My America: Bre Graziano's Denver, Colorado

by Nina Myers McCammon

When Fellow Magazine founder Bre Graziano visited Denver, Colorado seven years ago to visit her then-long-distance boyfriend, now-husband James, she fully intended on staying "just for the summer," but ultimately never returned to her small Wisconsin hometown. Love, and a strong desire to cultivate a community and promote the creative passions of others inspired her to stay. Not only did she embrace her new town, she planted roots across the entire state. Last year, with a staff of six others, she launched Fellow, a quarterly publication that shares the stories of inspiring individuals, craftsmen, and artists all over Colorado; a true labor of love. Bre also hosts community gatherings throughout her new home state, and today, she's graciously sharing her favorite Denver spots with us, after the jump. Be sure to look out for Fellow Volume 03: Winter 2015, set to release on January 16th. x

Colorado landscape by Levi Tijerina

If I had just two hours to spend in Denver with a friend, what would you recommend we do?
Coffee and lunch at Crema, a beer at Our Mutual Friend, and a walk at The Denver Botanic Gardens.

What's the most impressive thing about Denver?
The community. There's a vibrant spirit of collaboration and friendship between entrepreneurs in Colorado in general. The competition is friendly, and the people here really value the idea of togetherness and sharing in each other’s story in order to coexist. I love the frequent collaborations that are hosted by folks like Winter Session, The Weathervane Cafe, and Dram Apothecary.

Weathervane Cafe owners Lindsay and Alex by Carter Moore

What's the weirdest thing about where you live?
This became a point of of conversation with my friend River, Editor of The Denver Dust and we both agreed, the answer is Colfax Avenue. River says: “Colfax Colfax Colfax. I think Colfax is a microcosm of the microcosm which is Denver. We see America as a great Melting Pot, but you go to any city and neighborhood lines define racial boundaries. While that is true to an extent in Denver, we don't have many hard-defined neighborhoods. The population has always been influx here. It's a city with a transient soul and history. Colfax seems to capture the best of it; where you can walk a block and pass by boutique cake shops, a tarot reader, deep south chicken, tacos, Ethiopian dinner spots, the greasiest spoon diner, and a strip club."

Where do you usually recommend visitors stay?
Beautiful and historic places like The Patterson Inn or The Oxford Hotel located close to downtown Denver. For travelers on a tighter budget, I would check out good ol’ Airbnb. There are also so many wonderful mountain towns with great B&B's, cabins, hot springs, or huts readily available to host your adventure just outside of town. In particular, I've got my eye on visiting Dunton Hot Springs someday soon.

Denver Botanic Gardens by David Fiser

What's your favorite outdoor market in Denver?
It’s hard to compete with the Pearl Street Farmers Market in Boulder, host to Colorado’s largest selection of products and goods from local farms and small business vendors.

In addition, there’s The Denver Flea. They host the best of Colorado craftsmen, designers, artisans, and makers. Also, if your RSVP ahead of time, the fine folks at The Denver Flea take care of your first beer or coffee drink on the house. Cheers to that.

Favorite shop in town?
The Tattered Cover Book Store in downtown Denver, Ironwood and The Fancy Tiger located on the S. Broadway strip just south of downtown Denver, Berkeley Supply in the Berkeley district of Denver, and LON Little Shop in Boulder.

What's the last thing you bought?
A toothbrush.

Where do you grab a drink before dinner?
The Arvada Tavern. It's a speakeasy vibe with deep historic Colorado roots: one of the first establishments in Colorado to serve alcohol after prohibition. You’ll find me sipping on the tastiest Amaretto Sour you’ll ever have, or a variation of my a faithful favorite; the Old Fashioned. The food there is also superb.

The eggplant gratin at beast + bottle by Rebecca Caridad

What's the best single dish you've ever eaten in Denver?
An eggplant gratin prepared by beast + bottle for a Spring Feast we hosted together. beast + bottle is an establishment specializing in craft American food purveyed mostly from local food sources, utilizing whole animal preparations in their dishes.

Best Dinner Spot?
It’s a toss up between the happy hour at
Old Major in the Highlands district of Denver, The Kitchen in Boulder during their Community Hour, Uncle Restaurant for incredible ramen (shown below), or Forest Room 5 for their earthy, eclectic ambiance.

Uncle Restaurant ramen by Chip Kalback

Can you share your favorite breakfast and coffee spots?
The chocolate croissant from Babette’s Bakery or sausage gravy on a buttermilk biscuit, served with red beans and grits from Lucile’s Creole Cafe. I head to Boxcar Coffee shop in Boulder for a cowboy coffee or cortado. Boxcar has developed an altitude brewing method called the Boilermaker to help brew a great cup of coffee at Colorado's high elevation and low boiling temperature. Inspired by traditional "cowboy coffee" they immerse the grounds in boiling water to get the ideal extraction out of every cup.

They also share a space with Cured, one of my favorite shops for cheese, charcuterie, and wine. Give them a spending amount at the deli and ask them to create a charcuterie platter for you. It’ll be the best decision you ever make.  

Old Major

Denver has such a dynamic music scene. What's your favorite venue?
The iconic Red Rocks Ampitheater is breathtaking and a favorite for sure, but I also love more intimate venues like the Bluebird Theater in Denver, or even better, the patio shows and open mic nights at The Meadowlark. Colorado also has some amazing music festivals like the annual Underground Music Showcase in Denver, which is like our own local version of SXSW.

Beet & Yarrow by Levi Tijerina

What's the most touristy but "worth it" thing to do?
Dining, drinking, and shopping at The Source, an indoor artisan food and goods market located in a former 1860’s foundry building. It's also home to my favorite local bakery Babettes Artisan Breads and favorite floral shop Beet & Yarrow.  

Touristy but overrated?
The 16th St. Mall strip in downtown Denver.

Necessary souvenir:
Meet with, and purchase a product from Josh Harvey aka The Sneerwell. His work is a staple of this city. I’m sure he’d love to share a story over whiskey and sell his one-of-a kind flasks, lighters, or jewelry. You can find his products around town at various retail establishments or on his website.

Favorite art gallery?
Svper Ordinary, a gallery and retail space at The Source always hosts an incredible array of modern and contemporary work.

Turn on the radio. What station are you listening to and what song is playing?
OpenAir from Colorado Public Radio. They do a great job hosting local musicians like Nathaniel Rateliff, Gregory Alan Isokov, Josh Dillard & The Streaks of Lightening, Two Tone Wolf Pack, Ivory Circle, Sunboy and many more talented Colorado bands.

Valley floor by Luke Gottlieb

If you had to leave tomorrow, what would you miss the most?
Friends and familiar faces; the wonderful people that make the Denver community so wonderful and unique like Dustin Fuchtman and Jay DeRose of Steadbrook, Tiffany of Tifamade Cantine, and the barista crews at Huckleberry Roasters or Blackeye Coffee.

It's Sunday, 3 p.m. and beautiful outside. This is where you want to be:
At The Eldorado Springs pool (if it’s summertime), DJ Brunch at Gozo, hiking the nearby Foothills in Boulder, or driving our Jeep up to Roosevelt National Park.