Root Down, Denver, Colorado – Airport Restaurant Review
There’s something immediately familiar about Root Down DIA, even if you’ve never been there before. Perhaps it’s the 1960s airport retro look (some items are on the counter in open suitcases sized as if they escaped from very large doll houses), or the lighted-globe chandelier with its multitude of globes, the bottle racks made from vintage luggage, or just the way the place flows: curves abound and the pods and booths scream mid last century.
At Denver International Airport, don’t miss the living wall of herbs or the repurposed basketball court flooring, but most importantly, don’t walk by without stopping in and having a meal.
Once at the C Gate concourse, I had no trouble finding Root Down at its very center. It wasn’t very crowded so I had to ponder whether I wanted to sit in one of those sexy booths, or at a somewhat less exciting table alongside the floor-to-ceiling windows providing excellent views of airport operations. I chose the latter.
The servers were both passionate and opinionated about their food (I found this out when buying a cookie to take with me: the cashier asked what I had ordered and told me I really should have gotten the burger).
Root Down is a branch of the LiHo restaurant of the same name and opened last summer. On my first trip to Denver in years, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try out its “field-to-fork” mentality, as the website trumpets it. Given that the hipster-cool LiHo location is booked weeks in advance and I wasn’t even leaving the airport on my mileage run’s layover, it made perfect sense.
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has a very active bar with a seductive menu. Having had two breakfasts already, I opted for lunch.
The server, who had just started the previous week, seemed very enthusiastic about the food and first asked if I had a flight to catch, a smart question here but unusual in most dining establishments of this caliber.
What to get was truly a difficult decision but after considering the lamb sliders, the house burger, and a Reuben, I chose the latter, which was tasty, on crispy toasted bread, and served with a variety of potato chips. The portion was generous and I felt bad not being able to finish the sandwich, apologizing to the server so the chef wouldn’t feel bad (chefs have feelings too). I decided at that point to get dessert to go and took a very rich brownie with me, which didn’t get touched until I reached New York hours later. (It was, however, really good.)
Water is served in Root Down brown bottles but I also tried the ginger ale, which was excellent.
For adult beverages, the bar offers 22 Colorado beers on tap, including Avery’s White Rascal, Funkwerks’ Tropic King Saison, and Left Hand’s Milk Stout Nitro. There are myriad wines available including a Höple Grüner Veltliner (its presence on the wine card did indeed impress this oenophile), and keg wine from Jack Rabbit Hill.
I’ve never thought much of airport food and, until now, I’ve never gone out of my way to eat an airport restaurant. But once I walked into Root Down DIA, I left the carefully orchestrated chaos of the airport behind me and entered a food-friendly (not to mention allergy-, vegetarian-, and vegan-friendly) place that may very well redefine the airport dining experience for decades to come.
C Gates, Center Core
Denver International Airport
Tel. +1 (303) 342-6959
(Photos: Accura Media Group)