This week? Total Heart-of-Darkness trip with my voyage through the chintz end of the American cultural spectrum. White Fence Farm blew my mind and, in the process, served me one damn fine plate of fried chicken. Thinking about that got me considering some of those other only-in-Colorado places where one must first screw one's courage to the sticking point before stepping inside, those places that, through their extreme example, better illuminate what it means to truly be a Coloradoan.
Remember: drop the acid about forty-five minutes before arriving for maximum effect. Possible side effects include uncontrollable shrieking, brain damage, spontaneous religious conversion and, in some cases, serious Mountain State addiction.
1) Casa Bonita, 6715 West Colfax. The only restaurant in Denver so freakin' bizarre that Matt and Trey built an entire episode of South Park around it. You can't call yourself a Denverite if you haven't been once. You may want to seek intensive psychological counseling if you have visited more than twice.
2) Los Cabos, 1525 Champa Street. Sure, it might not look so weird from the outside. Even from the inside, it doesn't seem like much more than a nice Peruvian restaurant. But this is the only place I know of that has its own life-size stuffed llama on the floor. Word of advice? No matter how drunk you get, don't try to ride it. The management doesn't think that's funny at all.
3) Domo, 1365 Osage Street. Not every one of Denver's most unusual amusements has to have a mechanical gorilla or fire jugglers just to blow your mind. I chose Domo simply because it is such a rarity -- an authentic Northern Japanese peasant restaurant, akido dojo and zen garden right in the middle of the Mile High City. Also, if you choose to sit outside in the garden during the summer, they give you these totally ridiculous hats to wear. So ... bonus!
4) Oshima Ramen, 7400 East Hampden Avenue. All hail the Ramen King! Worshippers will convene at this, the sole location ever to be opened outside of Japan. Best thing about this place (other than the food, which is awe-inspiring)? The weird, blobby little moose-slug mascot that lords over all the bowls of ramen consumed here.
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5) Buckhorn Exchange, 1000 Osage Street. Because what would a list of Denver's weirdest and wildest be without the one place in the city where you can see a sperm whale's penis on display?
6) Downtown Aquarium Restaurant, 700 Water Street. Because it's a fish restaurant, inside an aquarium. I don't understand why people don't find that as funny as I do ...
Got more? I'd love to hear about them. Use the comment button below. That's what it's there for.