Best Of :: Shopping & Services
The personable partners of Bixa — Charles Pitchford and Darrel Dewitt — returned to Denver after a long stint in Aspen to open their tiny new storefront on Colfax. It's named for Bixa Orellana (an Amazonian plant identified by its red-orange stones, better known as Annatto seeds), and for their so-monikered cat. But the front is painted purple, and that paradox is just one of the many rare delights this retail anomaly brings to the street. What's in Bixa? It's a biodynamic/recycled paradise, the future of the corner drugstore, where every item on every shelf is sustainable in some way, from the high-end (and beautiful) South African telephone-wire baskets to cheaper pleasures, including all-organic fruit-flavored hot-chocolate mixes and cinnamon cotton candy. But the core product of the store — which is divinely littered with bracelets made from linked lapel buttons, necklaces of rolled-paper beads, pop-top wallets, bottle cap lamps and aromatic rose syrup — comes from Intelligent Nutrients, offering organic and healthy "nutraceutical" foods and supplements, infused flower waters and more.
Just a few years ago, the most romantic thing going on East Colfax was the Kitty's on Clarkson Street. That changed when the Tattered Cover and Twist & Shout moved into the former Lowenstein Theater complex. Recent additions have transformed the once-abandoned block into a stimulating spot — and an ideal place to break the ice on a first date. The Tattered Cover's coffee and comfortable chairs provide the setting for a get-to-know-you chat, while Encore Restaurant, with its low lighting and extensive wine list, is a nice noshing option. If things go well, take in a movie on one of Neighborhood Flix Cinema & Cafe's canoodle-friendly couches. And if things don't go well, you can always ease the pain with a little browsing at the record store. The place is much more telling — and a lot more fun — than an eHarmony compatibility profile.
We all need a good shopping bag these days, one that's durable and pretty and won't lose its cool when stuffed full of fresh produce. For one thing, it's good for the environment, but where Mission Wear is concerned, it's also good for the community: The nonprofit not only produces a pleasing selection of said bags from natural, organic and recycled fabrics, but it does so while providing jobs for former women convicts now trying to find their footing in the mainstream world.
The Grand Hyatt Downtown is always looking for hotel packages that will make guests feel good, so when the hotel's Maryann Yuthas came up with the idea for a self-guided Microbrew Walking Tour Package more than five years ago, it was a natural. And over the years, the tour has worked out well enough to keep the buzz going. The weekend package includes overnight accommodations, two pints each at the Denver ChopHouse & Brewery, Rock Bottom Brewery and the Wynkoop Brewing Company; one pint at Breckenridge Brewery; and one flight of beer and a 20 percent discount on beer and gear at Great Divide Brewing Company. "This really delivers Denver," Yuthas says. Indeed it does.
Hotel Monaco pushes its pet-friendliness — a "goldfish companion" is available if you're not traveling with your own furry pal. But it's the treatment of the human clientele that really stands out, from the solicitous concierge to the evening wine hour to the on-premises Renaissance Aveda Spa & Salon to the top-flight meals at Panzano. It's the kind of rose-petal-turndown place that builds a loyal following even among hardened business travelers and makes locals plan exotic weekend getaways in the heart of the city, of all places.
Close enough to the urban core to be a short walk or free shuttle ride to downtown amenities, but far enough away to provide free parking, the Burnsley is a class act. The all-suite rooms are spacious, many with great views of the skyline — yet they're half the cost of what you'd pay for a marble-lined broom closet just a few blocks away. The staff is friendly, the neighborhood calm, and the restaurant serves a killer Reuben, which makes this the perfect place to stash visiting relatives or tightwad business associates looking to live large but not too large.