Comfort food

Sometimes, you just gotta have comfort food — you know, meat loaf, mac and cheese, a nice chicken fried steak. Real mashed potatoes, not the just-add-water kind. And when it comes to comfort food, you can’t beat a great diner.

So I welcomed my lunch date today at the Rocky Mountain Diner, even though it’s a bit on the high-end side of diner cuisine.

More often since I work downtown, when I’m craving diner victuals, I head for Sam’s No. 3 on the other side of the 16th Street Mall, where the menu’s cheap and servings enormous.

But I’ve also enjoyed the Rocky Mountain Diner over the years and jumped at the chance when my pal Doug wanted to eat there with a third friend, Leland.

We got there at 11:30 and found a 15-minute wait — the place is Popular with a Capital P. But the wait was worth it. Doug had the joint’s trademark buffalo meatloaf; Leland a fine BLT and I actually ordered Mex-American comfort food, a very cheesy chile relleno.

We ate, talked nostalgically of Denver area radio; concerts we’d pay money for (not many these days); the magic of seeing U2 at Red Rocks the night “Under the Blood Red Sky” was filmed; the old Woolworth’s on 16th Street (pre-Mall) that had the soda fountain along one wall; the Mercury Cafe, which is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary and used to be a hub for the local alternative rock scene; and the old Brick Oven Beanery chain of comfort food cafeterias (kinda yuppie-ized but damn, they were good little restaurants) from the 1980s.

That’s the great thing about hanging around a town long enough — you accumulate a bunch of cool memories as the place evolves, and you learn to embrace the new and still appreciate the old.

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