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Food & Drink

  • Best restaurant when you're in the Zone

    Mercury Cafe

    The Mercury Cafe is the ultimate Zone zone -- not just because it offers nutritious dishes that pull from all of the food groups in ways you can easily regroup to fit your ideal zone, but because after you eat, you'll likely be pulled into some swing dancing that will take you straight to your ideal heart-rate target area. For… More >>
  • Best restaurant when you're on the Atkins Diet

    Denver Buffalo Company

    Tired of living off the fat of the land? Need more meat in your diet? Get yer sloppy carcass over to the Denver Buffalo Company, which has been hooking hungry cowpokes up with buffalo for eleven years now. The Western-themed eatery has seventeen ways to eat the ornery creature at high noon, and that many more through happy hour and… More >>
  • Best long john

    Henderson's

    Sometimes a plain doughnut just won't do -- and that's when Henderson's Long Johns go a long way toward filling any craving. Instead of forcing sugar fiends to dig through two inches of dough before they get to the creamy center, Henderson's makes all of its Johns plain. After you order one -- chocolate-coated, sugar-powdered or glazed -- they'll take… More >>
  • Best lasagne

    The Cherry Tomato

    Some of the Cherry Tomato's neighbors put up a fight when the restaurant wanted to open in Park Hill; now no one can imagine the neighborhood without this adorable, welcoming spot. Pasta is the specialty here, and the lasagne is truly something special. This is one of the densest, heartiest versions you'll find, a meat-filled, cheese-packed wedge smothered in a… More >>
  • Best pasta restaurant

    Cucina Colóre

    Any Italian restaurant that offers more than the standard spaghetti, linguine and fettuccine is using its noodle -- but Cucina Colóre, a casual Cherry Creek joint, really displays some smarts. Not only does it serve up fusilli, tagliatelle and conchiglie, but it does so in the best way possible: by coating the properly cooked, awesomely al dente pasta in skillfully… More >>
  • Best pizza

    Parisi

    Want the real thing? Go to the source. Or as close as we get in Denver, which is the restaurant run by Florence native Simone Parisi and his wife, Christine, who's originally from Boulder. Christine met Simone in Italy, they fell in love, and she convinced him that Denver needed a really good pizzeria. She was right. Their love Italian-style… More >>
  • Best late-night pizza

    Two-Fisted Mario's

    It's 1 a.m. on Saturday, and after all that Friday night drinking, you're hankering for a slice. Time to head to Two-Fisted Mario's for a one-two punch of pizza. Run by two guys, John Skogstad and Kevin Delk, who feel your pain, Mario's is the kind of place that truly wants to be there for you until 2 a.m. Monday… More >>
  • Best wine-tasting parties

    Cook Street School of Fine Cooking

    One Friday every month, Cook Street, a culinary college, opens its doors to downtrodden commuters for an after-work sampling of fine wines. Not only is the party reasonably priced at $25 per person, but it comes with various hors d'oeuvre prepared on the premises by a master chef. Best of all, this beat-the-traffic happy hour unfolds in LoDo, so you… More >>
  • Best Colorado wine

    Canyon Wind Cabernet Sauvignon, 1996

    Colorado's once-obscure Western Slope vineyards are gaining quality and stature with each new vintage. Witness the sublime Cabernet Sauvignon made by Canyon Wind, a young winery owned by Norman and Ellen Christianson and overseen by the well-respected Napa Valley winemaker Robert Pepi. Intense and complex, the 1996 cab is deep purple, well-balanced and bursting with mature fruit. At $20 a… More >>
  • Best wine list -- price

    240 Union

    Most of the wines at 240 Union come in between $20 and $30, and many cost even less, making this comfortably chic eatery even more of a good thing. The savvy cooking of chef/part-owner Matthew Franklin is fine on its own, but it's even better paired with fine wines. Select from such interesting compilations as "Cutting Edge" or "Nothing Boring,"… More >>
  • Best wine list -- selection

    Flagstaff House

    If you can't find a wine among the thousands offered by the Flagstaff House, then it's time to start growing your own grapes. Consistently voted one of the nation's best wine lists, the vino roster at Flagstaff is 30,000 bottles strong, with something for every palate and price range. The staff is as knowledgeable as anyone can be about 2,000… More >>
  • Best wine list -- by the glass

    The Fourth Story

    We raise a glass to the Fourth Story, whose excellent roster of by-the-glass wines just keeps getting better. This chic, comfortable restaurant atop the Tattered Cover boasts a cozy bar for tasting and nearly forty opportunities to try a vino you've never sampled before. The selection changes almost weekly, and it's always a well-thought-out list that includes some old favorites… More >>
  • Best wine list -- Californian

    California Cafe - CLOSED

    The California Cafe is a link in a chain out of -- you guessed it -- California, but each outlet can tailor its menu and wine list to the area. The California Cafe at Park Meadows draws its inspiration regionally, with daily specials that highlight the area's indigenous ingredients and fresh produce. Working with company headquarters, general manager Linda Kuhns… More >>
  • Best reason to go to the john

    Bruno's Italian Bistro

    At Bruno's, we rarely take our eyes off the plates filled with marvelous, reasonably priced Italian food. But then one day we ventured into the men's room, and there on the walls were some of the sexiest shots of Sophia Loren ever taken -- old Saturday Evening Post covers and Life magazine photos -- all poses that invite men to… More >>
  • Best wine list -- South American

    Sabor Latino - CLOSED

    When Sabor Latino moved, it expanded not just its dining space but also its wine list. As a result, there are now more than two dozen wines from Chile and Argentina to choose from; not surprisingly, they all go well with the racy, spicy flavors coming out of the kitchen. The Concha y Toro "Don Melchor" cab has a syrupy… More >>
  • Best wine list -- French

