Best of Denver®

Best Of 2010

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Neighborhood Restaurant
Squeaky Bean
Lori Midson

You've worshiped at the shrine to Farrah Fawcett that merits its own shelf above the bar; hoofed your way through the pig platter; contemplated holding chef Max Mackissock hostage because he refuses to part with his chicken-liver mousse recipe; and shimmied while unapologetically inhaling the shake-n-bake sweetbreads. But it's Mackissock's beef cheeks that are the silent sleeper on Squeaky Bean's bang-up board of seasonally inspired dishes: The meat, long-braised, cloaked in a deep and rich veal stock and crowned with fennel and chiffonade of spinach, collapses at the swipe of a fork; right beside is a roasted potato, hollowed out and puddled with a creamy fonduta bolstered by bacon and chives, which elevates the proletarian tuber to rock-spud status. All this goodness comes from a stubbornly diminutive kitchen that's roughly the size of a pig's snout. Just imagine what Mackissock could do with more room! But then, we could never imagine the restaurant leaving this wonderful corner of Highland, where it fits so seamlessly into the fabric of the neighborhood that it's almost a shock to remember that the Bean first squeaked just last May.

3301 Tejon St., Denver, 80211
MAP
303-284-0053
Best Breakfast Under $2
Rise and Shine Biscuit Kitchen and Cafe
Cassandra Kotnik

Rise and Shine Biscuit Kitchen and Cafe, a pioneering little enterprise that shares the same Crestmoor quarters as Basil Doc's Pizza, buzzes with a heavy trade of moms toting toddlers in state-of-the-art strollers, java guzzlers and bread heads who show up bright and early for the flaky, fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits — pudgy, warm in the center and delicious on their own or slathered with butter, jam or honey. Naked, they're just $1.25; add jam or honey for another two bits. Owner and master biscuit-maker Seth Rubin always offers a biscuit of the day — bacon cheddar, Nutella, smoked Gouda and rosemary olive oil have all been recent offerings — and on Fridays, he bakes batches of beer biscuits with brews from Great Divide Brewing Company.

330 Holly St., Denver, 80220
MAP
303-322-5832
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571 Santa Fe Dr., Denver, 80204
MAP
303-534-5004
Best Blowout Brunch
Ellyngton's

The champagne just keeps flowing at the Dom Perignon Sunday Brunch, offered from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. every week in Ellyngton's, the elegant corner dining room at the Brown Palace. And the brunch buffet spread is just as sumptuous as the surroundings: There are stations that make waffles and omelets to order; stations that carve up huge haunches of meat and dish up fresh fish; salad and sushi stations; pastry stations overflowing with incredible confections. The buffet alone will run you $46.95, but since this is food fit for a king, you might as well treat yourself royally and fork over the $186.95 that will let you brunch with Dom.

321 17th St., Denver, 80202
MAP
303-297-3111
Best Dinner Under $10
Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe
Cassandra Kotnik

Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe marked its 25th anniversary this year — 25 years of serving up some of the city's best Mexican food in a northwest Denver neighborhood that was beyond sketchy when Rosa Linda's first opened and is now the hottest restaurant neighborhood in the city. To celebrate this big birthday, the Aguirre family decided to give the entire city a present: weekly specials that roll prices back to 1985. In honor of the restaurant's very first Best of Denver win, through April 7 the special is the Best of Denver Combo: one shredded beef or chicken burrito, one chile relleno, both smothered in green with a side of rice and beans, for just $5.95. But even ordering off Rosa Linda's regular menu, you can get a big dinner for under ten bucks — and the incredible hospitality from this friendly family is all free.

2005 W. 33rd Ave., Denver, 80211
MAP
303-455-0608
Best Hookah Hookup
Gypsy House Cafe

Put this in your pipe and smoke it: If you like your coffee strong and the atmosphere in which you drink it just as pungent, head for Gypsy House Cafe. The specialty here is Turkish coffee, which is a leap for the Starbucks connoisseur, but it's well worth the plunge. The food is good, the wi-fi is free — and they'll hook you up with just the right tobacco for your hookah.

1279 Marion St., Denver, 80218
MAP
303-830-1112
Best Contemporary Cocktail
Bitter Bar

Happy has made a number of adjustments since it opened in early 2009 as Happy Noodle House, most of them very smart (and earning this Big Red F venture a nod from Forbes in its "America's Best New Restaurants" lists). But none of the developments have been as happy as the evolution of the Bitter Bar, Happy's "late-night alter ego," where mixologist and partner James Lee (named one of the country's top ten mixologists by Playboy Magazine) has turned the handcrafted cocktail into a contemporary art form. At the Bitter Bar, what's old is brand-spanking-new again, as the staff gives an original twist to traditional cocktails, using local, organic, fresh ingredients — and very fresh thinking. Lee shares that thinking at regular cocktail classes that have become one of the hottest tickets in town.

835 Walnut St., Boulder, 80302
MAP
303-442-3050
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Best Neighborhood Restaurant: Squeaky Bean

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