Restaurant Roundup: Avanti, Pioneer, Atticus, Izakaya Den

September 24, 2015  •  Restaurants

avanti-2After spending the first half of the summer at home rehabbing my new knee, it seems I’ve been making up for lost time the past month. I’ve been eating out with my husband and friends, and meeting people for lunch or dinner who I didn’t get to see during the summer. A fun place to meet friends is the new Avanti food hall complex. It takes a bit of figuring out – as in which bar are you going to order a glass of wine from, where do you want your food from, and how are you going to snag a coveted seat on the rooftop patio (assuming it’s good weather) for views of Denver?avanti-1We got wine from the downstairs bar, ordered the stuffed squash blossoms and summer vegetables with duck confit and and egg…avanti-3…along with the lamb meatballs from Farmer Girl. Creative food, made from good products – everything I’d ask opposite, perhaps, of such a trendy all local, sustainable meal, is the cheap Mexican eats (heuvos rancheros for me) at The Pioneer near DU. Get there while the weather is still warm enough to enjoy the rooftop deck – not really for the views, unless you love 7-11, but for the outdoor ambience.paella-partyAtticus, also near DU on Evans, has started a monthly Sunday night family style dinner event – I’m guessing to fill the place on an otherwise slow night, but for us it was a reason to get together for their paella party. The paella was just ok, but in general I love this place and like to frequent it in the hopes of keeping it open since it’s so close to home.izakaya-den-3Places like Izakaya Den don’t need any help staying full and profitable – this place is always packed. But I do appreciate their effort at creative specials, starting with a soy marinated and flash fried squid (think Asian calamari).izakaya-den-2In case you didn’t full grasp the concept, seafood is seasonal, and the blue fin tuna was in season when we visited. Their simple sashimi – a piece of tuna wrapped around shredded tuna belly – was spectacular, as the waitress promised us, despite the $20 price tag for 6 small bites.izakaya-den-1Not sure why they still call it New Style Sashimi, because it’s been around for many years now, but I rarely go to a sushi joint where I don’t get some version of this. At Izakaya Den it’s whitefish and salmon with yuzu and jalapeño, and it’s well worth the trip just for this.

BIG NEWS! My oldest son is getting married this weekend and I couldn’t me more proud!

On Monday, I’ll be departing for a month in Italy, taking guests on a food and wine adventure of a lifetime, and then touring southern Italy and Sicily. I’ve set up some food posts for while I’m away, but I’ll also be blogging from the road, so please check back to read about the Testaccio area in Rome, the olive groves of Puglia, the historic towns of Matera and Ragusa, and wine tasting in Sicily. And won’t you consider joining me next year on my trip? I’ll be announcing details soon, so just contact me if you want to be informed with the trip is announced!

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