    Le Central

    Not only is Le Central's impressive selection of French wines the best in town -- filled with interesting bottles from across France that you won't find elsewhere -- it's also one of the best-priced, with remarkably low markups and most bottles coming in at the $20-to-$30 range. This affordable French bistro is just the place to try a 1997 chablis… More >>
  • Best wine list -- Italian

    Barolo Grill

    Blair Taylor spends so much time in Italy, we're surprised he hasn't been made an honorary Italian -- or at least had his estimable Barolo Grill given embassy status. Every summer Taylor takes Barolo staffers to Italy so they can taste the food and wine, and he can check out trends that might be worth incorporating into his restaurant. While… More >>
  • Best new bar

    Sacre Bleu

    Mon dieu! The moment this hip, French-inspired restaurant opened, the beautiful people started flocking to the dining room. From there, though, they got a good look at the bar, a cozy yet chic enclave that sports six-foot-high chairs covered in plush fabric with a tilt to the seat, offering extra padding for delicate tushies that have been out clubbing all… More >>
  • Best old bar

    My Brother's Bar

    Not only is this a bar where everyone knows your name, but the bar itself is so secure in its identity that it doesn't bother to announce its name outside. You don't need a sign to find your way to My Brother's Bar, however; anyone and everyone who appreciates a good drink -- with or without good company -- knows… More >>
  • Best brewpub

    Great Northern Tavern

    After a shaky start, the railway-themed Great Northern Tavern has arrived. Not only has the kitchen gotten its act together -- it now puts out such inspired fare as seared sea scallops in a lemon-Riesling sauce with fennel mashed potatoes and wild-rice-dusted walleye in a port beurre rouge -- but the pub makes excellent beers. Down a pint of the… More >>
  • Best bartender

    Doug Hollaran

    Talk about a return to the scene of the crime. Bartender Doug Hollaran, who has the fastest hands and the quickest wit in the business, held forth in the '80s and early '90s at such infamous Cherry Creek boîtes as Rodney's and the late, lamented Bay Wolf. Now he's back on familiar ground -- behind the mahogany at the upscale… More >>
  • Best martini

    The Avenue Grill

    Rough day at the office? The Avenue Grill's martinis will shake it right out of you. The bar offers about a dozen ways to stir things up, each one a well-balanced concoction that's sure to please. Gin or vodka, vermouth or not, two olives or six -- whatever your poison, the Avenue's got the antidote to a bad mood. Sidle… More >>
  • Best piano bar

    janleone

    Every corner of janleone, a Mediterranean eatery located in an old East Colfax mansion, is warm and inviting -- from the charming garden patio to the lovely main dining room. But there's something about the cozy Col-Mar bar area -- named after the intersection of Colfax and Marion, where the restaurant sits -- with its baby grand flanked by comfy… More >>
  • Best sake lounge

    Mori Japanese Restaurant

    The original bar at Nisei Post 185 was a dark, smoky lounge, a room frequented by artists and working men and craggy-bearded World War II veterans back in the days when the post catered to downtown's burgeoning Japanese population and the term "LoDo" would have been laughed at. But now there's a valet outside to park your car, and inside,… More >>
  • Best meal to test your intestinal fortitude

    The Fort's Awful Offal Dinner

    Boo! Sam Arnold, culinary cutup and owner of The Fort, has been scaring diners for several years now with his annual Awful Offal dinner, a Halloween feast whose multiple courses feature many of the byproducts of butchering an animal. Talk about frightening: The lineup includes buffalo tongue, Rocky Mountain oysters (that's bull's balls to you), lamb brains, sweetbreads (the thymus… More >>
  • Best sock-it-to-ya drinks

    Twin Dragon

    You might see triple dragons if you imbibe too many drinks at this longtime Denver institution, but the next time you have a hankering for Chinese, what's the harm of washing down that lo mein with a Zombie or two? Since 1976, Twin Dragon -- an otherwise tasteful place -- has been trotting out exotic drinks in the most hilarious… More >>
  • Best make-me-overs

    Skylark Lounge

    A few months ago, a skinny Texan walked into the Skylark Lounge and ordered a round of Make-Me-Overs. "Make me wha'?" the bartender replied. Since the newly transplanted Longhorn lived just a penny-tossin' distance away from the watering hole, he figured he'd better teach the bartenders how to make his favorite party shot. The Texan told the story of the… More >>
  • Best margarita

    Dixons Downtown Grill, Racines, Goodfriends

    All three of the eponymously named joints owned variously by partners Lee Goodfriend, David Racine and Dixon Staples serve marvelous margs, elixirs that make it worth holding out until the end of the day. You'll start enjoying the night as you nip into a margarita, twelve ounces of a well-melded drink served in a martini glass with a shaker of… More >>
  • Best chips and salsa

    La Fabula

    The innovative, jauntily decorated La Fabula has many things going for it, first and foremost a basket of warm, freshly fried, tri-color corn tortilla chips that comes with a trio of salsas, each interesting and addictive in its own right. There's the crunchy, cilantro-speckled salsa fresca, which starts out light but gets more appealing with each bite; the salsa roja,… More >>
  • Best breakfast burrito

    Amigos Cafe

    In the cold, gray light of dawn, when it seems nothing could make the cruel world look better, remember your friends. The Amigos Cafe cooks up wonderful breakfast burritos that are guaranteed to make you rise and shine. Well, rise and get the hell out of the house, anyway. Owners Laura and Santiago Cardenas came to Denver from Chihuahua, Mexico,… More >>
  • Best taco

    El Seņor Sol, Villa Del Sol

    Felipe Duran, who moved to Denver from Chihuahua when he was thirteen, brought the secret to great tacos along with him: It's the meat of the matter. At his three restaurants -- two Seņor Sols and one Villa Del Sol -- the tacos all feature top-quality cuts of meat. Instead of fatty steak or dry pork, you'll find tacos al… More >>
  • Best late-night taco

