The more I’m working in and exploring Denver, the more I’m realizing that I really wrote that city off for awhile.
When I first moved to Colorado and got settled in Louisville and then Boulder, I didn’t make the trip to Denver that often. I worked in RiNo (the trendy River North Art District near downtown Denver) once per week doing some freelance writing, but I didn’t venture much further outside my drive there and back on Mondays. I got caught in the Boulder Bubble, as they call it, like everyone said I would. And I’m beginning to realize it’s because most of my friends in Boulder didn’t like Denver. It’s very true that, as a Coloradan, you’re either a Boulder person or a Denver person, and I let their opinions sway my own, so I never made time to be there unless I had to.
One of the reasons I was most excited to move out here was to run and ride in the mountains and I thought if I lived in Denver, I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of that or build a community of friends to do those things with on my days off.
In short: I was wrong. And Denver is growing on me.
On Thursday night, I had a dinner date with my girl, Courtney, who recently moved to Denver with her husband. We actually worked together in Florida for several years, and MAN am I excited to have them out here in Colorado with me!
We chose Avanti, in the Highlands, a cool pocket just north of downtown Denver. They call themselves “A Collective Eatery.” It’s a collection of seven eateries inside this super hip industrial food hall space, complete with a luscious rooftop deck that offers sweeping views of the city and the mountains in the distance. Really, there’s no bad view.
Have you ever been to the Highline in New York City? Well, there’s a set of stadium stairs on the rooftop to sit and hang out on that’s similar to the ones on the Highline.
The food and beverage is totally self-serve, so when we walked in, we surveyed all the menus before making our decision.
American Grind: Burgers and sandwiches made with local ingredients.
Bistro Georgette: French-inspired street food.
BorraCho Taco: Tacos, burritos, margs.
Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada: Fresh-made pizza and salads.
QuickFish: Sushi and poke bowls.
Quiero Arepas: fresh Venezuelan-inspired arepas.
The Rotary: wood-fired rotisserie dishes.
Honestly, I wanted to try something from every menu, but I was feeling something lighter so I went with the Italian Chop salad from Brava!. It had: romaine, spring mix, heirloom grape tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, artichoke hearts, smoked provolone, focaccia croutons, and Italian herb dressing. I got the whole portion, which was a good amount of food. My favorite part was focaccia croutons. It’s always a 10/10 from me when a restaurant does homemade croutons.
^^^Loved every bite.
The space filled up as we chatted about work and life, so when we finished up we headed out and walked around the Highlands neighborhood. That’s when I really fell in love with the area.
Like much of Denver, beautiful and modern apartments and homes sat next to, well, not beautiful and modern homes. Two cultures sat nearly on top of one another. And you’re just steps away from riverfront parks and walkways. It seems like the neighborhood is getting cleaned up as more restaurants, bars, and breweries are moving in.
We snaked our way up and down a few streets, and by the time we said goodbye and I got in my car, I could definitely see myself living there. Denver definitely has a younger crowd (read: potentially dateable) and more nightlife and more fun neighborhoods to explore.
I think I’ll break out of the bubble more often.
Best thing you ate lately?