Denver was our last DDD destination for this trip and we were looking forward to some great food. The timing of our visit corresponded with the dispute between Page Productions and the Food Network. I never got the particulars, but some of the places in Denver hadn’t aired yet (but all have since then as far as I know).
Our first day was more of a sampling menu, beginning with Lauer Krauts. I picked up a few of the Kraut Burgers and a bowl of soup and brought them back to our motel. They were good and it made for a nice breakfast.
We next headed over to Bang, and split a breakfast of bacon and eggs with biscuits and gravy. We got a nice table on the back patio and were served by the owner, Chris, who took great care of us. He told us about the house made ketchup and gave us a sample of that too. I’m sure it would be great on the meatloaf (which looked good on the episode). The food was great and we wished them lots of luck.
Our next stop was downtown, and after strolling up and down the fair type atmosphere, we popped into Sam’s No. 3 for a snack. We find a booth with a commanding view high up in the back. The place is huge, and the décor was diner classic. We shared a chili dog and a frito pie. We enjoyed everything about the place. The food was good, the service was excellent, and the prices were reasonable. Our only regret was that we couldn’t eat more.
We spent some more time enjoying the sights around the downtown area and then we headed south for the Bagel Deli. Try as we might, we just couldn’t get up much of an appetite. I was looking forward to trying the brisket knish, and that’s what we ordered. It probably had been sitting for quite some time, but it had a good flavor and good texture. If I make it back, next time I will try the Rueben and the Latkes.
Update December 2017: I did make it back to the Bagel Deli and the stars lined up better for this visit. I did have the Reuben and it was epic! I would have tried the latkes too, but the Reuben sandwich is so big I didn’t have any room for more food (and that was only eating half of the sandwich). I also got to meet the owners, get their story and a grand tour of this amazing restaurant that’s celebrating 50 years in business. If you crave perfectly cooked corned beef, pastrami, and all your other deli favorites, you will love the The Bagel Deli.
We jumped back on the I-25 North and headed for the nearest park. We found one of the most impressive parks we have ever seen It’s called Washington Park and it has not one, but two lakes. We walked around the whole thing twice (which is about 2.5 miles a lap) and it seemed like there were thousands of people playing and having a great time. We’ve never before or since seen so many people at a park having fun. We did some playing of our own with our Frisbee and new Aerobie-Pro. We stayed at the park until nearly dark and then headed back towards downtown for dinner at Steuben’s.
We arrived about dusk and the place was packed. We got put on a waiting list and the wait was about 30 minutes. Steuben’s is large and there was lots of action to follow while we waited. It was warm enough to sit outside and we ended up getting a great table right out front. I ordered the cheesesteak sandwich (without green peppers) and Anna ordered the grilled cheese. Our server was friendly and attentive (although super busy).
Our food was dropped by a runner (which I now officially hate), and wouldn’t you know it, my sandwich had green peppers. I love green bell peppers, but my experience is that they don’t cook them long enough in restaurants, so I rarely have them on sandwiches or pizzas. Despite the bell peppers, the cheesesteak was excellent—better than anything I got in Philadelphia. Steuben’s is hand-crafted sandwiches, and I knew it was going to be good.
By the time our server made it back to our table and I told him about the mistake, I’d already eaten some of the sandwich. He wanted to have the sandwich made over, and insisted that it would only take a few minutes. Well, where I come from, a good cheesesteak takes more than a few minutes, so I politely declined. I finished the sandwich, and I enjoyed eating it, but the bell peppers were undercooked. I like Steuben’s and will go back whenever I make it back to Denver.
The next day was our last in Denver and we started with an early lunch at Foolish Craig’s, a funky little place that specializes in crepes and sandwiches made with house baked bread (yum). I ordered a BLT with guacamole on a lunch roll, and Anna ordered a chicken salad sandwich with cranberries and walnuts on fresh sliced loaf bread. They have an excellent menu and daily specials.
The sandwiches were fabulous. I wouldn’t have ordered mine with sprouts, but I made the best of it. Sprouts are super nutritious. Anna’s sandwich was good too, and she gave the food three stars.
The real treat was to order the crepe cake with the toffee sauce that they made on the show. It looked really rich and decadent on the show. The sauce was excellent, but the rest of the dessert was dry. Whenever we tried to cut a bite with our forks, it would slip off and delaminate.
