Best Of :: Food & Drink
Be here. Aloha. When Denver netted a link in a first-rate restaurant chain out of Hawaii, we knew the fish was bound to be good. But this good? Roy's Cherry Creek, the sixth in chef Roy Yamaguchi's group, made a big splash when it opened this year inside the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, and it continues to make waves by offering service and food so good that few other restaurants in town can match either. And then there's the food Roy's offers, including such unusual catches as wahoo (also known as ono, it's a saltwater mackerel that's used in sushi) and monchong (also called a pomfret, it's a Pacific Ocean fish with a mellow flavor and oily texture). The kitchen even takes special care with more standard seafood, doing it in ways no one else does. The sea scallops, for example, are soy-charred, which leaves the centers soft and squishy and the flavor heightened. Tiger shrimp are sesame-encrusted and placed atop a ginger-infused plum-lime vinaigrette; swordfish are virtually steamed inside a package of nori until just cooked; and blue nose snapper gets a very light steaming and a delicate Thai-style mushroom broth. There's plenty fishy about the appetizers, too: parmesan-crispy calamari, rare ahi gently blackened around the edges, ceviche made with the freshest of white fish and scallops and enhanced with freshly diced tomatillos. Roy's is a keeper.
Readers' choice: Jax Fish House
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.
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.
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.