    Taco Express

    It's 3 a.m., and you have enough beer sloshing around inside you to throw a kegger out of your belly. You need food, and not just any old diner food, but something greasy and filling, preferably cheap. Taco Express to the rescue! Swing by this little drive-thru spot -- you can eat in, too, but why bother? -- and yell… More >>
  • Best make-your-own taco

    The Hornet

    Have it your way at the Hornet, one of Denver's favorite neighborhood eateries and a buzzing happy-hour spot. One of the tastiest ways to claim yours is the make-your-own soft tacos, a plate packed with all the items necessary to create the taco of your dreams. There are four main-component possibilities, including roasted veggies, Yucatan chicken and tender steak, but… More >>
  • Best burrito

    Chez José

    There are some Mexican meals you'd never want to see in bright lights. But at Chez José, you can see clearly -- and everything's clearly good. Best is the gourmet fajita burrito, an appealing combination of charbroiled steak, cheese, guac and fresh salsa cruda. The beef is moist and tender, with a grill-bitten meaty flavor that mixes well with the… More >>
  • Best burrito the size of a Volkswagen

    Piney Creek Grill

    If you can eat the whole thing at Piney Creek, a vaguely cantina-like eatery and bar, they'll take a Polaroid shot of you and stick it on their Wall of Fame. But be warned: Although nearly a thousand have tried, fewer than a hundred have been able to eat an entire Piney Creek Burrito Majestic. Two jumbo tortillas are required… More >>
  • Best dessert menu

    Palettes

    A haven for ladies who lunch, lawyers who linger (and drive up that billing) and bohemian types with lots of Daddy's money, Palettes makes a fine art of fancy food -- as well it should, since it's connected to the Denver Art Museum. But nothing on exhibit next door is more elaborate than Palette's desserts, each one a masterpiece featuring… More >>
  • Best vegetarian burrito

    Wahoo's Fish Taco - CLOSED

    At most burrito places, the meat-filled versions are preferable because they keep the package from turning into a bean-and-rice blowout -- and you know what we mean. But Wahoo's keeps its vegetarian friends in mind, offering up the Banzai Fajita Burrito, a massive mound of food wrapped in a fresh tortilla. There's rice and beans in there, all right, but… More >>
  • Best chicharrones burrito

    Bandido's

    There's not much charm at Bandido's, which looks like your basic Mexican dive, but the kitchen more than makes up for the lack of ambience with an abundance of good food. The taquitos are fine, the tacos al carbon better, and the chicharrones burritos best of all. Deep-fried pork skins -- big, fat, hefty nuggets with some weight to them… More >>
  • Best store-bought pork rinds

    La Popular

    To hell with rice cakes. Dr. Atkins says: Pass the pork. Which means you won't want to pass up La Popular, which fries curly bits of hog fat into zero-carb, unadulterated artery-clogging bliss. Although the freeze-dried pork pellets hail from Chicago, the cooks in this Mexican kitchen work magic with chile powder and 350-degree canola oil. The result is a… More >>
  • Best barbacoa burrito

    Chipotle Mexican Grill

    Chipotle got its start in Colorado, and although this homegrown chain is now running with the big dogs, it still serves up one massive puppy of a barbacoa burrito. To create the classic, Chipotle braises beef in a liquid rife with chipotles, cumin, cloves and garlic until it softens and shreds and absorbs every bit of flavor. The meat is… More >>
  • Best fajitas

    Alamos Verdes

    Alamos Verdes, a big, charmingly decorated Mexican eatery, has been serving up combo plates and big burritos for decades. But there's another menu item, a relative newcomer to the Tex-mix-and-Mex standards, that's the real standout here: fajitas. Alamos Verdes sends out a heaping helping of them, a platter loaded with juicy strips of charred-tip beef and tender, smoky chicken, along… More >>
  • Best upscale tamales

    The Painted Bench

    At the Painted Bench, chef Steve Rohs's duck tamales are such a marvel, with tender duck meat playing off the sweetness of the corn, that you immediately wonder why someone didn't think of the combination before. But then, you also wonder why it took so long for Denver to get a restaurant as groovy as the Painted Bench. This at once… More >>
  • Best chile relleno

    Chelo's

    For proof that beauty is more than chile-skin deep, stop by Chelo's, a teeny little bakery that's open only until 6 p.m. each day. But that's plenty of time to score a plate of chiles rellenos, gooey, greasy and oh-so-good, served in a gritty setting that only enhances their flavor. Order your meal at a bakery display case crammed with… More >>
  • Best green chile

    La Casa de Manuel

    It's not easy being green. When Manuel Silva was forced to close down his original Casa de Manuel at 2010 Larimer -- an address he'd occupied for forty years -- the town worried that we'd never see his green chile again. But then he found another spot eleven blocks to the north, and while it's not nearly as cool as… More >>
  • Best gringo green chile

    CityGrille

    If there's one thing that Colorado lobbyists, legislators and lawyers alike can agree on, it's the mean green at CityGrille. Last year former Bay Wolf owner Richard Salturelli and his partner/chef, onetime Beacon Grill chef David Minty, took over the old home of J. Beatty's, turning it into not just a watering hole for the town's movers and shakers, but… More >>
  • Best green chile at the 19th hole

    El Curso Viejo

    Ah, the nineteenth hole. It comes on like a refreshing oasis after four hours of frustration spent hitting, then chasing, a little white ball. From the final tee box, the nineteenth hole rises in the distance like an ice-cold beer in the desert -- or, in the case of the public City Park Golf Course, a Corona in the desert.… More >>
  • Best late-night desserts