We were both disappointed that it was dry and not very satisfying. I hardly ever have crepes, but I love eggs. I guess the crepe batter has enough flour in it to get tough if it sits too long. I don’t know what the problem was exactly, but I know we were disappointed. It was a fairly small slice for two people and so we finished it off. On balance, I would be very happy to go back to Foolish Craig’s and try some of the other menu items. I liked the ambiance and the service was great. Other than the failed dessert, everything else on the menu looks scrumptious.
I dropped Anna off to visit with an old friend, and I headed out for a tour of the Coors Brewery. It was a beautiful day and the drive was exhilarating. I had the car to myself, and it’s quite nimble without all the luggage. I opened the sun roof, cranked up the tunes and let the ponies out for a run. It’s Anna’s car, but I like to run it up to a buck and quarter once in awhile because that car was born to run. I enjoyed the tour, which finished off in a tasting room with about a dozen beers on tap. We were allotted three and it was a tough decision. I had to sample the Coors Banquet because that’s where they make it. I also had a wheat beer, and some other special recipe brew that’s not available in stores. I walked back to the car, and drove back to Boulder leaving enough time to make a wine-tasting at the Boulder Creek Winery. I had a great time there as well and finished just in time to pick Anna up and head over to The Sink.
We got a table on the front patio and drew a great waitress who was friendly and sharp. We ordered some wine and beer and an order of mini-nachos and mini-pizza (covering all the health food groups). I went inside for the customary hand washing, and was blown away with the art. Every square inch of that place is completely covered with art, graffiti, signatures, cartoons, you name it.
Our food came out and it was delicious. Our server was attending college and loved working at The Sink. We told her about our DDD tour, and she said what an amazing coincidence that another couple had just come through a few days earlier and they were on tour. It turns out that it was Roger and Jane Holm. We missed them in Minneapolis (which is where they live), but I didn’t know they were going to Denver. We had phoned ahead from Milwaukee to introduce ourselves, but Roger was in the middle of battening down the hatches for some nasty weather heading their way. We still haven’t met them, but it’s obvious that they are big fans of the show just like we are.
I imagine there are lots of other big fans like us, but we just got the internet service and we’re not even on Facebook yet.
Our last stop in Denver was Tocabe, which has the Indian Fry Bread tacos. They were nearly closed by the time we got there, but offered the full menu for us. We had a great visit with a fine young man named Blaine. He told us all about the restaurant, and the plans they had for the premier of their episode which was cancelled just a few days before it was supposed to air. We made a note to follow up with him after the show aired, which we did. He no longer worked there because he left for school. We wish him well.
We ordered a fry bread taco with everything (beans on the side) as well as an order of nachos the same way. Blaine brought us out some buffalo ribs with a special blueberry barbecue sauce. It was quite a feast, and so much food that we couldn’t begin to eat it all. Blaine took us back inside and told us all about the decorating of the place, and the significance of it. We were very impressed. Roger and Jane had been there just before us too, and had a nice visit with the owners. I hope they are very successful.
That wrapped up our DDD tour and we were sad to be finished and have the long drive home. We had a nice dinner when we stopped for the night in Saint George, Utah; and we were home the next day (June 7th, 2011). We ended up driving over 10,700 miles on the trip. We hit a total of 103 DDD spots in seven weeks. It was the trip of a lifetime, for sure. Something you never forget. We had so much fun, I wish we could do it full time. There’s lots of places that I can’t wait to get back and visit again. We will hit some of them again later this year and next year.
It was also on this trip, after all the bad service, that I conceived of the idea to write a guide on how to wait tables. I spoke to Carrie about it at the Triple XXX as well as Linda at Donatelli’s. They both liked the idea and encouraged me to do it. It’s free, and I like to think of it as a gift to everyone who benefits from it. We need to take the concept of hiring “Food Runners” and nip it in the bud. Instead, owners need to train their servers how to wait tables. They may not be able to cover as many patrons, but all the patrons will get better service. If servers want to work for wages and don’t care about the quality of the dining service, then I don’t need to bother leaving tips. If they do care about quality and would like to earn nice fat tips, then they need to bring out and serve their own food. No more runners. It’s getting so bad, now I am pleasantly surprised when our food is actually served by our server. For anyone who is not convinced, the guide is free and it’s just a click or two away. Enjoy.
Next DDD Destination: San Diego (DDD count: 138)