Best Of Food & Drink
Best Paleo Dish
Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place
Eating paleo means more than just scarfing down meat. A commitment to an ancestral lifestyle includes outdoor activity, a sense of play, and eating the whole, natural foods available to our hunter-gatherer forebears. There's no room in the diet for grains, especially wheat, which plays well at places that are...
Best Greek Restaurant
"Then all day long until sunset we sat dining on a bounty of meat and fine wine, and then we went to sleep on the beach." That quote from the Odyssey tops the web page of Axios Estiatorio, and you might be tempted to take a nice, long nap after...
Best Bloody Mary Bar
Punch Bowl — Social Food & Drink
Punch Bowl specializes in punches — and activities and games galore — but you'll be bowled over by the Bloody Mary bar offered during the weekend brunches that start at the eye-opening hour of 8 a.m. And you'll need your eyes wide open to take in the incredible array of...
Best Dim Sum
It doesn't matter what time you show up at Star Kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday, because the clock is always stuck on "full and frenetic." Above the rising decibel of deliberating diners, you're marshaled — and sometimes jostled — to your table by a hurried host or hostess. And...
Best Break-Up Restaurant
Your romance started with such promise — perhaps even right next door at Ace. But now all the games are over, and you're ready to break it off for good. There's no better place to deliver the bad news than Steuben's. For starters, the place is always packed and the...
Best New Neighborhood Restaurant
Most chefs, at least the sensible ones, don't open restaurants on dozing neighborhood streets where there's minimal traffic — of both the car and foot variety. But Peter Ryan, chef-owner of the Plimoth, has never been a conformist. He filled the unassuming, dimly lit space with reclaimed wooden tables and...
Best Breakfast Burrito — Eat In
Day or night, El Tejado attracts the most eclectic crowd around: Denver cops and paramedics grabbing a quick meal, hipsters making their way through buckets of Coronas, Spanish-speaking work crews slurping oysters and big shrimp cocktails. But our go-to order at El Tejado is the breakfast burrito: a big, fat...
Best Chef's Counter
Chef Jennifer Jasinski has had a stellar year, with a starring role on Top Chef Masters and winning a James Beard Award. But long before seats at the chef's counter of the now nearly ten-year-old Rioja became the most coveted spots in town, Jasinski and her staff were ready for...
Best Hot Dog
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
In 2005, a former repo man plunked down a hot-dog cart on the 16th Street Mall, an area that had seen plenty of hot-dog carts before. But its owner, Jim Pittenger, definitely wasn't a typical wiener-slinger, and these weren't typical wieners. Biker Jim, as he's now known locally and nationally...
Best French Restaurant
Z Cuisine Parisian Bistrot
From the shabby-chic decor to the peeling couture posters on the outer brick wall, Z Cuisine captures the ambience of another time and place. Despite its location in uber-hip LoHi, Z maintains a low-key charm and old-world pace, even when packed to the rafters. This could be because owner Patrick...
Best Dessert Under $2
Two bucks doesn't buy much these days — maybe half a cupcake or a Hershey bar. But at Denver's Pizzeria Locale, a fast-casual version of the Boulder pizza temple, all it takes is two George Washingtons to end your meal of pizza mais, pork meatballs and arugula salad on a...
Best New Coffeehouse
Steam Espresso Bar
Remember when people used to plunk down in tattered couches and armchairs, java in hand, to read the paper or chat the morning away? That's so yesterday. With its sleek community table, vases of lilies and black-and-white decor that could fill a page from a design catalogue, Steam Espresso Bar...
Best Food Cart
Little Man on Wheels
The giant milk can that houses Little Man Ice Cream has become a landmark in LoHi, attracting long lines of ice cream fans on even the coldest days. But in the warmer months, Little Man now takes it to the streets with Little Man on Wheels, a custom bike cart...
Best Thai Restaurant
Thai Diamond Cafe
Once you pass through the humble exterior, if the beautifully serene interior of Thai Diamond Cafe doesn't capture your attention, the smashing dishes certainly will. The menu travels all over Thailand, and while there's nothing groundbreaking on the board — no curry, soup or noodle dish that you may not...
Best Breakfast Burrito — To Go
For more than six decades, La Popular has sold the town's best tamales from an old storefront on Lawrence Street. But when we really need to get our engine going in the morning, we'll stop by and bag a breakfast burrito to go. This is not the dainty little foil-wrapped...
Best Rooftop Patio
Ale House at Amato's
It's 5 p.m. on a Friday — or any day, really. Or any time. You need a beer or a glass of wine or a cocktail, a nice view, maybe a bite to eat and a dose of Colorado sunshine. There's no better spot to find all of the above...
Best Contemporary-Cocktail Bar
Williams & Graham
What's old is new again at Williams & Graham, the sexy, stylish speakeasy that Todd Colehour and Sean Kenyon opened in late 2011 in a circa-1906 building in LoHi. This was our Best New Bar two years ago, and since then, it's only gotten better — and the lines longer...
