Denver’s The Nickel: Not Your Typical Hotel Restaurant

This trendy eatery will shatter your preconceived notions of basic hotel food fare
short ribs

Ron Stern

The bone-in short rib is one of the most popular entrées at The Nickel.

Let’s face it; many hotel restaurants can seem rather mundane and ordinary. The Nickel, located in the historic Hotel Teatro, might just change that perception. With a menu created by a four-chef collaboration, this trendy eatery located in the heart of Denver is becoming a foodie destination in and of itself.

The Nickel is located in the old Denver Tramway Building (1911) where streetcars filled with passengers once connected people to downtown Denver ― a buzzing hub of activity at the turn of the century. The cost to ride the streetcars back then was just a nickel and the building was the repository for these shiny coins. Its iconic steel vault has been preserved and is located downstairs in the wine cellar.

Thought has been given to the interior décor, which has a clean, comfortable industrial feel. Look under the table, for instance, and you will see that the base is made from reclaimed metal stamping reels from the F.J. Littell Machine Company in Chicago (circa 1918). Leather and other textiles from the Rocky Mountain region were incorporated into the seating areas, and wooden spirit barrels adorn the angular space just above the bar.



Guests can enjoy breakfast in the adjacent study from 6:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and brunch on Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. which features specialty cocktails such as hibiscus ginger and blood orange sidecars for just $5 each.

The four chefs involved in the seasonal menu creation have brought their skills, experience, and traditional regional recipes to the mix, which is reflected in some popular favorites. This includes unexpected offerings like boiled peanuts with truffle jus and chicken liver mousse with a tangy gelée glaze and pickled mustard seeds. When have you ever seen these in a hotel restaurant?

Then, there is an entire charcuterie board presented in sushi bar fashion where you select from a variety of high-quality, imported and locally-sourced cured meats, cheeses, and pickles. Choices range from buttery-tasting prosciutto di Parma, dry chorizo sausage with paprika and garlic and Broken Shovel Farms goat cheese.

The Barrel Bar is the restaurant’s showpiece and is a popular place for the after theater crowd (Denver’s Performing Arts Complex is nearby) who want to pop in for some food and drinks. Here, you’ll enjoy a variety of barrel-aged cocktails with one of the most popular being the Standard Rock Manhattan or Nickel Negroni— a sophisticated blend of barrel-aged gin, Dolin Rouge vermouth, Campari, and orange peel.

Using locally-sourced ingredients seems to be a passion and some of the finest farmers, ranchers, and distillers from all over the state are contributors and noted on the back of the dinner menu. New spring offerings feature some classic items with a twist such as potato raclette — a creamy and flavorful variation of potatoes au gratin made with thinly-sliced potatoes layered with Swiss raclette cheese and sweet caramelized onions.

For entrées, hungry patrons can choose from grill items (whole lamb shank and New York strip steak) or stove selections like a halibut filet. But, the hands down perennial favorite is the bone-in short rib with shoestring potatoes, chimichurri crust, root vegetables, and sauce royale. Beautifully presented, this fork-tender piece of beef is the perfect meal accompanied by good conversation. Unless, of course, you still have room for dessert!

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