Colfax Avenue Roundup: Cheese, Sushi and a Cajun Juke Joint

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Tasty Colfax kicks off tonight with its seventh annual food crawl in the Bluebird District, including stops at twenty restaurants — but not Mezcal, which closed on June 7 for a massive overhaul and won't reopen until the end of summer. But there's quite a consolation prize: a new cheese shop that opened Sunday and will be part of tonight's movable feast. And there are more changes in store along East Colfax Avenue. New World Cheese, a retail cheese shop and cafe, opened this past Sunday in the Lowenstein complex in a space formerly occupied by Red Mango frozen-yogurt shop. Owner Teresa St. Peter, who'd worked for sixteen years as a Denver City Council aide, says the opening went so well that there was a line out the door and the shop sold out of nearly every piece of cheese on hand. As the name suggests, New World focuses on dairy products made in the Americas, with quite a few Colorado dairies represented on the shelves. "European cheeses are gorgeous," St. Peter explains, "but the fun thing for me is learning about these producers who went to Europe and brought back what they learned."

And since FDA regulations make it tough to import some of Europe's finest raw-milk cheeses, she decided to work with artisans who have mastered the skill of cheese-making closer to home. Along with products from the Ugly Goat Dairy, Avalanche and Fruition Farms in Colorado, you'll find items from River's Edge in Oregon, Charleston Artisan Cheese House in South Carolina, and even an aged vegan farmhouse cheese from Miyoko's Creamery in California. A small menu of cheese-based bites and sandwiches (you know the grilled cheese is going to be good with a selection like this) is also available from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

St. Peter notes that the American Cheese Society is based in Denver and has been very supportive of the new shop and the artisan cheese business in general, as have other members of the community. Restaurateur Alex Seidel called St. Peter when he was opening Mercantile Dining & Provision, and she worked with him for two months before and two months after the Union Station restaurant opened to help set up and run the restaurant's cheese counter. "Part of our program here is about education," she adds. "We don't want people to take home a $40 cheese and be disappointed." 
Just east of the Lowenstein, Park House, which opened in 2012 as a bar and live-music venue, sports new signs announcing Peacemaker's Juke Joint and Cajun Kitchen. Turns out the restaurant, which is open (but not part of Tasty Colfax) is transitioning from Park House to Peacemaker's, but while the Park House name will eventually disappear, the focus on live music will remain. There's a new chef and a new menu featuring classic Cajun small plates, from chicken and sausage gumbo to red beans and rice, along with a handful of Southern-inflected burgers and po'boys. And just past the Bluebird District, Izu Sushi, which first showed signs of construction more than a year ago, is finally open for business. It's just two doors down from Voodoo Doughnut — perfect for a raw fish and fried dough dinner-and -dessert combo.

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