The week before Christmas, I went to Denver for a few days to visit my uncle. It is always a treat to visit the Mile High City — there is an energetic and outdoorsy vibe, lots of terrific restaurants, and most importantly I get to spend time with people I love. Denver is especially fun around the holidays when there is a chill in the air and decorations around town.
My uncle picked me up from the airport and we grabbed a late dinner at Ace Eat Serve, which offers Asian-inspired dishes in a ping pong hall. Really good food and beverages.
I spent most of the next day with my friend Molly — we worked together at Young & Restless for many years, and it is always a treat to spend time together. We walked around the Highland neighborhood and Molly suggested Avanti for lunch. It’s a “collective eatery” — a warehouse with around eight different restaurant counters serving a variety of food so you can pick and choose where to eat. They have an outdoor roof and we settled there to enjoy the unseasonably warm day.
We both decided to order from Quiero Arepas, which serves a delicious arepa (ground maize dough pocket) stuffed with chicken and avocado. A delicious lunch. (I also got Vietnamese iced coffee from Kaya Kitchen.)
Then Molly and I went on a tour of the U.S. Mint — there are only a handful of mint locations around the country, and the two biggest ones are Denver and Philadelphia (check your quarters — they are either stamped with a D or P to indicate the city in which they were produced). The tour is free but you have to show up early in the day to get a ticket for timed entry. We went before lunch for the tickets and returned for the last tour of the day at 3:30p. No cameras are allowed and cell phones must be turned off; you will pass through airport-style security to enter the building. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and — full disclosure — is not very interesting. But it was fun to check off the Denver bucket list as it is unique to this city.
After the mint tour we made our way to a downtown Christmas market and got mulled cider, which we enjoyed in a nearby tent featuring live music.
Then we drove to the RiNo neighborhood (River North Art District) and walked around Denver Central Market before going upstairs to an opening night party for Abby Sparks Jewelry. Molly’s friend Sarah is part of the Abby Sparks team and it was such a swanky, fun event — the space is terrific.
The Abby Sparks team:
Emelye and Molly:
Molly and me:
After the party, Molly and I went back to my uncle’s place for dinner with Jane, Laurie, and Noel — what fun this was! My uncle is the best host (more on this later) and he made sure our wine glasses were full all night while he whipped up homemade crab cakes for dinner. We all gabbed late into the night and it was the perfect end to an already perfect day.
The weather changed 40 degrees overnight — here was the unseasonably warm day when I first arrived:
Here here is what we woke up to the next morning:
We spent this day getting ready for the holiday party my uncle would hosting the next night, which happened to coincide with his birthday (“but it’s not a birthday party!”). In the morning I strung lights on the Christmas tree. We got lunch at D Bar, one of my favorite restaurants. Midway through the day we went downtown and I saw The Greatest Showman while my uncle went to the gym. I also spent some time browsing at The Tattered Cover, one of my all-time favorite bookstores. Then we made fajitas for dinner and did more party prep — steamed the wine glasses, decorated the tree, etc. A relaxing and casual day.
Lunch at D Bar:
Desserts at D Bar:
Here are some photos of the holiday decor downtown near 16th Street Mall:
My uncle’s signature crab cakes from the previous night, and fajitas we picked up at Marczyk’s:
I’ve got a few more photos of the city skyline taken from the guest bedroom (I will never tire of this view):
The next day was my uncle’s birthday! We spent the morning finalizing things for the party, and then went out after lunch for a caffeine fix at Thump Coffee:
I DO love my uncle! (Thanks to David Lang for the pin!)
I secretly picked up a mini cake when he went out to get ice and surprised him with it.
A few photos of the decor before guests arrive…
I got my dress from Rent the Runway (referral link), since I didn’t own a winter party frock. I was happy with it.
My DSLR camera and flash was ready to go in the living room, but I spent the night talking to so many people that I never made it back to get my camera! Fortunately my uncle was good about snapping pics on his iPhone, so we have these. There were over 40 guests in attendance. Many of them I knew from previous trips to Denver, and others I met for the first time — it was a truly lovely group of people and the hours flew by. The food was delicious, especially the salmon. Lots of great beverages and appetizers and desserts, too. What a party!
The next day we met up with David Lang for lunch — always a treat to see him!
Sushi Sasa is another favorite spot — the poke bowl and specialty rolls were highlights.
Many thanks to my generous uncle for hosting me! And for all the friends I got to catch up with!
Hope to see you again soon, Denver!