The Populist Truly Lives Up to Its Name

Nothing makes me happier than being in a place where I lose track of time and when I track it again, don’t want to leave.
That place is The Populist.
I met a friend there for dinner, and it was one of the more memorable dinners I’ve had out in a while.
Happy Hour is available at the bar and inside community tables only, so we started at the bar; a handful of food offerings, cocktails and wines.
On their regular wine list, one I found to be well-curated, all of them – 6 white, 6 red, 3 pink, 2 bubbly and 3 tap – are offered by the 1/2 glass, full glass, and bottle.
Full glasses are $8. across the board and the few on Happy Hour are discounted by a couple dollars.
Bottles are just $28.!
The 3 tap wines [Rose, Riesling/Viognier, Red] come from Infinite Monkey Theorem steps from their front door; it doesn’t get more local than that!
With 24 beers on their list, categorized by Light, Full and Different, you can find something to suit your taste, literally; composed primarily of craft beers, as is almost obligatory in Colorado.
It’s not the most exciting Happy Hour in town, but the democratic way they offer and price their wines on the regular list, makes me not even need Happy Hour; I was happy all night.
I started with the Bula from Spain, a nice red and perfect beginning.
I then went to a lush, full red – the Chateau Musar from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
It was fun to take the bartender’s recommendation on this one and try a truly exotic wine; the idea they even have this on their red list – a small one – makes it all the more fun.
My friend, in a holy moment, ordered The Presbyterian – bourbon, ginger and soda with a zest of lemon floating on top.
We then moved to our table and started with the Roasted Carrot Salad.
Inch-wide rolls of raw carrot and tender roasted baby carrots in a pool of pesto, a sprinkling of pistachios and a tangle of lightly dressed greens on top.
I will crave this.
Next, the Bacon and Egg.
Bacon jam with an over easy egg on top.
What else can be said?
As an avid home cook, even an ambitious one at times, I always like to order something I know I wouldn’t make at home.
In this case, that was the Beet, Pea and Chevre Agnolotti.
The pasta itself was a gorgeous magenta from the beets, and to add extra drama to the white bowl, it was painted with a wide stroke of beet puree.
One of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever had placed in front of me.
Filled with fresh, seasonal flavors, it was the right choice for this summer night.
As people started arriving, and eventually as the space filled, I looked around to take in the crowd; the populist, as it’s defined, represents the interests of ordinary people – and this crowd was truly that – a great mix of ages, personal style and reasons for gathering.
To our immediate right and left, were couples on dates; one couple young and tattooed, the other, middle-aged and not.
To our far right, two women friends meeting for dinner.
To our far left, what looked like a 20-something daughter out to dinner with her visiting parents.
On the patio, community tables – which generously seat a total of 32! – were filled with a rich variety.
Though I was thrilled with the drinks and food, this was the thing I found most exciting about The Populist.
And it really says something about an independent place – one not soullessly trying to win over the masses – that can appeal to such a wide and diverse group of people.
It truly lives up to its name.

The Populist
3163 Larimer
Denver

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