Happy Place: The Kitchen, 1530 16th Street, 303-623-3127
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.
The Deals: $1.25 oysters; $3-$7 appetizer specials; $4 select beers; $5 wines by the glass and specialty cocktails.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: The Kitchen, one of the newest eateries to grace the LoDo dining scene, hails from its sibling restaurant in Boulder. A massive outpost on the east side of the the 16th Street Mall, The Kitchen is light and refreshing with wood hues and industrial accents. The patio along the Mall is ideal for summer drinks, and the people watching can't be beat. The Kitchen pushes a community vibe, and the large tables encourage patrons to mingle and linger -- which they do.
The Verdict: Sometimes happy hour is just a transition from work to playtime, a blip in the evening that allows us to wind down. Other times, happy hour can be a simple pleasant surprise, a spontaneous meetup with a friend where everyone feels obligated to let loose. And sometimes happy hour is a bona fide occasion to behold, an experience that outlasts the final glass of wine, with food that makes you want to return time and time again.
The roster of plates on The Kitchen's Community Hour menu is delectable, an enticing array of artisan cheese, meats, antipasto delights and seafood. Our favorite part about the menu is the oyster specials: On this particular visit, we were offered a choice of Peter's Point or Treasure Cove, and as we relished in their fresh, salty brines, we agreed that there were some of the best oysters we'd had in Denver. The Long Farm pork terrine was clean and savory, albeit a little dry, and the creamy Giola burrata on grilled bread with peashoots was the perfect segue snack. The Folk Machine wine offerings were both apropos for pairing, our server was an absolute gem, and we stayed parked on the patio long after happy hour ended.
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Overall Grade: A-