Best of Denver®

Best Of 2011


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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Indian Restaurant
Mirch Indian Grill

The southern suburbs, with their mega-priced steakhouses, chain horrors and multimillion-dollar mansions, are hardly where you'd expect to find the most interesting Indian restaurant in the city — hustling Indian street food, no less. The two Mirch Indian Grill outposts are brightly hued, comfortably informal shrines to Bollywood, where Indian pop music pulsates from the speakers while the kitchen turns out authentic foods that have made that country a culinary mecca. The menu, which reads like a personal travelogue, is full of beautifully prepared, flavor-bombed dishes, including "Frankies," griddled rotis smeared with chutney and a thin layer of scrambled egg and rolled with cubed lamb, chicken or potatoes; somosa chaat spread with yogurt, chutneys and chickpeas; meaty kabobs; and aloo tikki, crisp potato patties lashed with bold spices. Just make sure to save stomach space for the diabolically good mango ice-cream sandwiches.

8000 E. Belleview Ave., Englewood, 80111
9234 Park Meadows Dr., Littleton, 80124
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
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
2345 W. Alameda Ave., Denver, 80223
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
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
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

Best Indian Restaurant: Mirch Indian Grill


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