Denver’s Newest Restaurant Experiments With Cuisine of the American West

Terra Denver

Located across the street from the Colorado Convention Center and distinguished Big Blue Bear lies a new haven for Denver culture and cuisine. Chef and owner Scott Schaden digs deeper into the ingredients found in our backyard to highlight product that can sometimes be overlooked. By working directly with farmers and basing his dishes on availability of the season, this chef has truly created something unique and desired. Terra is now open and is a melting pot of tastes, culture and gratification.Schaden grew up mostly in the Boulder area. At the ripe age of 15, washing dishes and bussing tables was his first experience in the food business. From there, he was sent to work at his family friend’s restaurant and stayed there for seven years while completing his culinary degree at Johnson & Wales. He traveled to Italy, worked for free and soaked up the culture there. After hopping from corporate jobs to fine dining, Schaden settled down in the west side of Chicago and became Head Sous Chef at Osteria Langhe. After helping them open a second restaurant, he realized that he wanted to follow this path himself. “I knew if I opened a restaurant in Chicago, I was going to be there for the rest of my life. I loved Chicago and loved living there, but I wanted to be closer to my family and I missed home too much,” he remembered.

After returning to Denver in 2019, he searched for the right place. “We ended up walking out on a deal in February of 2020, right before everything happened and thank God we did,” he said. During these trying times, he spent his time doing a few projects and focusing on getting the space up and running. Finally, this accumulation of a million different concepts came to life on May 27 in a spot titled Terra.

Schaden is deeply influenced by the farmers of our state. After working at the Boulder farmer’s market for seven consecutive years, he formed deep connections with these individuals and the product that they create. “Instead of calling them and saying ‘I need this and this,’ I ask them what they already have. From there we create the menu around those products — backwards,” he said. “I actually found that Colorado has one of the best networks of small boutique farmers. It’s a unique thing that the front range has such a plethora of diverse farmers and ranchers doing small stuff. That’s something we want to represent.”

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Not only is Terra based around freshly grown ingredients, but it focuses on celebrating the flavor profiles of the American West and uplifting our already existent food culture. While working in the culinary world, Schaden was always bothered by the fact that he was cooking someone else’s ingredients and tastes. Terra was created to exemplify his own roots. “We want to represent the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific, the Western United States and what it really means to be from Colorado — who we are and what we really are. Our biggest thing is we want to be a true part of the community and revitalizing downtown Denver as a whole,” Schaden said.

The food crafted under this roof beckons all to come enjoy. Brunch, lunch, dinner and happy hour options are available on select days of the week and all are full of exceptional selections. The menu is ever-changing as Schaden cooks with what’s in season. For now, stop in for a half game hen with truffle jus ($29), sourced from southern Colorado, or spinach rotolo with hot pickles ($16) from the front range. Food is only the beginning — Terra offers an extensive list of craft cocktails inspired by our state. During your feast, sip on the Garden of the Gods ($15) made with chamomile-infused gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Colorado-made beers, canned and on-draft are also available for your satisfaction. End it all with a sweet treat with options including blue corn cake ($10) or orange sabayon tart ($10).

The space exudes the West. With wood detailing, concrete pillars and tall ceilings, it certainly feels like home. “There’s this sense of rustic warmth and wood and nature and the Rocky Mountains. But also, within the context of Downtown and glass and modernism,” Schaden explained. There is no site better than digging into a homespun dish complemented by a modern, wooden setting. The space, food, culture and overall vibe of the place make Terra a simple additive to your bucket list. Visit now and nourish with flavors that are concocted with deep significance and passion.

Terra is located at 891 14th St, Denver. It is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday at 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., dinner Tuesday through Thursday at 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. and Sunday until 9 p.m. Happy hour is Tuesday through Sunday at 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. and stop in for brunch Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

All photography by Shelby Moeller.

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