January 19 2005, 6:00 AM
Suddenly I'm spending a whole lotta time in a new part of town. NoDo seems to be the Next Big Thing. At least for night owls like myself. NoDo is that oddball mixed-use district northeast of LoDo, where spiffy remodeled red-brick brewpubs (bright with gleaming wood floors and brass fixtures) rub elbows with old dusty warehouses and groaning trucks on loading docks. Among the industrial buildings are brand-new loft projects crammed up next to run down Victorian houses, and mom & pop eateries and other small businesses are tucked in along the way. Lately the neighborhood has seen art galleries, events centers, and music venues cropping up in seemingly unlikely corners throughout. It's a hodgepodge, and I like it. On a recent night of bar-hopping, I hit the Blake Street Tavern adjacent to the Flying Dog Brewery. Stranahan's Colorado Whisky distillery is next door, and I was lucky enough to score an early sample of the first batch of Colorado whisky -- due to be finished aging in 2006. On my way over to the High Street Speakeasy, I drove past the Walnut Foundry Events Center off to my right, where art shows and charity events attract - and confound - a well-heeled crowd in this scruffy district. Past the Walnut Foundry, I spotted The Walnut Room, an eye-catching remodeled warehouse that will join the Larimer Lounge in bringing live music to the area. The Walnut Room looks great from the outside. Sandblasted clean, the red brick could almost be new. Lots of windows give the space an airy atmosphere, and an edgy steel sculpture of the logo -- a circle with a single music note -- lends an artsy flair. It opens officially on January 28, and all of Denver's local music scenesters will be on hand. The show is free, so it's likely to fill up early considering the lineup; Wendy Woo, Love .45, Yo! Flaco, and Arthur Lee Land will perform. Looks like the place is geared toward music lovers, but they'll have a kitchen serving up thin-crust pizzas, salads, and bar munchies. And of course, plenty of local microbrews on tap.