A Brief Afternoon in Denver

We try to get to the Rockies at least once a year for hiking. Most of our Colorado visits begin by flying into Denver, where we briefly catch up on restaurants (at least for lunch), favorite neighborhoods (especially LoDo and the Arts District) and sights (especially the Museum of Art and the Clifford Still Museum). This trip, the Denver Botanical Garden was playing host to a Dale Chihuly exhibition, where the glass artist displaced his creations throughout the garden.

Since we took a later flight than normal, our time was limited in Denver. First stop: lunch. Although we were intrigued by two hip LoDo restaurants (Rioja and Cru Food and Wine Bar), we chose the established and not at all trendy Buckhorn Exchange.

Buckhorn Exchange is all about meat, especially every conceivable cut of beef, bison, lamb and elk. The historic restaurant, founded in 1893 by a guide who was friends with Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull, literally oozes historic, gamey atmosphere. Its walls and shelves are filled with stuffed local game and fowl and filled in with historic paintings, photos and documents. A virtual museum of old Denver. The food, meanwhile, is unadorned beef, game and fowl. After a cup of the house’s special bean soup (creamy and tasty, with a hint of smoked ham), we shared two meat dishes. The buffalo prime rib was tasty and extremely tender, albeit, due to the meat’s low fat content, a bit dry. The elk medallion, meanwhile, was tender, juicy and delicious, with a bit of smoke.

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Overall, Buckhorn is a great place to experience and taste 19th century Denver.

Then, anxious to walk off a few of the calories that we had consumed, we hurried over to the Botanic Garden, only to discover that the garden had closed early for a special event. Although we had seen Chihuly exhibits in two other gardens (Chicago’s Garfield Park and New York’s Botanic Garden), we were still disappointed. At least we got to see a number of other Chihuly pieces in two Pismo Glass Galleries, in Vail and Aspen.

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