Best South American Restaurant
For years, Cafe Brazil has been the go-to spot for Denverites looking for a taste of South America. Unlike most of the Brazilian restaurants in this country, it isn't a churrascaria, but rather a proper Brazilian restaurant that offers all the greatest hits of a canon that spans several countries...
Best Vegetarian Restaurant
Native Foods might be a link in a California-based chain, but it's also one of the best things to have happened to vegetarians in Denver all year. Plus, it's one of the most carnivore-friendly plant-based restaurants you'll ever visit, with an emphasis on meat substitutes (seitan, "chicken" and more) that...
Best Vietnamese Crepes
Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant
If you're looking for Julia Child-style crepes, don't go to Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant. Inside this tiny, cheerful hole-in-the-wall, with its pink façade and green and blue walls, owner Thuy Pham caters to the vegetarian and vegan sets, so her crepes shun the eggs, white flour and cream that Child used...
Best Ice in a Bar
Most of us think of ice as, well, ice, but if you're a bartender — especially a drink-slinger who belongs to the professorial cocktail brotherhood — ice is the most crucial part of a drink, if for no other reason than it comprises most of what's in your cocktail. The...
Cannes Report: Timothy Spall Gives the Performance of His Career in Mr. Turner
If you’ve ever loved a terrible person, Mike Leigh’s quietly sensational Cannes competition entry, Mr. Turner -- a biopic, of sorts, covering the last 25 years of the life of the great nineteenth-century British painter J.M.W. Turner – is the movie for you. In his seascapes and landscapes, Turner found...
BRU handbuilt ales & eats
Many Colorado brewpubs — places that make their own beer as well as their own food — have elevated their beers to Rocky Mountain levels over the past few years, and some of them are trying to match those mountains when it comes to their menus. But BRU handbuilt ales...
Chai & Chai
A proper dosa — the wafer-thin, honey-hued, crackly crepe made from finely ground rice and black lentils that's a staple in Southern India — overhangs the plate by several inches. At Chai & Chai, an off-the-beaten-path sleeper in Aurora that doles out both Indian and Arabic dishes, the dosa spans...
Best Post-Yoga Lunch Spot
Nectar House Cafe
Nectar House, a sly little restaurant nestled inside Kindness Yoga, is an organic nosher's paradise that features a simple menu of enticing superfood salads, smoothies and creamy desserts. The "Rawben" Sandwich — a very loose take on a Reuben — is the signature entree, piling avocado, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing...
Best Japanese Restaurant
Years ago, eating raw fish in this country seemed like something you'd do to haze the unsuspecting sorority girl from Iowa who'd never traveled beyond the cornfield. Now sushi-centric restaurants dot every curb and corner, but the best Japanese restaurants go way beyond the raw and the rolled. And Sushi...
Best Wood-Fired Chicken
"Basta" translates to "enough" in Italian, and true to the name of the Boulder restaurant that Kelly Whitaker opened in 2010, you can never get enough of the food — whether you order the wood-fired pizzas, roasted vegetables, lasagna or, most notably, the sensational wood-roasted chicken, which flies high above...
Best Salad Where You'd Least Expect It
Scratch Burrito and Happy Tap
With a name like Scratch Burrito, you'd expect to find bulging, tortilla-wrapped creations when you walk through the door. And with a name like Clay Markwell — formerly of TAG — in the kitchen, you'd expect them to be good. What you wouldn't expect, though, is for a salad to...
Best Front-of-the-House Staff
At this lovely restaurant, chef Brett Shaheen turns out Italian-inspired dishes that deserve standing ovations (his pappardelle with venison and chicken-liver mousse is remarkable), and he'll bring your clapping to a roar with his crimson-hued lamb chops plated with a mushroom turnover. But it's the effervescent presence of front-of-the-house veteran...
Best Sandwich Shop
At Las Tortas, the only thing louder than the thumping of the music is the sizzling from the griddle, so you'll need to lean closer to the person across the table and shout just to be heard. But once your sandwiches come, there's no time for talking, much less shouting,...
Best Restaurant Bottle-Beer List
Falling Rock Tap House
Falling Rock Tap House is decorated with hundreds of beer bottles — but that's not even the most impressive part of its glassware. For years, this craft-beer bucket-list spot has boasted a bottle list that includes rare Belgian specialties, ever-rarer craft-beer delights, and bottles that you can't get anywhere else...
"I think I love you," swooned the woman at the bar, her proclamation intended for the bartender who'd just slid a textbook-perfect Manhattan under her nose. Marcel Templet, the veteran who's been behind the booze at Capital Grille for ten years, is an everyman's bartender, an effortlessly affable guy who's...
Best New Restaurant Neighborhood
Even before Coors Field opened in 1995, what would become the Ballpark neighborhood — and was then known as NoDough — had a lot of promise. Over the past year, that promise was finally realized, with all those turn-of-the-last-century warehouses now filled to bursting with residences and offices, and the...
