Back before we were married, my husband and I used to love dining out in Denver, picking a new restaurant to experience with each new date. But then we got hitched, moved to the suburbs and had a son. And you know how the story goes. Before we knew it, our idea of restaurant date meant ordering delivery.
But now that our son is going on 1-years-old, we’re determined to get back into the Denver dining scene. Within reason. We know our carefree days of trying a brand new restaurant on a whim are over. Budgeting is a priority these days, and if I’m making a trip into the city and paying for a babysitter, I want to ensure I’m going to enjoy my meal. I don’t have the luxury of just trying every place out anymore. But I still want to.
So I was beyond excited to try a Local Table Tour with owner Megan Bucholz recently. Her company’s culinary walking tours allow you to experience a bunch of top restaurants at once without committing to the price of a meal for two. Oh and you get some exercise in the process. The walking tours take place in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins and bring together small groups of food enthusiasts — capped at 10 people — for an exclusive taste of each town. The tours take you to a number of different venues in the company of a passionate expert guide, and you’ll be treated to generous samples of each restaurant’s cuisine. But what my husband TJ and I liked most on our Denver tour was the behind the scenes aspect that gives you one-on-one time with the chefs, owners and mixologists of each location. You end up feeling like a real VIP, and learning a lot in the process.
Our trip around Denver included five stops. We began at Kitchen Bistro, which we had eaten at before, but this time we were able to try new menu items. Founded in 2004 by Hugo Matheson and Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal Musk, The Kitchen Restaurant Group has venues across America and a mission of sourcing food from American farmers to help stimulate local economies, facts we learned on our tour.
After Kitchen Bistro we moved on to the brand new Oskar Blues LoDo, which TJ, a big craft beer fan, was super excited to experience. And they didn’t disappoint. The restaurant had a lot to show off to us on our visit including catfish, truffle fries, wings and candied bacon. And unlike some food waling tours I’ve done in other major cities where you end up standing in the back of a restaurant holding a plate and a beverage at the same time and feeling cramped and rushed, with Local Table you are seated properly and have time to appreciate what you are eating. At Oskar Blues, I loved how the manager came and sat with us and gave us the scoop on the brewery’s long-standing local history that began in Lyons. TJ enjoyed tasting the brews they had on tap including the classic Old Chub Nitro and an Imperial IPA. And we both decided we loved the vibe and wanted to put Oskar Blues on our list for a future Denver date — something we probably wouldn’t have come up with had we not taken tour.
Euclid Hall followed up Oskar Blues. I’d eaten here before, but again, it was fun to re-experience this Denver classic. I was also pretty full after the feast we’d just finished, so I was happy they served small plates here. We sampled the chips and dip composed of lemon goat cheese, smoked rare duck breast, duck confit and fresh-cut potato chips. This was another genius part of the tour: the ordering of the restaurants was perfect.
Zoe Ma Ma was the next stop. Here Megan introduced us to the owner, Edwin, and his mother who is in charge of the restaurant’s menu. In Union Station, neither TJ nor myself had ever eaten at Zoe Ma Ma but we enjoyed our experience. The restaurant focuses on Chinese American fare that is freshly prepared with high quality ingredients including homemade organic noodles.
The last stop on our tour was MilkBox Ice Creamery. By this point I was completely stuffed, but dessert is my favorite course, and MilkBox has 16 flavors daily that often change as the day progresses. After sampling butterscotch and french toast flavors, I settled on a scoop of the salted caramel peanut butter cup and was not disappointed.
Local Table runs tours throughout the year, and this winter Orion Carrington is joining their schedule in Denver. Carrington is a local celeb that’s known for hosting the popular Comcast television show, Let’s Eat, in addition to emceeing a variety of events around town from RAW Artist—Denver to the Denver Burger Battle. TJ and I might just have to go back to experience another tour. But if not, we have our next date night location picked out.