What’s new (& hot) at DIA
A ticket to some wonderful shops and restaurants!
The Colorado Statesman
‘Tis the travelin’ time of year, Stylish Reader, and odds are you or a close personal friend or family member will be spending extra unexpected time at an airport. You better not pout. This is a shopping and eating opportunity not to be missed. DIA is brimming with new restaurants and boutiques. Sure, Style Matters has heard reports that airport prices might be a bit higher to take advantage of captive shoppers, but that’s offset by the originality of the merchandise and the improving quality of new restaurants.
I and my trusty shutterbug, “Little Marie,” strode the concourses with our very own security/public information officers checking out the new shops and eateries. Our criteria: establishments had to be relatively new to DIA (within the last 3-5 years) and no chain stores.
DIA is well on its way to becoming a destination mall; only one hitch — customers require a ticket to sample all the shops in the terminals. Little Marie has a solution, one that she plans to pitch to “Mr. Marie.” After landing from a flight, she’s not rushing off to baggage claim. Oh, no. “You’ve paid for your ticket, you might as well take your time exiting the terminal. I plan to do a wine tasting at Cru, maybe have dinner at Root Down.”
Style Matters will be back for another look as soon as more stores open... Until then, buy-bye!
Denver ChopHouse has a late fifties/early sixties atmosphere about it compounded by some of its popular mixed drinks. For example, try an Old Fashioned, the drink of choice of Madman Don Draper of the AMC series Madmen.
Denver ChopHouse (A Gates)
Decorated to resemble an old time train station, the Denver ChopHouse caters to the corporate traveler. Here’s where busy flyers will find steak, brews and wine. Prices range from $10 to $35, with a kid’s menu a reasonable $7.50-$ 9.50. Vegetarians can feast on the ChopHouse portobello mushroom sandwich. A new wine list includes the popular Mollydooker and Silver Oak with glasses starting at $10. Brews are on the strong end — many at 7.4 to 8.4 alcohol content. That should make sitting in coach a bit more bearable.
SM Tip: Allow 45-50 minutes to dine at the restaurant; 15-20 minutes to prepare a take-away meal.
Other Locations: LoDo
Some yummy treats from Crú are packed and ready to board. Plus the wine bar offers flights (no pun intended) of three different glasses of wine, averaging about $13.
Crú (B Gates)
For those of us who are not wine vintners, Crú is a term used for a Bordeaux wine classification. It is also the name of a cozy new restaurant that has been at DIA less than a year. Crú smells divine; it could have been the grilled cheese and tomato basil soup or the vegetarian pizzas customers were chomping down. The wine bar offers flights (no pun intended) of three different glasses of wine, averaging about $13.
The big news: Crú was recently awarded the best airport wine bar at DIA and the world (!!!) by the Food and Beverage Association. Quite a coup.
SM Tip: Didn’t polish off that bottle of wine? No worries. Under Colorado law you can re-cork a bottle of wine and take it with you.
Other Locations: Larimer Square and Park Meadows
Root Down’s clever decor is on display: The walls are lined with real recycled airplane flaps and wings in their original colors. Old globes have been retrofitted to become one giant chandelier.
Root Down (C Gates)
Even though Terminal C is at the end of the airport, it’s worth it to go just to see this restaurant. Root Down has quickly established itself as one of the premier eateries in Denver. Now chef/owner Justin Cucci has adapted the concept to fit DIA. Walk the restaurant to see the clever decor: The walls are lined with real recycled airplane flaps and wings in their original colors. Old globes have been retrofitted to become one giant chandelier. The wine bottles are housed in old suitcases. Root Down offers a quick service package for rushed flyers; the most popular item: a croissant club sandwich.
SM Tip: Make sure to walk to the back of the restaurant to see the living herb wall currently growing mint and thyme.
Other locations: Highlands
Tamales by La Casita: The iconic restaurant associated with the late state Sen. Paul Sandoval.
Tamales by La Casita (C Gates)
Founded in 1974 by the late Sen. Paul Sandoval and his family, this restaurant is a Denver institution. The north Denver location is run by Paula Sandoval, the former city councilwoman in Denver and also a former state senator. It was there that successful election strategies were mapped out at the family tamale eaterie, rocketing numerous Dems into office in Colorado. A second location for the popular restaurant opened at DIA in 2008. Sandoval, considered the godfather of Denver politics, passed away in 2012, but his recipes and his family continue to make the entire menu fresh daily.
