Best To-Go From a James Beard Winner 2020 | Rioja | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Best To-Go From a James Beard Winner


Scott Lentz

Looking for a special dinner? Consider Feast on the Fly, the special to-go menu now offered by Rioja. While the offerings change often (watch for the short ribs!), chances are good that your meal will be cooked by Jen Jasinski, who in 2013 became the first Denver chef to win the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Southwest award. (She and partner Beth Gruitch are up for top honors in the Best Restaurateur category this year, but that contest is currently on hold.) To accompany your award-winning meal, you can buy bargain bottles of wine, or pick up a favorite cocktail once served at Euclid Hall, the eatery around the corner that Gruitch and Jasinski closed March 16. Rioja is currently working on delivery, but Larimer Square looks lovely, even when it's deserted.

Best Place to Stock Up on Creature Comforts

Marczyk Fine Foods

Courtesy Marczyk Fine Foods

Once you've found your secret grocery store that always seems to have the essentials, head to Marczyk for the finer things in life. Fresh-baked breads, butcher's cuts of pork, beef and lamb (plus housemade sausages), and grab-and-go foods are only the beginning. Shelves filled with sauces, condiments, canned goods and, yes, even milk and eggs, will help you take your mind off the world outside. Don't linger too long, though; other shoppers need their special space, too. Both locations of the neighborhood markets are open daily.

Best Ethiopian Restaurant and Market


Lori Midson

We're big on Megenagna because it's just as easy to come for a light lunch as for a family feast. The veggie combo is just right for a midday to-go meal, with colorful dollops of stewed lentils, peas, greens and shiro wot (made with chickpea flour), all loaded with complex spices and seasoned butter atop dark, earthy, tangy injera bread. Kitfo, minced and seasoned beef, is the specialty of the house; it comes in several regional varieties, and there's even a vegetarian version made with collard greens and soft housemade cheese. Add an Ethiopian coffee for a well-rounded experience. The restaurant is now open for takeout, and the market next door offers an assortment of Ethiopian specialty items and butcher-counter meats.
Penelope Wong

If you haven't been following chef Penelope Wong's scarlet-and-black food truck around town, you'd better start — stat — because you're missing out on some of the best food in Denver, period. The chef loads steamers full of dumplings and pans full of potstickers; garlic-chile wontons, pan-fried soup dumplings, and adorable bao in the shape of pigs and pandas are all on the menu. In the coming weeks, Yuan Wonton will offer pre-order service and then appear occasionally at locations with parking lots big enough to allow pick-up from your car window. Check @penelopewong and @yuanwonton on Instagram for updates.

Launched in 2016, the Denver Central Market is more than just an overly ambitious food court: The various vendors sell baked goods, meats, specialty foods and pantry items for home use, and the restaurant counters offer pizza, sandwiches, charcuterie boards, raw oysters, ice cream, coffee and other breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. The market is a vibrant grocery stop for a fast-paced neighborhood, and it's still open for business, even though you can't dine inside.

The GrowHaus has been an ambitious oasis in the food deserts of north Denver for the past decade. Despite facing a double shutdown challenge (its building, housing a greenhouse and community market, was forced to close in February due to structural issues), the GrowHaus isn't about to stop helping now. Instead, it's expanding its CSA-like food program, which delivers boxes packed with local organic veggies, fruit, eggs and bread to the doorsteps of Denver residents every week. Basic memberships start at $15 to $20 per week and will help the nonprofit fund other efforts to combat food insecurity, including delivering free emergency food packages to residents of the 80216 zip code.

Community Supported Agriculture has always been a great idea, helping farmers survive by essentially investing in their farms while providing customers with a regular supply of vegetables fresher and brighter than any found in the stores during normal times, much less these — as well as an occasional new item to sample and experiment with. The folks at Aspen Moon Farm are dedicated organic growers who use biodynamic techniques to raise everything from bok choy in spring to raspberries in fall — and a host of gorgeous vegetables in between. Cost for a weekly share is $700, or $375 for biweekly. Sign up now, then get ready to start picking up orders this spring.

Perhaps you like chicken but have been upset by articles about the filthy and inhumane way the birds are raised and slaughtered. The solution: a Jodar Farms summer CSA membership. The Fort Collins farm allows the birds to roam the pasture, resulting in delicious, full-flavored meat. The CSA, which has pick-ups in Fort Collins, Longmont, Boulder and Denver, offers members a list of products to choose from: eggs, breasts, legs and thighs, a chicken soup kit (there's nothing like homemade stock), and bulk pork sausage. Cost is a $15 membership fee and a minimum of $375 for the five-month season, which begins in June.
Courtesy Mutiny Information Cafe

No bookstore, venue or comic shop supports Denver creatives like Mutiny Information Cafe. The all-ages space has long served as a hub for DIY shows, cyphers, poetry readings, podcasts and book tours. And even though the shop itself is closed for browsing, Mutiny has blown a hole through the wall to create a to-go window, where you can buy coffee, candy, comics, records and more, all helping support local artists in the process. You can also order directly from Mutiny's website.
Courtesy St. Vrain Cidery

Located in downtown Longmont, St. Vrain Cidery is the largest all-cider taproom in Colorado, with more than 36 rotating ciders, both housemade and from other cideries around the state. St. Vrain's own elixirs are made from natural, local ingredients: Pink Guava, Dry Ginger and Blackberry Botanical all provide a pleasing punch of flavor in differing levels of sweet and dry. For a good excuse to get out of the house while maintaining social distancing, St. Vrain is selling four-packs and growlers to-go, and also has an online store.

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