Best Seafood Restaurant
Jax Fish House
When chef-restaurateur Dave Query opened the first Jax Fish House in a weathered brick building in downtown Boulder two decades ago, he managed to turn at least a few bohemian veg heads into fish heads. Now, with four locations in Colorado — Boulder, LoDo, Glendale and Fort Collins — he's...
Devil's Food Bakery & Cookery
Nothing beats a hot crepe slathered in Nutella — unless it's a crepe slathered in Nutella at Devil's Food, the Washington Park eatery that feels like a home away from home. But with graters on the wall and '60s-style appliances in the dining room, the home it feels like is...
Best Chef Comeback
Matt Selby has always been a brilliant chef, and by chef, we mean a guy whose fervent passion for cooking is all-consuming. He is, first and foremost, a cook, knocking his tattooed knuckles against scalding pots and pans, shrugging at the long-lasting scars. He's happiest on the line, touching ingredients...
Best Brewery Tap Room — Beer
River North Brewery
Day after day, beer after beer, River North Brewery, which opened a few blocks east of Coors Field in 2012, continues to kill it with its Belgian-styled beer and barrel-aging program. Owned by Matt and Jessica Hess, the brewery serves a regular lineup that includes a Belgian-style wit, a Belgian...
Best Veggie Burger
There's not a lot besides burgers and shakes on the menu at your neighborhood Park Burger. But the eateries (a fourth is coming soon) don't need much more than a darn good burger to thrive in this cowtown — especially when that something extra just happens to be the city's...
Best Frozen Custard
To true custard lovers, ice cream always seems like a poor relation, doing its best to keep up appearances. The stuff lacks the creaminess, the rich texture, the sheer yolkiness of a good custard. And the custard churned out by Cloud 9 is the real deal, offered in just two...
Best Eggs Benedict
Sunday brunch is a relaxed, homey meal, which is why the best brunch spots are usually places you can walk to, kids in the stroller, dogs on a leash. But when you have a hankering for the town's best eggs Benedict, you'll need to jump in the car or hop...
Although Barolo Grill has always been synonymous with owner and front-of-house face Blair Taylor, even he would admit that the talent behind the sublime food at this elegantly rustic sanctum of northern Italian cuisine is sous-turned-superhero chef Darrel Truett. Despite his low profile, Truett is the high priest of high...
Best Pho Restaurant
When it comes to pho, the difference between the best and all the rest may seem like splitting noodles. But what makes Pho Le stand out is slightly sweet but intoxicatingly perfumed broth. What the broth lacks in restraint it makes up for in the pure and genuine flavors of...
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant
Although Damascus Grill has been in its Littleton location for a decade, the depth of its menu has not changed in that time. Too many Middle Eastern restaurants are content to serve a greatest-hits menu of hummus, falafel and kabobs. But this institution pushes past popularity to reveal a deeper,...
Best Coffee Shop for Shopping
The Weathervane Cafe
Stepping into the Weathervane Cafe is like walking into a quiet living room — with a coffee bar in it, and a vintage clothing store operating out of the upstairs bedrooms. The coffee shop is small but charming, with antique knickknacks and paintings placed just so, and what sounds like...
Best Brewery Tap Room — Ambience
Station 26 Brewing
There's nothing like a firehouse to make someone feel safe and secure. But Station 26 — which opened late last year inside a former firehouse — has its own special glow. The space has been renovated with a beautiful wraparound bar, slick lighting fixtures and a large patio out front...
Best Indian Restaurant
The best time to visit Khazana is not for lunch, when the buffet at this off-the-eaten-path Lone Tree Indian restaurant looks all too familiar. But if you come for dinner, you'll find delicate, bronze-tinged dosas paved with a beguiling mix of curried potatoes and onions; Indo-Chinese dishes like cauliflower slicked...
Best Breakfast Tacos
If you've ever been to South Texas, then you understand the unwavering fidelity of the region's residents to breakfast tacos. So when Austin transplant Brent Thrash opened Moontower Tacos last year with an all-day breakfast board of tacos, it quickly became a go-to joint not just for breakfast, but for...
Best Ice Cream/Gelato Shop
Sweet Action Ice Cream
All those Americans who say that vanilla is their favorite flavor clearly haven't licked a cone from Sweet Action Ice Cream. This shop continues to impress us with its ever-changing roster of vegan and non-vegan offerings, which are inventive but not so over the top that they seem like concoctions...
Best Barbecue Restaurant
Boney's Smokehouse BBQ
The best just got better last year, when Boney's Smokehouse — Lamont and Trina Lynch's downtown, down-home restaurant — moved into a bigger space just a few doors away. Tucked in the basement, the new Boney's can be hard to find, but it's definitely worth the search...and some advance planning,...
Best 24/7 Restaurant
It's good to be king. It's even better to be at Breakfast King when everyone else is asleep and you're looking for a home away from home, a home where the friendly, wisecracking servers know not just your name, but your regular order. That's likely to be chicken-fried steak smothered...
