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Best Of 2008


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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Place to Embarrass Yourself While Dressing Up
Casa Bonita

With the cliff-diving and flame-throwing, the gorilla and the caves, the venerable Mexican restaurant Casa Bonita is all about the experience. So why not get a group of friends together to pose for a souvenir to remember it — like an Old West photo? It sounds like a great idea...until you realize what you've signed up for. If you're a lady, the photographer hands you a skirt and a corset and sends you behind a curtain. With maybe two feet between the curtain and the wall and even less room between you and your friends, you have to change. It's hot, and you're full from that last sopaipilla you shouldn't have eaten, and now you have to squeeze into a corset. For the full effect, you have to take off what you're wearing, which makes you wonder how often they wash this corset you're about to put against your bare skin. And while you're complaining, a crowd of children gathers to be entertained by your plight. "Is this part of the show?" they ask, laughing as you step out from behind the curtain. Luckily, the photographer wants serious faces, because you can no longer muster a smile. Now, say cheese.

6715 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood, 80214
Best All-in-One Date Destination

Just a few years ago, the most romantic thing going on East Colfax was the Kitty's on Clarkson Street. That changed when the Tattered Cover and Twist & Shout moved into the former Lowenstein Theater complex. Recent additions have transformed the once-abandoned block into a stimulating spot — and an ideal place to break the ice on a first date. The Tattered Cover's coffee and comfortable chairs provide the setting for a get-to-know-you chat, while Encore Restaurant, with its low lighting and extensive wine list, is a nice noshing option. If things go well, take in a movie on one of Neighborhood Flix Cinema & Cafe's canoodle-friendly couches. And if things don't go well, you can always ease the pain with a little browsing at the record store. The place is much more telling — and a lot more fun — than an eHarmony compatibility profile.

Best Bags With a Mission

We all need a good shopping bag these days, one that's durable and pretty and won't lose its cool when stuffed full of fresh produce. For one thing, it's good for the environment, but where Mission Wear is concerned, it's also good for the community: The nonprofit not only produces a pleasing selection of said bags from natural, organic and recycled fabrics, but it does so while providing jobs for former women convicts now trying to find their footing in the mainstream world.

Best Beer Package
Microbrew Walking Tour Package<br>Grand Hyatt Denver

The Grand Hyatt Downtown is always looking for hotel packages that will make guests feel good, so when the hotel's Maryann Yuthas came up with the idea for a self-guided Microbrew Walking Tour Package more than five years ago, it was a natural. And over the years, the tour has worked out well enough to keep the buzz going. The weekend package includes overnight accommodations, two pints each at the Denver ChopHouse & Brewery, Rock Bottom Brewery and the Wynkoop Brewing Company; one pint at Breckenridge Brewery; and one flight of beer and a 20 percent discount on beer and gear at Great Divide Brewing Company. "This really delivers Denver," Yuthas says. Indeed it does.

1750 Welton St., Denver, 80202
Best Boutique Hotel — Downtown
Hotel Monaco

Hotel Monaco pushes its pet-friendliness — a "goldfish companion" is available if you're not traveling with your own furry pal. But it's the treatment of the human clientele that really stands out, from the solicitous concierge to the evening wine hour to the on-premises Renaissance Aveda Spa & Salon to the top-flight meals at Panzano. It's the kind of rose-petal-turndown place that builds a loyal following even among hardened business travelers and makes locals plan exotic weekend getaways in the heart of the city, of all places.

1717 Champa St., Denver, 80202
Best Boutique Hotel — Near Downtown
The Burnsley

Close enough to the urban core to be a short walk or free shuttle ride to downtown amenities, but far enough away to provide free parking, the Burnsley is a class act. The all-suite rooms are spacious, many with great views of the skyline — yet they're half the cost of what you'd pay for a marble-lined broom closet just a few blocks away. The staff is friendly, the neighborhood calm, and the restaurant serves a killer Reuben, which makes this the perfect place to stash visiting relatives or tightwad business associates looking to live large but not too large.

1000 Grant St., Denver, 80203

Best Place to Embarrass Yourself While Dressing Up: Casa Bonita


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