Denver Restaurant Week 2017: The reasonable, neighborhood approach

Let’s be real, you’re probably not going crazy during Denver Restaurant Week.

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At the new location of Il Posto at 26th and Larimer. (Ashley Dean/Denverite)

At the new location of Il Posto at 26th and Larimer. (Ashley Dean/Denverite)

Let’s be real, you’re probably not going crazy during Denver Restaurant Week. Eating out every night is expensive no matter what and, you know, sometimes you just want a bowl of cereal.

But hey, the offers are almost literally on the table. You might as well have one or two nights out.

So let’s see if we can simplify this. The Denver Restaurant Week website helpfully groups the participating restaurants by broad neighborhood, so we picked one from each group based partly on what looks like the best deal and partly on good old-fashioned subjective personal preference.

Downtown: Il Posto or Whiskey Tango Fox Trot
Inside the new location of Il Posto at 26th and Larimer. (Ashley Dean/Denverite)

Inside the new location of Il Posto at 26th and Larimer. (Ashley Dean/Denverite)

I know, I know, I said I’d only pick one, but there are 76 to choose from in this category so you’re getting two.

Both restaurants are offering a wide array of options, which is key when you’re trying to make restaurant week decisions. (It’s hard to please everyone with a strictly limited menu.)

Il Posto, which just moved into a gorgeous new space at 26th and Larimer, is letting you take your pick of appetizer, pasta and entrée for $35. Here’s what I ate when I went back in January.

Back behind Coors Field, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot will also be offering a $35 meal. It starts with a charcuterie taster, followed by buffalo cauliflower, edamame hummus or glazed sprouts for an appetizer; Foxtrot fried chicken, the Whiskey Tango burger, a mediterranean salad or Whiskey pulled pork for an entrée; and an ice cream sammy or banana split funnel cake for dessert. If you like fried chicken, I can’t recommend theirs enough.

Uptown: MAX’s Wine Dive
Max's Wine Dive on 7th Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  food; restaurants; bars; nightlife; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;

Max's Wine Dive on 7th Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Almost went with Humboldt Fish & Wine in this group just because the Brussels sprouts are among the best I’ve ever had, but MAX’s Wine Dive takes it for variety and uniqueness.

Here’s the $35 menu:

Appetizers

  • Pulled pork stuffed peppers: pulled pork and cotija stuffed, topped with chipotle aioli and cilantro chimichurri
  • Cranberry salad: mixed greens, granny smith apples, chevre, candied nuts, white balsamic
  • Pork belly bites: tender belly, jalapeno bacon jam, natural jus
  • MAX ‘n Cheese: cavatappi pasta in a truffle cream sauce with provolone, Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Entrées

  • Famous southern fried chicken: jalapeño-buttermilk marinated chicken with mashed potatoes, collard greens and Texas toast
  • Sherry and port braised short rib: scalloped potatoes, mirepoix, brown gravy
  • Market fish: corn succotash, arugula salad, romesco
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup: sourdough batard, pimento three-cheese blend, house made potato chips, rustic tomato soup

Dessert

  • Bread pudding
  • Nanner puddin’
Highland: Root Down

If you take a look at the Old Major menu and like what you see, I highly recommend you go there.

If not, Root Down should be able to please you. The popular restaurant inside an old filling station at 33rd and Osage earned its popularity and accolades by getting creative. Here’s everything they’re offering for $35 this week:

First course

  • Carrot and thai red curry soup: apple-pear chutney and cilantro (GF)
  • Roasted baby beet salad: arugula, Broken Shovel goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts,beet-sunflower seed pesto and basil vin (V/GF)
  • Butternut squash gnocchi: hazel dell mushrooms, currants, Midnight Moon gouda, chili flake, balsamic, brown butter and hazelnut-sage pesto

Second course

  • Pork tenderloin: bacon fat fingerling potatoes, celery root-pear choucroute, cranberry jam, Big B’s cider reduction and black pepper oil (GF); or substitute country fried tofu with cashew creamed kale, spiced lentils, golden raisin coulis, apple and crispy chilis (V/GF)
  • Steelhead trout: roasted root vegetables, Brussels sprout, Spanish chorizo, horseradish-pickled mustard seed cream and chipotle mashers (GF)
  • Kashmiri chicken: green chile grit cake, Lacinato kale, piquillo coulis and green curry sauce (GF)

