Hop Alley – RiNo – Denver, CO

The RiNo neighborhood of Denver is exploding with great food and drink venues! And while we’re attempting to visit each and every one of them, we HAVE to share one of the most recent restaurants for todays “What in the World is on Their Menu” Wednesday (WIMM Wednesday) – Hop Alley.

When I think of an authentic Chinese food restaurant, the first word that comes to mind isn’t lively. But that’s what Hop Alley is – a lively authentic Chinese food restaurant. And if you want to see HOW LIVELY, you should check out their Instagram feed which is full of comedic posts, fun parties, and oh ya, their delicious food.

Located in a hip Denver neighborhood (RiNo), that isn’t known for taking reservations (and neither does this place unless your group is between six and eight people, this small restaurant can be packed even on a Tuesday night. I’m not sure if being closed on Monday’s is to blame for the latter, but my friend and I opted to sit at bar on the particular Tuesday night that we visited Hop Alley.

Sitting at the bar ended up being a great experience for a few reasons… First, we were able to watch the bartender craft cocktails that any mixologist would be impressed with.  Second said bartender was also very knowledgeable and explained that the menu is arranged by drinks on the left and food on the right. The food is then categorized by haixian (fish), cai (vegetables), fan mian bing (noodles), as well as rou (meat).

And third, when  the guy next to you, who happens to work for a restaurant group, skeptically asks why you are taking pictures, and you explain World is My Menu, it’s great to hear that Hop Alley is one of his favorite restaurants. Before even trying the food, we knew we made the right choice!

Now, for the food. We ordered from three of the four parts of the menu. And we were pleasantly surprised when a big red Chinese to-go box of steamed rice was placed on the table. This was a fun touch, and made it easy to take home later.

BEIJING DUCK ROLLS – Hop Alley

After the rice arrived, we were served duck rolls which were filled with cabbage, five spice hoisin, and uniquely wrapped in a thin scallion pancake. The bartender said that this is one of the most frequently ordered dishes, and we can taste why!

SALT & PEPPER SOFT SHELL CRABS – Hop Alley

We followed up the duck rolls with these lightly fried soft shelled crabs, accompanied by pickled red onion, lime mayo, charred limes, fresh jalapenos, and bibb lettuce. Take a little bit of each and make it into a bibb lettuce wrap (or taco), and you won’t be disappointed. A squeeze of the charred lime helps to cut the salt in this dish if it’s too much for your pallet.

DAN DAN MIAN – Hop ALley

And for a traditional finish, we ended with Dan Dan Noodles. Or layered traditional noodles, pickled mustard greens, and ground pork, topped with a soft cooked egg. Cut into the egg and let the yolk drip into the dish for a richer taste. While my friend and I didn’t find this dish spicy, we were forewarned that they can be spicy to some.

If you’re looking for a fun place with good food, any day of the week (well, except Monday), make sure you check out Hop Alley! Be sure to sit at the bar if the wait is too long, or take out six to eight friends and get a reservation. This place is definitely worth the wait if you insist on a table, and you can imbibe in one of the local breweries in RiNo while you’re waiting.

Hope Alley is a great WIMM Wednesday choice. For more of “What in the World is on Their Menu” – check the Online Menu. And for more images of food and fun, check out Hop Alley’s Instagram, or our Instagram @WorldisMyMenu.

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