Sunday, March 6, 2016

Denver Day Trip #5 Stapleton - Brunch at Four Friends Kitchen, Leopold Bros Distillery Tour, and Rocky Mountain Arsenal Visitor Center - Trail and Drive

Day trip number five starts out with Brunch at Four Friends Kitchen, followed by a tour and refreshments at the Leopold Bros. Distillery. After the tour, get snacks at Thai Street Food and head over to The Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Wildlife Preserve.

Four Friends Kitchen
Cost: $7-$15 pp
 2893 Roslyn St, Denver, CO 80238
(303) 388-8299
Breakfast: M-F, 6:30-11; Lunch: M-F, 11-2:30; Brunch: SAT-SUN, 6:30-2:30

The Four Friends Kitchen features southern cooking with a modern twist. This restaurant is a newcomer to the Denver brunch scene, but is here to stay with already classic dishes such as their  Crispy Huevos Rancheros, ‘Overnight Grits’ (that can be ordered either sweet or savory), and a variety of benedicts. If you are not in the mood for breakfast foods try, they have a great lunch menu too – consider the Mac-n-Cheese, Green Chili Chicken Cobbler or the Root Beer BBQ Brisket.

Leopold Bros. Distillery

Cost: $16-$20 pp for tour and sampling 
5285 Joliet St, Denver, CO 80239
Saturday 11:00am/ 4:00pm or Sunday just at 11:00am – Reservation required (check website for current tour times)

Now that you have had a bite to eat, it’s time to check out one of the many great distilleries that Denver has to offer. Leopold Bros is a family owned and operated small-batch distillery, just outside the Stapleton area. The distillers feature whiskies, gins, vodka, liqueurs, fernet, and absinthe – And all from Colorado grain. The entire process is completed on-site – malting, milling, fermenting, to the barreling and bottling. The only part of the process that they don’t do is farm, but not to worry – most of the ingredients are sourced locally. While you can find the Leopold Bros. around town, the best way to experience the brand is to take ‘The Connoisseur Tour’ or sit in on ‘The Cocktail Hour with Alec’… for those 21+ of course. Both events require advance ticket purchase and frequently sell out. As they are a small distillery that works strange hours, they typically cannot accommodate impromptu visits, so please plan before visiting.

The Connoisseur Tour takes about 3 hours and usually available on Saturdays at 11am/4pm or Sundays just at 11am, but check out their website for current times. On this tour you get to learn the history, see the entire production, and best of all, sample a tasting of the Leopold Bros entire line of spirits. This tour costs $16 and 50% of the cost of admission can be donated to 1 of 4 non-profit organizations that Leopold Bros supports (Children’s Hospital, Colorado Symphony, Dumb Friends League, and Food Bank of the Rockies).

Thai Street Food

Cost: $9-$12 per entrée
 11650 Montview Blvd, Aurora, CO 80010
Open Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am – 8:00pm

If you need a bite to eat after the 3 hour tour (ahem’ and drinking), pick up some take-out at Thai Street Food. Full disclosure - Thai Street Food restaurant is ‘Carry Out’ only. We have included this restaurant because the food is amazing. Almost everything is made-to-order and is customized to the level of spiciness requested – boasting 7 levels of spice! The menu is relatively small, but each item seems to be carefully curated. Chef Anna originally started with a street cart on 16th street mall and many patrons would sometimes wait over an hour for these tasty Thai dishes. As accolades and business continued to grow, Anna transitioned in the brick and mortar restaurant at the current location.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge

Cost: Free
 6550 Gateway Rd, Commerce City, CO 80022
(303) 289-0930
Wednesdays – Sundays from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
(Closed on Federal Holidays)

Now that you have your take-out, head to The Rocky Mountain Arsenal for a picnic and some prarie trails. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal has a history dating back to pre- WWII. The 15,000 acre preserve was declared a super fund site, but thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Army, Shell, and the U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Service in the started mid-90s, the Arsenal has become one of the largest urban wild life refuges in the country. The refuge is home to more than 330 species of animals. There are over 10 miles of hiking trails, site tours, or a self-guided auto tour. The visitor center is an experience in itself, as it is somewhat a museum of the history and the evolution of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Miyako Ra-Men Spot - Noodles in the Burbs

In the midst of a Colorado January, few things are as satisfying as a delicious bowl of broth-y ramen. The problem is that for those of us (non Subaru drivers) in south Denver, we tend to not want to make the trek on icy roads, to the other side of Denver. Needless to say, I was quite happy to discover the newly opened Miyako Ra-men Spot on S. Broadway. It's a little north of Dartmoth, close to the Gothic Theater.

The food is simple and a good value for the amount of food that you get - The Ramen starts at $9.50 a bowl. We started with an order of the house-made Gyoza and the flavor and texture were perfect. Potstickers are not fancy, but I love when they are perfectly seared and these ones had the perfect mix of the crunch from the sear with the dough having a nice tooth, but not mushy.  

The Ramen of course is the main event. I ordered the Shoyu Tonkotsu - salted pork and soy sauce broth with egg noodles. The standard toppings include a 1/2 boiled egg, shredded carrots, spinach, house roasted pork, and green onions. There are additional toppings that you can order a la cart, but I just went with the standard for my first time. The broth was delicious and had great flavor and the noodles were cooked perfectly.