    Cafe Cero

    Satisfy that sweet tooth before you get too long in the tooth. Cafe Cero, which is open until 2 a.m. every night but Monday, is just the spot for curbing post-theater munchies or relaxing after a tough night of bar-hopping, full of fun, groovy spaces that invite kicking back and grabbing a snack. The dessert menu, which is served until… More >>
  • Best red chile

    Armida's

    It's only fitting that one of the town's friendliest Mexican eateries also serves its most mellow chile. Fauso and Armida Corral own Armida's, a cute, unassuming spot with an upstairs for pool players, a dining room for diners and a patio for those who just want to enjoy the view and a few beers. No matter what you're there for,… More >>
  • Best all-purpose chile, ristra and piñon stand

    Hatch New Mexico Chile

    When harvest season hits and you start craving roasted pine nuts, Hatch extra-hot chile and abuse from the vendors along Federal Boulevard, head straight for the tent of Roger Sanchez. From August through October, this prince of pods has one thing in mind: "Move it out." And move it he does. With daily price specials, free bottles of Mexican soda… More >>
  • Best southwestern restaurant

    Table Mountain Inn Restaurant

    The tastes of the Southwest have become such a caricature of themselves that it's hard to know what's really Southwestern anymore. But a stop at the Table Mountain Inn, a quaintly decorated getaway that's eye-catching without being kitschy, will quickly help clarify things. The restaurant is a casual spot that feels upscale but remains comfortable, filled with well-chosen art and… More >>
  • Best new American restaurant

    Potager

    If any one place in town captures the essence of New American cooking, it's Potager. Chef/owner Teri Rippeto shops local farms, puts the ingredients together in interesting and often daring ways, and when they don't work, she moves on. If that isn't the American way, new or old, what is? Try her innovative cooking in the funky dining room that's… More >>
  • Best all-American restaurant

    Sam's No. 3

    Sam's No. 3 is the American dream come true. Just ask Sam, Alex and Patrick Armatas, who own the place. The three brothers are the grandsons of Sam Armatas, who started the town's infamous -- and now long-gone -- Coney Island eateries in the 1920s; Sam's son, Spero, still runs the thirty-year-old Newbarry's. And now this next generation is carrying… More >>
  • Best regional American restaurant

    Hugh's Bistro

    At his ultra-funky, relaxing bistro, chef/owner Hugh O'Neill has always been committed to locally grown produce and regionally raised meats. But in the last year, O'Neill has upped his efforts to secure all-organic ingredients from the major growers in the north Boulder area. He then takes those ingredients and treats them with respect, dousing the baby spinach with grapefruit vinaigrette… More >>
  • Best South American restaurant

    Café Brazil

    Since Tony and Marla Zarlenga opened Café Brazil a decade ago, a few other South American eateries have appeared in the Denver area. But none have come close to duplicating the intense flavors that Marla cooks up in the kitchen or the warm hospitality that emanates from your host, Tony. Step into this tiny, colorful storefront and prepare to have… More >>
  • Best Caribbean restaurant

    Rhumba

    Fans of the vibrant cuisine of the Caribbean finally have reason to jump up and dance. Rhumba is a fun, noisy restaurant, popular not just for its rum-soaked drinks -- the wicked mojito, a blend of rum, mint, lime, powdered sugar and soda, will put a spring in your step -- but also for its colorful, flavorful dishes. Owner Dave… More >>
  • Best seafood restaurant

    Roy's Cherry Creek

    Be here. Aloha. When Denver netted a link in a first-rate restaurant chain out of Hawaii, we knew the fish was bound to be good. But this good? Roy's Cherry Creek, the sixth in chef Roy Yamaguchi's group, made a big splash when it opened this year inside the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, and it continues to make waves by… More >>
  • Best sushi restaurant

    Sushi Den

    Now you have a friend in the diving business. Make that several friends. As Sushi Den shows, it's not enough to have fresh, exotic fish -- although this longtime winner has that in abundance -- you also need a staff that knows what to do with it. This jazzy, cool, see-and-be-seen scene has the best sushi staff in town. As… More >>
  • Best milk pudding

    Seņorita's Cantina

    Got three milks? Then you have the makings of pastel con tres leches, a three-milk cake popular in Mexico that's a cross between a rustic custard and a sopping wet bread pudding, only so much sweeter and better. Fortunately, Seņorita's Cantina, an up-and-coming Tex-Mex cafe in LoDo, has imported this worthy dish across the border. Although it's traditionally made with… More >>
  • Best sushi rolls

    Banzai Restaurant

    Banzai offers many types of sushi, all of good quality, all expertly prepared, but it really gets on a roll when it contemplates sushi-roll possibilities. The restaurant offers more than a hundred types, divided into nine categories: no fish on the outside; seaweed outside (traditional roll style); crunchy tempura batter on the outside; fish on the outside; eel on the… More >>
  • Best Japanese restaurant

    Sushi Wave - CLOSED

    Yoshi Yoshida, who runs Sushi Wave with his wife, Cindy, is a veteran of some of Denver's best sushi bars, and his experience shows. Careful attention to detail, well-crafted sushi, expertly prepared cooked dishes and a warm welcome make this snazzy spot the best overall Japanese restaurant in town. Of course, most folks come looking for sushi, and they'll find… More >>
  • Best Chinese restaurant

    La Chine

    From the gracious service and elegant, flower-filled setting to the sea scallops in a spicy garlic sauce and honey-glazed apples, La Chine is everything Chinese dining should be. No gloppy sauces or made-in-Taiwan knickknacks here -- the dining room is as classy and evocative of Asian hospitality as the food. And what food: seafood in your choice of sauces, including… More >>
  • Best noodle house

    Oshima Ramen

    As anyone who's seen the movie Tampopo knows, properly cooked ramen involves more than just dropping the dried noodle square into two cups of water and adding the flavor packet three minutes later. The noodle house is religiously revered in Japan, and noodle chefs take care to make sure their final product is the Zen equivalent of a cup of… More >>
  • Best Thai restaurant

