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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best authentic English tea

Along with cards, ceramic figures, earrings and ornaments, the Gift Box has always boasted several shelves lined with English jams, biscuits, chocolates, condiments and even cleaning supplies, along with a freezer crammed with crumpets, sausage rolls, pasties and bangers; homesick Britishers have been known to visit just to smell the Dettol. But owners David and Carole Scribner always envisioned something more: a genuine English tearoom. So this year, when they moved into a larger location a few doors down from their original shop, they added tables, chairs and china and placed lacy curtains over the windows. And in April, the Gift Box began serving tea -- a real English tea. The scones here are nothing like the huge, sweet, triangular pastries familiar to most Americans; they're small, warm ovals, waiting to be slathered with butter or jam and Devonshire cream. The assortment of crustless finger sandwiches includes cucumber on brown bread, of course. There are woolly tea cozies on all the teapots, inside of which the tea is properly brewed, fine and strong. And should you have any question about which goes into the cup first, the tea or the milk, Carole will be happy to enlighten you. This isn't the ineffably elegant tea served by big hotels and accompanied by harp music and obsequious servers, nor the display of mimsy tidbits favored by certain society hostesses. It's just what tea is supposed to be: a nice mid-afternoon pick-me-up; a proper cuppa with a bit of something savory, a bit of something sweet.

Best restaurant when you're in the Zone

The Mercury Cafe is the ultimate Zone zone -- not just because it offers nutritious dishes that pull from all of the food groups in ways you can easily regroup to fit your ideal zone, but because after you eat, you'll likely be pulled into some swing dancing that will take you straight to your ideal heart-rate target area. For 25 years now, the Merc has been a hip-hoppy, snap-happy spot that serves great food for carnivores and vegetarians (vegans, lacto-ovo, macro-micro, you name it) alike, in a fun atmosphere filled with dancing, music theater, poetry and any kind of art you can think of (and then some). Ponder life's possibilities as you put away an order of Susan Jane's tofu chop with rice and veggies, or a Santa Fe breakfast of beans, rice, corn, cheese and green chile, or shrimp fettuccine tossed with hot peppers and olive oil. Naturally, everything's homemade from whole grains, natural sweeteners and cold-pressed oils; owner Marilyn Megenity even makes her own soda pop. Get with the program at Denver's zone away from home.

Best restaurant when you're in the Zone
Mercury Cafe
Cassandra Kotnik

The Mercury Cafe is the ultimate Zone zone -- not just because it offers nutritious dishes that pull from all of the food groups in ways you can easily regroup to fit your ideal zone, but because after you eat, you'll likely be pulled into some swing dancing that will take you straight to your ideal heart-rate target area. For 25 years now, the Merc has been a hip-hoppy, snap-happy spot that serves great food for carnivores and vegetarians (vegans, lacto-ovo, macro-micro, you name it) alike, in a fun atmosphere filled with dancing, music theater, poetry and any kind of art you can think of (and then some). Ponder life's possibilities as you put away an order of Susan Jane's tofu chop with rice and veggies, or a Santa Fe breakfast of beans, rice, corn, cheese and green chile, or shrimp fettuccine tossed with hot peppers and olive oil. Naturally, everything's homemade from whole grains, natural sweeteners and cold-pressed oils; owner Marilyn Megenity even makes her own soda pop. Get with the program at Denver's zone away from home.

2199 California St., Denver, 80205
MAP
303-294-9258
Best restaurant when you're on the Atkins Diet

Tired of living off the fat of the land? Need more meat in your diet? Get yer sloppy carcass over to the Denver Buffalo Company, which has been hooking hungry cowpokes up with buffalo for eleven years now. The Western-themed eatery has seventeen ways to eat the ornery creature at high noon, and that many more through happy hour and dinner; a recently added bar menu features a few favorites, such as the buffalo stroganoff and the club steak, for cheap. The DBC even sells uncooked buffalo so you can satisfy the good doctor's meaty requirements in the privacy of your own home. Since buffalo's been around since before the concept of ketosis was even created, you can bet this ultra-lean meat will treat your body right. And if it just so happens you have a hankering to cheat on Dr. Atkins, there's no better way to get a carbo load than a side of hearty hand-mashed potatoes.

Best restaurant when you're on the Atkins Diet

Tired of living off the fat of the land? Need more meat in your diet? Get yer sloppy carcass over to the Denver Buffalo Company, which has been hooking hungry cowpokes up with buffalo for eleven years now. The Western-themed eatery has seventeen ways to eat the ornery creature at high noon, and that many more through happy hour and dinner; a recently added bar menu features a few favorites, such as the buffalo stroganoff and the club steak, for cheap. The DBC even sells uncooked buffalo so you can satisfy the good doctor's meaty requirements in the privacy of your own home. Since buffalo's been around since before the concept of ketosis was even created, you can bet this ultra-lean meat will treat your body right. And if it just so happens you have a hankering to cheat on Dr. Atkins, there's no better way to get a carbo load than a side of hearty hand-mashed potatoes.

Best long john

Sometimes a plain doughnut just won't do -- and that's when Henderson's Long Johns go a long way toward filling any craving. Instead of forcing sugar fiends to dig through two inches of dough before they get to the creamy center, Henderson's makes all of its Johns plain. After you order one -- chocolate-coated, sugar-powdered or glazed -- they'll take it to the back counter, slice it lengthwise, and then slather in your choice of fluffy whipped cream or Bavarian custard. With that sinful two-inch-thick mortar in place and the lid back on, these confections look more like hoagies than doughnuts, and the first bite can send a load of creamy filling shooting out the back. But, oh, what a glorious mess.

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Best authentic English tea: The Gift Box

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