Best of Denver® 2014
This is the thirtieth-anniversary edition of the Best of Denver, and the city’s never looked better.
In many ways, it’s almost unrecognizable from the Denver we celebrated in the Best of Denver 1984, which hit the much-less-crowded streets almost seven years after this paper published its first edition, in 1977. That first Best of Denver was the biggest issue we’d published up to that point — and about the size of an average weekly edition today. We were still a decade away from archiving our print stories at westword.com, two decades away from pushing our Best of Denver Readers’ Poll vote there, three decades away from today, when we publish dozens of new stories on our four blogs every weekday, including Best of Denver lists that highlight not just the winners, but top contenders.
But while Denver in 2014 is a changed city from Denver in 1984, some very familiar landmarks continue to stand out, winners from thirty years ago that remain unbeatable: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Tattered Cover Bookstore, and so many more.
Since that first Best of Denver issue, we’ve handed out more than 15,000 awards — thirty of which are celebrated in Noah Van Sciver’s illustrated look at the Best of Denver through the decades that starts on page 12. Some categories — Best Mobile Hot Tub? — have disappeared, reflecting how trends come and go in a boom-and-bust-and-boom town; others, like the sections devoted to recreational pot, are just beginning to heat up.
Through thirty years of Best Ofs, two things have never changed. Although we’ve always polled our readers for their votes in dozens of categories, they represent just a fraction of the total categories in the Best of Denver — and the readers’ choices are noted by a line at the end of the editorial pick. (Why? Short answer: For nearly thirty years, our readers picked McDonald’s for Best French Fries, and while we respect the popular vote, an issue packed with answers like that would have all the nutrition of a fast-food meal.) And from the start, we made the cow the symbol of the Best of Denver. Back in the about-to-bust days of 1984, city boosters were worried that Denver’s cowtown reputation was holding us back. But from what? Over the years, residents — Denver natives and newcomers alike — have wisely come to recognize that this city’s Western heritage helps make Denver special. Entrepreneurs can wear cowboy boots and write computer code; city slickers can take in the National Western Stock Show one day, a rock concert the next.
The Best of Denver has become a giant beast of an issue that celebrates so much about what we love in this city, including its cowtown heritage. While we can’t honor everything every year, taken as a whole, the thirty years of the Best of Denver add up to one big love letter to our town. And as we send this 31st edition to press, we’re still high on the Mile High City.
Find more Best of Denver® winners:
- Best Art-As-Autobiography ShowAdam Milner: Wave so I know you're real
- Best Non-Venue VenueMutiny Information Cafe
- Best One-Person ShowWendy Ishii, The Year of Magical Thinking
- Best Free EntertainmentThe Narrators
- Best Arty New BuildingBroadway Triangle, by tres birds workshop
- Best New BuildingCU Denver Academic Building, by Anderson Mason Dale
- Best Book on Denver ArchitectureGuide to Denver Architecture
- Best Fresh Take on the Western Tradition — GroupWestern not Western
- Cannes Report: Timothy Spall Gives the Performance of His Career in Mr. Turner
- Best Brewery Tap Room — BeerRiver North Brewery
- Best First-Date RestaurantAce
- Best Breakfast TacosMoontower Tacos
- Best ReubenBagel Deli
- Best Free Chips and SalsaEmilio's
- Best Place to Drink a Latte or a Beer While Playing TriviaRooster and Moon Coffee Pub
- Best PosoleLa California Panaderia
- Best Rooftop PatioAle House at Amato's
- Best Post-Yoga Lunch SpotNectar House Cafe
- Best Vegan Dish in a Non-Vegan RestaurantSputnik
- Best Vegetarian Dish in a Non-Vegetarian RestaurantFruition
- Best Hot DogBiker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
- Best Vegetarian RestaurantNative Foods
- Best Salad Where You'd Least Expect ItScratch Burrito and Happy Tap
- Best Sandwich ShopLas Tortas
- Best Farmers' MarketBoulder Farmers' Market
- Best BakeryThe Denver Bread Company
- Best Wine ShopMr. B's Wine and Spirits
- Best Liquor StoreArgonaut Wine & Liquor
- Best Neighborhood Liquor StoreLittle's Wine and Spirits
- Best Magic StoreMago's Magic Shoppe
- Best Neighborhood Gardening StoreCity Floral Garden Center
- Best Store for Witchy Goods and ServicesHerbs & Arts
- Best Indoor MallCherry Creek Shopping Center
- Best Pop-Up StoreDenver Fashion Truck
- Best Fashion-Supporting SpaceFashion Design Center Denver
- Best Small-Business EmpirePandora/Soul Haus
- Best Collision of Couture and ArtGoldyn
- Best Used MenswearFound Above Ground
- Best New MenswearSteadbrook
- Best Hope for IV Drug UsersHarm Reduction Action Center
- Best BroncoPeyton Manning
- Best Radio Sports ShowThe Locker Room 102.3 ESPN Denver
- Best TV SportscasterLionel Bienvenu
- Best Sports AnnouncerKyle Speller
- Best Coach — CollegeTad Boyle
- Best Coach — ProfessionalPatrick Roy
- Best Sports Team — CollegeUniversity of Colorado men's basketball
- Best MascotDenver Boone
Westword readers went wild this year on the Best of Denver 2014 Readers' Poll, voting on their choices for everything from Best Restaurant to Best Bronco to Best Hair on a TV Personality -- in both male and female categories. The competition was fierce, but when all the votes were...more
- Five Best Movie Theaters for Food and Drink in Denver
- Time Travel at South Broadway's Fifty Two '80s Store, Where Nostalgia Runs Deep
- The Five Best Flea Markets in Metro Denver
- Ten Reasons the Mercury Cafe Should Stay Open Another Forty Years
- The Five Best Sites for Looking at Denver's Past
- Six Best Spanish-Language Karaoke Bars in Denver
- Reader: Your Advice on Where to Eat — Especially Italian! — Is Cow Poop
- Does 9News "Backyard" Segment Pass the Smell Test?
- The Ten Best Movie Events in Denver in April
- Rest of the Best of Denver 2015 — and Kyle Clark's "Job Well Done"
- Reader: Why Go Out for Burgers When You Can Make the Best at Home?
- The Five Best Happy Hours in Denver
- Finding the Best Burger in Denver
- Reader: Mercantile Is Definitely the Best New Restaurant in Denver