    Thai Bistro

    If at first you don't succeed at finding a great Thai restaurant, Thai, Thai again -- until you stumble upon Thai Bistro. This is a humble, unassuming space, located in a strip mall with no fanfare, but what savvy chef/owner Noi Phromthong cooks up deserves to be billboarded around town. Once diners have settled into this this sparsely decorated, yet… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese restaurant

    New Saigon

    Denver has a number of decent Vietnamese restaurants, but New Saigon outshines them all. Although service remains a crapshoot and the tidy, simply adorned place isn't going to win any awards for innovative decor, the Vietnamese dishes that come out of the kitchen are unsurpassed. Choose from hundreds of entrees --many variations on a theme, with the kind of meat… More >>
  • Best Indian restaurant

    Star of India

    What makes an Indian restaurant good isn't just the quality of the spices it uses or the touch of its tandoori -- although those things are very, very important indeed -- but also the way the proprietors welcome diners, treating them as if they were a significant part of the transaction. That attitude is very much in evidence at the… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern restaurant

    Phoenicia Grill

    Since taking over the Phoenicia Grill, a small but cheerful Middle Eastern eatery, earlier this year, owner Jim Kher has done nothing but improve upon what was already a distinctive spot. In the hip, streamlined space, Kher's chef, Mustafa Awada, displays his extensive culinary-school background and extensive experience at Middle Eastern restaurants with some finely prepared fare. For instance, both… More >>
  • Best Greek restaurant

    South Central II

    Although the sign out front promises "Aegean Dining in the Venus Room," there's nothing about this dark, divey eatery that indicates the dining inside is going to be anything but mediocre. But get ready to take the plunge, because South Central II serves the best gyros, the best avgolemono soup, the best souvlaki and the best moussaka in town. Before… More >>
  • Best Mediterranean restaurant

    Aubergine Cafe

    Sean Kelly knows his way around the Mediterranean, and his Aubergine Cafe navigates a delicious course through the region's varied cuisines. Aubergine's menu not only hits on all of the major cooking styles found in that part of the world, but it does so using local ingredients -- a philosophy that captures the Mediterranean spirit just as much as the… More >>
  • Best bread pudding

    Radex Bistro

    Now that bread puddings have become as ubiquitous on dessert menus as crème brûlée and cheesecake, it's tough to find one that stands out -- but Radex's does. Not surprisingly, the pastry chef at this hip spot offers a hip variation on the standard, taking a sour cream-enriched cornbread and turning it into a cross between old-fashioned spoonbread and fruit-filled… More >>
  • Best Italian restaurant

    Carmine's on Penn

    We've got an offer -- and a restaurant -- you can't refuse. After six years and a few management changes, Carmine's on Penn has finally hit its stride. Not only is this one of the best family-style eateries around, it's also the best Italian, any style. The atmosphere is welcoming, the servers efficient, the wine list impressive, and the food… More >>
  • Best French restaurant

    Tante Louise

    Tante Louise is romantic, it's charming, and the food is a francophile's dream. What more could you want from a French restaurant? Everyone's favorite aunt is about to turn thirty, and while she hasn't aged a bit, her experience shows. Duy Pham has more than filled former chef Michael Degenhart's shoes, and he's beginning to inject some of his own… More >>
  • Best restaurant when someone else is paying

    Papillon Cafe

    It's not so much that Papillon is an outrageously priced restaurant -- in fact, the entree portion of the menu is broken down into some manageable payment plans that range from $14 to $26 -- as it is that we want to try all of the courses. We'd like to start with the decadent foie gras and the creamy potage… More >>
  • Best romantic restaurant

    The Penrose at the Broadmoor

    The Penrose, inside the eighty-year-old Broadmoor hotel, exemplifies old-fashioned, romantic dining. The glittery, chandelier-lit space harks back to a more refined, less harried time, with gorgeous views of Colorado Springs and the outline of Cheyenne Mountain at night (the dining room sits in the penthouse of the Broadmoor's South Tower), along with velvety chairs and exquisite china and silverware. Like… More >>
  • Best resurrected restaurant

    Zenith

    When Brasserie Z failed to live up to its potential, owner Kevin Taylor made a smart move: He resurrected longtime favorite Zenith, which had introduced Denver to the joys of Southwestern cooking in the late '80s and finally closed in 1997. Since that time, many savvy diners had clamored for its return, and Taylor finally answered their call. This time,… More >>
  • Best new restaurant

    The Biscuit

    Sure, anyone with a few million or a bunch of sports figures as backers can open a fancy-schmancy restaurant that's the guaranteed Hot Spot -- until the next Hot Spot comes along, and business quickly cools. Denver's seen dozens of such restaurants come and go over the past two decades. But it takes real chutzpah for a big-time chef to… More >>
  • Best breads

    Tasteez Market & Bakery

    When the Palmetto Grille closed, chef Michael Bortz -- a noted chocolatier -- turned his talents toward making some dough. After a stint at the Corner Bakery, he hooked up with Tasteez owner Scott Wagner, who challenged Bortz to come up with artisan breads that would complement the market/deli's daily roster of gourmet takeout foods and carved-to-order eat-in items. And… More >>
  • Best bakery

    Bluepoint Bakery

    If you've eaten in any of the better restaurants around town, chances are you've already had Bluepoint's desserts, pastries and breads. For nearly a decade, the husband-and-wife team of Mary Clark and Fred Bramhall has been supplying Denver's finest with some of their own finery: luscious cakes, perfect pies and crusty rolls. Although the cooking couple used to have a… More >>
  • Best bakery for folks who don't like desserts

