The BSide opened just last Wednesday at 17th and Humboldt, a corner that is quickly becoming a restaurant destination quarter. Justin Lloyd, the owner of Star Bar on Larimer Street, is also behind the debut. The new restaurant is serving craft beers and cocktails and food that ranges from down-home to downright unique. This little stretch of 17th Avenue is becoming quite the family of restaurants, with the recent births of The District (next door to BSide) and Humboldt, which isn't even a year old yet. And there's older company, too: Limon and P17. These restaurants together make up a walkable district with an eclectic palette of dining and drinking options.
The Paloma at Bside
BSide's Paloma is a version of a classic cocktail that's perfect for summer, featuring two tequilas: Cabeza blanco and Patron silver, combined with fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice and Squirt grapefruit soda. The ingredients are mixed in five-gallon batches, and loaded into a beer keg so that the lightly carbonated Palomas are available on draft from the bar. You'll want several of them, while enjoying yourself on one of BSides two outdoor patios -- one in front, one out back. The back patio is blessed with it's own bar, to make things easier. You'll feel blessed, too, at happy hour (3 - 6 pm Monday through Friday) when the cocktail is a dollar cheaper. ($6)
Purple Mountain from The District
One of the newer restaurants in this area, The District is entering its fifth week in business, in what was previously a jewelry store. The District's street side patio is where you want to drink the fruity and refreshing Purple Mountain cocktail -- currently the bar's most popular cocktail. It starts with crushed blueberries, to which lemon juice and simple syrup are added. For booze, you get your choice of vodka (Svedka) or bourbon (Old Forester). All that is poured over ice, and the drink is topped with Pyramid Apricot Ale and served in a pint glass for $9. If you're doing some drinking, get a pitcher to share ($23 for 48-ounce pitcher). If you're doing some dining, get the blue cheese fries, the Reuben fries, or the chicken fried steak sliders -- the hottest dishes coming out of the kitchen.
Cafe Cortado at the Denver Bicycle Cafe
Got a flat tire? Walk your bike over to the Denver Bicycle Cafe, a unique blend of bike shop, bar and barista heaven. A cortado is the drink to get here, made by your bow-tied barista Jake Hammerle, who's been making coffee drinks for ten years. A cortado is like a mini-latte: a double shot of espresso with two and a half ounces of steamed milk, which will most likely be topped with a delicate floral design in the foam. Bottles of vanilla and simple syrup are on hand to sweeten the cup. But there's more than cycles and coffee here. Bar guru Beki Gibney curates and carefully prunes a list of 12 tap beers and 60-plus cans -- every one of them from Colorado. The six taps on the East side of the shop, where the bike repair station is located, pour unique and unusual beers, while the West side's taps offer more common, easy-drinking beers such as pilsners and Kolsches. Get your cortado ($3) before they stop serving coffee at 5 p.m., when it's beers-only until closing time.
Keep reading for more dishes and drinks on 17th Avenue...
Crispy Broccoli at Humboldt
Humboldt is one of the newer kids on this block, getting ready to celebrate it's first year in business in October. When Humboldt opened, Executive Chef DJ Nagle created the crispy broccoli appetizer ($8), which is so popular that he's flying through 100 pounds of broccoli every week. If moms made broccoli the way Nagle prepares it for this dish, they'd have no problem getting the kids to eat their greens. Broccoli florets are dipped in a tempura batter of rice flour, water and salt, then quickly flash-fried in hot oil. They're crispy on the outside, crunchy and firm on the inside. Nagle pairs them with a pool of lemon-yellow aioli made of pureed pepperoncini, olive oil and egg yolk -- a great accompaniment to the fried broccoli. Grated Grana Padano cheese and a chiffonnade of parsley finish this dish, which is only $6 during happy hour (3 to 6 p.m. daily).
Crispy Chile Relleno at Limon
Ten years ago, restaurateur Alex Gurevich opened Limon, a cozy, relaxed little restaurant specializing in the cuisines of Central and South America. People head to Limon for the crispy chile relleno, one of the many small plates on the tapas-style menu. It's the most popular plate here because it's made differently than in other Latin-American restaurants, where you'll find heavy batters or eggroll-style wrappers. At Limon, the rellenos are dipped in tempura batter before being fried, so they're lighter and more delicate. It's a more subtle preparation that doesn't obscure the rich, grassy flavor of the chile. Before frying, the rellenos are stuffed with golden raisins, black beans, corn and cheese. After frying, they're drizzled with cilantro vinaigrette and chipotle aioli and topped with crumbles of Cotija cheese. Plantain tag along as an extra -- smashed into disks in a tortilla press and also lightly flash-fried. The gluten-free version omits the flour-based batter; the chile is baked instead of fried, resulting in a different texture, but the same phenomenal flavors. ($10)
The Harvey at P17
P17 is another cornerstone on this strip, opened nine years ago by restaurateur and chef Mary Nguyen, also the owner of Olive & Finch just a few blocks up 17th. Here, bar manager Charles Kollman has designed a savvy cocktail menu which includes the Harvey, one of the most called-for cocktails at P17. Making a Harvey requires hand-pulverizing fresh leaves of Thai basil and ice in a mixing tin, then adding Corazon silver tequila, lime juice, and a house-made lime-mint syrup. This is shaken over ice and strained over fresh ice into a glass rimmed with jalapeño salt. The rim salt is made by drying jalapeño peppers, powdering them, and combining them with salt. The Harvey appeared on P17's cocktail menu in January, but as the weather warmed, it came into its own as a refreshing summer cocktail. Muddled basil gives the drink an emerald green hue, and a light herbal flavor. Hurry up and get this before the weather turns cold again. ($9)
Stuffed Pizza at Patxi's
Let's get something cleared up: Patxi's is pronounced "PAH-cheese." This restaurant chain is named after pizza-maker Francisco "Patxi" Azpiroz, who started this deep-dish pizza empire in San Francisco in 2004. There are now twelve of the pizza shops across the country (with another to open soon in Santa Barbara, California) and the menu item to get at any of them is the stuffed pizza. Inspired by the deep-dish pizzas of Chicago, Patxi's stuffed pizza breaks with that style with the addition of a thin layer of dough stretched over the ingredients, before any sauce is added. This dough-layer gently bakes the ingredients and keeps the crust from getting soggy; house-made sauce tops the whole thing. These pies take about 45 minutes to bake, but there's a quicker approach during the busy lunch rush: from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a slice of this pizza comes with a full-size salad and soft drink for $9.99. For dinner, get a whole 14-inch pie for $19; toppings are extra and are super fresh -- there's no freezer here.