Best New Brewery Tap Room
Yes, Epic Brewing got its start in Utah, but when the owners decided to open a new production facility outside of that state (in order to avoid the frustrating Utah liquor laws), they wisely chose Colorado, investing a couple million dollars into their soaring new brewery and tap room in...
Best Gluten-Free Dish
In 2008, Panzano chef Elise Wiggins discovered that she was wheat-intolerant, a diagnosis that could have caused her kitchen career to stagnate. But Wiggins, one of Denver's most innovative and progressive chefs, embraced the challenge, altering her diet, experimenting with gluten-free recipes and slowly integrating no-wheat dishes into her menu...
Best Vegetarian Dish in a Non-Vegetarian Restaurant
You never know exactly what chefs Alex Seidel and Matthew Vawter will be cooking up for the "grazing vegetarian" meal at Fruition. But one thing is certain: This combination appetizer and entree will be one of the best meals you've ever had. Fruition's commitment to the farm-to-table ethic and locally...
Best Restaurant Wine List
The most notable wine lists are crafted by serious grape geeks who determinedly seek diversity, deftly compiling syllabi that feature both esoteric and safe choices and offer value in every price range. When Bob Blair, chef and owner of Fuel Cafe, introduced his vino roster in 2008 — the year...
Best Place to Drink a Latte or a Beer While Playing Trivia
Rooster and Moon Coffee Pub
By day, Rooster and Moon is a bustling workspace for laptop freelancers, serving up lattes, fresh salads, grilled sandwiches and delicious banana pudding to its headphone-wearing customers. But at night, the coffee shop becomes a boisterous hangout that hosts events like art openings and the wildly popular Thursday-night Geeks Who...
Best Dinner Under $10
Gallo di Nero
The building that today houses Gallo di Nero has swallowed up plenty of restaurants, including Fired Up, which suffered an electrical fire last year. But Gallo di Nero rose from the ashes, and at happy hour, this comfortable yet classy restaurant offers a smoking deal: small-plate versions of many of...
Best Thick-Crust Pizza
Thick-crust pizza used to be nearly interchangeable with deep-dish. These days, though, with the resurgence of super-thin crusts ranging from cracker to Neapolitan, it connotes something different, something that Goldilocks would've liked — i.e., not too thick and not too thin. When we have a hankering for this kind of...
The battle of the dueling Cebiche restaurants ended last year, with the LoHi location coming out the winner — in more ways than one. This low-key restaurant picks up where El Chalan, the longtime occupant of the space, left off, carrying on the tradition of serving classic, comforting Peruvian dishes...
Best New Restaurant
In a year that saw hundreds of openings, Denver's restaurant scene at times felt like short-track speed skating. But even with so many strong contenders, only one could take home the gold, and Lower48 Kitchen crossed the line first in the areas that matter most: service, creativity, plating, decor and,...
Best Dan-Dan Noodles
Chef Jorel Pierce is a guy who thinks -- and cooks -- way outside the box, so the dan-dan noodles at Euclid Hall are predictably unpredictable. This version focuses on largesse from a suckling Yorkshire pig, which Pierce breaks down in the basement kitchen of his culinary domain. The result...
Good things come in all colors of boxes — not just pink ones with hissing snakes and skeletons — and for proof, look no further than Donut Maker, a family-owned shop in Greenwood Village, where doughnuts are still a breakfast food, not a midnight snack. Owner Maureen Ship keeps up...
Best Vegetarian Green Chile
Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine
Although many fans of green chile swear by the pork that's a distinctly Denver addition, Tarasco's emphasizes the green in green chile. This excellent Mexican restaurant specializes in the cuisine of Michoacán, with an entire page of the menu devoted to vegetarian fare. And many of those very good dishes...
Best Prix Fixe Menu
Although it's all too easy to spend a fortune on good food, you don't have to at twelve. Chef-owner Jeff Osaka's Monday-through-Wednesday prix fixe menu, which changes monthly, is the bargain board to beat. Osaka, who's renowned as the benevolent Denver chef-ambassador who just keeps on giving, fully extends that...
Burgers are like pizza: Everyone has a favorite style. Some people go old-style, with beef, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Others veer toward the more-is-better camp, with truffles, pork belly and crispy chicken skin. Humboldt's burger falls in between — not too simple, but not over the top...and all good. Made...
Best French Fries
Another round of applause for Jonesy's EatBar, please. The fresh-cut fries that have won so many fans at Jonesy's are thinner than your little finger, deep-fried to the perfect combo of soft-yet-crisp. They're addictive on their own, but sinfully good when swathed with one of the smart topping choices, including...
Best Raw Bar
The Kitchen Denver
Raw bars are washing up all over Denver these days, and while there's no oceanic panorama beyond the toe-to-top windows that rim the perimeter of the Kitchen Denver, a splendid sea of brawny bivalves, Littleneck clams, lobster, Alaskan king crab legs, caviar and smoked mussels glistens behind the glass barrier...
