Once upon a time, Denver’s food scene included an old mine, a big rustic barn, and the ability to phone in your order from your restaurant booth.
Here are our five favorite Denver restaurants that, sadly, are no longer in business. Read our tribute and weep.
Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine
Teetering on a cliffside high above I-25, Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine was designed to look almost exactly like the Colorado mine that made her husband Horace Tabor and her very rich and famous back in the 1800s. The interior featured Victorian charm, incredible views of downtown Denver, and a western-style menu of steaks and seafood. My mom used to take me to Baby Doe’s for girl time occasionally, and it was there, with the east Denver skyline out the window, that she introduced me to the wonders of beer cheese soup. It closed in the early 2000s, but every time I drive down that section of I-25, I look up to where the restaurant used to perch — and remember.
Country Dinner Playhouse
Courtesy of Card Cow
The closing of the Country Dinner Playhouse back in 2007 left a huge hole in Denver’s entertainment industry. In the 37 years it was open, the barn-style dinner theater was a popular spot for a solid cafeteria-style buffet dinner and a wide array of productions. It was reportedly the career launching pad for Amy Adams, Melissa Benoist, and Annaleigh Ashford. When the owner suddenly closed up shop overnight, citing lack of funds, the cast took their Evita production to the parking lot and performed in the rain. Because you know, the show must go on. Sadly, the site (at Arapahoe and I-25) is now a Restaurant Depot.
Round the Corner
This one lives on in vague, dream-like childhood memories more than anywhere else — almost like it never existed at all. But I promise you that it did! Round the Corner was that restaurant where each booth had its own telephone, and you phoned in your order. Then the phone rang when it was time to go pick up your food! With 30 restaurants across four states in its heyday, the Colorado-based chain eventually merged with Good Times in the early ’90s before going bankrupt and slowly dwindling away into nothingness. The last one (in Aurora) closed around the year 2000.
Trail Dust Steak House
The metro area was privileged enough to have two Trail Dust Steak Houses, once upon a time. Every Denverite over the age of 30 has a story about their dad, uncle, or grandpa getting his necktie cut off and mounted to the wall for daring to dress so formally! Kids loved the super-fast slide, adults enjoyed the line dancing, and everyone loved the steak. It’s a shame that the last one (just up the street from the Country Dinner Playhouse, ironically) closed in 2009, just 10 years after it had to rebuild due to a fire. With Trail Dust, you knew you were getting a memorable experience for the whole fam, which made it a go-to place for celebrations and holidays.
This one’s only officially been gone for about a month, and we miss it already. Once the award-winning home to a seven-pound breakfast burrito and featured on Food Network’s Man vs. Food, Jack-n-Grill has shuttered and sold all three of its Denver-area locations, as part of the owner’s divorce proceedings. In the 18 years it was in existence, this place had quickly become a staple for New Mexican eats. Owner Jack Martinez promised The Know last year that he’d be back in the future to roll out a Jack-n-Grill fast-casual concept, but we are still crossing our fingers.
What were your favorite Denver restaurants from olden-times and yesteryear? Which ones did we forget? Tell us in the comments below!
The Denver restaurant scene has a very interesting and exotic future. Read about its newest addition here.