FOOD & DRINK

Best Drive-in Atmosphere
J-B's Drive's
2501 8th Ave., Greeley

Sure, J-B's is sixty miles north of Denver, but what's a drive-in without a drive? A glorious dining experience awaits the road-weary traveler. There's ample parking with extra-wide (think farm truck!) slots under a shady awning. Each space is equipped with a lighted menu and a phone to the kitchen; within minutes a friendly, corn-fed cutie will clip a tray of fresh, hot food to your window. Fill 'er up...and before you get back in gear, check out the circa-Sixties dining room, decked out with dark paneling and plastic orange flowers.

Best Drive-in Food
Crown Burger
2192 S. Colorado Blvd.

Step on it past all the fast-food chains that litter Colorado Boulevard. Don't stop until you find the entrance to Crown Burger, a modest little drive-in just off the strip. Now comes your first decision: Do you pull up to the window, where the service is speedy, or do you venture inside, where you can spread out and concentrate on your meal? Your second decision: What, exactly, are you going to order? The chicken-fried steak sandwich? The terrific red chile? A brace of breakfast sandwiches for just a couple of bucks? A five-egg omelette that won't cost you any more? The cooks will accommodate just about any peculiar request, to the point of cooking omelettes with just egg whites and even stocking one regular's favorite no-fat cheese. This place is truly love at first bite.

Best Untouched Decor in a Restaurant
Colacci's
816 Main St., Louisville

Colacci's has been a spaghetti institution practically since the beginning of time--as we know it, at least. Its classic Fifties bowling alley interior is a dank yet delightful trip into bobby-sox land--peek into the kitchen and you'll see kids horsing around while heaping plates of homemade noodles and monstrous meatballs are dished up out of big plastic dishpans. Eat up.

Best Place to Be Seen
Barolo Grill
3030 E. 6th Ave.

With food as good as Barolo's, it's hard to imagine that anyone could pay attention to anything other than what's on his plate. Still, Barolo has become the place for Denver's "glitterati"--such as it is. Sit near the windows for the first glimpse at who's coming in with whom.

Best Outdoor Deck
Cadillac Ranch
Larimer Square

This is definitely the best place to see--almost anything. From this second-floor rooftop patio, you've got a view of the mountains, the city, the Tivoli, the college students, the colleges, the revelers from the rest of Larimer Square, the sky. No matter where your gaze rests, you'll get an eyeful.

Readers' choice: Jimmy's Grille

Best Place to Avoid Turkeys
The Vegetarian Thanksgiving Potluck
There's a reason why Thanksgiving is called "Turkey Day"--a reason that leaves vegetarians on the outside looking in. But thanks to the Vegetarian Society of Colorado, meat-abhorrers have a safe, fleshless haven where they can give thanks with others of their ilk. At the Vegetarian Thanksgiving Potluck, lacto-ovo-vegetarians and strict vegans alike can break bread, tofu lasagna and quinoa pudding together. Everyone brings a dish for twelve and an ingredient card that informs diners of different veggie disciplines what they're about to dig into; the result is a big, friendly affair (kids welcome) where no one cries fowl.

Best Free Breakfast (With Politics)
The State Capitol
Meet your congressional representatives and fill your belly simultaneously. Every morning, five days a week, while the Colorado Legislature is in session, various civic groups sponsor a "legislative coffee" on the second floor of the State Capitol. The spread usually includes fruit, pastries, coffee, juice, tea--and healthy portions of shmooze you may have to stomach.

Best Free Dinner (With Religion)
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
1400 Cherry St.

The devotees meditate on Krishna as they prepare dinner, the theory being that everyone who eats the chow is imbued with "Krishna Consciousness." During the free Sunday-night feeds, they're certainly imbued with a large sense of well-being; fortunately, the recruitment is kept to a minimum. The incense is thick, the portions substantial, and the atmosphere beats that of any soup kitchen.

Best Breakfast Under $2
Louie's Cafeteria
1525 Sherman St.

While most of the clientele consists of public servants, you'll be serving yourself at Louie's--and happily so. Located on the first floor of the State Services building, the open-to-the-public eatery offers a different special every day, making it easy to eat here frequently and not break the budget. Egg-filled burritos, French toast and omelettes head the rotation, and owner Louie Betts and his ultrafriendly staff also offer one of the best Danish and juice selections around. Get your caffeine fix here, too: There's a coffee special of the day, featuring such eye-openers as raspberry-infused espresso with a shot of steamed milk.

Readers' choice: McDonald's

Best Buttermilk Biscuits
Nancy's Restaurant
825 Walnut St., Boulder

A spokeswoman for Nancy's lays the groundwork best: "It's a basket full of biscuits," she explains, when a fan presses for particulars. "And there are three biscuits in a basket. And they're buttermilk." That's okay, as far as it goes. But also consider: The buttermilk biscuits are big and buttery and (on the outside, anyway) bumpy. On the inside, they're hot and soft--even mushy--and melt away in your mouth like a thin chocolate shaving. Such sin so early in the day.

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