Best Wine Bar
The Truffle Table
Last year, Karen and Rob Lawler, who own the Truffle — Denver's best cheese shop — opened the Truffle Table, Denver's best wine-and-cheese bar. The kitchen, helmed by Crickett Burns, turns out everything from alluringly arranged boards of artisan cheeses with delicious accompaniments to pâté de champagne and all-you-can-stomach raclette...
Best New Brewery Patio
Sanitas Brewing opened last summer in a Boulder business park. But behind that nondescript exterior lies a cool, rustic interior that opens onto one of the most welcoming backyard-style patios in all of brewerydom. Beer drinkers can sit at benches and enjoy a view of the Foothills (and the brewery's...
Best Vietnamese Restaurant
Pho and bun dishes with grilled meats are the comfort foods of Vietnamese kitchens, giving diners just a hint of the exotic. While Viet's certainly does an admirable job with the basics, the more adventurous side of the menu really shines. Platters of crab and lobster dressed in thick sauce...
Best Free Chips and Salsa
Emilio's, a small greasy spoon perched on a much-trafficked corner of Colfax, specializes in no-frills Mexican fare for cheap -- or, in the case of its housemade chips and salsa, free. Servers deliver a basket of the thick, crunchy, salty tortilla triangles to every table, plunking it down alongside tomato...
Best Tater Tots
The sign of a great tater tot is when it doesn't need ketchup. And no one does elegant, condiment-free tots better than Table 6, where the humble potato proves once again that it pairs as well with a tie (and a glass of wine) as it does with jeans. Chef...
Best Restaurant Patio
When your city is one of the sunniest in the country, it's no wonder that restaurant patios are filled with diners soaking up the rays — even in the doldrums of winter. For a real oasis of outdoor tranquility, stop by Sassafras, a lovingly restored, porch-wrapped Victorian that offers breakfast...
Best Charcuterie Plate
Black Pearl's kitchen, now in the hands of accomplished chef Samir Mohammad, is better than ever, in part because of its ambitious in-house charcuterie program, which makes use of every scrap, piece and part of whatever beast Mohammad is butchering during his weekly animal breakdown sessions. The incredible selections are...
Best Late-Night Happy Hour
If you're looking for a quiet place for a nightcap and a quick bite, Opal is not for you. By midnight, this place is likely to be hopping with club kids, night owls and the hungry hordes who realized that they forgot to eat dinner hours earlier. But between 10:30...
Best Expense-Account Dinner
Time and again, when we're in search of a restaurant that's simultaneously innovative, enlightening and maddeningly good, we find ourselves at TAG, Troy Guard's high-caliber flagship restaurant in Larimer Square, where the menu is an indulgent poem to all things pleasurable and often very expensive. You can order off the...
Best Alternative Chicken and Waffles
People love chicken. People love waffles. Why, then, is chicken and waffles so polarizing, one of those dishes you either love or hate? At Session Kitchen, chef Scott Parker has created a version so good, and yet so different, we can all agree to like it. Called "chicken-liver mousse," his...
Best Italian Restaurant
As chef-restaurateur Frank Bonanno's dominance over Denver's dining scene continues to grow — he's got a sultry cocktail bar, nine restaurants and another one on the way — Luca D'Italia, his captivating Italian standout, continues to be a showplace of imagination and excellence. From the charismatic and doting servers to...
Best Sushi Bar
Land of Sushi
Despite the waves of accolades, Land of Sushi might still be the most undiscovered sushi bar in Denver — but that's certainly not the fault of chef Ben Liu, whose exquisite fish outperforms that of the sharks who sell their sushi and sashimi for double, even triple the price. True,...
Best Hot Booze
Crave Dessert Bar & Lounge
Bartenders in Denver are hauling out special ice machines and hand-carving ice cubes to keep their fancy concoctions cold. Lucky, then, that Crave likes to warm things up. In addition to a board of traditional cocktails with a few twists, Crave offers a selection of steaming hot hooch to go...
Best Streetside Taqueria
The morning that Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was nabbed in Mazatlán, the single TV at Tacos Selene was tuned to his capture — but the hordes of taco fans barely took notice. Who cares about the world's most-wanted drug kingpin when you're in taco utopia? A great...
Best Star-Chef Duo
Ryan Gorby and Lon Symensma
Lon Symensma, exec chef of ChoLon, is firmly entrenched in the top tier of kitchen luminaries who have made the Mile High City such a dynamic dining destination. But even the best chefs can't do it alone, and Ryan Gorby, the executive sous-chef of ChoLon, deserves his own star. He...
Best Place to Drink a Latte or a Beer While Getting Your Bike Repaired
Denver Bicycle Cafe
Bike culture, beer culture and coffee culture go hand in hand in hand, so the polyamorous Denver Bicycle Cafe is a marriage made in fixed-gear, locally roasted, craft-brewed heaven. The Bicycle Cafe is a full-service bike shop connected to a space that's a cozy coffeehouse in the mornings and turns...
