TravelNoise: Golden Mill, Denver
As a (fairly) new Denverite, I have to admit that my knowledge of the fare is still limited, especially when it comes to areas outside central Denver. It was by complete luck, then, that I landed at Golden Mill in beautiful and scenic Golden, just a stone’s throw from the city. And it wasn’t just luck, but pure good fortune.
Formerly The Golden Mill Feed Store, a beloved local business since 1864, Golden Mill was born out of pure love for the history and preservation of the building as well as a desire to maintain its primary function as a gathering place.
Great food and drinks help, too. My guest and I arrived on a warm July evening and starving—we had been told we’d have our fill of both, so we came prepared to feast. The building shows two faces: the older, historical side and the newer metal front. We immediately noticed how many people were pouring into the establishment.
Once inside the expansive two-story building, we stopped at the register counter to meet our host, who walked us through Golden Mill’s process for organizing the chaos of crowds and multiple vendors—not to mention a massive drink wall. (I’ll get to that later). They recommend that patrons load money onto cards specifically used at Golden Mill. That way, they can get drink refills by simply tapping their card and grab food after at as many vendors as they choose, all under one tab.
We were advised to start at the self-pour drink walls, which boast over 50 bevvy options including wines, cocktails (even margaritas with pre-salted-rimmed glasses nearby!), dark beer, light beer and even sake (which you can find upstairs). Taking an awesome drink experience a step further, Golden Mill even hired beer ambassadors to help you find the right brew.
My guest opted for the Flamingo nitro, which was smooth, fruity and aromatic, and I chose the bourbon ginger cider (I’m a whiskey gal) and loved the perfect balance and not-too-sweet nature in the drink. The quality and freshness of our drinks started our night off strong.
Onto the other star of the evening, the food: Golden Mill hosts multiple food vendors, including a taco spot, a fried chicken joint, a barbecue company with their own smoke house in the front (which smells divine coming in), a sushi station on the second floor and, of course, ice cream. So, where to start?
My guest and I divided and conquered, each entering separate lines and collecting our plates at a table outside on their gorgeous patio overlooking a stream and the mountains. To be specific, we started with the piratas quesadilla ($7), which included a flour tortilla, chihuahua cheese, carne asada, bell peppers and onions, and the Elote entero ($6), Mexican-style street corn on the cob with cream-lime Mayo, chili powder and queso fresco. The quesadilla was large, flavorful and fatty while the corn was juicy, spicy, zesty from the hit of lime and slightly sweet with some friendly lingering heat.
Next, we got Republik chicken wings from the chicken vendor ($9 for six pieces). To be completely honest, they were hot, aromatic and total senses-clearing. It burned on our lips into the following tasting, but we loved how active the spices felt in our mouths. The fries were sweet and crispy to complement the chicken.
The barbecue was what we were holding out for, and we could blame nothing but the wafting scent of perfectly smoked meat from the moment we drove up. The barbecue plate, which we filled with brisket, pulled pork, jalapeño cornbread and smoky Mac n cheese, did not disappoint.
The brisket was fall-off-the-bone good, flavorful, smoky and tender while the pulled pork was juicy and hearty, with a sweet sauce to complement. The cornbread had a crispy sweet crust and silky smooth interior with a subtle kiss of jalapeño, and the mac and cheese really was smoky—almost like it was sitting out front in the smoker for a few minutes before being served to us.
We couldn’t resist topping our night with ice cream. The New Zealand-style establishment serves up its fresh berry ice cream, a favorite in its birthplace for its distinct and sweet taste. It didn’t feel heavy, but rather refreshing, like a palate cleanser after such a heavy dinner.
While we didn’t get a chance to try the sushi station (our stomachs truly wouldn’t allow it at that point), we did get to glance upstairs at their expertly curated and mouthwatering rolls, not to mention the lounge area next to the station, which looked beautiful and serene at sunset.
When I think about where I’ll take my sisters who have completely different tastes in drinks and food, or where to go with friends after a hike, or where to take a date, Golden Mill comes to mind almost immediately. Not only does it offer everything in the way of food, drinks, vibes, seating options and more, but its quality is undeniable.
While I’m certain I’m not alone in this claim, I feel wholeheartedly like Golden Mill is my spot, and I can’t wait for you to discover the same.