Almost everybody knows the big, amazing stuff about Aurora.
This is where the state’s medical school lives. Buckley Air Force Base and a billion-dollar space industry thrives here. The Gaylord Conference Center chain’s newest jewel? That’s Gaylord of the Rockies in Aurora.
But there’s a lot about Aurora you probably don’t know about things that don’t scream front-page news.
Last week, some of those things did make the front page of Sentinel Colorado. Staffers here profiled nine people from the area who do big things without making themselves a big deal.
Likewise, there are myriad low-key places, spaces and things about Aurora that make it an unusual and especially satisfying place to live and visit.
These are just a very few on my list you need to know about.
The Aurora Reservoir. It doesn’t matter if your favorite thing to do is fish, swim or sit in the car. The Aurora Reservoir is a stunningly cool and beautiful oasis on the plains that offers something for everyone. While so much of the metro area makes regular treks west into the hills, some of the best of Colorado is east. The plains themselves are a subtle marvel of eye candy. At the reservoir, which has some of the clearest, cleanest water of any Colorado puddle, you can bike, hike, walk, dive, sit, swim, paddle board, sail board, fish, eat or just wander. It costs a mere $10 for the day. It’s way east, out where the name of 5800 S. Powhaton Road doesn’t even ring a bell for most metro-dwellers. It’s totally worth the drive.
Live music at Sheabeen’s Irish Pub. Yes, there’s an Irish Pub here, and they have live music every Saturday. This low-key, low-profile bar at 2300 S. Chambers Road is always fun and friendly. A Jameson neat will only set you back $5. Redbreast weighs in at only $8. Music runs mostly to country and rock-covers these days. The bands are region favorites. Hillbilly Demons are a hoot. The burgers are pretty good. But if the high-stress trek to Downtown for a night of tunes has you staying at home, you’ll love that this place stays the same.
Remand-a-rama at the King Soopers at Regatta Plaza. This is where real Aurora has lived and shopped for decades. The aging Regatta Plaza King Soopers was a true reflection of the community. It’s a place where hijabs and thick Russian accents draw no more notice than vast assortment of fresh greens. The line for the check-cashing desk was as long as the line for the fresh salmon and cockles. The mixing of people from places is what has always made Aurora so cool. But the coolest part of this King Soopers was a clearance room dedicated to heavily discounted treasures. Yesterday’s donuts went for a buck a dozen. A tiny can of WD-40 would cost less than that. This is where those fancy and overpriced Christmas coffees go for pennies on the dollar. It was four-deep-shelves the best bargains in the world. And it’s not quite gone. The new, replacement King Soopers opened last week. The treasure room is gone. But the same United Nations crowd and employees are still there, and so are some of the deals. On Aisle 15, a section has been set aside for “manager specials.” Last week there were fresh hamburger buns for 10 cents. TEN. CENTS. Loaves of bread for a quarter. All kinds of deals. While the treasure room is now nothing but Aurora lore, life goes on.
Flat out amazing. The Persians invented the best breads in the world. An Aurora bakery has perfected it. Shahrazad Bakery at 2603 South Parker Road is a nonchalant Iraqi bakery that cranks out the most tender, slightly caramelized traditional flat breads on the big orb. Snagging some of these as they come out of the tandoor oven is like winning the foodie lottery. Even freshly bagged, they’re better than anything you’ve ever had in your life.
Katsu Ramen royal. I didn’t know. If you think Ramen is that crap you ate in college that came from a cellophane bag and a flavor packet, you don’t know either. While the Japanese have enlightened the metro area with a new push of Ramen restaurants, you still don’t know unless you’ve been here. The broth that is the foundation of Katsu Ramen at 1930 S. Havana St. is the brilliant nectar of an Osaka chef who spends days working on what will change your mind about what “best” really means. This is a fun, international place, unequaled in the metro area and meriting the usual line out the door.
Hmart. Just go. This is the Disneyland of grocery stores. There’s a world of amazing things to eat, see and smell just a short drive away. This superstore is a place where endless cucumbers, greens and fruits exist. The infamous Durian Fruit, which smells like a corpse, lives here, just waiting for you to take it home. Homemade dumplings, kim chi, tofu and everything that’s ever come out of Asia is stocked on shelves. The fresh and live fish selection rivals anything in the metro area. There’s a huge array of foods from Mexico and endless varieties of rice. Prepare to keep dropping your jaw.
These are just a few of the reasons close to 400,000 people live here and many more make the trek to find out what understated cool really is.
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