Finally I had the privilege of buying cupcakes at Mermaids, in downtown Denver just off the 16th Street Mall at Champa. It was my fourth trip there: the first time, I had no cash, and the second and third times, I showed up when they were closed because I don’t have enough sense to read the sign explaining their hours.
So I was extremely happy to pocket red velvet and cookies-and-cream cupcakes. I had planned to have second breakfast at Mermaids, since the sign promised breakfast, lunch, and espresso, but no, the woman at the counter said, they hadn’t served breakfast for a long time. In any case, there were no tables in the tiny storefront or the adjoining building. Mermaids is strictly a pay-and-run sort of place.
I think they must make their money off wedding cakes and such, because their case was half-empty. If you want a selection of cookies and cakes and pastries from which to choose, I suggest Gateaux on Speer or even D Bar Desserts on 17th Avenue. But if you just want cupcakes (or green chili quiche, or a pie of the day) and you’re in downtown Denver, Mermaids is the place (until 3 pm, that is).
I held my cupcake treasures close all the way down the mall to the Tattered Cover to protect them from being squished by some eager tourist. This LoDo bookstore (one of three Tattered Covers in the Denver Metro area) is one of my favorite places to hang out: not only does it provide lots of comfy seating near the café (and in other nooks and crannies on all three floors, though I’ve never taken food upstairs), but also there are tons of free magazines to read.
I do buy books regularly at the Tattered Cover, so I feel perfectly comfortable reading magazines and books for free when I’m there. I ordered a hot chocolate at the counter and found myself the perfect chair in which to pretend I was copyediting on my computer while juggling a drink and cupcake.
My reading spot featured this book, which was quite amusing (Oprah runs the country, of course). I was happy there until my computer announced it was running out of battery power, so I stood up, cleaned the red velvet crumbs off the red seat, and proceeded to crumb-up another chair.
Once again I have been reminded that I am not Timothy Ferris of Four-Hour Work Week fame, who claims he can eat 12 cupcakes at a stretch. The first cupcake, the red velvet, was perfect: the cake was moist, the frosting was not too sweet, and the sprinkles on top were crunchy. I paused briefly to do a little editing and then moved on to the cookies and cream. Unfortunately, the cookies were all on top. I was expecting something like cookies-and-cream ice cream, but what I got was a chocolate cupcake, more white frosting, and chocolate-covered graham crackers on top. Nothing special, and by this time I was getting sick of chocolate. That’ll teach me to order a hot chocolate everywhere I go.
While I was eating my second cupcake, a young couple ensconced themselves across from me. They were determined to have as much of their bodies touching as possible, at all times. It seemed sweet at first, but then the man made a remark to the woman as she walked upstairs that I didn’t quite catch but disliked the tone of, and a few minutes later, he grabbed her face and scrunched up her mouth, saying, “Baby, don’t do that.” I was shocked but too chicken to say anything. I hope he wasn’t hurting her.