Great Lunch Plates: Nachos and Chicken Caesar Salad at the Tavern Downtown

I know, some of you may be shocked. The Tavern Downtown?! And yes, I normally I consider the entire stretch of bars/clubs around 20th & Market to be “frat row central” — as I like to put it. However, the Tavern has a really nice, quiet, open rooftop patio if you decide to venture there for lunch (and the misters are great during the summer). It’s hardly the packed, thumping, V-neck T-shirt and mini-dress filled place it can be at night — as you can see on the right below.

These two photos courtesy of the Tavern Downtown website

The Tavern is also both the University of Miami bar and the San Francisco 49ers bar — so it’s pretty much my 2nd home during football season.

And Monday through Friday, 3pm – 7pm, you get buy-1-get-1-free house wine, well drinks, and all draft beer.

What may surprise you, is that the food here is actually quite good. It’s always great for a burger and a beer (I personally love that they have Alaskan Amber in bottles), but I also have 2 favorite plates here that I think are pretty unique:

1) The Tavern Nachos

Guys, they’re pre-portioned! And melted! Every little nacho has the perfect amount of chicken, refried beans, melted pepper jack cheese, and a jalapeño on top. You can also get this with ground beef instead of chicken, but I really like the chicken. You can also get them vegetarian, but then what’s the point? (The guacamole you need to order separately, but it’s worth it.)

Who else do you know that does this? No really, cause if you know, tell me. Normally you eat the few nachos on top that have all the good stuff on them, and then you’re digging for the last tiny bit of meat with the 100 nachos you have left over.

Best. Nachos. Ever.

2) The Chicken Caesar Salad

So I don’t know if the photo does it justice. Hell, I don’t even know if that’s home-made Caesar dressing or something out of a bottle (I’m betting the latter). But I have to be honest, this is my favorite Caesar salad in town — and has been for awhile. They take an entire head of romaine, split it in half, and grill it. And they give you a very generous amount of shaved Parmesan and Caesar dressing (you don’t have to use it all if you don’t want). And then one of my favorite parts: you can choose between chicken breast and chicken thigh. And if you’re any kind of foodie or home chef worth your salt, you know the chicken thigh is where all the juiciness and flavor is at! I can’t believe more places don’t do this.

And yes, I don’t know where the hell the croutons are at… normally they have them on there. I should have said something, but I was too excited for the rest of it. Surprise.

Humboldt: A Fantastic Sunday HH on a Patio in Uptown

Humboldt Farm, Fish & Wine is one of my top 2 or 3 favorite places to go on a Sunday for happy hour. They have a perfect patio for lounging about — and also $1 oysters ALL SUNDAY. Happy hour starts at 3pm — so if you get here early, just gorge yourself on some oysters first, and then order more food off the HH menu once 3 rolls around. I’m sure the brunch is also delicious, but I just love the HH menu here too much.

$1 Oyster Sundays

Yes, you heard that right. They’re $1! That’s cheaper than anywhere else in the area (even Jax does them for $1.50 for happy hour, and they don’t even open until dinner). And these aren’t just their happy hour oysters. ALL the oysters must go. So premium oysters are all $1. That’s pretty much my definition of the best deal ever.

Humboldt oyster Sunday

Just note: it’s only while they last, so if you show up after me on a Sunday, sorry! 😉

Humboldt oysters

The Happy Hour: 3pm-6pm every day

You always need to know a few spots that have HH every day, not just weekdays. And this is one of them. Wines and beer run just $4-$6 for some fantastic options, and cocktails are $6.

I’m also pretty much in love with the HH menu here. So far, I’ve tried everything on it but the mussels (but I hear Mondays are now Bottomless Mussels day, so I’m sure to remedy that shortly).

Humboldt HH menu

I’ve tried a lot of different chicken liver patés around Denver, and this is one of my favorites (and only $5 during HH). The trout one is also good, but I prefer the chicken. Unfortunately, I think they only have the trout one now.

Humboldt pates

The Humboldt Burger won Westord’s best burger a few years ago, and you’ll see why when you try it. There’s a $4 mini slider version of it on HH, too!

Humboldt HH burger

The veggies here are surprisingly good too (I only say surprisingly because I’m mostly a carnivore). We got the brussel sprouts and crispy broccoli — and holy crap, that crispy broccoli is one of my favorite veggie dishes ever.

Humboldt veggies

The Wine

I can’t not mention the wine. As a California transplant, I love wine. I drink a lot of it, and I know my way around it pretty well. So trust me when I say Humboldt has a fantastic selection of affordable, unique wines. I’ve had probably half of the white wines here — and I have yet to be disappointed. They’re also currently doing a Summer of Rosé, so ask your server about that!

Humboldt wine menu

Parry’s Pizza in Northglenn: 120 Craft Beers on Tap and Fantastic NY-Style Pizza

Parry’s Pizza is one of those places that I wish was right next to me, because the pizza is delicious and the craft beer selection is amazing. I love a good New-York-style thin-crust pizza (because who wants more bread than meat?) — and Parry’s has some of the best I’ve ever tried.

The new location in Northglenn (100 E. 120th Avenue) also has 120 craft beers on tap! That’s pretty amazing, even for Colorado (it’s actually the most craft beers in the state). If you live in Highlands Ranch, Parker, Castle Rock, or Greenwood Village, there’s also a location near you.

Parry's Pizza Northglenn outdoors at night

The Beer & Food

Like I said, there are 120 craft beers on tap here. And there’s always a collection of five craft beers for $4 that change every month (ask about “Parry’s Pints”). During happy hour (Mon-Fri 3pm-6pm), you can also get signature beers for $3, margaritas for $4, and well drinks and house wines for $4.

