time in our house.  But this appetizer definitely reminded us of how delicious artichoke can be.  It was grilled, and there was a lemony, garlicky, buttery sauce spooned all over it.   There was a garlic aioli sauce to dip the leaves in, and it served as a perfect compliment to the tender leaves.  J and I devoured the artichoke; another four or ten would have been great.

We ordered the margarita pizza.  When they brought over the pizzas, they also brought over a bottle of chili oil.  I had never seen that before and was all for it.  The pizza was really really good.  Nice and salty, the cheese had a nice flavor to it and the chili oil added a nice kick to the whole thing.

I actually brought some friends back to Osteria Marco a few days later, and they also were big fans of the place.

There are not a lot of restaurants that provide a cool, hip atmosphere with great affordable food, but Osteria Marco does it very, very well.

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Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs

I’m not sure how loudly I have proclaimed my love for hot dogs in the past, and I’m going to keep on proclaiming because I had one of the most delicious hot dogs of my life in Denver.  I was lucky enough to go to Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dog stand on 16th and Champa.  Anthony Bourdain is supposedly a big fan and now, so are J and I.

It’s a food cart, and they sell hot dogs for $5, but the catch is that these are no ordinary hot dogs.  They serve elk, boar, and buffalo hotdogs along with all beef hot dogs. It seemed like a popular place because there was a line of hungry looking but patient people.

J ordered the Elk jalapeno and cheddar dog.  I went crazy and ordered two different dogs, the veal hot dog and the Louisiana Red Hot (all beef dog).  You can get the option of cream cheese and caramelized onions (cooked with Pepsi) on the dogs.  I was not sure about this but I went ahead and did it anyway and am so damn glad I made that decision.

My other favorite part of this food cart was the variety of toppings they offered:  fresh chopped onions, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, sauerkraut, Sriracha, etc.  It was wonderful!

Let me tell you, when I bit into that Louisiana Red Hot, I was amazed by the deliciousness going on in my mouth.  It was spicy, not too salty, popped with flavor.  The cream cheese and onions really added to the entire experience.  My mouth is watering thinking about it right now.  The veal hot dog was really good but not as transcendent as the Red Hot.  J loved his elk, I found it a little dry. I probably could have eaten at least one more Red Hot, but I held back and I was thinking it’s probably not the healthiest thing to down three hot dogs in ten minutes.  Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t so reasonable but I am so happy that we got to taste that little slice of hot dog heaven.

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Rioja was the first restaurant I went to in Denver.  And wow, was it delicious.  My friend, D, recommended it.  She has wonderful taste in food and is also a fantastic chef.  I hopefully will be posting one of her recipes soon.

We started with the Fresh Bacon, which was cardamom spiced Kurobuta pork belly in a Madras curry scented fresh garbanzo bean purée.  We split it and it was melt in your mouth good.  The cardamom really added a nice dimension to the pork and I couldn’t stop dipping my bread (also delicious, and they served different varieties) into the garbanzo puree.

I completely overloaded on the bread by the way. There were these little goat cheese muffins and I couldn’t stop stuffing them in my mouth.

I ordered the grilled bone in rib-eye with crisp “eggplant parmesan” and  arugula salsa verde, heirloom tomatoes, parmesan emulsion with minus 8 ice wine vinegar.  It sounded too interesting to pass up.  I usually veer away from steaks on a menu but…I’m so glad I didn’t because the steak was so so good.  It was tender, and so full of flavor.  The arugula salsa verde added such a light complement to it, I had to finish the entire steak.  The heirloom tomatoes were ripe and delicious especially with the parmesan emulsion.  I think the only thing that did not stick out to me was the eggplant parmesan. It just seemed kind of out of place on the dish but it was nice and crispy.

I also tried halibut for the first time!  I have to admit, I don’t eat seafood.  It’s something with the smell.  I attribute to a highly sensitive sense of smell coupled with going to Chinatown fish markets growing up (very pungent fish aroma).  It’s kind of a mental block now but I’m getting better.

Anyway, I thought the food I had at Rioja was completely interesting, and very delicious. Plus, its location in Larimer Square is perfect.  It was pricey though, my steak was $29 by itself but I felt that it was completely worth it.

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