for what it's worth...
NEW SAIGON: 630 S Federal Blvd, Denver, www.newsaigon.com
Moderately grungy neighbourhood (I take it S Federal is for Denver Vietnamese what Telegraph Ave in Oakland in for Bay Area Korean). I didn't want meat, so I ordered a vegetarian curry from the New Saigon's Specials section of the menu, only I ordered cari chay when I was thinking of xao cari: my mistake for not reading the description carefully. What I got instead was a hotpot, dominated by low-grade squash. Only a trace of mushroom, and I celebrated every time I found a piece of tofu -- and the tofu wasn't that great. My friends ordered a beef dish and lamb dish with completely different menu descriptions that turned out to be virtual identical save for the choice of meat, but which they both enjoyed, and which I verified were much better than what I had.
Seems like a place where you need to know what to order. Without that knowledge, we should've just gone to one of the twenty million pho joints in that neighbourhood.
FALLING ROCK TAP HOUSE: 1919 Blake St, Denver, www.fallingrocktaphouse.com
We changed our whole roadtrip route to drink here (who wants to see the Grand Canyon anyway?), and we weren't disappointed. Aided by our knowledgeable server Danno, we sampled the best of the Colorado microbrew scene. Many were grassier from what we're used to in California: perhaps different hops, and plenty of them. My faves were Great Divide's bitter yet easily drinkable Hercules Double IPA, and Avery's thick, chocolatey New World Porter, the latter of which I had on cask. And all for a fair $4 a drink.
In terms of draft beer selection and quality, it compares favourably to any place I've been to in the East Bay.
LUCILE'S: 275 S Logan St, Denver, www.luciles.com
After Falling Rock the previous night, I needed that Cajun breakfast. Buttermilk biscuit, grits, beans, eggs, plenty of hollandaise. A waitress who treated us nice because, of all reasons, one of us was wearing a Kansas State jacket. Maybe a bit expensive for what it is, but that day I would've happily paid twice as much.
BEAU JO'S: 1517 Miner St, Idaho Springs, www.beaujos.com
Even though we suspected it might be terrible, four of us came down from the slopes to share a 2 lb Motherlode high altitude pie and a 2 lb Dude Ranch mountain pie. Verdict: not terrible. The extremely high crust on the edge basically acted as extra bread, with or without extra honey. The ingredients were good quality, and the Motherlode had plenty of meat on it. While the Dude Ranch (chicken breast and ranch sauce on a pizza; Gennaro Lombardi is spinning pizza dough in his grave) was too ridiculous for my tastes, the rest of my party gulped it down.