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South Pearl Street is a gem

Article and photos by Hollen Wheeler

Photo of South Pearl Street, Denver

The South Pearl Street district is an outing worth a look; there are eighteen, tree-lined blocks of boutiques, art galleries, gift shops, book stores and fine dining.

Just north of the University of Denver is the South Pearl Street district, a charming little city escape. Eighteen tree-lined blocks with Victorian homes, boutiques, art galleries, gift shops, book stores, and of course, fine dining make South Pearl Street an outing worth a look.

Flanked by “South Pearl Street” arches from Buchtel to Jewell Avenues, one of South Pearl’s main events is its farmers market, which runs Sundays starting in May and continuing through November from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Considered by many to be one of the best farmers markets in Denver, expect the usual fare of local produce, freshly made breads and craft beer. South Pearl’s also boasts food trucks and live music.

For a unique experience, visit Hazel, an art bar. The patron is encouraged to bring work-in-progress art and create on-site while enjoying a beverage. Local artists’ creations are on display and portions of Hazel’s proceeds are given back to the community.

If the mood is Mexican, Uno Mas Taqueria y Cantina is a local hotspot. Three homemade sauces from homegrown spices accompany the chips (traditional mild salsa, avocado sauce, and spicy habanero). The go-to taco is the duck confit – tender duck with pickled jalapenos, cilantro, mango, and cotija cheese.

A perennial and revered favorite is Sushi Den. Fresh fish is flown in from Tokyo’s finest fish markets, and this chic and always crowded experience has been considered one of the best sushi and Japanese restaurants in Denver for decades.

Ladies, there are several clothing and gift shops with unique finds. Gracie’s, Five Green Boxes and Melrose and Madison are merely three of the many posh boutiques.

Photo of South Pearl Street

Next door to each other on South Pearl Street are two local hotspots: Hazel, an art bar where the patron is encouraged to bring work-in-progress art and create on-site and Uno Mas Taqueria y Cantina, Mexican food with homegrown, homemade salsas.

For the artsy or to buy a special gift, wander in to Gallery 1505, an art museum, late-night art gallery and gift shop. Available for purchase are fine jewelry, mixed media art (wood crafts, sculptures, ceramics) and paintings all by local artists.

The history of South Pearl Street dates back to the late 1800s. The Denver Tramway Company extended trolley service down Pearl to ultimately connect to the University of Denver, and mom and pop stores emerged around the growing neighborhood. As it goes with U.S. history, South Pearl’s merchants suffered during the Great Depression, saw a resurgence after WWII only to dwindle again in the 1970s with the uprising of the suburban megamalls. Today, the trolleys are long gone, but South Pearl is a vibrant gem in the heart of Denver, not to mention a shopping and eating mecca.

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