Folks from Wisconsin (and Eastconsin, too) have been showing up in droves since Denver's building boom began a few years ago. They're a friendly lot, and they love the Packers, the Wisconsin Badgers and fried cheese curds. Other than their sports team preferences, these folks are not so different from the rest of us. We love cheese curds, too, which is why we made it our mission to seek out the gooey, golden-fried nuggets wherever we could. Here are eight places, from fast-food joints to swank cocktail bars, where Wisconsinites will feel welcome — and will all find cheese curds.
5330 West 72nd Avenue, Westminster, 303-484-9469
9790 Washington Street, Thornton, 303-450-1200
Yes, Culver's is a fast-food chain, but it's a Wisconsin original straight out of the booming burg of Sauk City (population 3,410). The cheese curds here are a good baseline for further exploration. The fried crust is more of a granular breading than a batter, but the cheese inside is warm and stretchy. You'll also find another Badger State favorite here: butter burgers. South suburbanites can find another Culver's at 18561 Main Street in Parker, with a fourth metro location coming soon to East Arapahoe Road in Centennial.
1317 14th Street
Euclid Hall doesn't cater specifically to Wisconsin transplants, but rather to anyone with a hankering for grilled sausage and creative bar food that goes great with the restaurant's deep beer list. The kitchen sources golden cheese curds from the Carr Valley Cheese Company in La Valle, Wisconsin (coincidentally, less than forty miles from Sauk City). A side of housemade ranch dressing swirled with a splash of hot sauce comes along for the ride, adding gratuitous creaminess to the already decadent dish.
Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House
1610 16th Street
Most people head to Lucky Pie for pizza, so a side of cheese seems a little extraneous. But if you've got the appetite for molten dairy (or if you're skipping the pizza), then go ahead and indulge. The curds come jacketed in a light, slightly sweet batter, giving them a a hint of doughnuty appeal. Marinara cuts through the fat and adds an important serving of vegetables to your daily allowance.
3961 Tennyson Street
The Midwestern is like that neighborhood Asian grill that tries to do a little of everything — Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese. But in this case, the "everything" comes from Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois. We love the pork tenderloin sandwiches and Juicy Lucy burgers, but we always make sure to get a side of cheese curds for our Wisconsin fix. White cheddar, red sauce and a flavorful breading make them a great snack during football season — or hockey, baseball and basketball seasons, for that matter.
Ophelia's Electric Soap Box
1215 20th Street
We're going to get a little luxe with this choice, since Ophelia's isn't your typical sports bar or Packers-fan hangout. The cheese curds here are as naughty as the peep-show themed restaurant itself, with a crisp, tempura-style batter that reaches crunchy tendrils out from the main molten orb of cheese. For the price, you'll also get battered shishito peppers and some blood-orange marmalade to sweeten the deal. Cheese curds have never been so sexy.
3480 Park Avenue West
Roo bar caters to natives of the Great Lakes regions, with sports clubs and sports programming geared toward Wisconsin college and pro teams. Once an iconoclastic Cherry Creek billiards hall that didn't fit in with that gentrifying neighborhood, Roo Bar feels more at home in this no man's land that's surprisingly close to Coors Field and RiNo. Cheese curds go better in the company of hard hats and Harleys than handbags and hair salons, and a $5 burger-and-fry deal on Thursdays means an extra order of fried cheese won't put a dent in your wallet, leaving a little extra for another round of beers.
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1938 Blake Street
Swanky's is another Wisconsin-specific watering hole, where Packers fans gather on Sundays for cheap beers and good grub. Bratwursts, soft pretzels and a Big 10 burger will make customers homesick for Madison (or Sauk City or La Valle, as the case may be), and the cheese curds are simple and unadorned but for a side of ranch and a few obligatory celery interlopers.
Wally's Wisconsin Tavern
1417 Market Street
You know you've snowshoed into the right bar when "Wisconsin" is in the name. It's in the attitude and decor, too, with friendly Midwest service and a stuffed badger presiding over the tap handles. The cheese curds here are thick little curls of white cheddar in warm winter coats. But don't stop there; you'll also find butter burgers, obatzda (if you have to ask, you're not in the club) and Oshkosh cranberry slaw. Even if you're a FIB from neighboring Illinois, you'll still feel welcome at Wally's.