    Vinh Xuong Bakery

    In general, Asian cuisines aren't known for their desserts -- and when they do go the sweet route, most of their creations tend to avoid the usual Western trappings of chocolate and refined sugar. As a result, the toothsome tidbits at Vinh Xuong, where no one speaks much English but everyone knows the language of food, are usually more refreshing… More >>
  • Best restaurant when you're sugar-bustin'

    Petra's

    Since gourmet meal plans were developed for the revolutionary! groundbreaking! Sugar Busters! diet by twelve of New Orleans's top restaurants, Denverites looking to "determine which glycemic levels work for them" and "discover which foods to eat at what time of the day" should head straight to the town's best New Orleans-style eatery -- where they'll immediately bust any and all… More >>
  • Best pâtisserie

    La Pâtisserie Française

    Tired of waiting for gâteaux? Check out the display cases at La Pâtisserie Française. This little spot tucked into an Arvada shopping center does big things with butter, sugar, flour and chocolate. From tarte Tatin to langues du chat, or cat's tongues (long, narrow cookies made into little dessert sandwiches stuffed with ganache and buttercream), La Patisserie makes the most… More >>
  • Best panadería

    El Alamo Bakery

    Once an Italian bakery, El Alamo still features a few Italian specialties, such as cookies, rum cakes and an excellent Italian bread. But it's the Mexican baked goods that really grab us: The raspberry-filled flautas are crunchy tubes of delight, and the polvorones wedding cookies are the best in town. El Alamo also makes a wicked cheesecake, as well as… More >>
  • Best wedding cakes

    Barkley Eberline, Eat Dessert First

    "Let them eat cake!" says pastry chef Barkley Eberline. In truth, though, his custom, one-of-a-kind cakes aren't just cakes: They're certified works of edible art, from a topsy-turvy, four-story Alice in Wonderland model to a traditional bell-topped tower festooned with frosting leaves and grapes so fluffy they look like a chenille bedspread. And then it's what's inside that really counts:… More >>
  • Best Greek bakery

    Omonoia Bakery

    For nearly two decades, the Omonoia Bakery has been a Sunday must-stop for the area's Greek Orthodox practitioners, who pick up a traditional church cake to share with other members after services. And who are we to argue with tradition? But once a week is not enough for enjoying all of Omonoia's other specialties: sticky, honey-saturated baklava; kourambiedes, rosewater-sprinkled butter… More >>
  • Best après-ski coffee shop

    Inxpot

    After a long, hard day on the slopes -- or an even harder day hitting the Silverthorne outlet shops -- the Inxpot is the perfect place to relax. Located in the middle of Keystone's River Run "neighborhood" at the base of the gondola, the coffee shop is filled with cushy couches and other invitations to relax over that cup of… More >>
  • Best place to drink a latte while eavesdropping on state legislators

    Penn Street Perk

    Just two blocks from the State Capitol, Penn Street Perk is the perfect place to get the inside scoop on upcoming legislation. It's where Democratic representative Tom Plant goes to read bills when he wants to escape the bustle of the Statehouse, and it's across the street from Hays Hays & Wilson, the biggest lobbying firm in town. But it's… More >>
  • Best coffeehouse

    St. Mark's Coffeehouse

    Once upon a time, the coffeehouse was where you went to drink your fill of an authentic, big-city experience. You might be served by someone sporting a nose ring and tattoos, and you could eavesdrop on the couple with matching purple hair sitting near you or brood in the corner and write poetry for hours. Then came the corporate cloning… More >>
  • Best teahouse

    Gemini Tea Emporium

    Tea-drinking turns over a new leaf at Gemini Tea Emporium. Owners Brad Cavender and Abdulkadir Omar get extra credit for opening their ultra-hip shop in the heart of Five Points on Welton Street. Gemini is a sign of faith in the neighborhood's capacity for revival, but this shop would be equally welcome in any other part of town. The chic,… More >>
  • Best authentic English tea

    The Gift Box

    Along with cards, ceramic figures, earrings and ornaments, the Gift Box has always boasted several shelves lined with English jams, biscuits, chocolates, condiments and even cleaning supplies, along with a freezer crammed with crumpets, sausage rolls, pasties and bangers; homesick Britishers have been known to visit just to smell the Dettol. But owners David and Carole Scribner always envisioned something… More >>
  • Best chai

    Common Grounds - CLOSED

    What's a coffeehouse doing making such a great cup o' tea? That's what we wanted to know, and here's the answer: Mary and Lisa Rogers, the owners of the two Common Grounds coffeeshops, are tea lovers at heart. After doing some research on the origins of chai, an Indian and Middle Eastern drink made from spiced tea and steamed milk,… More >>
  • Best restaurant when you're on the see-food-and-eat-it diet

    World Buffet

    World Buffet won't go belly up as long as it keeps putting out a spread like this one. For $5.49 at lunch and $7.99 at dinner, diners can stuff themselves with no fewer than a hundred items. There's a staggering collection of Asian dishes -- everything from egg rolls to sweet-and-sour pork, sesame chicken and orange beef, fried rice and… More >>
  • Best cheap breakfast

    Breakfast Palace

    The waitresses wear Sturgis T-shirts, the customers are gossiping about who owes whom money at Broadway's dirtier businesses, and no one takes any crap. We'd be willing to pay extra for such atmosphere, but Breakfast Palace serves it up free, along with the cheapest, heartiest breakfasts in town. For a measly $2.99, you get gritty realism as well as two… More >>
  • Best Sunday brunch buffet

    Garden Terrace at the Inverness Hotel

    Other places may do it bigger, and some may even offer a few better individual dishes, but for price and quality, no Sunday brunch beats the blowout at Garden Terrace. At $21.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids (those under four eat free), this could be the deal of a lifetime. In addition to the usual roster of breakfast items… More >>
  • Best a la carte brunch

