After you leave here...I know, the movie is called 'Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead,' but hopefully, no one will be losing their lives at this GP. Regardless of how this article begins, I'm going to tell everyone about the nifty things that there are to do in Denver, because there are lots of cool places to go and see as well as fun things to do.
The most major thing about Denver is the mountains. Namely, the proximity of the mountains. I know that mountains are not necessarily a big deal to most Magic players, but the mountains in Colorado are truly awesome. I would recommend to anyone that can take the time that they go up into the mountains for at least one day. There's tons of active-type things to do, like hiking and biking and white-water rafting, for the truly adventurous. I know that this is probably the wrong group of people to recommend this to, but if you have some extra time, I would recommend looking into doing something outdoors.
However, not everything in Denver is fun and games. The public transportation system lags behind most Eastern cities. We have a light-rail system, but that covers mostly downtown Denver and Littleton at the moment; and RTD, the bus system, goes almost everywhere, but not as frequently on the weekends. Additionally, the GP is going to be held at a hotel that's near the airport. Sounds convenient, right? Well, it's not quite as neat as it sounds. DIA is literally fifteen miles east of Denver itself. The hotel for the GP is 11 miles from DIA, and there's a 15-20 minute drive from the hotel to downtown.
RTD will get you to and from the hotel, if you choose that route. The RTD website is located at www.rtd-denver.com. You can take the Skyride buses. You'll want to take Route A-S to 48th and Chambers, then transfer to route 53, which will take you right by the hotel. A one-way fare will cost you $4, and the subsequent transfer is free.
Additionally, there are a couple of cab companies in Denver. I will warn you, though, things around here are very spread out. The Yellow Cab company (303-777-7777) has a computerized system, and some absolutely hideous music when you call, but their rates are reasonable. It's $1.60 initially, $1.60 per mile. If you can stand to wait on the system, they're worth checking out. Also, the Metro Cab Company (303-333-3333) has the same rates, but you get to talk to a real person once you pick up the phone. I mention both of these since the numbers are easy to remember, but if you're staying at the on-site hotel, keep in mind that the trip out there will cost you $13.20.
Now, I'll add a quick rundown on Denver geography, for those who plan to be driving around. It's not laid out like most Eastern cities are; it's very spread out. However, there are a few basic directional constants you can follow. Once you get into the city itself, the numbered streets run east to west and increase going north. 6th Avenue is actually a major highway, which makes navigation quite convenient. Colfax Avenue, the longest continuous road in the United States, is located between 14th St. and 15th St. And, to top it all off, I-70, the major east-west highway, is located between 46th and 47th, depending on where exactly you are. Out by the GP, though, I-70 gets closer to 40th. The cross streets aren't quite so logical, since every street running north-south has a name. Generally, once you're in Denver itself, the cross streets start with an 'A' at the west and increase alphabetically. This isn't always the case, though. Again, if you need any help, check out maps on MapQuest (www.yahoo.com/r/mp).
So, once you get to Denver and you've found a way to get around the city, here are some recommendations from actual Denver residents about places to go and restaurants at which to eat. Also, if you would like to check any of these places out and need directions, send me an email. I would be happy to send you a map or written directions.
From Jack S. (Steve) Bottoms:
"I know of a particularly good Sicilian restaurant.
2390 S. Downing St.
Denver, CO 80202
My particular favorites from Santino's:
Appetizers - Sly's Jumbo Stuffed Shrimp. Colossal shrimp, house stuffing, baked in a scampi sauce. 5 per order - $14.95
- Santino (of course :) sauteed with shallots, mushrooms, baked in the oven with eggplant and mozzarella. $15.95 - $29.95
- Piccata: sauteed with garlic, oil, lemon, and a splash of white wine. $15.95 - $29.95
- Chicken breast or Veal (I prefer the chicken)
Pastas - B.B.'s Shrimp. Shrimp and spinach sauteed with garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and basil - with a splash of white wine. $15.95 - $29.95
He has an all you can eat Salad - Pasta - Chicken lunch buffet for $7.95; hot subs ranging from $4.95 to $5.50, cold subs from $4.95 to $5.95, as well as daily specials for $5.95
The atmosphere is cozy, the wait staff friendly and knowledgeable, and the food is delicious.