The service was attentive and I appreciate the recommendations from our server. We were there on a Sunday around noon and the restaurant wasn't super busy. I could however imagine this place filling up rather quickly depending on the day. I've only visited once so far, but myself and my companion both enjoyed our food, so I'm sure that we will be back soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

3 ways to Stay in Shape This Holiday Season

Pachanga/ Plango - 4 weeks of Fitness Classes for $35  - Pachanga and Plango are the same thing... If you take Pachanga at 24 Hour Fitness, it's just called Palango. These classes are incredibly popular and for good reason. The simple, intense, and fun workouts torch calories while you hardly notice.

$30 for Ugly Sweater Run  -  The Ugly Sweater Fun Run is a 5k where you get you run in your favorite ugly sweater and after you will get a beer too with your ticket

The Ugly Sweater Run: Buy Now While Supplies Last

$19.99 for Billy Blanks PT 24/7 7-DVD Set with B2 Bands and Gloves .... because, hey it's Billy! Who doesn't remember Tae Bo?! This 7 disc set is actually worth $80 and comes with resistance bands and gloves!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fiske and Frisk on the Hill - Planetarium, Cafe Aion, Shopping and your pick of History or Theater

This week's Colorado itinerary takes you to 'The Hill' in Boulder. For those not familiar with the University Hill, it refers to the neighborhood around Colorado University. Full disclosure, if you visit during a semester, there will be a fair amount of college students around. Personally I like the energy and the pace of the area. A 1/2 off Groupon featuring Fiske Planetarium  was the inspiration for this collection of places to visit. Please leave feedback and let me know what you think of this day trip. For the most part, all the below suggestions are in walking distance of each other. In addition to some of the recommended restaurants, I have also included a links for other restaurants in the area that currently have deals.

Cafe Aion - Brunch 11 am 

Cost: $6-$15

Start your day with brunch at Cafe Aion. Many of the dishes are designed for sharing. Spanish and Moroccan flavors are apparent in the menu. The fried cauliflower is surprisingly one of the stand out Tapas - fair warning, you may not want to share. In addition to coffee and juice, they also have a full bar. I am particularly fond of their Bloody Mary's, made with chili infused vodka and crispy bacon.

Bloody Mary @ Cafe Aion


Cost: $11 for 2 tickets with Groupon (Reg. $10 per ticket)

The Fiske Planetarium features the Ziess, one of the most advanced stargazing machines in the world. Furthermore, CU has recently invested in an all-new fully immersive theater system, making it one of the most sophisticated planetariums in the country. Since the planetarium was the inspiration for this day trip, I suggest that you select what show you would like to go to, as there is different programming throughout the day. 

Use the below suggestions to fill the time in before or after the planetarium show.

Shopping on the Hill 

Cost: Varies $-$$$ 

  • Meininger's - Go get your craft on! Actually if you time your trip right, you can take a free art class with part of the Demo and Dialogue series that is hosted at Meininger's in conjunction with the Art Student's League. As a bonus feature, a coupon is usually given to those who participate in the class- 

Colorado University: Natural History or Theater 

Cost: Free - $$ (admission to some theater events)

Since you are pretty much on CU's stomping grounds, you might as well check out some of the culture on campus. Two points of interest are the Natural History Museum and the University Theater.   


Restaurant Deals - Up to 40% Off 

Here are just a few food options that are reasonably priced and in the area. A couple of the recommendations are neighborhood favorites and the other three have good Yelp reviews and Groupons! 
  • Terra Thai - No coupon on this one, but with most of the menu ranging from $3-$8, why would you need one? Great food here, however, they are not open on Saturdays 
  • The Sink - What does Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain have in common? They both ate at this burger joint when they were in town.... not together, of course ;)  
  • Tibet Kitchen  - $12 for $20 worth of food for two or more people with Groupon
  • Mimi's Kitchen  - $13 for $20 worth of Mexican cuisine for two with Groupon 
  • The Cheese Course -  $15 for $25 worth of bistro menu items and drinks for two with Groupon

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Denver Arts Week 2015 - Best Bets

Denver Arts Week is a celebration of all things art and is currently in full swing. From November 6th through November 14th, patrons of the arts can find all sorts of events that are deeply discounted or free. Arts week encompases pretty much all the creative fields - 2D and 3D arts, dance, music, comedy, and performance. Below are a few of my favorites, but for the full list visit the Denver Arts Week event page.

Denver Arts Week

Nov 8th 

Colorado Convention Center Public Art Tour
Cost: FREE 
Starts 1:00pm 

*Many years ago when I was in art school, I took a class on Art Industry. While in this class, I had the privilege of being able to tour many of the public art installations including the art installed at the
Convention Center. This was one of the more fascinating art tours that will leave you with an appreciation of much more than the Blue Bear. 

