Friday, June 21, 2013

The Buckhorn Exchange - Denver's Oldest Restaurant

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!

We were so stuffed, that the thought of desert after dinner was too much, but a birthday can't be celebrated without blowing out at least one candle, so I was treated to a cup of pink raspberry sherbet "birthday cake."

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!
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Mosaic Monday
Blue Monday
Our World Tuesday
Ruby Tuesday 2

Thank you to all the blog hosts!

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Daphne Bryson said...

Good Morning Pat, I am so sorry I missed your birthday on Monday, but I would like to send you belated birthday wishes.
I am going to show my husband this post as he will love it. The Buckhorn Exchange is so different from any restaurant we have in England and with all that "cowboy" memorabilia, my husband would be in heaven. He grew up in the early fifties and he went to the cinema on a Saturday morning to watch what is now old, but then were new cowboy films. He has two brothers and they both love western films.
You certainly celebrated your birthday in style.
Oh, and your grand daughter is so sweet.
Have a lovely weekend Pat.
Best Wishes to you,

La Petite Gallery said...

Pat you really look happy.
Happy Birthday again. What a precious baby.
Now this is my kind of Steak House.


GratefulPrayerThankfulHeart said...

Such a fun time at a fun place with precious family! I am smiling with you!

Tracy said...

LOVE the photo of you & your granddaughter there at the end... sweet! And what a fun time with you family. Very great place... and such food! Though not sure I could eat under the watchful eyes of the animals... LOL! Glad you've been having a great birthday celebration ((HUGS))

Lisa @ Grandmas Briefs said...

Beautiful photos! You all look marvelous, especially the happy, double-30 grandma! (Sounds a bit like a special agent 007 name.) This looks like a place my husband would LOVE to visit. Thank you for sharing. And once again, happy birthday to you!!

I hope the smoke and such is not horrendous at your place. Enjoy the weekend!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful birthday celebration from staying at the beautiful hotel to dining at this historic restaurant. May you have many more memorable celebrations. Karen

Old Kitty said...

Love your 60 crown! And the little pot of flowers from your grandsons! And your granddaughter is adorable!

Oh but that restaurant! Oh my stars!! LOL!! I admire its quirkiness and amazing history and wild west frontier type ambience but my goodness!! LOL!!!

I hope you continue to have a most fun and momentous year!! 60! Amazing!! Take care

Pamela Gordon said...

What a fun place to eat! I enjoy history so much and to be able to eat in an old building surrounded by historic things would be a real treat. I think you have really had a fun double 30 birthday, Pat! Blessings to you. Pamela

ellen b. said...

What a great spot to celebrate! Glad you had a wonderful time...

The Gathering Place said...

What a fun restaurant to celebrate "getting older". Your little grand daughter is so cute. I bet you are loving being close!

Valerie Smith said...

I love it. My Great Uncle lives in Denver and I will tell him lets go there on our next visit.


Cottage Making Mommy

Ann said...

I enjoy going to restaurants with a definite history. I really like the décor. We must try to visit next time we are visiting children. What was your main course?

Nellie said...

What a unique setting for your birthday dinner! That granddaughter is just precious!

Michelle said...

What a special birthday you have had. The next time we are in Denver, we will be visiting the Buckhorn Exchange!

Vee said...

♪Happy Birthday♫

I never miss an opportunity to say it again. What a celebration! Looks as if you knocked your little granddaughter right out with the festivities. What a cutie pie she is and how proud her parents are of her. She looks a lot like her daddy in that picture of them together. Party on!

Ann said...

what an awesome restaurant. Looks like you had a great time too

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Most special! It looks like the perfect place to celebrate your 60th. How nice that your granddaughter could be in on the fun! (What a cutey!)

pam said...

Who knows if I have ever wished you a happy birthday. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY...a little late, yet still heartfelt. I'm thinking this special celebration should go on for at least a month or more. Turn one day each month into a part of the celebrating the fun 60. I"m so thankful I found your blog. I always learn so much and I have enjoyed peeking into your family life.

My in-laws have stuffed critters around there home. Fortunately the GIANT Elk is up so high with a dark ceiling that I forget it's even there. I'm sure someone will enjoy them someday, but they won't be coming to our home.