They are open Tuesday - Sunday.
Lunch Tuesday - Friday 11:30am to 2pm.
Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5pm to 10:30pm, Sunday 5pm to 10pm.
Located at 2390 South Downing Street
From the Holiday Inn DIA: Take I-70 West to I-25 South. Go south on I-25 to Emerson/Washington exit. Continue on Emerson to Downing. Turn right on Downing to Wesley - You are there! If you get to the Hospital, you've gone too far...
In Denver, Colorado - Phone is: (303) 298-1939
If you are planning for dinner, you might want to call for reservations. (303) 298-1939.
From Shaun Cranford, Insomniac Captain of Team Exotic Curse:
"Denver has lots of places to see and be seen. The most exclusive, of course are nearly impossible to get into without a little bit of networking, but you can still rub elbows if you know where the red carpet starts.
I guess I'd have to start with the Seven Candles nightclub, probably better known as The Church. It's at 1160 Lincoln. Separate spacious rooms of an old stone cathedral house a sushi bar, a wine bar, a cigar room, and several dance floors. With something for everyone all in the same club, how can you go wrong? You can lounge in the cigar bar to Frank Sinatra, dance under the black light in the liquid room to The Cure, try your skills - sharpen your claws with the "cats and kittens" on the roof of the Church, dance to live funk in the jazz bar, or lose yourself in some DJ spun trance in the altar room. If the cover is forbidding at $10 a head, get there before 9:00pm and spare yourself the financial pain. With just a smattering of local money and fame, the crowd should work for just about anyone. Bring your significant other, or find yourself a new one. Friday afternoons often feature a great happy hour for local professionals. You might want to leave your Rockies hat and Anthrax T-shirt at home, though. Jeans are allowed so you can be comfortable, just try not to be too casual.
For other clubs, visit http://www.westword.com/listings/music/clubs/cat_dance.html for a list of other clubs. If The Church isn't for you, or you've got $10 in your pocket and that's all, try Deadbeat Club on Wednesday. No cover and $1 wine, well, and draft all night. A club concept by the same owner, you still have several different dance rooms and lounges, a pool table and a patio. Just a little warning, the free admission and dollar drinks DOES change the crowd chemistry. There's always the luck of the Irish, I guess.
But... since I'm British, I'll instead move along now to restaurants someone might want to see in Denver. For Magic Players who don't get invited to the exclusive late night poker games, you can get a bite to eat and find some "Elvish Rangers" at Dazzle. Westword says it's the best dinner after 10 p.m. It's located at 930 Lincoln St. The restaurant and bar are impressive with their lighted glass accents and deco decor. The food has an upscale style but the average plate is about $12-$15. They even have burgers for those of you who won't eat goat cheese. Don't let the names of the dishes scare you. They're friendlier than you think. Now I have you wondering whether I'm describing the kind of dishes you eat or the kind of dishes you talk to. Yes, I am.
Sambuca Jazz Cafe will cost you about $25 per person, but it's well worth it. With live Jazz and leopard skin chairs, it's Spanish fly with a roof. Check out their website at www.sambucajazzcafe.com. I also recommend visiting the food & drink area of Westword's best as well, http://www.westword.com/bestof/2001/section/bestfood/index.html or http://www.westword.com/issues/current/cafe_toc.html.
To clear a couple things up, yes I saw the filthy joke opportunity and no, I won't go there. Also, I don't know if the male Elvish Ranger is cute, but yes I did mean male or female single people. At any rate, good luck with the Swiss, whether you're in the mood for Swiss rounds, or Swiss cheese."
