Seven Collective Eateries to Experience

Guests dine, snack, drink and shop at Denver Central Market. Photo: Natasha Lovato

Guests dine, snack, drink and shop at Denver Central Market. Photo: Natasha Lovato

Collective eateries are relatively new to the Denver dining scene but the concept has its roots in 19th century Europe

By Natasha Lovato

Collective eateries are relatively new to the Denver dining scene but the concept has its roots in 19th century Europe. Often referred to as market halls, the congregation of vendors became popular because it was a sheltered and safe place to shop.

The first one popped up in 1822 and because the doors are still open today, St. John’s Market in Liverpool is considered the granddaddy of market halls.

With prepared food, drinks and groceries available, the array of options and the ease of spending money in one area has sustained its popularity over time. Because transparency is more important to foodies, many of the  vendors emphasize increasingly healthy, locally sourced options.

From the Great Market Hall in Budapest to the Quincy Market in Boston, people travel the world to experience the hullabaloo collective eateries have to offer. But one doesn’t have to travel the world to enjoy popular neighborhood magnets that meet the needs of the most finicky group of friends or coworkers. Here are a few of the options in the Denver area.

Photo: Courtesy Denver Union Station

Photo: Courtesy Denver Union Station

Denver Union Station  

This historical landmark served primarily as a train station until it was refurbished in July 2014. After a $54 million renovation, the LoDo destination was positioned to restore the station as a transit hub as well as a destination for dining, drinking and shopping for tourists and locals. Visitors can enjoy award-winning restaurants, pubs, a bookstore, a creamery, a coffee shop, a florist, and the Crawford Hotel ─ all within Union Station. “Union Station is like a trademark for the city of Denver,” according to Spencer Seabloom, who likes to frequent the sprawling attraction. “I love the Terminal Bar but Union Station is also surrounded by other fun bars and cool restaurants. It’s a great central hub.” 

Photo: Courtesy Denver Milk Market

Photo: Courtesy Denver Milk Market

Denver Milk Market  

One of the newest collective eateries to join the fray, The Denver Milk Market opened as the anchor in the Dairy Block building in June 2018. The LoDo market’s 12 dining options and three bars are run by renowned Colorado chef Frank Bonanno. Lou’s Hot Naked specializes in chicken, while The Stranded Pilgrim offers a curated lineup of beers that includes collaborations with local breweries.

“It’s a smattering of food I love, and love to cook, with the amazing backdrop of Coors Field and The Maven Hotel,” Bonanno said. If I could cook a love letter, it would be the Milk Market.”

Photo: Courtesy Stanley Marketplace

Photo: Courtesy Stanley Marketplace

Stanley Marketplace  

The name and the location of the market place was borrowed from the late U.S. aviation pioneer Robert Stanley, who once had his company at the Aurora site, adjacent to the former Stapleton International Airport.

That said, the marketplace has pioneered a popular space in the eastern suburbs with an eye toward community and the arts.

“We’re guided by our Stanifesto, which reminds us that we care a lot about being a positive force in the neighborhoods and communities we’re a part of,” said Bryant Palmer, the chief storyteller at the marketplace. With 21 places to eat and drink, 10 boutiques and five fitness-related businesses, the Stanley has you covered, including salons for your hair and nails. Cheluna Brewing can provide a Latin-inspired beer, or stop in to Annette, where owner Caroline Glover was recently named a 2019 best new chef by Food & Wine magazine.

Photo: Natasha Lovato

Photo: Natasha Lovato

The Denver Central Market  

From nutritional basics to over indulgence at Temper Chocolates, the market offers variety: a bakery, coffee shop, fish market, butcher, rotisserie, chocolate shop, creamery, wood-fired pizzeria and more. Shop for fresh vegetables, steak and seafood by the pound or a pint of gourmet ice cream after eating a healthy lunch at Green Seed. With vegan and allergy-free options, the market keeps an open mind and menu for all customers. Visitor Shannen Standiford said, “I love the hustle and bustle of DCM. I like to grab a chai latte and a breakfast burrito and pretend to blend in with the people working on their laptops (I’m really just looking at pictures of puppies).” Locations are downtown and at Denver International Airport.

Photo: Courtesy Avanti Food and Beverage

Photo: Courtesy Avanti Food and Beverage

Avanti Food and Beverage  

If your gang can’t decide on 
what to eat, Avanti Food and Beverage is a popular Denver spot with food and drink options to appease the whole group. From pizza, to tacos al pastor, to 
pot stickers, Avanti likes to keep things exciting and ever-changing.

“What makes Avanti unique is the fact that it’s a restaurant incubator and provides restaurateurs and chefs with a platform to test out new concepts before bringing them into brick and mortar locations,” Avanti spokeswoman Abby Hagstrom said. “It’s more than just a food hall. Each of the seven concepts have leases that vary for one or two years so it always keeps the experience fresh for guests,” she said.

The Avanti concept draws inspiration from European markets and food truck roundups. It currently hosts seven food concepts and two bars with a colorful array of craft cocktails and beers on tap.

Photo: Courtesy The Source Hotel and Market Hall

Photo: Courtesy The Source Hotel and Market Hall

The Source Hotel and Market Hall  

Although the original Source opened in 2013, the newest addition to the River North Art District (RiNo) opened late in 2018 with a 100-room hotel to attract visitors to the eclectic neighborhood. The Source Hotel and Market Hall is iconic and historic with an 1880’s warehouse and contemporary inspirations that preserve the integrity and residual authenticity of RiNo’s industrial past. Not long ago, there were more gravel trucks than Toyota trucks rumbling through the area.

“The Zeppelin Development Group highly curates the tenants and wants them to be as unique and special as possible,” The Source’s Sally Spaulding said. Including the newest additions, the market hall showcases New Belgium’s first Denver small-batch brewery, and a collection of craft-focused vendors, including trending restaurants and a rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the downtown Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains.

Photo: Courtesy Timothy Hursley

Photo: Courtesy Timothy Hursley

Zeppelin Station  

This hipster mecca in RiNo – just a few steps from RTD’s A-Line - wants to make sure your lunch is more than just a quick conversation. Brought to the fore by the Zeppelin Development Group, it features pop-up shops, handmade goods, coffee, booze, gelato and worldly eats. Ever-changing menu items, vendors and events make their way through Zeppelin Station to constantly keep things hopping. What will be the Zeppelin Station worldly feature when you visit? Food and drinks from Iceland? Portland? A pop-up tea party? The surprise is half of the experience.

Denver Union Station lights up as the sun sets over Denver. Photo: Courtesy Union Station and Ellen Jaskol

Denver Union Station lights up as the sun sets over Denver. Photo: Courtesy Union Station and Ellen Jaskol

Colorado native Natasha Lovato will soon graduate from MSU Denver with a degree in Integrative Written Communication in the Arts.