Best New Bar
There are plenty of high-end cocktail caves tucked into Denver's trendiest 'hoods, but Ste. Ellie, an intriguing fifty-seat boutique and small-plates retreat in the underbelly of Colt & Gray, rises above the rest. Although the black-and-white color palette, moody lighting, modular chairs and crescent-shaped booths are ambience-rich and obligingly swank,...
Best By-the-Glass Wine List
Beast + Bottle
Esoteric, intriguing and fanciful wines were definitely on Aileen Reilly's mind when she and her chef brother, Paul Reilly, opened Beast + Bottle, a rusticated farmhouse restaurant in Uptown where the alluring atmosphere, food that highlights innovative ingredients and flavor combinations, and a beautifully curated wine roster have made it...
Best Red Chile
While green chile is an obsession in this town, red chile has its pleasures, too, and there's no red chile more pleasant than the version that La Fiesta has been dishing out for five decades. This red chile has a fire all its own, a complex layering of flavors that...
Best Veggie Hot Dog
Steve's Snappin' Dogs
There are more ways to dress a hot dog than there are stars in the galaxy — at least that's how it seems when you step up to the counter at Steve's Snappin' Dogs. And for those who eschew meat, this glorified hot-dog stand has made it a point to...
Best Mac and Cheese
Hops & Pie
It sounds easy: Throw cooked elbow noodles into a pot with sharp cheddar, peas, smoked ham hock, bacon, breadcrumbs and a few carefully selected spices, and — voilà! — the perfect mac and cheese. But if it were that easy, then everyone would be copying Hops & Pie, whose owners,...
Best Sunday Fun Day Brunch
The ultimate Sunday brunch begins and ends with a Bloody Mary. It's vital, too, that there's something on the board for the egghead, the French-toast fanatic, the potato junkie and the granola-leaning earth muffin. Under chef Theo Adley, the Squeaky Bean's kitchen serves all that and more, but because chief...
In the realm of desserts, pie is about as humble as it gets. There are no towers made of pie, like bakers craft out of macarons, none of those shocking flavor combinations — wasabi, curry — that come scooped on a cone. So it's not surprising that the best pie...
Tacos Jalisco Mexican Food
Longtime favorite Tacos Jalisco serves pure Colorado Mexican, with a little Tex-Mex, a little norteño, some influences from Michoacán and a lot of big burritos. But our favorite order here is the nachos. The kitchen takes a bed of freshly fried corn chips and tops it with hefty portions of...
Best Restaurant Draft-Beer List
Falling Rock Tap House
And in this corner, and still the heavyweight champion of Colorado...Falling Rock Tap House! Craft-beer bars have proliferated over the past five years, popping up everywhere from Colorado Springs to Boulder to Fort Collins, but Falling Rock remains the king, both in terms of numbers — more than eighty taps...
Best Vegan Dish in a Non-Vegan Restaurant
A traditional Cubano puts an international twist on a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Given the ingredients, it's almost impossible to even imagine veganizing a Cubano. But Sputnik tried — and succeeded — by slow-roasting jackfruit, which carries a sweetness similar to that of roasted pork, then serving it up on Cuban bread...
Best Thin-Crust Pizza
Virgilio's Pizzeria & Wine Bar
Thin is in, with new pizza joints that keep crust to a minimum opening every day. But Virgilio's, a behemoth New York-style pizzeria in the suburbs, continues to dispense the area's best thin-crust pies: The crave-worthy, crisp-edged, thin-crusted rounds of dough freckled with brown patches of char deliver a satisfying...
Many places claim ownership of the Reuben, New York's prized gut bomb, but in Denver, no one does it better than the Bagel Deli, an iconic joint owned by Rhoda Weiner and husband Joe Kaplan. Their Reuben, a grilled, full-figured sandwich stuffed with melted Swiss and hand-sliced corned beef that's...
Best Restaurant on Colfax Avenue
Amid the tattoo parlors, fluorescent-lit liquor stores and celestial shops that promise to predict your future squats Solera, chef-owner Goose Sorensen's longstanding — and beautifully mature — restaurant. A jovial bar occupies one side of the space, providing a gathering place for spirit disciples to sip bartender superhero Matty Durgin's...
Best Salsa Bar
The salsa bar at the accurately named 7 Salsas is so impressive, you'll be tempted to come here with plastic bags stuffed in your pockets, just so you can sneak out some of the good stuff. The killer street tacos, burritos, sopas, tortas and other south-of-the-border dishes that emerge from...
Best Hot Pot
China Jade, which boasts a stellar Chinese menu, also harbors a "secret" hot-pot menu -- and it might be the greatest culinary discovery of our year. Pots are delivered to the tabletop burner filled with your choice of three bases: original (mellow and non-threatening), spicy (crimson red and bobbing with...
Best Classic-Cocktail Bar
Join the club. For a classic cocktail experience, head to a true classic: The Brown Palace, a hotel that isn't much younger than the concept of the cocktail itself. At Churchill Bar, you can drink in the elegant Victorian ambience while drinking up a perfect Rob Roy, a dry martini...