As far as fast food goes, there are a lot of unique "fast-food" chains in and around Denver. Now, when I say fast food, I don't necessarily mean burgers. Though, one of the local burger chains is excellent. It's called Good Times, and is mostly drive-through. It's a little steeper than McDonald's, but it's definitely worth it. If you manage to get out to one, try some frozen custard, too. It beats down on ice cream like Spiritmonger on a poor, defenseless IBC bear.
On a tip from an anonymous source, I recommend the Chipotle burrito chain for lunch or dinner. You get a monster-sized burrito and a drink for $5, which sounds like a lot, but a Chipotle burrito is tasty, nutritious, and can serve as your sole meal for the day. Also, if you find yourself in the Golden area and you crave Asian food, stop by Tokyo Joe's (in the Denver West shopping center; I-70 and Denver West Boulevard). The teriyaki sauce, while too sweet for some, remains excellent; and the atmosphere is kind of California/Asian meets Colorado.
From Patrick Miller:
"Something I would add is that we have two Dave and Buster's and that since it's all over the U.S., it's a familiar type place with good food, liquor and video games."
We've got one Dave and Buster's at Colorado Blvd. and I-25 (to get there, take I-70 west to I-25, take I-25 south, and then take the Colorado Blvd exit. It's in the same building as the movie theater). There's also one much farther north, but that's a little bit out of the way.
Also, for a place like Dave and Buster's but less corporate and national, there's Red and Jerry's on Oxford and Santa Fe (I-70 west to I-25 south, then take the Santa Fe exit. Turn right on Oxford and Red and Jerry's is on the left). The burgers are great, the bar's huge, and there's tons of video games and pool tables to keep you occupied all night.
From Lauren Passmore, a name that is probably familiar to many of you:
"The restaurants in Denver that I love:
"Tante Louise - best French food in Denver (way out of the price range of most players- but amazing) - also happens to be down the street from my house! So it has that "say hi to Lauren" factor."
Located at 4900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-355-4488. The aforementioned Colfax Ave. has the distinguishing feature of being the longest continuous road (not highway) in the United States. If you need to go somewhere on Colfax, all you do is find the road and drive. Easy enough.
"Le Central - another great French restaurant, much cheaper than Tante Louise, also downtown."
112 E. 8th Ave., 303-863-8094.
"Vesta Dipping Grill - cool restaurant - great decor and atmosphere - also downtown, near a lot of bars, etc."
1822 Blake St., 303-296-1970.
"Little Ollie's - amazing Chinese food - especially the Tofu dishes. Particular favorite of all of my vegetarian friends - located in Cherry Creek."
For all those Magic players that like tofu. 2364 E. 3rd Avenue, 303-316-8888.
From Joel Riedesel:
"If you like very upscale and very nicely done steaks, then you have to try Del Friscos in the DTC. They also have a very nice single malt selection (and if you're a cigar smoker, they have a nice walk-in humidor and a great cigar lounge, complete with its own bar). Heck, you might even sit near a Bronco or two. Every time I'm there I seem to trip over that short Bronco coach dude. Never can remember his name."
B Tucker, resident Level 2 judge, recommended I tell you about Rodizio Grill. The closest one I know of is located on South Wadsworth and Quincy Ave. It's a really interesting idea, in that you show up and get a table and go to the salad bar like normal, but instead of ordering a single entrée, nice servers in Brazilian costumes walk around with large chunks of meat and slice off pieces right at your table. When I've eaten at Rodizio's, I had rattlesnake, alligator, all kinds of excellent steak, barbecued chicken, buffalo...the list goes on. It's a lot of fun, and definitely worth checking out.
From Scott Marshall, the other resident Level 2 judge and all-around nice guy (with comments inserted by me):
"LoDo on the weekend is obvious, with all the great restaurants and clubs."
