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Old Town

As new ethnic enclaves appear, the originals die off.

"By June, I venture we'll be gone," Master says of Mel's. But for those of you (like me) who are a little heartbroken over the thought of losing such a Denver institution, there's hope. Mel dangled the possibility of reopening Mel's in a new location once both Montecitos are going smoothly.

"It's a very, very real possibility," he said. "But it's not something I can really talk about at this time."

Leftovers:Judging from the recent vote on AOL's CityGuide Denver, Snoozeis everyone's favorite breakfast joint, a place that just screams Denver in the early-morning hours. Not to me, of course, a sentiment I shared in last year's review of Snooze ("Pancake Apocalypse," July 6), as well as when I re-reviewed the place in the January 18 Second Helping. That critique prompted an inspired defense from the owner's brother, whose February 1 letter prompted a couple from other Denver diners who might not be crazy about me, but definitely find Snooze a snooze.

"Jason Sheehan's Pynchon-on-meth 'pancake pinup stories' verbiage aside, I can tell you one thing: The very same week he dedicated Second Helping to Snooze, I had the privilege of eating the very same thing he wrote derisively about (corned beef hash) -- and my experience was identical," writes Jonathan Armstrong. "Honestly, how did you make the meat that tough? I have mixed feelings about Sheehan the writer. (Don't get me wrong; his writing is excellent -- providing you like profanity and consider 'Jason Sheehan' an interesting subject.) However, as a food critic, he's generally spot-on -- and unfortunately for Snooze, I have a feeling that our collective corned beef hash experience fits a larger pattern. Snooze is the sort of place we all want to like. However, if my experience is any indication, Snooze has a long way to go before it's the Dottie's True Blue Cafe of Denver."

And this from Rachel Reid: "I am not one to write in to publications, but after reading the letter from the brother of Snooze's owner, I could not resist. Being a resident of Old Town Littleton, I take great offense to his strip-mall comment! If he actually left his neighborhood, he would know that there are many great urban areas outside of his zip code. Has he never been to Highland, Olde Town Arvada, Washington Park? These areas have great independent shops and restaurants. I have been to Snooze, and it is a fine restaurant if you don't mind waiting fifteen minutes for the waitress to actually take your order! If the owner cannot take reviews on his restaurant, he should get out of the kitchen!"

Straight-up popularity contests like the recent AOL effort help explain why we ask readers to vote on only a portion of our Best of Denver categories. (The poll for Best of Denver 2007 debuts on page 68 of this issue.) It's not that I don't love you guys; it's not that I don't trust your opinions. But let's just say there are some restaurateurs out there as bent as any old-time Louisiana ward-heeler, using ballot-stuffing, vote-rigging, bribery and coercion as though they invented them to get their restaurants' names into the paper. If you have honest suggestions for restaurants deserving of awards, I'd love to hear them. (And yes, I read the poll results.) Just don't tell me that McDonald's has the best fries, that your brother's restaurant is the second coming of La Tour d'Argent or that your mom makes the best pancakes in the city, okay? Polls are due March 9; the Best of Denver hits the streets March 29.

In the meantime, I'm still looking for the restaurant that really says Denver to you, as discussed in last week's Bite Me. Send comments to editorial@westword. com, or post them on my From the Gut blog at www.westword. com/blogs. That's also where we'll post daily reports on Denver Restaurant Week through March 2.

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