By Helen Olsson By Helen Olsson | November 18, 2021 | Food & Drink Food & Drink Feature Features Featured Food & Drink
UNION STATION’S REVITALIZATION CHANGED THE FABRIC OF LODO. THE DAIRY BLOCK HAS CREATED A COMMUNITY HUB THAT ADDS TO THE TEXTURE.
YOU COULD SPEND AN ENTIRE WEEKEND at Denver’s Dairy Block (dairyblock.com) and never leave the space framed by 18th and 19th and Blake and Wazee, just a block south of Coors Field in LoDo. This vibrant walkable microdistrict encourages a community vibe with free Wi-Fi, shopping, art, cocktail lounges and upscale dining with plenty of outdoor seating throughout.
The Windsor Farm Dairy opened here in 1920 in the historic red brick building. At its height, the dairy delivered milk to half of Denver’s residents from horse-drawn milk trucks. Next door, Firehouse No. 5, built in 1896, was the first Denver station to upgrade to an Ahrens steam-powered fire engine and hose wagon. Today, you can belly up to the raw bar at For[a]ged for sake and sashimi or sip rosé at the Blanchard Family Wines tasting room. In Free Market, shop for heirloom couture pieces at The Vintage Label or snap a selfie in front of a massive dried floral arrangement from Pickletown Flower Co.
The Poka Lola Social Club anchors The Maven’s lobby. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAIRY BLOCK
The Maven (themavenhotel.com), an independent 172-room hotel from Sage Hospitality, anchors the Dairy Block. Guest rooms have an industrial-chic vibe, with concrete ceilings and brushed steel doors tempered with warm wood and leather decor. Room numbers are fashioned from nails handpounded into beetle-kill pinewood, and even the elevators are works of art, with walls layered in upcycled leather belts. Walk into the lobby and you’ll feel the interconnectedness of the place. The check-in desk is disguised as a library nook, with locals busy pecking at laptops or meeting at small tables set on cowhide rugs. A 1967 Overlander Airstream trailer parked in the lobby serves complimentary Huckleberry coffee to guests in the morning and, for happy hour, margaritas and craft beer.
Inside The Maven’s lobby, enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up at Huckleberry Coffee (huckleberryroasters.com). Try an espresso with the award-winning Phantom Limb blend, an East Africa showcase with floral undertones, tangy brightness and a jammy, fruity sweetness.
The Moo Bar at Milk Market. PHOTO BY RYAN DEARTH
Milk Market (denvermilkmarket.com), a series of 16 dining concepts from Denver restaurateur Frank Bonanno, will upend your notion of a food court. Try mussels from Albina by the Sea or a spicy tuna bowl from Mopoke. The design is thoughtful and artistic, down to the handglued pennies on the floor in front of Salt & Grinder and the giant “Moo” chandelier over the Moo Bar.
Cat Club Denver is a hip new event space inside Blue Ruby. PHOTO BY JEFF FIERBERG/COURTESY OF DAIRY BLOCK
Exposed brick, ruby red wallpaper and antique chairs lend character to Blue Ruby (bluerubyboutique.com). The shop’s racks are filled with brands like Arae, AspenTrue and Bevy Flog, and in the back room, you’ll find Cat Club Denver, a new event space with plush velvet couches centered around a 36-foot wooden catwalk. Play out Fashion Week fantasies with access to Blue Ruby’s dress-up closet. It’s filled with designer dresses, angel wings, tiaras, tutus and heels to strut your stuff on the runway.
A few steps up from the main lobby, you’ll find Poka Lola Social Club, a bespoke bar and cocktail lounge with mint green couches, stained-glass accents and a striking black-and-white marble tile floor (pokaloladenver.com). The nostalgic space invites a moment of connection over crafted cocktails. Barkeeps employ specialty sodas that feature locally sourced seasonal ingredients and that are bottled on-site.
The interior of the Dairy Block is crisscrossed by two pedestrian alleyways, the Alley and Blake’s Passage, which were once lined with horse stables and fire engine bays. Today, they’re filled with small tables and chairs and brightly painted picnic tables for outdoor dining, strings of white lights sparkling overhead. To make music, spin the repurposed butter churns mounted on the Alley’s brick walls.
The “Spilt Milk” sculpture in the Alley fits in with the Dairy Block’s theme. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAIRY BLOCK
Dairy Block is home to more than 700 pieces of artwork from local and emerging Colorado artists, many curated by Nine Dot, a studio in RiNo. Find murals, sculptures and installations in the Alley, in the Insider HER Studio pop-up, throughout The Maven’s public spaces and even on the walls in individual guest rooms. George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks Studio in Boulder composed the 30-foot-tall “Spilt Milk” sculpture, where milk cascades down from a giant canister, appearing to splash on the sidewalk at Wazee and 19th. It’s nothing to cry over.