Dessert

  • “Ice cream” sundae/trio of chocolate: vanilla bean and strawberry sorbets, banana whipped coconut cream, chocolate syrup, candied peanuts and candied cherry (GF/V)
  • Chocolate bar/chocolate mousse: almond brownie, ginger caramel and pink peppercorn whipped cream (GF)
Golden Triangle: Pint’s Pub
Pints Pub on 13th Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  food; restaurants; bars; nightlife; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;

Pints Pub on 13th Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

There are only three choices here and I’m going with the one that’s more about drinking than eating: Pint’s Pub.

The first course is their freshman single-malt whisky course (which I’ve done and enjoyed). For the second course, you get any entrée you want off the menu and it comes with your choice of any of the house-brewed craft ales.

This one’s also $35. It’s also British as all hell.

South Broadway / Wash Park: Carmine’s on Penn
Carmine's on Penn. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  food; restaurants; bars; nightlife; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;

Carmine's on Penn. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

There are a handful of great options, including weird little spots Adrift and Beatrice & Woodsley, but I have to go with a Denver classic here. Carmine’s has been serving giant, family-style plates of Italian food over on Pennsylvania and Bayaud for more than 20 years.

They’re offering up pretty much anything you might want for their $35 Restaurant Week menu, so I won’t list it all here. Just trust that it’s good.

Cherry Creek: Trattoria Stella

I go to the location by the Bluebird Theater, but Trattoria Stella is one of my favorite restaurants in Denver. I’m a sucker for inexpensive but creative Italian food.

For their $25 Restaurant Week menu, they’re offering a big chunk of their menu (with a glass of red wine included):

Starters

  • Fried green tomatoes with housemade mozzarella, pear-sage aioli
  • Whipped gorgonzola dip with cream cheese, garlic and walnuts, and fresh fruit and bread
  • Pan-seared Brussels sprouts with pancetta, garlic, shallots and maple-sherry-balsamic glaze
  • Crispy prosciutto salad with mixed greens, onions, figs, candied walnuts and gorgonzola

Pastas

  • Spaghetti bolognese: ragu of sausage, beef, pork, tomatoes, onion, celery, wine
  • Spaghetti arrabbiata: smoky/spicy red sauce with chipotle, bacon and pancetta
  • Creamy sausage rigate: rigate noodle with creamy, spicy pink sauce with sausage
  • Truffle asparagus spaghetti: thyme butter, pinenuts, asparagus, mushrooms and truffle oil (this one is my absolutely favorite)
  • 32nd Street Pasta: spinach spaghetti, cranberries, pecan, shrimp and goat cheese

Dessert

Your choice of all the daily, fresh desserts.

Stapleton / Lowry: Stanley Beer Hall
The Stanley Beer Garden. Stanley Marketplace. Jan 7, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  stanley marketplace; aurora; retail; kevinjbeaty; colorado; denverite;

The Stanley Beer Hall. Stanley Marketplace. Jan 7, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (because I have no problem being annoying): Go check out Stanley Marketplace.

Here are your options on the beer hall‘s $25 menu:

Small plates 

  • Crispy brussels sprouts, bits of bacon, apple and parm, sweet and spicy peanuts
  • Spicy maple glazed chicken wings
  • Romaine lettuce, avocado, apple, dates, almonds
  • Fire roasted tomato soup, herb and shallot chevre toast
  • Warm pretzels with pimento cheese

Large plates 

  • Rice gnocchi, shredded mushrooms, grilled broccolini, crispy onion
  • Mussels, steamed in lemongrass and cider broth, roasted fennel, french fries
  • Roasted buttermilk chicken, natural jus and herbs, roasted root vegetables, french fries
  • Slow roasted pork shoulder, pickles, braised red cabbage with bacon, french fries

Desserts 

  • Chocolate mousse, peanut butter crunch and whipped cream
  • Selection of ice creams and sorbets

And, hey, if you really want to go wild, who am I to stop you? Here are all of the 251 places participating in Denver Restaurant Week 2017. You have until March 5 to get your fill.