Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Retail retort: If you can't bring yourself to do hard time at Alcatraz Brewing Co. (see Cafe, previous page), Park Meadows proper offers another haven for beer drinkers--Nordstrom Pub, conveniently located directly behind the men's department at Nordstrom. The warm, comfortable pub doesn't brew its own beer, but it does have local micros on tap and does a satisfactory job with fish-and-chips and shepherd's pie.

Another Park Meadows place, P.F. Chang's, plans to open a second location near 15th and Market streets sometime soon. Oh, goody--just what we need downtown: a pseudo-Asian eatery so clueless that when it opened last year, locals wrote the owners to complain about the chain's radio ads billing P.F. Chang's as "offering Asian food, but with American hospitality."

Hey, Moe: There are chains, and then there are chains. Moe's Broadway Bagel was purchased last year by Bruegger's, which was then purchased by Quality Dining--the company that owns Chili's and Grady's, among others. But despite those unbecoming siblings, Moe's remains unchanged in any major way. In fact, Moe's just celebrated its fifth anniversary, which means that for half a decade, it's been selling the closest thing in the area to a real New York-style bagel.

To commemorate the event, last week all four Moe's locations--one in Denver, at 550 Grant, and three in Boulder: the original, at 2650 Broadway, and two others, at 3075 Arapahoe Road and 1116 13th Street--gave away an incredible number of bagels slathered (and at Moe's, they do slather) with cream cheese. Crowds were out the doors, but then, they always are at Moe's. And for good reason: The bagels are awesome, the coffee (from Dazbog) is awesome, the cream cheeses are awesome, and the staff is awesome.

"We always try to have hot bagels ready, and while they have bad days like everybody else, our staff is exceptionally friendly," says Erik Huf, general manager of the Denver Moe's, which simultaneously celebrated its second year in business.

"Exceptionally friendly" is an understatement, though, because these people are cheerful, accommodating, nice and even sincere, saying "Have a great day" in a way that sounds like they might actually mean it. Part of their charm seems to come from their pride in the product.

I saw that pride in action when I asked a staffer if the strawberry cheese was good. "Good? This is way beyond good," he said. "This is so good, a rainbow of happiness will come out of your mouth every time you open it while eating this." Okay, so maybe they're a little on the overly exuberant side. But they have a right to crow about their food, especially the bagels. "We do them the old rolled way, then boil them, which is rare," says Huf. "And, I'm sure you're probably sick of hearing about quality ingredients, but we use 'em. And then there's the proofing time, which is the key. Proper proofing can take several days."

It's worth the wait. And if you're stuck in line at the Grant Street site, there's an added bonus: great people-watching. The a.m. parade--full of business types, business types with their secretaries, groovy babes, Seattle grungers, skinheads, lovers, wannabe lovers and the truly lonely--rivals any bar scene in town.

Fasten your seatbelts: A non-chain moved into Concourse B at Denver International Airport this past April. The renegade Mexican Cafe features a hand-painted sign, bright red-and-white tiles, and a menu that owes much to Chipotle Mexican Grill and other wrappers. The Cafe offers daily specials and big burritos; a friend who knows his burros says the one with hot sauce is "pretty darn good." Wash it down with horchata or grab a Corona from the bucket at the end of the counter, and enjoy the fact that you're not eating in McDonald's or one of DIA's other antiseptic chain spots.

Support the locals: Big oops. Last week I reported that Oblio's Pizzaria, at 6115 East 22nd Avenue, had closed, but they hadn't. It seems the phone company was screwing around with the lines and put them on the disconnected list for a while. So if you dig good 'za, check it out.


KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner