The Buckhorn Exchange Restaurant, located at 1000 Osage Street, in Denver Colorado, was established in 1893, and is Denver's oldest restaurant.
Since I celebrated my "double thirty" birthday by staying in one of Denver's oldest hotels, The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa (click here to read that post), where I was also treated by my husband to an elegant afternoon tea, we decided to have our children meet us at the Buckhorn Exchange that evening, for another true old time Denver experience
The Buckhorn Exchange was designated a historical landmark in 1972. If you click on the photo above, it will enlarge, so you can read the fascinating history of the restaurant that is on a plaque that hangs on an outside wall.
Walking into the restaurant, I felt as if I was transported back in time, to an era when Denver was a hustling gold and silver mining town, just beyond the years of the "wild west." The walls of the restaurant are a museum of western and Native American artifacts, collected by the original owner, Henry H. "Shorty Scout" Zietz. At age twelve, Henry was a full-fledged member of the hard-riding, straight-shooting band of scouts that rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. The great Indian leader, Chief Sitting Bull, dubbed him "Shorty Scout" due to his diminutive stature.
Other interesting historical information from the Buckhorn Exchange's website:
"President Theodore Roosevelt ate here in 1905 when his Presidential Express train pulled into the Rio Grande rail yards. Roosevelt strutted in presidential style, asked old Shorty Scout to be his guide and hunting partner, and after dinner and drinks, the pair took off by train to hunt big game on Colorado's western slope.
Today a photo of the train and a flag from its engine are among hundreds of pieces of museum-quality memorabilia on display in the Buckhorn Exchange which today is as much a museum as a restaurant and bar.
Another historic moment and most incredible scene was recorded in 1938 when Sitting Bull's nephew, Chief Red Cloud, and a delegation of thirty Sioux and Blackfoot Indians rode slowly down Osage Street in full battle regalia, and ceremoniously turned over to Shorty Scout Zietz the military saber taken from the vanquished General George Custer in the Battle of Little Big Horn. The sword remains in the Zietz family today.
The Buckhorn Exchange brims with historic artifacts, legends and notable moments. Five Presidents - Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan - dined at the Buckhorn. Hundreds of Hollywood legends, too, have savored our fare, including Bob Hope, Jimmy Cagney, Charleton Heston, astronauts Scott Carpenter and Jack Swigert, Great Britain's Princess Anne, Roy Rogers and Will Rogers. The list is virtually endless."
The walls of the Buckhorn detail its illustrious history. Its walls hold a rare 575-piece collection of taxidermy, including deer and moose, giant buffalo, mountain goat and big horn sheep, dozens of indigenous fowl, and even a two-headed calf and a legendary "jackalope." In 1949, Henry Jr., acquired the restaurant, perpetuating its rich history and décor by adding many animal displays from his own hunting expeditions. In 1978 ownership of the restaurant passed to a group of local investors known as Buckhorn Associates, who have preserved its history.
Upstairs, there is a bar and lounge area. The Buckhorn's original ornate white oak bar was made in Essen, Germany in 1857, and brought here by the Zietz family. Its Colorado Liquor License No. 1 is still on display on the wall behind the bar.
There is also live entertainment four nights a week in the lounge.
Our table was located downstairs, in a quiet little corner, under the giant Elk head. I have to admit it was a unique feeling to be surrounded by so much taxidermy, but I was comforted by the fact that most of it was at least eighty years old, if not older.
Our unique centerpiece was a hand painted flower pot my two and four year old grandsons made for me! Unfortunately, we dined past their bedtimes, so they were home with a babysitter that evening.
The Buckhorn Exchange's menus are in the form of a newspaper.
Again, if you click on the photo above, it will enlarge so you can read the menu with ease. As you can see, the restaurant is famous for their wild game offerings such as buffalo, elk, quail, rattlesnake, etc. They also offer lamb, steak, salmon, Cornish game hen, and seasonal specials.
Some of us were adventurous and had the triple platter of buffalo, elk and ostrich steaks, while others went the more mundane route and had regular beef steak. We also tried an assortment of rattlesnake, fried crocodile, marinated duck breast and elk sausage as appetizers. The soups were bean and bacon and buffalo vegetable. Everything was absolutely delicious!
Although the grand boys were home asleep, my baby granddaughter was able to be there, as her bedtime is more flexible. For fun, I put on my celebratory "60" crown for the occasion, and I'm sure sitting among all the distractions of the walls, none of the other restaurant guests even noticed!
Thank you all, for all your best wishes on my special "landmark" birthday! I enjoyed turning 60 Denver style, in our new adopted city!
As usual, life has been very busy for me between babysitting my granddaughter Monday through Friday and summer activities. I'm still catching up, but I hope to visit you soon!
I'm adding this post to the following blog events:
Oh, the Places I've Been!
Our World Tuesday
Ruby Tuesday 2
Thank you to all the blog hosts!