Celebrity Food Writer Ruth Reichl Visits Rioja

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The culinary opinions of writer, chef and television personality Ruth Reichl matter; after all, she has been a restaurant critic for both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, in addition to writing ten books on food and cooking. So when she makes a stop between the coasts and takes the time to praise a Denver restaurant, it means considerably more than the opinions of random Yelpers.

When Reichl was in town last Friday, she had lunch at Rioja, Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch's Larimer Square eatery that's been popular among Denver diners for more than a decade. In the April 8 entry of her daily blog, Reichl includes her Rioja stop in a day of "rather reckless eating," writing:

Landed in sunny Denver, and went off for lunch at Rioja. I’ve always wanted to try this now classic Denver restaurant — and was not disappointed.

I began with the house salad of arugula, gorgonzola, almonds and dates. (Every dish here is a gilded lily; this is seriously cheffy food.)

And the octopus farfalle with piquillo peppers, pickled chiles, fried preserved lemon…. I really loved this dish; it had heat, heft, crunch and sweetness. More, please!

Then it was on to another one of Denver’s increasingly fascinating restaurants. But my 24 hours are up!

Unfortunately, Reichl's blog doesn't mention any other Denver restaurants, and by her next entry, dated April 10, she's already moved on to St. Louis. Did you happen to spot the famous foodie on Friday? And where would you take Ruth Reichl to dinner in Denver if it were your call?

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