If you've noticed that the Denver restaurant scene is blowing up, you're not alone. The dizzying number of new restaurants here and the competition pushing chefs and restaurateurs to give guests better dining experiences is getting national attention. Some of the resulting stories actually look into Denver's changing reputation, focusing on the wave of innovation here in the Mile High City. But other media outlets continue to treat Denver as fly-over country, worthy of mention only for quaint oddities, and not worth the effort of fact-checking on the more interesting stories.
Consider this trio of recent stories that put the local dining scene in the national eye...
In today's piece on Denver's booming economy and food scene, NPR's Ben Markus talks to Keegan Gerhard of D Bar, Jen Jasinski, chef and co-owner of Stoic & Genuine (among others), restaurateur Frank Bonano, and Sonia Riggs, president of the Colorado Restaurant Association. NPR points out Denver's 4 percent unemployment rate, high rate of new construction and the breakneck pace of new restaurant openings -- August alone saw forty new bars and eateries.
The CBS Evening News recently put together a piece on trash fish that included a look at Asian carp and the Squeaky Bean's interest in promoting the use of the invasive species as a way to reduce harmful populations while cooking up delicious food. And while there's no such thing as bad press, reporter Barry Peterson managed to call owner Johnny Ballen "Jimmy" while also referring to the Bean's executive chef, Theo Adley, as a "guest chef."
At least the L.A. Times shares our obsession with local legend Casa Bonita. In a piece published yesterday, the Times focused on the brave young cliff divers who also juggle fire and caper about in gorilla costumes for $12 an hour at Casa Bonita. Interviews with guests of the theme restaurant highlighted nostalgia and quirky fun while completely avoiding the subject of the cafeteria-style food that emerges on orange plastic trays from a hole in the wall.
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But maybe that's not such a bad thing, if we want the rest of the U.S. to accept Denver as more than just a stopover for cheap Mexican food.