1320 15th Street (between Market and Larimer)
Alto closed the last week of June.
Everything about Alto is beautiful: the restaurant, the bar, the servers, the food.
I went there last Wednesday to attend a reading arranged by Lighthouse Writers Workshop to show off the work of participants in the summer Lit Fest. I was one of the first people there, around 7:30 on a weeknight. The bar wasn’t busy, but it looked like a great place to have a drink. Toward the back, past the end of the bar where the servers hang out when they’re not busy, patrons can lounge on couches.
The reading was set up in the third room, separated from the middle room by a sheer curtain.
By the time the reading started at 8, people had filled up all the tables in the long, narrow room, and I was contemplating my dinner of two sides, mac and cheese and grilled asparagus.
I’ve been trying to think of a way to characterize Alto’s menu. You can get pork loin or mussels or BBQ ribs or pasta or salad or a burger. Several dishes seem Italian-influenced, but that’s as far as I’d go.
As is trendy these days, the macaroni and cheese was very rich. I can’t identify all the cheeses just by tasting, but there was some kind of blue cheese in there, and the crust on top contrasted with all the gooiness underneath. The asparagus spears were crisp and tasted grilled. That lovely, filling food cost $10, but then I managed to spend 200 percent more on wine. What can I say? The waitress kept asking me if I wanted anything … and apparently I did. And from the look of the wine rack near the entrance, there certainly are wines-aplenty.
The Paul Dolan chardonnay was a bit too citrusy to stand up to the meal, but the Colores del Sol Malbec Reserva was big and fruity enough to do the job.
It was a nice evening, full of poetry and fiction and good food and wine. I got to catch up with old friends and make a new one. And it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to do a mac-off around Denver to see which restaurant has the best mac and cheese. So far I’ve had the dish at 4 restaurants, but I’m sure that’s only a drop in the bucket. Maybe at the end of the summer I’ll start writing mac-off Mondays. I’ve written nearly 40 MonHaibuns, and, frankly, I just don’t give a damn anymore.