denver's avanti food & beverage (it's a winner!)

There was this game I played when I was a teenager. It went something like, “If you were stranded on a desert island, name three things you would take with you.” Everyone always included something to eat, which made sense because you wouldn’t want to starve, would you? I haven’t been asked that question in years, but if I did have to come up with an answer, a Venezuelan arepa from Quiero Arepas would be coming with me. It's my desert island dish and yes, they're that good...

Quiero Arepas is one of 7 start-up restaurants in the new and highly-anticipated Avanti Food & Beverage, which bills itself as: “One collective space…inspired by European markets and food truck roundups…” I love it already!

Avanti is a two-level modern food hall located in an old 1930s warehouse in the Lower Highlands (LoHi) at 3200 Pecos. It houses 5 restaurants on the first floor and 2 on the second level. Both levels have well-stocked bars which serve up cocktails (I loved the Palomita Picante), wine, and beer. Many of the craft beers are from local Colorado breweries and the only non-Colorado brand that I recognized was Dogfish Head out of Delaware (it has its own page on the drink menu). Honestly, though, I lean towards cocktails and wine so I can’t add anything more to the beer conversation. But my husband, who enjoys a good beer, was impressed.

Avanti has a lot of appeal. From the affordable high-quality and inspired food to the stunning décor, there really is something for everyone. I can see myself going there on a date, a ladies night, a business lunch or a family dinner.

In addition to Querio Arepas (which has vegetarian and vegan options) you'll find:

Farmer Girl, a farm to table concept committed to local and sustainable food. The menu will change with the seasons. (I should have taken a screen shot of their menu last night, but I do remember a mushroom tartine.)

Poco Torteria, which serves Mexican tortas (baguettes), sides and aguas frescas. They are also offering cake which is delicious! (It's related to Pinche Taco.)

MiJo, a noddle and rice shop with an emphasis on udon. (It has ties to Bones.)

Brava!, which features Neapolitan inspired wood-fired pizzas and sandwiches using lots of local ingredients, including seasonal specials from the chef’s own garden!

Souk Shwarma, a Lebanese-inspired concept that serves up warm pita/gyro, basmati rice, sauces and pickles. (That description makes it sound too run-of-the-mill; the people sitting near us were raving about the flavors.)

And Bixo, which interprets modern Mediterranean and Europen recipes and adds a Mexican flair. 

I took a quick glance around and I think every restaurant is putting out a main dish for $10 or less (though  some prices are a bit higher for dinner service). In other words, #budgetfriendly.

Like many of the recent additions to the Denver food scene, the space and interiors at Avanti got as much attention as the well-curated menu items. The seating (a good deal from Housefish design), lighting, and patio furnishings are all perfect. The use of materials- like container ships- is well conceived. There's great artwork throughout the space and I spotted a succulent shelf positioned on the side of the staircase that's inspiring me to do something similar at home. (You know how I feel about cacti, right?!)

The views of the city are spectacular since Avanti’s rooftop deck faces Downtown and the Ball Park neighborhood. On the topic of outdoor/rooftop space, there is so much of it that I started wondering what would happen in the colder months.  But worry not, they apparently installed heated floor boards on the deck. They thought of everything!

We spent two hours at Avanti and I can’t wait to go back. Upon leaving we were asked if anything could be improved and neither one of us could think of anything…except maybe building something like Avanti over on Colfax. Like right by East High School. Because teenagers love good quality affordable food right? And I live close by, too. I'm just gonna plant that seed...

Avanti opens tomorrow (July 13th) at 11 a.m.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 
Happy eats!


A shout out to Beckie + Igor, the dynamic couple behind Quiero Arepas. Thank you for extending an invite to the Friends + Family preview. Matt and I had a blast!

* All photos were taken with my iPhone (which is sort of broken. Oy.)
Click here for the Westword piece - it has images that will give you a much better sense of the food and the space.