That restaurant looks so wonderful. I need to put that on my list of possible places to try when we come out to see Steph.

I love the flower pot your grands made you. So, so fun that you can now be so close. Celebrating YOU....let the partying continue.

Carolyn Robbins said...

Hello Pat,

What a great restaurant in beautiful
Denver! Happy Birthday to you, it looks like you had a wonderful time.

Happy Summer,

Bear Hugs,

podso said...

Interesting restaurant with such amazing history. Think of all the stories of all the many who have dined there over the years. I wonder what family special events took place there such as your 60th! Enjoy those grandchildren. Your baby girl is beautiful!

Deanna said...

Howdy from kansasland!

Fantastically funn place to visit and eat! Glad to get to see this.

Sweet Summer blessings to you,

Carol Stebner said...

Looks like a really fun place, and what a great way to celebrate your birthday.

Roz Corieri Paige said...

What a wonderful birthday celebration Pat! So glad to re-visit Colorado and all its treasures through your blog. Bill and I were just saying how we want to get back and vacation there again in the Frisco down to Durango and over to the Four Corners area. River rafting is super fun out there too! Thanks for the tip on this restaurant in Denver!


eileeninmd said...

Pat, this looks like a wonderful restaurant to celebrate your birthday with your family. I enjoyed your photos of this fun restaurant. I do think I would stick to the regular steak. Thanks for sharing, I hope you had a great birthday!

Beverly said...

I love going to local restaurants when we travel, and this one looks awesome.

I would have tried different things, too, Pat. It all looks wonderful.

The French Hutch said...

Happy Birthday Pat, sorry it’s a little late. What a great place to celebrate with your family. I have to say I would pass on a lot of the menu selections but I’m sure I would love one of their beef steaks. How the baby has grown. Your didn’t get to Denver any to soon! Love your photos. Happy Summer!

The French Hutch

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a beautiful photo of you with your little cake my friend and I love your hand painted flower pot. I hope we can travel out West in the Fall. It's like being in another country in many ways and you really feel the history of the West in places like this! Sweet hugs!

Linda H said...

I'm a little late to say Happy Birthday but it looks like you celebrated in fine style. What an interesting restaurant - lots of fun menu choices for sure!! Your granddaughter is lovely! What fun you must behaving with her...

Anonymous said...

Very intriquing and creative mosaic photography ~ happy day to you ^_^

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

Happy Birthday Pat. Valerie

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Happy Belated Birthday Pat!!! It looks like you had a wonderful evening with your hubby & family! I give credit to the adventurous diners! I might have tried a bite . . .

Oh, love the crown! : )

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Looks very atmospheric!

Anonymous said...

I see you had lots of celebrations and that place looks really amazing!

Lovella ♥ said...

Pat, you find the most interesting places. Imagine all that history and all the experiences those walls have witnessed. Your food looks delicious and I love the centerpiece. Keep celebrating!!

Snap said...

What fun! I love places like this -- lots of history and good food! The centerpiece is wonderful. Keep celebrating!

Lavender Cottage said...

I enjoyed reading about, and seeing all your photos of the Buckhorn Exchange. My hubby and I would love it there.
A great place for a gal to celebrate her 60th, happy birthday Pat.

AdriBarr said...

Oh, I just love your posts about your new home. It must be grand to be surrounded by such rich history. It looks like you had a magnificent birthday celebration, and it is a joy to see your family!


Maria Gagliano said...

Wow...what an amazing place to celebrate. Love the paper menu and table cloth. Also would love to try a few of those dishes but not many. Thanks for the tour through your birthday. If you care to see mine, here it is

The Tablescaper said...

Great place to celebrate. A bit like stepping back in history.

Great to have you at "Oh, the PLACES I've been!" Hope to see you this Friday!

- The Tablescaper

Margaret said...

Hi Pat:) What a perfect way to "top off" celebrating your special "double 30th" celebration at Denver's "oldest"! Wonderful special family photos! Your grandaughter is a darling, such a sweet photo of the two of you :)Enjoy each and every day of being double 30 Pat!

Margaret said...

I'm sorry Pat, I forgot to sign my comment!! Margaret from B.C.