    Strings - CLOSED

    The dining areas are bright and cheerful and so is the staff, which makes for a happy way to start off a leisurely Saturday. For brunch, Strings keeps it simple -- a pasta dish or two, a half-dozen egg items and a smartly assembled smoked-salmon salad -- but it's all simply delicious. The shrimp hash over potato pancakes comes topped… More >>
  • Best French toast

    jou jou at the Teatro Hotel

    There's no better way to start a downtown workday than with breakfast at jou jou, the more casual but still classy Kevin Taylor eatery in the Teatro (the higher-priced spread, Restaurant Kevin Taylor, is but a doorway away). The lighting is soft, but the classic breakfast menu is a real eye-opener. For starters, just feast your eyes -- and then… More >>
  • Best crêpes

    Trattoria Stella

    On weekend mornings, the three chefs at Trattoria Stella, a groovy little bistro in northwest Denver, take a look at what's fresh in the fruit market that day, then stir up some highly desirable crêpe combinations. First they pour fresh egg batter into a crêpe pan and fry it golden, then fill the crêpe with such delights as locally grown… More >>
  • Best steak-and-eggs breakfast

    McCoys Restaurant

    If you don't haul the morning to the mat, it leg-whips you. McCoys helps you grapple with each new day by keeping the steak and eggs an eternal special. Just $4.89 buys you two eggs, an ample slab of quality beef, decent hash browns and toast, prepared just the way you want it and served by friendly, sassy waitresses in… More >>
  • Best power breakfast

    Village Inn Cherry Creek

    Remember, time is money -- and the truly powerful don't like to waste either. They don't have time to dawdle at some chi-chi breakfast place, and even though they've got plenty of cash, they don't want to waste it on a frou-frou repast. That's why the smart money is on the Village Inn in Cherry Creek as the most powerful… More >>
  • Best power lunch

    Bistro Adde Brewster

    If you're on a power trip, chances are you've found your way to Bistro Adde Brewster. But be warned: You'd better plan on doing your business in person, because if that cell phone rings, owner Adde Bjorklund may take it away from you. ("Behave and you'll get it back at the end of lunch," he often admonishes.) Apparently the in… More >>
  • Best power lunch -- non-power-trip division

    La Fiesta Supper Club

    Those truly in the know realize that there's no supper at La Fiesta. The place is open for weekday lunch only -- but that's okay, because most diners will have made their dime before the close of the business day. For decades, the town's true power brokers -- everyone from lawyers to cops to insurance brokers to journalists -- have… More >>
  • Best place for a nooner

    Sambuca Jazz Café

    Dinner at Sambuca Jazz Café is sexy enough, but there's something about the low-lit dining rooms filled with faux-leopard cushions and soft, pillowy ceiling fabrics that makes us want to be here when we shouldn't be -- and with someone we shouldn't be with. Say, at lunch, with the boss's significant other. He or she is bound to appreciate the… More >>
  • Best restaurant when you're on the doughnut diet

    Chuck's Do-Nuts

    What goes round comes round. "Quality Donuts Since 1948," the sign promises, and Chuck's Do-Nuts delivers. Each and every day, Chuck's bakers cook up two dozen kinds of doughnuts, and then charismatic owner Dan Imo presides over the day's purchases. He gets a little help from his peanut gallery of regulars who perch at the low counter and drink coffee… More >>
  • Best lunch wagon

    O'Brien's Wings & Things

    Lunch doesn't have to be the time to fill your moaning stomach with mediocre, artery-clogging food designed to fortify you for the horrors ahead (or kill you before you return to the boardroom). It can be a time to retreat, to return to simpler times and simpler pleasures. After all, that's what chef Kevin O'Brien did when he closed his… More >>
  • Best lunch buffet

    Santino's

    Tired of the typical Asian lunch deal, where a buck a scoop nets you nothing but dried-out rice and sesame chicken that tastes like candy-coated cardboard? Then head over to Santino's, where chef/owner Sonny Rando puts out an Italian spread that gives new meaning to the word abbondanza. For $9.95 a person, diners can tuck into soups, salads, breads, mini… More >>
  • Best place to hear the Cubs lose

    Chicago

    Luanne and Joe Margotte, proprietors of the Chicago sandwich shop on West Colfax, are displaced Chicagoans in thought, word and deed. As such, they serve up the authentic comfort food of their hometown --Vienna beef hot dogs piled with yellow mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomatoes, pickles and sport peppers; overstuffed Italian beef and sausage sandwiches dripping with juice; pork chops… More >>
  • Best power dinner

    Meritage at the Omni Interlocken Resort

    Why are some of the country's most influential business types hanging out in Broomfield? They're wining and dining at the Omni Interlocken, one of Colorado's newest and swankiest hotels, which boasts not only a swell (read: powerful and majestic) view of the mountains, but also a big-deal golf course (John Elway doesn't hold his Celebrity Classic on just any old… More >>
  • Best dinner under $5

    Yan-Kee Noodle

    Billy Lam has been cooking up great, inexpensive food at his Chef's Noodle House in Aurora for six years now, and a few months ago, he decided to use his noodle on the other side of town. The result is Yan-Kee Noodle, which turns out killer noodle and rice bowls, many of which sell for under five bucks but contain… More >>
  • Best place to eat dinner after 10 p.m.

    Sacre Bleu

    When the beautiful people want to eat beautiful food, they head to Sacre Bleu. This new see-and-be-scene restaurant initially served dinner until 11 p.m. But the demand for late-night dining was so high that it's since extended its kitchen hours beyond midnight. At any time of the evening, chef Don Gragg offers up French delights in the nouvelle spirit, using… More >>
  • Best place to eat dinner after 1 a.m.

