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The Neighborhood: Platt Park
At the turn of the 20th century, the Platt Park neighborhood—then a separate city from Denver—was a bustling borough of five-and-dime shops and sprawling family homes connected to the city by a clanking trolley line that ran up Pearl Street. As the Mile High City grew, the neighborhood was incorporated, and Denverites migrated south to make it their home. Today, the neighborhood’s storied history is still visible on Pearl Street, where visitors can glimpse trolley tracks peeking through the asphalt overlay, and new shops and purveyors occupy the original, historic buildings.
Boundaries: I-25 to the north, Broadway to the west, Evans Avenue to the east, and Mississippi Avenue to the south.
The vibe: In recent years the neighborhood has seen a flurry of remodels converting bungalows, foursquare homes, and classic Tudors into minimalist, modern dwellings. The result is an eclectic mixture of established residents, first-time homeowners, and a trickle of nearby University of Denver students.
Main drag: Old South Pearl Street is still the center of activity and has the throwback charm of a well-established, small-town main street ripe with shops and restaurants.
Grub: Platt Park has become a dining destination. If one of our picks for Best New Restaurants 2014, Session Kitchen, and top 25 list-maker Makan Malaysian Café. Dine in or carry out curry puffs, satays, juicy bowls of coconut rice, or handmade flatbread rotis. Or, if the mood strikes, check out Izakaya Den, a Japanese tapas house that serves up elevated sushi and stiff cocktails, or rustic Naples-inspired Kaos Pizzeria for wood-fired pies. For a fix for your sweet tooth, belly up to the counter at Pajama Baking Company for an oversized, homemade ice cream sandwich.
Sip: A neighborhood in Denver almost isn’t a neighborhood unless it houses its own brewery. Luckily, Platt Park residents (and visitors) can now spend their weekend afternoons sampling beers at Platt Park Brewing Company. This newcomer has been welcomed into the Colorado beer scene with its popular Platt Park Porter and others. For a non-alcoholic beverage, visit Stella’s Coffee Haus. Its umbrella-covered, dog-friendly front patio is perfect for sipping a latte, reading a book, and taking in the neighborhood vibe.
Stop in: The Pearl Street Pumpkin Patch & Urban Garden was once a spare lot overrun with weeds, but over the last five years, its owner—inspired by the tragic loss of a child—has rejuvenated the space into a flowing sanctuary. With seasonal harvests and community building that share best practices for urban gardening and resource conservation, the patch’s main goal is to provide a place for contemplation.
Relax: The Washington Park Wellness Center has been a neighborhood staple for more than 20 years and offers a full range of massage services to relax and rejuvenate visitors from head to toe. Healing Point Acupuncture Center utilizes Chinese medicine to treat everything from headaches to plantar fasciitis. And the best part? The prices are based on a sliding scale. Make sure to call ahead for an appointment.
Shop: 5 Green Boxes’ dual locations (one big and one small) hosts quirky home decor and whimsical baubles—the perfect place to find unique gifts for anybody on your list. Bringing two fashion thoroughfares together, Melrose & Madison is filled with runway-worthy jumpsuits, fur vests, accessories, and more. A mixture of New York and Los Angeles-based brands, the boutique also hosts trunk shows. For sporty types, visit Greentree Cyclery, a small, full-service bike shop, or Colorado Limited, which specializes in all things printed, stamped, emblazened or etched with the state flag.
11/11/14 Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Murder by the Book was still located in the Platt Park neighborhood. In fact, the local bookstore has moved to online only. We regret the error.