Atomic Cowboy certainly has the most interesting origins among all the eateries in Golden, Colorado. It used to be Woods Mortuary, first established in the late 1800s. When I noticed about a year ago that it shut down and was being renovated, I wondered what would replace it.
I had no idea it would be a food hall. At first, it sounded a bit creepy and morbid. A restaurant where the dead were housed and cremated? No, thank you.
But this sort of transformation has successfully happened before in Denver. The old Olinger mortuary in the Highlands neighborhood became a popular multicultural eatery called Linger (take off the “O” in the original business name). I haven’t heard of any hauntings or anything about their food tasting weird from God knows what. So, maybe it would work again here in my hometown.
Golden’s branch is the seventh Front Range establishment from Atomic Provisions. They have taken three small food businesses – Denver Biscuit Company, Fat Sully’s and the Atomic Cowboy bar – and combined them into an intimate food hall setting. When I’ve visited the other half-dozen food halls from this summer and ones around Golden, like the Denver Central Market, they’ve all had at least a half-dozen eateries. Here, you only have two choices and a place to drink, and it’s a sit-down place rather than a classic food hall. But here’s what I discovered.
Have you gone to a pizza place with friends and family but have trouble deciding what kind to get? If you go to Fat Sully’s, you can easily order a massive (or, as they call it on the menu, “big ass”) slice. You can order whatever toppings you like on it. And it lives up to its name. Having just one equaled at least two anywhere else. Naturally, you can get a whole pie – either a 12-inch with gluten-free crust or a 26-inch with regular.
I chose mine with just veggies (mushroom, tomatoes and spinach), but it was quite filling and delicious. Even with its super-thin New York-style crust and the logistical difficulty of picking it up to eat, it had the right balance of chewy and crispy. The toppings were fresh, the mozzarella melty, and the spiced red sauce spread just enough for flavor but too much to make it soggy.
On Fat Sully’s menu, you can also order non-pizza items, including salad, starters like wings, garlic knots, and a chicken sandwich. The Lights Out burger, awarded as Denver’s Best Burger by the local weekly magazine Westword, sounds basic but must be worth trying.
Denver Biscuit Company
Biscuits are one of my very favorite foods. I’m always trying to find the perfect example, even when I considered the rolled one from Bisquik dough to be the best (that only lasted until I was ten). I’ve tried to make my own, with dozens of different recipes. But I’ve never been able to achieve that ultimate fluffy, flaky and buttery goal.
So, I have high expectations for a place like Denver Biscuit Company, which offers a dozen different biscuit sandwiches and biscuit plates and sides. JRS went with me and ordered biscuits and gravy. There is a vegetarian gravy option with mushrooms, but she chose to get the traditional homemade sausage. This decadent treat met my standards. The biscuit was light and tender but with the right amount of flakiness, and the accompanying gravy was savory, meaty and creamy.
We also brought a takeout sandwich for NLS, the Ellsworth, which consisted of fried chicken, buttermilk, honey, stone-ground mustard, and pickles. Although a bit messy to eat, it tasted so much like being at a southern grandma’s kitchen table. Sweet, spicy and briny were combined into two rich biscuit halves.
Atomic Cowboy bar
I won’t say much about this part of the restaurant because I only had a breakfast sangria. It consisted of red grapefruit vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lychee, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne. Light and refreshing, it was a perfect midday drink, but it did pack a bit of a punch.
Besides the craft cocktails, the bar also serves up Bloody Marys, mimosas, mocktails and – for some reason – $6 Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Jim Beam whiskey. On my next visit, I will have to solve this mystery.