H.H Tammen 1928
The Denver Central Market, located in the heart of the River North Arts District at 27th and Larimer, has already received nationwide acclaim since it’s opening this past September. A gourmet market and eatery set in a re-imagined, 1920’s warehouse, The Denver Central Market is designed to be a communal space to both eat and shop. With eleven different vendors that were carefully chosen by Jeff Osaka, one of Denver’s most prominent restaurateurs and owner/ founder of Denver’s Osaka Ramen and Sushi-Rama, The Denver Central Market has the diverse feel and charm of a European open-air market, though a bit more gourmet. Developer Ken Wolf wanted to create a space where you could pick up meat and raw fish, but also stop by with a group of friends to have lunch or dinner.
I visited the Denver Central Market for the first time at the beginning of December, to enjoy a lazy, Sunday morning breakfast with a friend. It was a complete delightful way to spend a Sunday morning. Upon entering the venue, we were embraced by the light, airy feel of the place. None of the venues are separated by walls and one side of the market is filled with windows, giving the place a relaxed, settle-down-and-stay-a-while feel. Light streamed through the green and blue glass bottles behind the bar at Curio and a line of people were congregating behind the rich smell of freshly ground espresso from resident coffee-house, Crema Bodega. Delicately crafted chocolates were lined up in formation in the display case of Temper, Denver Central Market’s chocolatier, and raw fish was being cut and prepared for sale in the workspace of Silva’s Fish Market, one of the first vendors you see upon entering the building.
Before settling down and ordering, we spent a while wandering aimlessly around the market, enchanted by it’s feel. Pizza dough was being kneaded by a woman at Vero Italian. Glass lights filled with marbles and bottle caps hung from the ceiling of SK Provisions. A woman fussed over freshly made waffle cones behind the bar at High Point Creamery. It was wonderful to witness the care the venues were putting into their food.
Visitors seemed to have come to the market for all sorts of different reasons. One woman hustled around with a few different grocery bags, picking up odds and ends from different vendors, maybe for a meal later that day. Students were huddled by their laptops, drinking their morning coffee from Crema, already hard at work. Families and friends gathered around the long, community-style tables, pointing out different novelties to their kids.
While the Denver Central Market is definitely a place for all seasons, there were a few vendors that stood out as exceptionally well-suited for a winter visit. Here’s the details on two venues that are especially fit for a cold, snowy day.
Izzio Artisan Bakery, the same company behind Etai’s and the enormously successful Udi’s Bread, specializes in, “bread cuisine.” The bakery offers a wide array of freshly-baked breads and pastries, perfect for that special winter breakfast treat. The menu is filled with warm, hearty breakfast and lunch options. This was ultimately the place I ended up getting breakfast from; after much deliberating, I settled on the “Paleo Bowl,” with plantains, chorizo, poached eggs, green chili, and pico de gallo. Robin Baron, a member of the Izzio team, has three different “winter dishes” she recommends: the Eggs Benedict, served with traditional applewood smoked ham on top of one of Izzio’s fresh-baked croissants, the Shakshuka, a warm tomato stew served with slow poached eggs, Greek yogurt, and a slice of brioche bread or fresh toast, and the Eggs and Brioche, toasted brioche with poached eggs, scallions, and roasted pork belly.
For the adults, winter is the time to warm your insides with a tasty, alcoholic treat, of which Curio has many. The team behind Curio includes husband and wife duo Katsumi Yuso Ruiz and Stephen Julia, and co-owner Stuart Jensen. The team behind Curio is also behind Cure-All Bitters and GREEN SEED, a produce-focused restaurant also located in the market. With the combination of all their different ventures, every juice or bitter that goes into Curio’s drinks is carefully selected and crafted by the team, itself. The team has had a long love for cocktails, but even more important is their vision of creating a welcoming place to relax with an affordable drink.
What to drink at Curio this winter? Katsumi recommends “Bitter Love.” “You can’t beat it’s Armagnac base with the caramel and slight bitterness of the Amari mixed with the soothing scent of chamomile,” Katsumi says. “It’s the perfect warming drink for the season.”