Downtown Denver is a bustling place filled with restaurant and entertainment choices near the Colorado Convention Center. If you're heading to Denver for a meeting at the CCC, here are some places that should be on your must-do list during your time in the Mile High City.
The Appaloosa Grill -- Situated within the 16th Street Mall (more about that later), the Appaloosa Grill has an eclectic setting, making it a good choice for not only dinner but live music as well (seven nights a week, starting at 10 p.m.). With several dishes featuring buffalo meat on the menu (remember, Denver is in the West), I decided to try the buffaloaf (buffalo meatloaf). The main course was great, and the side of smashed sweet potatoes was almost its equal. We had a party of six at the table, and everyone was pleased with their choice, which ranged from pot roast to fish and chips.
With an atmosphere that rivals its food, it's a good place to go if you're looking to break out of the usual stuffy "business dinner" location.
The Appaloosa Grill
535 16th St.
Altitude, within the Hyatt Regency Hotel -- There's nowhere closer to the Big Blue Bear to eat than the Hyatt Regency, situated just across the street from the Colorado Convention Center. While I'm usually not a big fan of eating within a hotel (too many tasteless and overpriced meals in my past travels), I was pleasantly surprised with the tasty choices and reasonable prices at Altitude. The breakfast and lunch buffets each featured a wide variety, including several healthy options. If you're not a big buffet fan, the open-faced pancake sandwich for breakfast is well worth not hitting the snooze button.
Altitude (inside the Hyatt Regency)
650 15th Street
Crave Burger (Castle Rock, Colorado) -- If you have a rental car and love a good burger, the 30-minute trip south of Denver on Interstate 25 is well worth your time. Crave has consistently placed among the best burgers in Colorado, and it's easy to see why. At Crave, the taste of the burgers and the creative add-ons to those burgers share center stage. We tried the Drunken Onion Burger (picture French Onion Soup ingredients on top of a burger, with the soup as a dipping sauce) and the Texas Burger (cole slaw and delicious barbecue brisket on top of the burger ... and the two sources of beef complemented each other beautifully). You also won't walk away from Crave hungry, as their topped burgers are easily more than mouth-sized (yes, it's ok to use a fork and knife here). Additionally, take the plunge and do the $1 upgrade to sweet potato fries.
3982 Limelight Ave., Castle Rock, Colo.
16th Street Mall -- Stretching along 1.25 miles, the 16th Street Mall runs along 16th Street in downtown Denver from Wewatta Street to the intersection of 16th Avenue and Broadway. The 16th Street Mall is an interesting blend of restaurants and shops ... and it's also hard to beat for people-watching. A free bus is the only motorized vehicle allowed along the pedestrian-focused mall, and the bus ride is great after a good meal and/or a few drinks at the Appaloosa Grill. While national chains such as the Hard Rock Cafe, Cheesecake Factory, and the Tilted Kilt may have prime real estate along the mall, there are also plenty of local eateries and shops to help you remember you're in Colorado.
16th Street Mall
Suite Two Hundred -- If you want your night to feel more like Las Vegas than Denver, then you need to check out this upscale club within Larimer Square that is focused on bottle service. While small busts of famous classical composers may dot the interior decorating, a mixture of dance music and mood lighting is anything but 18th century. If you have early morning meetings, you may not have much time to sleep as Suite Two Hundred keeps rocking until 2 a.m.
Suite Two Hundred
1427 Larimer Street