Set to open June 1, the 16-stall Milk Market is Denver’s next big food and market hall, adding to six existing concepts like it around town. This latest offering by restaurateur Frank Bonanno takes up a cool quarter of the newly renovated Dairy Block, located at 18th and Wazee Streets. Its food lineup is a veritable “greatest hits” of the chef’s 10 current Denver concepts, as well as some restaurant ghosts brought back for a reprise.
Everything from Nashville-style fried chicken to poke and bao buns will be sold. And while Eater has already introduced the 16 dining options — including separate cocktail, coffee, wine, and beer bars — a recent tour of this nearly finished space revealed some big surprises. Here they are, in order of excitement.
There will be alcohol everywhere.
Milk Market perusers won’t get very far without being tempted by a boozy drink. There’s one main cocktail bar, a 24-tap beer bar, 16 wines on tap in the wine “cellar;” and cocktail, beer, and wine taps at nearly every food stall in the building. Oh, and randomly positioned bar carts for happy hours as well as bottomless breakfast mimosas and bloody marys. Bonanno Concepts beverage director Adam Hodak is pulling out all stops for the space, including wine tastings and special tapped concoctions like Bourbon apple cider (to drink with fried chicken). On hot days, drinkers will want to go straight for the bottled Thai jelly beers or “beer slushies” for enjoying with buns, noodles, and rice bowls.
The activated alleyway should be a full-on block party.
Forget the mere outdoor patio, four of Milk Market’s offerings will be available from walk-up windows along the Dairy Block’s activated alleyway. Throughout the day, customers can take a stroll and find Morning Joe coffee and pastries, Bao Chica Bao buns, Cornicello gelato, and late-night Engine Room pizza amid the hanging lights and planted pots. Inside the hall, daily programming will include cooking and educational food classes, morning yoga sessions, pop-ups, and tastings.
Bonanno wants this to be a food shopper’s fever dream.
“You’re not going to be able to turn around without bumping into packaged crostinis or jars of olive oil,” Bonanno says. “We want you to come in hungry and leave with something for tomorrow.” For anyone who’s ever been to an Eataly or even marveled at a colorful display in Whole Foods, the effect here should be similar. Tables, coolers, and display cases will be filled with market goods such as dried pastas, imported cheeses, and marinated artichokes, along with other assorted antipasti. An in-house butcher will sell steak cuts, burger packs, and sausages. And a fish market will offer crab cakes, mussels, and New Jersey steamers.
A market concierge will make office lunches easier.
Bonanno refers to Milk Market as “one really big beast,” and justifiably so. Unlike other market and food hall formats, he owns and operates everything here, from the bars to the food stalls. It’s a differentiating factor, for sure, and could result in ease of use for the customer. To bring down the daunting scale of the beast, Bonanno is implementing a “concierge service” so that diners can call ahead (or go online) and order, say, lunch for the whole office from any of the individual vendors. The concierge will collect and package everything to-go and will also offer the same service for market goods pick-ups.