Author: - January 9, 2012 - Updated: January 9, 2012

“Some people like to eat octopus. Liberals mostly.” — Russell Baker

THIS IS THE TWENTIETH ANNUAL “Welcome Back, Y’all” column, with my recommendations for scarfin’ grub within walking distance, or not more than a short ride from the state Capitol, but with an entirely new format.
Instead of the massive list I’ve compiled over the first two issues each January, I’ll do a more in-depth article on three or four eateries in the area near the Capitol for three of the four monthly issues over the time while the Legislature is in session. Hopefully you’ll find these columns equally (or more) informative than the old format I’ve used the past 19 years.

All the restaurants are open for lunch. It includes places that lobbyists oughta take ya to cuz you can’t afford them. It also includes some you can do on your own, or take your favorite restaurant critic to. If I left out one of your favorites, I probably don’t like the place. Most eateries now have websites with everything from menus to reservation links. Go on-line and take a peek. If we could find the website address, it’s listed. Watch the spelling cuz some names get tricky. Most eateries serve about the same grub at lunch and dinner, with higher prices and larger portions at dinner.

While I try to update my comments every year, menus and chefs change about as often as I change socks, so please note that my comments may be outta date before this gets to the copy editor. Let me know if I miss something. And if you ever wanna chat, I’m usually available. Preferably over a meal that you are paying for.

535 16th St. • 720-932-1700

The menu is quite eclectic with munchies such as English eggrolls (pot roast and veggies), dragon skewers (sesame shrimp wrapped sirloin), bison sausage, wings and other goodies. One of muh favs at lunch is the pulled pork sangie, with a tasty yet not overpowering bbq sauce. Lunch always offers several soups and salads. I enjoy good soup all year, and salads when I think I’ve been bad and need to do penance. I’ve been perfect for years!

In addition to the standard burgers, chicken sangies, french dip, and other sangies, they offer several unusual sangies like the four corners turkey sangie, a yummy combo of house roasted turkey breast with grilled poblano peppers, caramelized onions, lime aioli, and smoked gouda on jalapeno cheddar bread. For the vegetarians there’s a tofu Philly pita with poblano pepper, crimini mushrooms, red onion and provolone on pita.

Entrées include Falafel, English pot roast, fish & chips, lemon grass teriyaki pork spareribs and daily seafood specials, among several other entrées. Another of their unusual dishes is the Quattro fromaggio macaroni — manchego, asiago, parmesan and sharp cheddar cheeses, with peppered bacon. They also offer a yummy selection of desserts including tres leches cake.

I think prices lean toward a bit high for lunch, but the portions are generous, the service is very good, and the patio is a deliteful place to enjoy an Indian summer or spring-like day.

1330 Grant St. • 303-830-7101

One of few national chains that is consistently good with both food and service. This store, a block south of the Capitol has one drawback: parking. But legislators and lobbyists can all do with a bit of exercise now and then, so who cares?

G luvs their soups and French bread and I luv their cookies. My fav cuz in Omaha luvs their tuna sangies. So everyone can be satisfied. They’ve got something for everyone.

You can start the day with a variety of new breakfast selections including bagels, sangies, egg dishes, and soufflés as well as a large selection of pastries.

The ultra-popular soups vary daily. You can find the master list online or ask for the daily soup selection menu next time you visit. There’s always chicken noodle soup if you gotta cold.

For lunch and dinner they offer pasta, sangies, soups and salads and a variety of combos. I’m into sangies and paninis. And dessert.

The sangie and panini selection offers a variety of meats and cheeses on lotsa different breads and rolls. Their breads are all terrific and sometimes you just want a bowl of soup and some fresh French bread and butter. Then you have room for dessert. Lately I’ve been enthralled with a chocolate mint cookie dusted with powdered sugar.

Panera opened a store near our house so G can get her fresh soup fix regularly.

1625 Wazee St. • 303-623-1630

One of the serving staff at District Meats displays a tray of appetizers featured in the new LoDo Denver restaurant which opened last month.

While I rarely mention a restaurant without it being around for at least 90 days, this one has a well-tested past in other cities. Celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer is the proprietor, and has almost a dozen other eateries around the country under his belt. This store opened a month ago, when the sister pizzeria opened. More about them in a future column.

Pickled veggies, marinated olives, potato chips with remoulade seasonings and other unusual dishes introduce you to this rather eccentric but well-executed menu.

Celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer, second from left, poses with ‘foodies’ from Denver during the opening of District Meats.

There are several soups including a maaavelous green chili stew. Salads include their specialty Caesar salad that has real anchovy. They also offer several large salads that are really meals like their steak salad with spoon cabbage, heirloom carrots and sesame soy dressing.

The mains continue the unusual. Charlie uses less expensive but excellent popular cuts of meat. Here he offers a wondrous and favorite cut of mine, the tri-tip steak. This cut, along with hanger steak and flat iron steak are very popular all across the country and reasonably priced. Also you will find Scottish Salmon, chicken schnitzel and other entrees.

Sangies include the required burger but I’m starting with the brisket panini with caramelized onion, apple horsey and gruyere (hold the gruyere).

The unusual sides include Yukon potato puree and fire-roasted heirloom squash and eggplant with roasted red peppers.

Don’t expect this menu to be inexpensive and you won’t be surprised. When you see the stunning room along with the gorgeous open kitchen you’ll know why the prices are where they are. Someone’s got to pay for the ambiance.

This is one of them places you need to check the current rules on Amendment 41 spending limits, but will certainly be worth the cost if you can get someone else to pay legally. Check out their elaborate web site.


Jay Fox can be contacted at jay@jayfoxcpa.com.

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