SM Tip: If you’re not used to spicy, watch out for the green chili, and of course try the tamales. Just about everyone at the state Capitol has tried them at one time or another.
Other locations: North Denver
It’s hard to resist some of the one-of-a-kind jewelry at Yaz.
Yaz Jewelry & Gifts
(Level 5 Main Concourse)
Don’t miss this jewel of a gift shop partially hidden away in Terminal West. For those who have had enough of Southwestern style jewelry, Yaz is a welcome respite. Dainty necklaces, gold and silver bracelets and unusual earrings along with wool, silk and cashmere scarves are beautifully displayed. Prices range from $10 to a few thousand dollars, according to former owner Rama Mahmood. (He sold Yaz to his son and now dad works as a salesman.)
Only Denver location.
Tuleh Ruche sells some of the most popular names in contemporary ready-to-wear such as Vince Camuto, Juicy Couture and Michael Kors.
Tuleh Ruche (B Gates)
I only wished I had more time to explore all the designer clothing loaded in Tuleh Ruche. Really what I wish is that this boutique was located in Denver proper. What business it would do. Style Matters hopes more female flyers will discover this fabulous boutique, only open in DIA for six months. TR features top designers who cut clothing specifically for the store. Canadian designer Joseph Ribkoff is the number one seller, priced from $120-$250. There’s always a sales rack with clothing marked down by 50 percent. TR will mail your purchases, so no worries about carrying extra weight. Sizes: XS-XL, 2-14
SM Tip: TR has a dressing room large enough to hold you, your luggage and all the clothes you want to try on.
Only Denver location.
Everything on this TAGS display wall is $5.
TAGS (B Gates)
Manager Aaron Gibson calls TAGS a “gigantic jewelry box.” SM can’t improve on this. That is exactly what this boutique is; it’s crystal on steroids. Handbags, bracelets, watches, wallets, scarves and iPhone cases are all brightly colored and laden with — you guessed it — Austrian crystals. Prices range from $5 to $3,000. What could possibly be worth that much? How about a blue crystal basketball. Teenage girls will beg to spend more time at TAGS, so give yourself plenty of time to get back to your gate.
SM Tip: TAGS always has a sale — usually about 50 percent off. It needs to make room for new merchandise. TAGS sells about 5,000 items in 500 square feet.
Only Denver location.
Colorado Collection is one of the few shops that has been with DIA since it opened 19 years ago. The store was also at the former Stapleton Airport!
Colorado Collection (B Gates)
Even though this jewelry and gift shop has been in DIA since the airport opened 19 years ago, the merchandise is so special, it begs to be included. Or, could it be that the last time SM was flying, I stopped in Colorado Collection and bought a lovely pair of silver and mabe pearl earrings? You be the judge. One window displays the store’s Native American collection and the other the more contemporary line. Colorado designers include Denise Bloch, Tutela and Lemon Tree.
SM Tip: When shopping at Colorado Collection, ask to meet Daniella or Lisa. They have worked at CC forever and will help you pick out the perfect gift.
Only Denver location.
Other stores worth walking the moving sidewalks:
Radio Road/Fly Babies (A Gates) , an apparel store with really cool clothing for moms and mini fashionistas.
Accent Solar (B Gates) — sells solar powered phone chargers and other products
Amber Room (B and C) — handcrafted jewelry by Polish artisans
Hormeta (B and C) — Anti wrinkle skincare products from Switzerland for men and women
Other restaurants worth exploring:
Elway’s — A longtime Denver fixture with consistently good food
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory — Chocolate. Need I say more?
Udis Café and Bar — Signature artisan breads, baked fresh daily
Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs — a local hotdog favorite to which a certain Statesman staffer can attest.
This is the first of five Tattered Covers to open at DIA.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Heard on the Concourse:
According to our PR escorts, the McDonald’s in the main terminal is the busiest one in the whole chain, averaging about $1 million a month.
• Seventy-five percent of the store leases will be up in the next five years. This will give DIA a rare opportunity to add new concessions to their marketing mix.
• Look for commuter light rail to arrive at DIA by 2016.
• The Westin hotel will open in late 2015.
• Five gates will be added to the C concourse.
• All this growth will continue to solidify DIA’s reputation as one of the top airports in the world.
Judie Schwartz, AKA Style Matters, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at stylematters.us. Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets. She can be reached at: