I just got back from a lovely weekend in Denver and I wanted to write a little about my experience while it’s still fresh. A few weeks ago, I decided that it was in my best interest to get out of LA for a bit before the start of my semester. This summer has been much crazier than I anticipated and I was started to feel a bit stifled so I decided to take a trip to explore a new city. A friend from college kindly offered to host me at her apartment in The Highlands so I was also looking forward to catching up with her and having her show me around the city where she grew up.
I left LA on Friday morning and arrived in Denver mid-afternoon. Though my hour and 45-minute flight was delayed an hour and a half for no reason that was disclosed to me (thanks Spirit Airlines!) I still had a nice amount of day left by the time I made it to the city. I took the light rail from the airport to Union Station and then took a Lyft to Erin’s place, which was only about a 15-minute drive. I arrived to Erin quick-pickling veggies from a local community garden – my kinda girl. We spent the rest of the afternoon catching up and then headed to the Cherry Creek neighborhood for dinner at Departure.
So Departure. As the foodie fangirl that I am, I’ve followed Departure Portland and Gregory Gourdet, the creator and ex-Top Chef contestant, for about a year now. My plans of going to Portland in the near future are largely driven by a desire to visit Departure. Check out their insta to see what I’m talking about. Anyway, I found out that the Denver location of Departure was opening the week of my trip and I was way too excited. I think I literally did a mini-turn-up dance in my kitchen when I saw it on Instagram. I immediately went a made a reservation and then spent the week anticipating the amazement.
It did not disappoint in the slightest. The Asian-inspired dishes featured flavors and textures that were adventurous and interesting while employing simple and recognizable whole food ingredients. Everything I could want. Erin and I shared the roasted beet salad, steamed short rib buns (featured below and on my insta), lamb shoulder skewers, and the Vietnamese Duck Curry. We had the mango sticky rice for desert (featured below). Apologies for the lack of photos, the lighting wasn’t good (for basic b’s like me who want to take photos of their food).
We also got cocktails. Erin’s contained a large blackberry.
We capped off the night with a drink in a swanky little bar and then headed back to Erin’s place for some much needed rest after a day of traveling and good food.
Saturday, I got off to a late start. Who knew I could actually sleep past 7am? Around 1pm I finally got my life together and headed out for some exploration. At Erin’s recommendation, I decided to start my afternoon at the Clyfford Still Museum and I was so glad I did. Still was a huge advocate of single-artist galleries so the entire museum is dedicated solely to his work. The pieces are curated chronologically so you can map the growth over his 50 year career and really get a feel for his development as an abstract expressionist.
After the museum, I grabbed a snack, strolled around the Capitol Hill area, and then headed to a community yoga class at Kindness Yoga. The class was taught by a gentleman who had recently completed his 200-hour training and as someone who is about halfway to completing that training, I found the experience of being in his class really valuable as a student and aspiring teacher.
After class, Erin picked me up and we, along with her friend Tasha who was also visiting, went back to her place to start prepping for a lovely evening of backyard grilling and dining. Erin had a ton of veggies from her community garden so we tossed a bunch on the grill along with some chicken breasts and ate under the beautiful Denver sky. It was nothing short of perfection.
Unlike Saturday, my Sunday got off to a roaring start. My friend’s mom, who lives just south of the city, was kind enough take me hiking. She picked me up at 7am and we drove about an hour to the trailhead at Butler Gulch. The hike was absolutely gorgeous. The vegetation was so lush and the clouds so blue. There was also an amazing waterfall about halfway in that I could have watched for hours. That’s not something I’m used to seeing coming from drought country.
The rest of Sunday consisted of lounging/napping in the grass in Erin’s backyard, watching the Olympics, and an evening yoga class at Corepower, which has a location right down the street from Erin’s place. After yoga, there was dinner and more olympics and finally bed.
On my last morning/afternoon in Denver, I got up early to get the 7:30 class at Corepower. Around 9:30, I made my way downtown to do some strolling before grabbing an early, but hefty, lunch at Euclid Hall. This place was recommended to me by a friend who visited Denver last year. As soon as she said that they made their own in-house sausage, I knew it had to happen. It was my last meal of my trip so I figured I’d go big before I went home. Got the mortadella sausage with pistachios and black pepper (there were actually whole shelled pistachios through the center of the sausage). Carnitas poutine with tomatillo salsa, cheddar and goat cheese, and fresh cilantro. Simple green salad cause greens.
All and all, I had a great weekend. Denver strikes a lovely balance between the city and the small town. Everyone is super friendly, the pace is relaxed, and it has great cultural attributes. I’m back in LA, feeling refueled and refreshed for the semester to come. Definitely looking forward to going back in the future.