LoDo is downtown, and more of a general location than anything specific. Scott recommends these places while down there:
"As for restaurants - well, got a year? So many choices, so little time. A few of my personal favorites: thai to dhai for at Busara, 1435 Market; anything by Kevin Taylor is amazing, including his namesake (Kevin Taylor's) and Jous-Jous in the Hotel Teatro (14th/Arapahoe), and his Zenith is back, on 17th St; Los Cabos II (15xx Curtis) offers up great Peruvian cuisine, cheap; the Mexican fare is pretty sad if you don't know about Chelos (20xx Larimer) - I don't think they're open for dinner. Still, for every one I mentioned there's a dozen others, many are quite good..."
Jazz clubs are numerous, as well - Josephina's is always packed on the weekends with rockin' jazz/blues and good Italian food; El Chapultepec is a stalwart, but their Mexican food is average at best; I've heard great things about Soiled Dove. Again, I've left out someone's favorites, I'm sure.
"Red Rocks is a cool place just to visit, even when there's nothing going on. However, if there's something going on, you can't do much."
Red Rocks is in Morrison, which is south of Golden (read: right by the mountains). It's a natural amphitheater and spiffy rock formation, and is just a neat place to see. To get there, you take the Morrison exit off of I-70 and head south on US 26, until you see a sign for Red Rocks. Take the right turn, and just drive. Red Rocks is fun to explore, even just to drive around the park.
"Blackhawk and Central City, of course."
"The Pearl Street Mall in Boulder can be like a time machine back to 1970 (but trust me, it ain't the same!). And for shopping, you have to mention the 16th Street Mall and Cherry Creek; Park Meadows and Flatirons are just too formulaic to be anything special. If they want to see mountains AND do shopping, I suggest I-70 west through the tunnel, to the Silverthorne factory outlets. (You can detour to Blackhawk on the way back...)"
Ah, Boulder. Denver residents joke about "the Republic of Boulder" but it's a fun place to visit. If you don't want to go all the way up to the mountains, but still want to spend some extra time in Colorado, go to Boulder. Boulder is a fun place to explore and hang out in, due to the college campus located right in the middle (University of Colorado at Boulder, for all those interested). Pearl Street is unique as far as malls go - it's actually a whole street, blocked off from traffic and lined with shops. The 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver is the same way; a great place to hang out and spend a couple hours or a day. The Cherry Creek Mall, also located downtown, is another fun place for shopping, but it's very upscale and thus expensive.
"There's a great steak house close by - Emil Lene's on Smith Road; you just cross under I-70 on Chambers, turn east (left) on Smith Rd and go about 1/2 mile (?) to a well-hidden driveway. Never mind what you've read about Morton's or Ruth's Chris or the like - this place is excellent, and it's NOT a national conglomerate."
I'll trust Scott on this one, since I've never been there. I may have to try it out sometime soon, though.
"You might mention that DIA is worth wandering about - so many just get off their plane, grab their luggage & get out of there. Lots to see..."
True. DIA, since it's out in the middle of practically nowhere, has neat things inside the main terminal as well. There's even an old-school Tetris machine in the arcade, complete with electronic balalaika music and dancing pixellated Russians. I like Tetris. Seriously, though, the airport is all brand-new and very spiffy.
"And the standard tourist fare that I often forget: the zoo and museum at City Park, the Denver Art museum downtown, the Mint, the Capital building, Botanic Gardens, the Molly Brown house (14xx Pennsylvania?), the Butterfly Pavilion, Ocean Journey, Six Flags/Elitch's (although Lakeside is cooler), Aurora Reservoir or Cherry Creek Reservoir or Chatfield Reservoir..."
Like Scott said, standard tourist stuff.
I hope that this article is helpful to everyone who's planning on coming out here for the Grand Prix. Thanks again to Shaun Cranford, Steve Bottoms, Patrick Miller, Lauren Passmore, Joel Riedesel, B Tucker, and Scott Marshall for sharing their thoughts about what to do around here.