The Mile High City has been turning heads toward its booming dining scene and craft brewery trend. Gaining national attention from a myriad of sources means the scene is undoubtedly doing something right. Here's the buzz relations to Denver from the last couple of weeks.
Top Chefs Flock to Denver: NPR reported that some of the nation's leading chefs are now sprouting in, and heading to, Denver for its booming food scene. Though the city hasn't always been able to compete on the national scale with powerhouses like Chicago and New York, the massive influx of people into the city due to the nearby oil and gas boom means a corresponding influx of top-notch restaurants. These restaurants, powered by now-famous chefs like James Beard Award-winning Jennifer Jasinski and veteran restaurateur Frank Bonnano have transformed what was just two decades ago a relatively dormant dining scene. This scene is increasingly competitive, with restaurant sales doubling within ten years, though for many, profits continue to widdle away. The local environment is encouraging valiant chefs nationwide to come to compete with the best of Colorado.
The Source is One of America's Best Food Halls: Travel + Leisure compiled a list of the best food halls in the nation, and RiNo's the Source made the cut. Having nationally recognized Acorn within its walls certainly helped, but other spots like Comida, Babette's Artisan Bread, Boxcar Coffee Roasters, and Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe helped garner the accolade as well. Among the other attractions listed are Grand Central Market in Los Angeles and Melrose Market in Seattle.
Panzano Has A JBF Favorite Dish of 2014: The James Beard Foundation collected a gallery of its favorite dishes from 2014, and the braised lamb croquette created by Panzano chef Elise Wiggins earned Colorado a nod. Showcasing her talents at the Denver Women Chefs Rule Beard House dinner, Wiggins also drew attention to the quality of the local lamb, specifically that of Triple M Bar Ranch. The dish is available on the menu currently at Panzano, where it is a huge seller.
Denver is a Best Beer City, Too: Livability.com created a roundup of the best beer cities in the nation right now, giving Denver the number 2 spot. Both production and consumption were taken into account, which means Mile High-ers love to make their beer and drink it too. Citing the Great American Beer Festival's 32-minute sell-out, "every day is a beer fest in Denver." With breweries expanding and opening left and right in 2014, it would be no surprise if the Denver scene were ranked number 1 in years to come.
RiNo is a National Top Food Neighborhood: Thrillist ranked the best food neighborhoods in the nation, acknowledging the hip RiNo area as a place "practically swarming with hot restaurants and breweries." Crediting the Source, Work & Class, Cart-Driver and others in the area for the nod, it's clear that RiNo isn't just a spot for locals, but it is quickly becoming a national attraction.
Punch Bowl Social is a Perfect Place for Punch: USA Today's Travel section highlighted some of the perfect places for punch around the country, electing Punch Bowl Social as an example. Patrick Williams, beverage director at the restaurant, noted that in order to be considered a proper punch, five key components are needed: "1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong, 4 parts weak." Sharing the Royal Hutch Punch, made with Bacardi, St. Germain, peach bitters and white tea, Punch Bowl put Denver on the map as a place that can sling beverages just as well as the big dogs.
Editorial disclosure: The editor of Eater Denver is married to one of the developers behind the Source.