Marczyk Fine Foods
770 East 17th Avenue
Bus directions: take the 12 or the 20 from Market Street Station
I went out last Saturday looking for markets, and I visited five: the Winter Farmer’s Market in Longmont, Urban Pantry (which I wrote about here), Ujamaa Holiday Market (a once-a-year event in Five Points focusing on gifts), Marczyk Fine Foods, and the Market at Larimer Square.
Of the four, Marczyk is the only full-service grocery store, by which I mean it offers fresh produce, both raw and cured meat, fish, pre-made foods, an entire rack of spices and condiments, and lots of soft drinks stacked by the windows facing 17th Avenue. And for true one-stop shopping, Marczyk Wines, at the back of the store, will help you select a wine to complement your meal. (I wonder if it’s a trend in Denver to pair wine stores with markets—there’s Marczyk Fine Food with its own wine store, Urban Pantry next to Divino on South Broadway, and the Market at Larimer Square across from équipement de vin, which sells Colorado wines and has a tasting room).
Marczyk prominently occupies the corner at 17th Avenue and Clarkson in Uptown Denver, my favorite neighborhood in Denver thus far. (But I make no promises of fidelity. South Broadway is hot too, and Highlands is awfully cute.)
One thing that distinguishes Marczyk from Urban Pantry is the former’s focus on local goods, including Haystack Mountain cheeses from Niwot and Continental Sausage from Denver. Marczyk also had Palacios chorizo and Serrano ham, though the obliging staff behind the deli counter didn’t seem quite as well-versed as Alexandra Failmezger of Urban Pantry in the ins and outs of USDA approval of Spanish ham.
I was impressed by the case containing “Market Made” food. There’s a “Meals-to-Go” menu on their website about the takeout made every day in the store, including mashed potatoes, quiche, soup, and Jamaican jerk chicken. Marczyk will cater vegetable crudité, antipasto, sandwich, and cheese platters. Gift baskets are available through local business A la Carte Baskets.
In short, Marczyk’s has a larger and more complete selection of foods than Urban Pantry, but I stop short of saying a “better” selection, because the items at Urban Pantry were so unusual and just plain cool.
The Market at Larimer Square
1445 Larimer Square
Bus directions: walk up to Larimer from Market Street Station and then southeast to 15th
At the end of a busy Saturday, my husband and I stopped in at the Market for a quick bite to eat, and I immediately fell in love with their dessert case, full of lusciously frosted cakes. They can make you cheesecake, pound cake, mousse, pies (with two days’ notice) … and they’ll also sell you chocolate truffles.
A downtown grocery in the 1970s during the era of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, whose activities spawned the historic preservation movement in Denver, the Market at Larimer Square changed ownership in 1983 and became a deli and espresso bar. Its website calls it the first espresso bar between New York and Los Angeles.
It’s a huge store with well-worn wooden floors (in contrast to the cement floors at Marczyk and Urban Pantry). The espresso bar is on the left as you walk in the door, with exotic drinks such as black forest latte. To get to the deli, ascend the stairs; the dessert and truffle cases sit to your right. You can order sandwiches, hot food, cold salads, and wine and beer at the deli. Specialty food items fill the shelves built into the walls, though it takes a little fancy footwork to reach them through the tons of tables.
Todd and I had a French dip sandwich, which was very good, and some green chili, which was more like soup (with black beans, among other things) than the typical pork chili ladled over a burrito. The tea, white chocolate, and dark chocolate truffles we tried were good.
The salad bar at the far end of the deli was not terribly impressive, but of the food we ate, there was nothing not to like, and the service was very good.
The Market offers box lunches, party trays, and custom catering. There is a small delivery fee for the downtown area.