Parry's Pizza Northglenn beer on tap

Happy hour also includes $6 cheese pizzas, $4 wings (in a variety of available flavors), $5 parm bites, and a bunch of other options.

Now for the most important part: the pizza. We happened to have one with pepperoni, spicy sausage, and jalapeños/pepperoncinis on 1/2 of it. Man oh man… So good. It had the perfect thin crust, tons of meat, and just enough spice.

Their pizza specials include $11 large 18″ cheese pizzas all day Mondays, the aforementioned $6 cheese pizzas at happy hour, and $7 personal 9″ pizzas with a beer at lunch during the week. They also do a “lunch in 20” promise during the week — that’s lunch served in 20 minutes or less!Parry's Pizza Northglenn pizza

The Atmosphere

You kind of have to see if for yourself, but the indoor design here is really cool. There’s a downstairs and upstairs, dining room, large U-shaped bar, garage doors separating the patio, and rooftop bar and seating. It all has a very open-air, hip, comfortable feel.

Parry's Pizza Northglenn inside

I love all the industrial elements, Edison lightbulbs, exposed brick, etc.

Parry's Pizza Northglenn indoor design

And I couldn’t NOT include a photo of this awesome gear chandelier. Because look at it.

Parry's Pizza Northglenn chandelier

Outdoor Seating

This is the downstairs outdoor patio, which is separated from the inside with large garage doors.

Parry's Pizza Northglenn outdoor patio

And the open-air rooftop seating (which I think could really benefit from some misters come summer).

Parry's Pizza Northglenn rooftop

And the rooftop bar.

Parry's Pizza Northglenn rooftop bar

Stoic & Genuine: The Perfect Spot for Some Sunshine & Seafood at Union Station

I have to be honest. It took me a little while to warm up to the new Stoic & Genuine seafood restaurant at Union Station downtown. At first glance, it seemed a little too expensive and fancy for Denver. And who hasn’t made fun of this new hipster trend of naming restaurants “____ & ____”? There’s even a Hipster Business Name Generator where you can get your own (like Parsley & Sea, for example). Let’s be honest: 99% of the population probably can’t even tell you what “stoic” means.

But then I found myself repeatedly ending up at S&G on the weekends. They have this great little patio with a perfect view of all the hustle and bustle outside Union Station — and on a hot day, what sounds better than a cold bottle of white wine and some oysters under one of those umbrellas? So that’s how I found myself at Stoic & Genuine over and over, until I realized that I kind of love this place. The location is perfect, the seafood is fantastic, the wine is cold, and the people are pretty friendly and genuine (see what I did there?).

The down side is that it is a little expensive. If you split the whole fish (see below), you can save a lot on food, but their wines seem to have gone up in price (there used to be a couple of great options such as an Albariño for under $30, but now they seem to be $50+).

outside Stoic & Genuine

The Happy Hour

This is the best time to come here, although the happy hour is a bit strangely time if you work an 8-5 job. It runs from 2pm to 4:30pm on Monday through Friday. The good news is that it runs almost all day Sunday, from 11am to 4:30pm! Or when you work as a freelancer like me, who cares?

If you know me, you know I love me some oysters — and this place has them! You can choose from a variety of $2 oysters during happy hour (although they’re $1.50 at Jax, but you don’t get a choice of oysters there and they don’t open until 4pm). And the house wines, daily granita cocktails, and select beers are only $3!

stoic and genuine happy hour oysters and wine

The Food

The reason I first thought S&G was so expensive is because the appetizers are a little pricey — so if you decide to get an appetizer and an entree and drinks, you’re spending a pretty penny. For example, the Big Eye Tuna Tartare with smoked jalapeño, radish, tempura avocado, aioli — while delicious — costs about $16. I got it during Restaurant Week, but not I’m sure I’d get it otherwise.

tuna tartare at Stoic & Genuine

Even some of the main dishes, like the crab cakes, aren’t very sizable — albeit very good. They’re packed with real crab and mixed with a good amount of spice and seasoning to add just enough flavor. I think they’re a great “main” if you’re not too hungry, but maybe not as good as the ones at Jax (sorry to compare the 2 again). And the heirloom tomato succotash on the summer 2017 menu? Where is the heirloom tomato…?

If you get anything here, get the Crispy Whole Haddock (with lemongrass butter, lime, ponzu, and fresno chiles). The Haddock is seriously where it’s at. At market price, it’s usually about $30, but it’s definitely a full meal for 2 people. It’s the house specialty, and it does not disappoint. As you can tell, we loved it. The poor thing didn’t stand a chance…

Haddock at Stoic & Genuine, before and after

If you’re looking for an individual entree, the Squid Mac (with Point Judith RI squid, cream cheese hollandaise, grilled Maine lobster tail, and watercress) is pretty amazing, too. Although it’s almost the same price as the Haddock. This option is a lot creamier, but I wouldn’t say it’s sharable.

Lobster at Stoic & Genuine

Lobster at Stoic & Genuine, before and after

Another great option is the Steamed Clams (with Bilbao chorizo, tomato fondue, fennel, and ciabatta). I’m usually a bit hesitant about ordering mussels or clams with chorizo, because it tends to get too salty and greasy — but this one is done right. The chorizo comes as larger pieces of the spicy little sausage, and it doesn’t completely overpower the clams.

clams at Stoic & Genuine

I’ve also come here for a special occasion, so I was prepared to splurge — and I got the whole lobster. Holy crap this thing was good. But definitely not cheap. #WorthIt

whole lobster at stoic and genuine

A special mention to the bread pudding:

I didn’t take a photo, because I almost never eat desserts. Sweets just aren’t my thing. So why bother taking a photo? I was wrong. Restaurant Week comes with a dessert, so we ordered the Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding (with hot buttered rum sauce and creme fraiche ice cream). And this thing is amazing. And that comes from someone who rarely says that about dessert.