Best House Margarita
Brian Rossi, who's managed Mexican restaurants across town, finally opened one of his own last year: Adelitas Cocina y Cantina. The colorful, casual spot specializes in traditional fare, with a focus on dishes from Michoacán. But you'll want to start with an order of the fresh, housemade chips, which comes...
Best Upscale Neighborhood Restaurant
From the day that tireless chef/restaurateur/farmer/cheese-maker/forager Alex Seidel opened Fruition, diners near and far have sung its well-deserved praises. Seidel, whose kitchen also boasts the insane talent of sous-chef Matt Vawter, serves amazingly transporting food (think house-cured pork-belly carbonara haloed with a yolk-spilling egg; Dungeness crab-stuffed petrale sole with housemade...
Best Specialty Nachos
Chef Troy Guard expanded his empire this year with Los Chingones, and the pig-ear nachos served here could land you in hog heaven. The kitchen braises the porcine lobes until the chewiness is gone, then fries them and crumbles them over a mess of ingredients that could send an elephant...
Best Red-Sauce Italian Restaurant
Angelo's, which got new owners and a complete renovation in 2013, may have changed from a pizza joint to a Taverna, adding a swanky oyster bar in the process and many more new menu items, but it still occupies the same spot where Angelo's has been for forty years, in...
La California Panaderia
In Mexico, posole is a celebratory dish served on Christmas Eve and on birthdays, at weddings and during festivals, on Mexican independence Day and Day of the Dead. But at La California Panaderia, a diminutive shack on Morrison Road, eating posole is an everyday ritual. Regulars crown the lone table...
Best Dessert List
Spuntino has metamorphosed more times than a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. But one aspect of this neighborhood Italian spot, now owned by powerhouse food couple Yasmin Lozada-Hissom and John Broening, has always had its wings: dessert. Lozada-Hissom, a five-time James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist, guarantees a spectacular end to your...
Best Central American Restaurant
The owners of Tacos Acapulco are from Mexico and El Salvador, and their tiny spot -- just four counter seats and a window where you order -- offers food from both countries. The burritos and tacos are fine, but you can find Mexican dishes anywhere. The real standouts are the...
Best Ethiopian Restaurant
Ethiopian feasts are social events, a great excuse to corral a large group — friends, lovers, even adversaries — to share all the homey comfort food that's loaded on tables usually too small for all this largesse. At Nile Ethiopian, a moodily lit, spice-scented restaurant with plenty of groups, diners...
Best Street-Style Tacos
Kevin Morrison started out with Pinche Tacos, a truck cooking up gringified tacos packed with succulent meats and strong flavors. It proved so popular that he soon steered his concept to a brick-and-mortar spot in Capitol Hill, Pinche Taqueria, which won our Best New Restaurant award in 2012. Last year...
Best Late-Afternoon Happy Hour
The guy at the bar, a local chef, admits he's on the wagon, but he's definitely not on a diet: "This is the third time in a week that I've had the pork burger here; it's bomb!" he gushes. That pig-intensive burger — and yes, it's "bomb" — is part...
The food at Vietnam Bay presents a collision of Cajun ingredients and Vietnamese specialties. Before you dive elbow-deep into a bag of the freshest crawfish in town, remember that the kitchen also offers chicken wings in a variety of styles. Best is the version with the house fish-sauce glaze, the...
Best Dive Bar
At the break of dawn on the last day of Daylight Savings Time, a hearty crew of regulars gather at the Lakeview Lounge — it opens at 7 a.m. — and toast as the sun rises over Sheridan Boulevard, Sloan's Lake and the Denver skyline. It's a time-honored tradition at...
Best Fancy-Pants Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese, once a comfort-food staple of every Sunday supper (not to mention the elementary-school cafeteria), isn't what it used to be. And thanks to chef Frank Bonanno, who makes no apologies for food steeped in indulgence, the slightly chewy, sauce-soaked elbow macaroni and cheese at Mizuna is definitely...
Best Deep-Dish Pizza
No matter how you toss it, smear it, top it, slice it or spin it, pizza is like religion: The arguments about which style is the most blessed are a world without end. But when it comes to deep-dish pizza, the gospel of Patxi's rings loud and clear. The San...
Best Bar Snacks
Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar
At a time when nearly anything can be eaten at the bar, it's hard to say just what counts as bar snacks. Is it a small plate of rillette on toast? Wings? Housemade trail mix? Yes to all. But when you want a classic snack, something with crunch and salt...
Best Green Chile
El Taco de México
"For truly amazing flavors, El Taco de México is a must," wrote Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmern, shortly after he and his film crew touched down in the Mile High City. El Taco de México is "Denver's quintessential taqueria," he said, pronouncing that it serves the "best menudo and tacos in...
Best Pop-Up Food Experience
Monkey Town 4
Denver native Montgomery Knott spent many years in New York perfecting the Monkey Town experience, during which guests dined on fine food and paired wines inside a video-installation cube. Now he's back in his home town, testing a touring version of his visual/gastronomic spectacle in a RiNo warehouse for a...
