Best of Denver®

Best Of 2011

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Front of the House
Frasca Food and Wine
Kelly Kaoudis

The front of the house at Frasca is like a ballet: a graceful collection of choreographed movements conceived of and directed by co-owner Bobby Stuckey so that every need of every guest is always met. Each employee, from the expediter to the wine director, carries an immense amount of knowledge about the Friulian eatery, articulating answers to questions with authority. And each person knows his or her role, arriving at the exact moment he or she is needed to clear a plate, fill a bread plate or drop off a check — without intruding on a special evening or interrupting the flow of the show. That delicate dance does more than imbue an evening with an air of luxury; it also makes the food taste better.

1738 Pearl St., Boulder, 80302
MAP
303-442-6966
Best "Thai Hot"
US Thai Cafe

"Medium" isn't a server's suggestion at US Thai Cafe when a new guest innocently asks for Thai hot -- it's an order. Because US Thai's "medium" is what most places peg as "hot," a sweat-inducing smattering of fiery red chiles mixed through any dish on the menu, used with just enough restraint to allow an eater to actually taste the rest of the flavors in the excellent food. But for those thrill-seekers who crave insane levels of heat, the kitchen will punch up everything from the green papaya salad to the curry with angry-looking peppers that are probably hot enough for some sort of eating contest, guaranteed to blister your esophagus and make your adrenaline flow.

5228 W. 25th Ave., Edgwater, 80214
MAP
303-233-3345
Best 24/7 Restaurant

Late-night munchies often call for a hit of greasy Mexican food, and that's when it's time to cruise over to one of the two drive-thru Tacos Rapidos outposts. Under their red roofs, these kitchens turn out fat burritos full of creamy beans, melted orange cheddar, juicy carnitas and French fries (yes, French fries); tacos exploding with tongue, pork and beef; breakfast burritos stuffed with eggs and sausage (and available all day); French fries smothered with carne asada, guacamole and sour cream. Each dish hits the sweet spot of whatever you might be craving — which makes it particularly noteworthy that both Tacos Rapidos sling their gut-busting food 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2800 W. Evans Ave., Denver, 80219
MAP
303-935-0453
Best After-Dinner Coffee
Flagstaff House
Mark Manger

A dinner at Flagstaff House is exemplary, and service doesn't flag after the meal is done. Even the most basic form of the restaurant's after-dinner coffee program is advanced: The eatery brews a proprietary house blend, made from six different African and Asian beans. More serious caffeine hounds can order from the French-press menu, which includes single-origin roasts from Ethiopia and Kona. The same focus is applied to espresso: every shot pulled, whether for consumption straight or as a foam-topped latte or cappuccino, comes from a blend of seven kinds of espresso beans. No matter what you order, your coffee hits the table accompanied by a massive, artfully arranged tray of accoutrements, which include pastel-hued chocolate mints, various sugars in multiple colors and house-made whipped cream. With such a mélange of sweets, dessert begins to look entirely optional.

1138 Flagstaff Rd., Boulder, 80302
MAP
303-442-4640
Best Afternoon Tea
Denver Tea Room

The Denver Tea Room is tucked into a front room of a nineteenth-century Colfax mansion that now houses a bed-and-breakfast, and it's the perfect setting for lazy, weekend English-style tea service as well as book clubs, which meet in the room at night for heady intellectual discussion over hot drinks and cookies. During the holidays, the tea room (no relation to the legendary downtown spot of the same name) also serves an elaborate high tea on linen-clothed tables — or in a cozy, private parlor. Never-empty teacups supplement a multi-course affair that includes shepherd's pie, a tea tray of scones and finger sandwiches, and sweet spice cakes. You can while away several hours with this ritual, sinking back into a velvety couch in the sunroom for a long conversation.

1820 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 80218
MAP
303-321-2236
Best American Restaurant
Jonesy's EatBar

In just a few short years, Jonesy's EatBar has become one of Denver's favorite haunts for American grub, seducing diners all over the city with its sassy board of classics: incredible fries, duck-confit posole, shrimp and crawfish grits, sliders lobbed with lamb. And in true, easy American fashion, these dishes are best consumed at the bar, where you'll enjoy the quick (and quick-witted) drink-slingers who are generous with straight-up shots and equally adept at pouring cleverly fashioned cocktails that are all too easy to absorb.

400 E. 20th Ave., Denver, 80205
MAP
303-863-7473
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Best Front of the House: Frasca Food and Wine

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