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Foodies of Denver, unite. Truthfully, we already have. Once a year we tour some of the restaurants we have always wanted to try – or revisit an old favorite – all in the name of Denver's Restaurant Week.
In honor of Denver's status of being exactly a mile high – or 5,280 feet – above sea level, the Restaurant Week's required pricing runs $52.80 for two people, or half that, $26.40, for solo or odd-numbered diners. This price includes a multi-course meal, though usually drinks, especially of the alcohol variety, are extra.
This season, 356 restaurants have signed on. These restaurants range from your trendy LoDo bistro to the corner hole-in-the wall. At the former, $26.40 might get a diner an appetizer of "Gengas Khan style kangaroo, white chocolate parsnip puree, and purple cauliflower," an entrée of "whole roasted berkshire hog leg, wild mushrooms, barley, and miso apple chutney," with a dessert of "tiramisu panna cotta : mascarpone panna cotta, espresso sauce and cocoa chiffon cake" (TAG Continental Social Food). Obviously, on a normal week in the year, such a lofty meal would cost considerably more. On the other end of the spectrum, a more humble offering could include Tom's basil salad, fried green tomatoes, spaghetti Bolognese, and cheesecake (Trattoria Stella on Colfax). The choice is up to the diner.
This two-week celebration of the culinary scene in Denver is presented by Visit Denver, the official travel and visitor bureau of the Mile Hi City. Note, the event is presented, not sponsored, by Visit Denver. In fact, restaurants pay the travel bureau from $350 - $450 to participate; they may add an additional $660 for advertising, if desired. Though Denver-based, the event attracts restaurants as far north as Boulder and as far south as Castle Rock. Most reservations can be made via OpenTable.com, though some restaurants require the old-fashioned phone call.
This year, 85 restaurants are participating for the first time. More than 200 restaurants offer vegetarian options, and about two-dozen advertise gluten-free menus, with several others noting that most courses can be made gluten-free.
Part of the fun of Restaurant Week is getting on the website and looking over the menus. As noted above, some are radical, while others stay true to form. In some cases, such as at La Fondue and Texas de Brazil, the restaurants offer their normal food paradigm (3 courses of fondue and all-you-can-eat-meat respectively) at reduced cost. Naturally the majority of the fun comes in actually dining out.
This year the event runs from February 3 to March 8, with some restaurants extending the promotion to draw diners in.
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Mile Hi Life -- Places Worth the Splurge: The 9th Door. Mile Hi-Life looks at Denver-area restaurants that are a little higher-priced, but worth the splurge. At The 9th Door a meal with wine will cost around $40-$60.
Mile Hi Life -- Places Worth the Splurge: Le Central. Mile Hi-Life looks at Denver-area restaurants that are a little higher-priced, but worth the splurge. At The 9th Door a meal with wine will cost around $40-$60.