Elway's Cherry Creek
Once upon a time, the best steakhouses needed to accomplish just one feat: slap a huge slab of bloody steer on your plate and wait for the moo. Elway's — both the downtown and Cherry Creek locations — definitely meats those expectations. But today the best steakhouses separate themselves from...
Best Restaurant at DIA
Over the past few years, Denver International Airport has worked hard to make sure that travelers can get a true taste of the city. And their efforts paid off last year when several excellent hometown restaurants opened at DIA. The best of them? Root Down, which not only offers many...
Best German/Eastern European Restaurant
Once upon a time in Poland, there was a man named Lester and a woman named Maria. They fell in love, married and frequented a hotel in Krakow called Cracovia. And then, a move across the world and a quarter-century later — the fall of 2008, to be exact —...
First, let us shower accolades on chef Richard Glover's decadent cinnamon-apple French toast: a plate of thick, eggy slices of gold-tinged brioche splayed with caramelized cinnamon-dusted apples, real whipped cream and a fistful of nuts. Then there are the eggs Benedict, mounted with thin, salty sheets of prosciutto topped with...
Best Korean Restaurant
Denver may not have an official Koreatown, but it has a large Korean population — and an impressive number of places where you can sample cabbage kimchi, zucchini-studded pancakes and sizzling bibimbap. Most of the metro area's Korean restaurants are in Aurora, but when we're jonesing for a fix, we...
Best Restaurant on Broadway
From the outside, the Black Crown looks like a ridiculously adorable home, and the inside is jaw-droppingly opulent, with extravagant chandeliers, stately sofas draped with shawls and enough antiques to outfit an antique store. There are two smashing outdoor patios — the one in back is ideal for canoodling —...
Best Cheap Steak
Red Rooster Cafe
The muscled truckers, old-timers and twenty-somethings who flock to Red Rooster know that this modest cafe has something to crow about: ridiculously cheap steaks. The all-around winner is a cooked-to-temp fourteen-ounce T-bone, roughly the size of a St. Bernard's face, which rings in at $13.95. And that's just the warmup:...
Best Chinese Restaurant
Chef Liu's Authentic Chinese Cuisine
The good news: Chinese restaurants far outnumber McDonald's in this country. The bad: most of those Chinese joints suck wontons. So discovering a real Chinese kitchen — one that specializes in authentic, intriguing, fearless (and fearsomely hot) dishes — is like unwrapping a fortune cookie with a strip of winning...
Best Fried Chicken
Lucky Pie Pizza & Taphouse
There are some who insist that fried chicken is best when eaten out of a bucket while picnicking in the park. But our bucket list takes another approach: We park our butts at Lucky Pie, order a beer from the wicked-good tap selection, and thank the poultry gods for blessing...
Best Excuse to Eat Dessert for Breakfast
Some people were born with a sweet tooth. These are the folks who make their coffee so light and sweet it's ready for the churn and who think fruit is acceptable for dessert only if it's blended with sugar and topped with whipped cream. If this describes you, forget the...
Best Offshoot Restaurant
Acorn, the second restaurant opened by Bryan Dayton and Steve Redzikowski, had a lot to live up to, considering it sprang from the mighty Oak at Fourteenth, their nationally recognized flagship in Boulder. And it wasted no time in doing so, appealing not just to Oak regulars who made the...
Best Place to Drink Up, Get a Haircut and Buy a Cigar
Las Palmas Wine Bar
Clay Carlton is on a roll. The Denver native, who opened his first barber shop in Winter Park 38 years ago, today is a master cigar-roller (he studied under a Cuban master for six months) and proprietor not just of Palma Cigars, but of Bar Las Palmas Wine Bar, offering...
Best Food Truck
The arepas from the Quiero Arepas food truck (fittingly, the name translates to "I want arepas") are Venezuela's perfect street-food solution: compact and portable, with just the right dose of sloppy fun. Traditional arepas fall somewhere between the pupusa and the gordita on the continuum of stuffed masa pockets: griddled...
Best Pastry Chef
For most people, it's the last bite that leaves the most memorable impression — and at Old Major, that's certain to mean a happy ending: a sugar rush from a small taste of Verona chocolate, a vanilla-poached pear, a spoonful of figgy pudding, a slice of a nectarine tart, a...
Best Restaurant on Federal Boulevard
Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine
There's no shortage of Mexican restaurants on Federal Boulevard, but Tarasco's is something special. While the tiny corner joint may not have all the frills of fine dining, the service is as warm and accommodating as at any starred restaurant in town. And every dish on the menu shines, no...
Best First-Date Restaurant
The number-one requirement for a first-date restaurant is noise, because nothing turns a first date into a last date faster than awkward silences. That’s why Ace is such a no-brainer for couples in the making: As night falls, noise is a given, whether you’re at the bar, in the far-from-intimate...