Denver: Red Rocks, Sours, Bagels & Dips

I was up early, and I had a hankering for a bagel. I’ve long given up on the idea that I can get a proper bagel anywhere outside of NY, but there is a certain, second-best standard that I have come to accept. On this morning, a quick yelp search had us en route to Rosenberg’s delicatessen, and, dare I say, it looked promising.


The two of us, Jews both, swooned at the deli case over smoked fish, Taylor ham, house made pickles, gravlax, and one extremely promising chalkboard menu. We started small and simple, ordering a couple of toasted everything bagels with hatch chile cream cheese, and, the bagels were so spot on, I yelled “mazel” and bought a tee-shirt that I lost before I got back to the car (across the street).

deli spread

The carb layer prepared us for the shortish ride to Red Rocks ampitheater, where we planned to go for a morning hike. Red Rocks, as of that visit was under some sort of driveway construction, so the approach was a bit confusing, and there were like five parking spots, but it turns out there are multiple approaches/parking lots and we picked an odd one. Once we reached the amphitheater, the stunning beauty of Red Rocks was revealed to us, a venue in which I’ve always dreamed I’d see my favorite band. During the day, people use red rock as an outdoor gym, running back/forth and up/down along the rock benches; some opt simply for the side stairs, and when I say “simply” I mean “aggressively,” as there is a massive amount of stairs. So many stairs, in fact, that there are magnets In the gift shop that say “I did the stairs at Red Rocks.” I know that because we walked under the amphitheater to use the restroom, located at the back of the gift shop. Also downstairs, the Red Rocks hall of fame; photos of musicians and bands who have played there over the years, and lists of every band that has played the amphitheater since 1893 (church choir).

The hike, was…simple. There are other options, longer, more intense hikes, but there was a couple with us who were winded by strolling casually on level dirt, so, we stuck with the three mile loop. Gorgeous, sunny and mind clearing.

red rock

For lunch, an absolute triumph (a triumph!) at Acorn, located within “The Source,” yet another warehouse food hall.

The Source

We devoured a French dip that rivaled Phillipe’s in Los Angeles (not in style, but in flavor) and yes, I know them’s fighting words to any Angelino, but, credit where credit is due.


A refreshing chopped salad topped with breaded, poached egg


and an ambitious buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, with parmesan hot sauce, egg and chives

chicken sandwich

We were so pleased with our experience at Acorn that we felt compelled, though we were mouth breathingly full, to squeeze in a scratch made brioche donut, which none of us regretted ordering


Of course, in Denver, no culinary success is absolute, and this one met its end with the cocktails, which were grievously cloying.


We waddled some forty feet over to Crooked Stave, a brewery/tasting room that offers only sour beers For reasons I don’t fully understand, I took a photo of their merch as opposed to their taps. Apologies.

sour bar

The exhaustive menu of sours is available in three sizes, if memory serves me right, the smallest of which is three ounces, which is a perfect way to sip your way through the lot of them. Our friends rounded up $50 worth of tacos from Comida, a taco truck turned brick and mortar (satellite located in The Source)


The next call was not mine, a rendezvous at The Highland Tavern, a place we had passed, and dismissed, multiple times on our walks through LoHi. The joke was on us, as despite appearances, the food was surprisingly worthy; giant, house-made, chile’d chicharrone’s


And a simple, well executed, craptastic grilled cheese with fries; Also not disappointing, their happy hour offering of $2 draught PBR’s

grilled cheese

Later in the night, we actually paid to go back to the suburban hell that is Westminster. We did. We had to meet friends again, and we ended up in the horrendous CB & Potts, where we drunkenly played some odd version of charades and munched on previously frozen crud, the likes of which came courtesy of a giant Sysco warehouse, to be sure.


And then, a visit to Benders, Denver, a bar that houses a full on hockey rink and features the same glorious name as the bar in which we work back home.

benders denver

We took our nightcap at The High Lonesome, a dark, moody, whisky bar so new, we could smell the wood and paint; a comforting return to not-Westminster.

In the morning, we went out of our way to visit Snooze, Denver’s most raved about breakfast spot (possibly their most raved about restaurant) where we sampled some OK fuds, after which we made a full, and triumphant, return to Rosenberg’s, for a robust bowl of matzo ball soup with chicken cracklings and fresh dill.


We couldn’t whittle the sandwich selection to just one, finally agreeing upon a brilliantly chewy, seeded bagel loaded with whitefish salad, lox and veggies,


And one wonderfully glutinous onion, slathered with hatch chile cheese and topped with my 80’s-childhood meat of choice…fried bologna.


The smooth wind that was this Rosenberg’s visit would have carried me all the way back to San Francisco, but alas, someone (Randi) threw me some turbulence with a very ill advised (mean spirited?) order of Coors light draught at the airport. I suppose, given the substantial amount of food failures I’d experienced throughout our trip, that it was most appropriate to depart with a bad taste in my mouth; you know, for closure.


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