Colfax & Downing

Everything you need to know about the Mile High City

Tag: food

Fall colors colorado 2015 Peak to Peak Highway

Leaf Peepin’ and Pizza Eatin’

Fall colors colorado 2015 Peak to Peak Highway

Every third weekend or so, we drink a little too much coffee and have to excitedly declare a new (and non-negotiable) family tradition. A year ago at this time, we were in the throes of wedding-plan-finalizing. The hours after work were dedicated to seating chart spreadsheets and glassy-eyed stares. Two years ago marked our move from Boulder to Denver. This weekend’s declaration? We must leaf peep. Now that we’re able to enjoy our third autumn in beautiful Denver, we decided we had to take to the road to see some aspen groves giving up the green. These trees aren’t going to marvel at themselves, you know?

Fall colors colorado 2015 Peak to Peak Highway

I’m a Colorado native and no stranger to autumn colors. My parents took my brother and me to the woods above Chaffee County every year without fail. My senior photo from high school is even backdropped against a sleepy, orange tree. Classy. Drew has a fond memories of leaf tours in northern Michigan, where his family has roots.

I’m embarrassed to admit that, until this past weekend, I had never been to Central City or Black Hawk, a pit stop that derailed our leaf viewing plans almost entirely. *defeatedly peels Colorado Native bumper sticker off of car*

Downtown Central City Colorado

Holy hell, was it a surprise! I would compare Central City to a paved, more populated Silverton. Black Hawk, slightly down the road, is more glam and corporate, all hotels and penny slots and all-you-can-eat prime ribs. Because we had Boris with us, several of the locals stopped to pet him and chat with us. A server from one of the casinos in Central City recommended their upcoming Halloween Creepy Crawl tour and warned us away from the Hotel de Paris, which is truly haunted. Say no more, lady!

Williams Stables Central City Colorado

There’s something about a stretch of historic brick buildings that sag with the weight of a century that makes me feel right at home. Probably because it so closely resembles my own hometown. We wandered from block to block, reading the plaques and admiring old and updated murals.

Hawley Merchandise Company Building

Wasn’t this supposed to be a leaf peeping tour? Details, details.

Central City Opera House  

St James United Methodist Church 123 Eureka St

This sign outside the church in the above photo said, “Here lies an atheist, all dressed up and nowhere to go.” Rude!

Main Street Central City Colorado

Straight Five Premium Cigars Central City

After any long adventure, we return home and I put the back of my hand to my forehead and tell Drew that I cannot possibly lift a finger to cook. Never mind that he’s the one in our household who mans the kitchen. My ulterior motive is simple: get him to agree to get back in the car and drive to Tony’s Market.

Tony's Market White Pizza

It’s no secret that Tony’s is a favorite of ours. We’re food nerds and we love their products, mission and the warm hospitality of the folks that staff their shops. On nights when we have driven all over greater Colorado and need dinner in a cinch, we swing by Tony’s for a quick takeaway pizza and a big ol’ salad. Favorites: a pizza with pancetta, pickled onions and goat cheese on one half for Drew and olive oil, garlic and pickled onions on the other half for me. Drew has a Greek salad fetish but he lets me eat all the olives. Marriage.

Tony's Market Greek Salad

My husband, the talented food styler.

This post was shared in collaboration with our homies at Tony’s. We were honored to join their blogger ambassador program as the only technically non-food bloggers in the group. Check out the company we’re keeping:

Great recipes are constantly available on Tony’s Market blog. Next month, check back for a post about Drew cooking with ingredients sourced exclusively at Tony’s. I’ll be the one taste testing and taking all the credit.

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox

Menu cover at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

In the city of Las Vegas in 2011, Drew and I met a guy named Nate at a marketing conference. It helps that this fellow is one of the most charming men in history, but we got on like a house on fire. Over the next few years, we traveled to other conferences together and then convinced Nate to bring his wife to visit us in Denver in early 2014. We were convinced that the catch to Nathan’s greatness would be that his wife would be the worst. We were wrong. She was even better.

So began our love affair with these two San Diego beauties. They returned to spend the long Labor Day weekend with us in Denver and Drew and I dutifully put on our tour guide hats and fanny packs. When friends visit, we eat. When we eat, we try new places that we know will not disappoint.

Nate and Christine at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

In that vein, it was only natural that we landed at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox for dinner. Ophelia’s is Justin Cucci’s newest venture, a “huge, multilevel ‘gastro-brothel’ with live music and a restaurant offering eclectic American food.” Justin Cucci is the mastermind behind Root Down (in Highlands and Denver International Airport) and Linger. He is also my spirit animal. The man is an undisputed food genius and I would follow him off a cliff. Is that enough of an endorsement?

Cocktail menu at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

The house cocktail names are a word nerd’s dream. Nate requested a Moral Turpitude and Drew had one of his favorite standbys, a classic Negroni. Christine had a glass of white vino and I ordered a prickly pear soda. Cheers.

Naughty water bottle at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

With water bottles like this one on the table, this isn’t a place I will be bringing my parents or in-laws to dine. Blushing!

Hummus appetizer at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

We started our feast with one of the Brothel Boards, the Gigante Bean Hummus option. Shishito peppers, roasted carrots, watermelon radish, pine nuts, flat bread, dates, roasted beets, cucumbers and the silkiest hummus on this side of the Continental Divide.

Mussels at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

Nate ordered the Belgian Mussels, a pile of which arrived in a Saison beer curry broth with lentils, blood orange and jalapeno cheddar bread. Drew was drewling (see what I did there?) over his Brothel Burger, which usually consists of a yak patty but on the night we dined was ostrich meat. I ordered the Super Seed Veggie Burger, which had an actual crunch to it. Havarti cheese, ponzu onions and a sweet potato bun made it soft and savory. Christine had the Chilled Spring Pea and Mint Soup and a roasted baby carrot salad.

Ophelia's Electric Soapbox Mood Lighting

All of this was topped off with flattering mood lighting, 1970s funk decor, Harlequin romance novel covers, the thrum and hum of jazz music (not live, the band had not set up for the night yet) and really friendly, attentive service. Denver hurts in the hospitality department. I can say this as a card-carrying former waitress of 10 years. It shouldn’t be a special treat to receive good service with your dinner but it’s the exception and not the rule in the Mile High City. At Justin’s establishments, however, good service is a given.

Catch up with Ophelia’s on Facebook and Twitter. Get your buns there in person! Check out the video below to see how they paid homage to the building’s racy past. Justin, if you’re reading this and want someone to write things or manage marketing or social for your various restaurants, I was ready yesterday.

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