By the end of December, some 50,000 people will have descended on the Denver Performing Arts Complex to watch the Colorado Ballet's Sugar Plum Fairy do her stuff. Even if you're not one of them, there's a good chance you'll be drawn to the center this holiday season for one reason or another, and that you'll want to grab a bite to eat before the show.
A good option is the Nickel; my review of this new restaurant in the Hotel Teatro will be posted here tomorrow. In the meantime, here are three things to keep in mind when choosing a pre-theater destination.
Let's be honest: It's not always easy to stay awake in a dark performance hall when you're listening to relaxing music. Do yourself a favor and pick a restaurant with food that isn't too heavy; otherwise, you're all but guaranteed to sleep through the second act. And while happy hour may seem like a good idea, you might want to wait until after the show if wine gives you the yawns.
2) Kitchen speed
I've eaten meals at restaurants so close to the Ellie, I could practically hear the orchestra tuning up. But not all restaurants within walking distance are geared to getting people in and out the door. Once, after placing my order and watching the minutes pass for nearly an hour, I found myself paying for my drink and sprinting to make the curtain, knowing dinner would consist of cookies at intermission. To prevent the same thing from happening to you, you should tell your server that you're holding tickets and ask if there are dishes to avoid because they take longer to prepare. Obviously, this isn't the time for six-course meals.
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Given the vagaries of traffic and the time it takes to park and find your way from the top level of the garage to your seat, it's best to park first and then find a place to eat that's either a short walk or cab ride away. You may love your neighborhood pizza joint, but unless you live in LoDo, you'll want to save it for a night when you're not holding tickets. Pick a restaurant close to the show instead.