American Culture

The Scrogue's Guide to Denver and the DNC: steak!

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting a series of recommendations about things to do and places to visit, dine and get likkered up for DNC visitors to Denver, which is home to a number of S&R writers. The Scrogues Guide is not intended as a comprehensive list – frankly, there’s way too much to see and do in Denver for us to cover it all. Instead, think of it as a series of insider recommendations from the locals. If you’re coming in for the festivities and we haven’t written about something you’d like to do, let us know – we do take requests. Up first: steak houses!

Denver has long struggled against a reputation as a cow town. However, one thing you can always count on in a cow town is a good steak.

And Denver is steak nirvana. As a guy who has lived in various parts of the country I can promise visitors to the Mile High City that our run-of-the-mill beef is better than the best stuff you can get most other places. Our best beef – tender, juicy, immaculately marbled USDA Prime Cut – is out of this world. (Note the “prime” in that last sentence – most steak you get around the country is “choice” cut, and choice can be pretty good. But prime is to choice as choice is to McDonald’s.)

So, you’re going to be in town and while you’re here you want a real top-quality Western steak? Here are some ideas – and the grand prize winner is at the bottom.

First, some names you probably know: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Ruth’s Chris, Sullivan’s, The Keg, Willie G’s, The Capital Grille and Morton’s. These chains have locations all over the US, and their Denver stores are predictably popular for all the usual reasons. Ruth’s Chris is at 1445 Market St., just a short walk from Pepsi Center and the Big Tent, while Morton’s has a couple locations. The LoDo restaurant is at 1710 Wynkoop – a nice 10-minute walk from Larimer Square, or if you’re in a hurry, hop the 16th St. Mall shuttle and you’re there in two minutes. They also have a Tech Center store, which will come in handy for those of you staying down south, at 8480 East Belleview Avenue. Del Frisco’s is also located in the Tech Center at 8100 East Orchard Road. Sullivan’s is in LoDo at 1745 Wazee, just around the block from Morton’s. The Keg’s downtown restaurant is in the 1800 block of Wynkoop, and they also run a location west of town in Lakewood in the Colorado Mills complex at 14065 W Colfax Drive. Willie G’s is closer to Pepsi Center and Larimer Square at 1585 Lawrence St. Finally, the Capital Grille is right on Larimer Square at 1450 Larimer.

If these places are your cup of tea, go for it. But since I’m a local flavor guy I tend to steer people toward things they can’t experience in every town in America. Here are the highlights of our local beefeating culture:

The Buckhorn Exchange: one of the city’s oldest steakhouses, the Exchange leans toward the authentic and the exotic: prime grade beef, buffalo prime rib, elk, salmon, quail, game hen, and ribs, plus appetizers like alligator tail, rattlesnake and buffalo sausage. And of course, Rocky Mountain Oysters. A place doesn’t stay in business this long for no good reason. It’s pretty accessible, despite being in one of the older west-side neighborhoods – a short cab ride, and it’s also right off the 10th and Osage Light Rail stop.

Elway’s Steak House: #7 doesn’t do things halfway. Prime steaks, raw bar, extensive wine list and lots of traditonal dark wood ambiance – it’s been one of the most talked-about spots in town of late. Actually, two of the most talk-about spots – the downtown location is in the Ritz-Carleton at 1881 Curtis Street and the Cherry Creek store is located at 2500 East 1st Ave., just a short cab ride from the DNC venues.

Brook’s Steak House & Cellar: A fantastic option for those of you in the Tech Center. Brook’s has been named one of the top ten steak houses in the nation, and for good reason. Probably your best bet outside of downtown.

And our top recommendation: The Denver ChopHouse & Brewery. The ChopHouse, which sits in LoDo across from Coors Field, now anchors a small chain of restaurants (if you’ve been to the ones in DC and Cleveland, this is the original), and is, simply put, the best steak experience in Denver. (It’s also the best steak experience in Boulder – if you’re staying up that way you can visit the location at 921 Walnut St.) The atmosphere is uniquely Mile High (the restaurant sits in an old railway facility) and serves a broad variety of steaks and prime rib, pork, seafood, chicken, etc. They’re also a microbrewery, and if you catch them on a night when they have the bourbon stout on tap you’re in luck.

A few years back we took the whole family there for my wife’s birthday. I got the prime rib (had the kitchen start it rare, then pan-blacken it) with two or three bourbon stouts (that night they were pouring the cask-conditioned version). It was, hands-down, the finest steak dinner of my life. And since I am and have always been a beef freak of the first order, it may rate as the best meal of my life, period.

So there you go. Make reservations now, if you can, and stand in line if you have to. It will be worth it.

Coming soon: vegetarian, sushi, beer, Scotch, recreation, and a whole lot more. Spread the word.

6 replies »

  1. Damn it. Now I’m hungry. I was too poor to go to any of those places while I was out there, I think. 🙂 I may have hit one in LoDo for a conference a few years ago, but I can’t remember.

  2. Didn’t we ever go to ChopHouse while you were here? If not, what the hell was wrong with us?

    Next time you visit, I promise.

    BTW, you’re gonna LOVE the next installment….

  3. We were usually looking for a beer more than anything else. Haha. So, the Wynkoop. There was a steak place we used to go in your old neighborhood. I remember lots of bikes. Good, but not like what you’re talking about here. We spent time in Boulder, too, hittin’ the mircobrews…

    BTW, did The Church survive? Haha.

  4. I hope to do one on one diners. This isn’t an area I’m an expert on anymore, but there are a couple places to be recommended for sure….

  5. Insomniacs need breakfast at 3:00 am. Or noon. Actually, there’s never a bad time for pancakes and bacon, is there?