Denver Veterans Day Parade and Festival 
Cost: Free  
10:00am - 3:00pm 

$52.80 for Two Tickets to Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 3
Cost: $52.80; original price $134.00 - Use Code: ARTS2015 when purchasing a pair of tickets 

Best of Santa Fe Exhibit and Awards 
Cost: Free 
10am - 6pm

Nov 9th 

Art Tour of the Byers- Evans House Museum 
Cost: $6 
Starts at 12pm 

Denver Museum of Natura and Science Free Day 
Cost: Free
9am - 5pm

Improve Hootenanny 2 for 1 Improv Tickets 
Cost: $5; original price $10 (Redeem offer at the door, through Nov 10th) 
Starts at 7:30pm 

Nov 10th 

Faculty Tuesday: Cabaret Songs 
Cost: Free 
Starts 7:30 pm

St John's Cathedral Music at Noon - Brian Hanly; Violin and Willian David; Piano
Cost: Free 
Starts 12pm 

5280 Take - Off at Wings Over the Rockies - (Nov 6th-12th)
Cost: $5.82 per person; original price $11 pp
Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5

Nov 11th 

Like the show Face Off - Check out this event! 
Denver Film Festival: Creative Conversations: A Master of Movie Magic 
Cost: $15-$17
Starts 7pm 

Hot off the Press - Printmaking Demo 
Cost: Free 

Visiting Artist Series: Ian Bogost - Ironoia: The Mistrust of Things 
Cost: Free - Seating is Limited, RSVP via link
Starts 6:30pm

Nov 12th 

Colorado: Why are we Here - Free Lecture 
Cost: Free 
Starts 6:15pm 

Mixing Your Media 
Cost: Free 
12- 9pm 

Frontier Religion in Early Colorado 
Cost: $10-$15

Nov 13th 

A Mile High Ode to Star Wars Toys: Sneak Peak with the Curator 
Cost: $15

Beatles to Bach III with Skanson & Hansen 
Cost: $10-$15
Starts 7pm 

Christo Artist Talk 
Cost: $15
Starts 7pm 

Nov 14th 

40 West Creative Arts Sampler - mini workshops 
Cost: Frees 

RiNo Artists and Models Ball 
Cost: $25

Symphony at the Movies: Back to the Future 
Cost: $34-$94


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ja Ja Bistro - NEW OWNERS, How's the experience? Patio Brunch of Bloody Marys and Omelettes

Ja Ja is a french term for every day wine or house wine. If you are interested in enjoying your ja ja wine in a cottage/ patio atmosphere JaJa Bistro in Littleton might be the place for you. JaJa Bistro first showed up on my radar, while reading the positive reviews posted on A-List Denver. It wasn't at the top of the list, but there were enough good things said about it that my curiosity was piqued.

My review is based on a single visit this past weekend. I had tried to visit one prior time, but it was on a Sunday and the previous owners had JaJa closed on Sundays. From what I understand, the current owners purchased JaJa earlier this year (2015) and they are now open the full weekend.

The cute bungalow had a few tables inside and beautiful patio seating outside. For myself and my companion, we elected to sit outside for our visit to the partially full restaurant. The meal started with a bread basket of delicious flaky croissants and a drink order of a diet Coke and a Bloody Mary. We waited and waited... and waited. Service was SLOW... I'm not sure if the issue was that we were outside, they were short staffed, or if I just have a quicker expectation of how long drinks and food should take to be turned around. My bloody mary took 15-20 mins to get to the table and food came about 40 mins later. The flavor was great on the bloody and I liked the pickled pepper, but it should be noted that it is a relatively small bloody - looked to be around 8 oz.

The entree was served 45+ minutes after ordering (also note, the restaurant was not full). I ordered a ham and brie omelette which came with a side of bacon, baguette, and pan fried potatoes. Again the flavor was good and I enjoyed the omelette, but Denver has some pretty stiff competition when it comes to brunch. For the wait, it wasn't any better than many of the other omelettes that I have had in Denver. The omelette was comparatively small (see photo) and some of my potatoes were oxidized, which is probably fine to eat but didn't look too appetizing. 

I would possibly consider giving this restaurant a second chance since the flavor was good and I enjoyed the quiet outside table, but I really have a hard time with the amount of time that it took to turn out a pretty simple dish. To further compound the experience. The waitress, while friendly, didn't offer any explanation of the length of time, didn't offer more bread while we waited, and let our drinks run out without refilling (including the water). That being said, I can forgive many things, such as small portion sizes and oxidized potatoes, when exceptional service is provided. Obviously many people have liked this restaurant and maybe have different menu recommendations that would improve the overall experience. If you do have another opinion or suggestions for others visiting, please share in the comments below.   

Friday, September 4, 2015

Drive Smarter Colorado

A More Comfortable and Safer Way to Drive 

Earlier this month, Denver drivers who attended the Car-Fit program, learned how they could improve the comfort of their drive and improve safety during travels. The AAA created program was hosted by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The program's goal is to improve safety through teaching drivers how to better fit their cars through the adjustment of mirrors, seat-belts, seat location, and steering wheel. If you missed the last event the next one will be coming around 10/17/15. 

October 17, 2015, 9 AM- 12 Noon
Reservation Phone Number:720-849-1738  
2015 Senior Law Day, Denver Mart - 
451 E. 58th Ave
Denver, CO