By Richard Carroll
Denver is on the rise with young, vital residents in addition to a multitude of new arrivals bursting with passion and a sense of discovery. The Rocky Mountain setting is a huge draw with some of the world’s top ski resorts, challenging hiking trails and an outdoor lifestyle that is unsurpassed. Before “green” was the trendy catchphrase, Denver was an enormous step ahead of the pack with conceivably more green space and parks than any other large city in the country as well as a multitude of historic neighborhoods with capricious personalities.
South Pearl Street gives the impression that a huge blanket infused with magic was tossed over a neighborhood where Americana dances with the mom-and-pop boutiques, the superlative dining selections and the South Pearl bohemian lifestyle. A 10-minute drive southeast of downtown Denver, the neighborhood stretching from Buchtel Boulevard to Jewell Avenue is a step back to the late 1800s and early 1920s with homes dissimilar in style and concept. It appears the builders of the day — each with huge egos — were trying to one-up one another with Colonial Revival, Neoclassical and Mediterranean Revival architecture, using red brick as a favored material.
Many of the houses were designed with a front porch where residents would sit in the evenings as they watched the horses and buggies pass by and chatted with strollers. A forest of towering leafy trees with many shades of green border both sides of the residential streets and have left their marks as a minefield of sorry sidewalks. But regardless, South Pearl is a precious jewel where builders have not moved in with claws bared and demolished a historic collection of architecture.
One of Denver’s top farmers markets with character and charisma to spare opens for business every Sunday, early May to mid-December, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. South Pearl Street is closed to traffic between Iowa and Arkansas streets, and this is where Denverites take great pleasure in a clean and refreshing market. They can be seen lugging boxes of peaches to their cars and shopping farm-fresh Colorado produce such as sweet corn from Olathe. Stands offer tasty treats from Guatemala, Mexico and Poland as well as French-style crepes. People are standing in line at the popular Latin stand headed by Colombians from Cartagena who love Denver and know the secrets for a tasty tamale. Visitors can have their garden tools sharpened or get a shot of B12 for a quick energy boost. Tables are available where customers can relax and enjoy the setting while they listen to live music from a two-guitar trio with a vocalist showcasing a two-octave range.
The “D” in Denver is without a doubt for dogs and their dog-loving owners who know how to cleverly manage a leash. It’s a city of canine aficionados, and when they visit the South Pearl Street Farmers Market, many of the dogs know one another, sniff noses and gossip about the new dogs who haven’t yet figured out how to dodge clumsy feet. The Pearl Street shopkeepers leave bowls of water for the dogs and chairs with cushions and a table overnight on the sidewalk for strollers. It’s that kind of place.
Beyond the farmers market, South Pearl is jumping with the colorful Second Star to the Right Bookstore and Stella’s Coffee House serving tasty lattes. This spot has a dog-friendly patio, live music and photos of their employees proudly displayed. Three friends from Japan opened Tokyo Premium Bakery, which is great for breakfast with a full espresso bar, freshly baked croissants, brioches, shokupan milk bread, matcha and green-tea lattes and other appetizing Japanese specialties.
Steps away is Kaos Pizzeria, which has been honored for having Denver’s best garden patio and serves wood-fired pizzas Naples-style. Uno Mas Taqueria will take you to Mexico, while Izakaya is recognized as the best restaurant in Denver for sushi. Long lines patiently wait on the sidewalk for a table in the attractive two-level restaurant, where the executive chef and staff serve small plates, a popular catch of the day sourced from a Japanese fish market and other aquatic specialties flown direct from Japan.
In the summertime there is even more fun. On First Fridays, June 1 to Oct. 1, from 4 to 9 p.m., South Pearl Street is alive with local artists, live music, dining, shopping and loads of smiles throughout an artsy cultural evening:
“South Pearl Street is a secret oasis in Denver,” said Mike Schrobo, a businessman who lives with his wife, Joanna, a registered nurse at the Swedish Medical Center, and two energetic dogs in a 1904 home on South Pearl Street. “It’s a cozy street with boutique shops and restaurants that’s perfect for date night without the hustle of the city. It’s an incredible charming area with a must-see farmers market every Sunday, the city’s best sushi restaurant and a great mix of quiet cafes and fresh bakeries. What else do you need?”
WHEN YOU GO
South Pearl Street in Denver: www.southpearlstreet.com
Richard Carroll is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.