    Breakfast King

    At this point, your stomach -- and probably your soul -- needs some soothing. How about an open-faced roast beef sandwich on white bread with real mashed potatoes and enough rich, dark-brown gravy to float a boat? Or a plate of hash browns smothered in a mellow gringo green? When it comes to 24-hour dining, this decades-old spot -- heck,… More >>
  • Best spot for grazing

    Mel's Bar and Grill

    Any meal is wonderful at Mel's Bar and Grill, but the appetizer menu alone is enough to make you get down on one hoof and start grazing. Risotto, a blue-crab cake, seared foie gras, an ahi tuna Napoleon and house-smoked salmon are some of the dozen-plus possibilities, with every starter wildly flavorful, artfully arranged and garnished, and generously portioned --… More >>
  • Best spot for gazing

    The Beehive

    How apropos that a restaurant that has chic customers swarming around it like, well, like bees around a hive, is actually named The Beehive. And the place is always buzzing, with well-dressed, disposable-income types jostling for position inside a tightly packed dining room that offers an ideal setup for people-watching. Because the space is long and narrow, no one gets… More >>
  • Best Monday-night special

    Rodney's - CLOSED

    Nothing at Rodney's, one of the last fern-bar holdouts, is ever expensive, but on Monday nights, its spaghetti special is as cheap as cheap gets. A bottomless plate of pasta covered with Rodney's heavy marinara and sided by a fat Italian sausage costs just $4.95 -- and that includes a nonstop supply of buttery garlic bread. Adding to the bargain… More >>
  • Best cinnamon rolls

    Racines

    A popular breakfast, lunch and dinner spot, Racines has long been known for its baked goods, especially the brownies. But lately we've become addicted to its big, fluffy cinnamon rolls, a quintessential version of the old favorite: light, soft, swirled with cinnamon, and with just the right number of raisins to ensure that you get a plump, sweet one every… More >>
  • Best Tuesday-night special

    The Fourth Story

    Since good food goes great with fine wine, how do you think it might go with a fine car? The Fourth Story gives folks an enticement to dine upscale with its "Tuesday Night Taste Drive." In order to get in gear, all you have to do is book a table, throw away the menu, describe how much you'd like to… More >>
  • Best Wednesday-night special

    Swanky's

    The Swanky Spank Me, a lethal combination of Everclear, triple sec, blue Curaçao, pineapple and orange juices, and margarita mix, is something special any night of the week; its sole reason for existence appears to be offering the server a chance to ask, "Do you wanna Spank Me?" On Wednesday night, though, Swanky's has a less liquid special that hurts… More >>
  • Best Thursday-night special

    Wazoos

    Although Wazoos offers specials every weekday night, the taco-and-a-marg deal really puts a wahoo! in our Thursdays. The margaritas are $2.50 -- that's for Cuervo and fresh lime juice in a good-sized glass -- and the tacos are only a buck apiece. On their own, the tacos are something special: crispy shells generously filled with seasoned beef and lots of… More >>
  • Best Friday-night special

    Sabor Latino - CLOSED

    When this popular South American restaurant moved from its longtime location on West 32nd Avenue to West 35th, it also improved its wine list and expanded its menu. Most important, it instituted paella nights on Friday and Saturday. On those days, $44.95 buys you a bottle of Chilean wine plus paella for two. And not just any old paella, either:… More >>
  • Best Saturday-night special

    D.C. Deli Cafe

    The D.C. Deli specializes in good food for a reasonable price, but their Saturday night special comes loaded: It's a spaghetti dinner for two -- and we're talking a huge pile of perfectly cooked pasta, topped by a thick, meaty sauce filled with fresh herbs -- that also includes a hefty salad of mixed greens coated with homemade dressing and… More >>
  • Best Sunday-night special

    Hemingway's Key West Grille

    Although Hemingway's Key West Grille serves up crab legs every day of the week, on Sundays it really gives you a leg up -- offering Alaskan king crab legs that normally run $31.95 for a pound and a half at $29.95 for all you can eat. And it's not just all you can eat of the succulent crabmeat, either: The… More >>
  • Best Sunday happy hour

    Andrews' Pub & Lounge

    Andrews' Pub, which took over the space once occupied by City Spirit, has been making a name for itself as a good happy-hour stop and a hoppin' weekend joint. Our favorite time to visit Andrews' is on Sunday afternoons, when the normally raucous crowd is home nursing a hangover. It's the ideal time to get going on one of your… More >>
  • Best happy-hour shrimp

    Anita's Crab Company

    Work has just ended, and your energy is flagging: A quick bite and a beer should help you regroup. Between 5 and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Anita's Crab Company delivers a half-pound of fresh shrimp and a zingy cocktail sauce, which comes with a dollop of horseradish in the center, to your table for just $3. Peeling the shell… More >>
  • Best happy-hour oyster bar

    Willie G's

    Craving oysters in Denver is like needing a tomato in Siberia. Although the freshness will always be suspect, sometimes there's nothing you can do about an oyster urge but take a chance and eat one -- or a dozen. As LoDo has grown, plenty of oyster eateries have sprung up, but none offers the deal that Willie G's does. From… More >>
  • Best 16th Street Mall vendor

    The Philadelphia Filly

    Vendors come and go quickly on the 16th Street Mall as they discover that rents outweigh earnings. Sure, there's a hot dog stand every other block, two popcorn purveyors, a baked-goods venue and a bento-box spot -- but the pickings often seem very slim. That's when it's time to head over to the Philadelphia Filly, where Sally Rock and Dale… More >>
  • Best scones

    Devil's Food The Bakery

    Although baker/owner Gerald Shorey has been making a name for himself as a pastry chef for several restaurants around town, his true talents are on display at Devil's Food, his little bake shop on South Gaylord. In the wrong hands, the humble scone can be a hockey puck from hell; when Shorey's doing the baking, it's carbs from heaven. Shorey's… More >>
  • Best food-court vendor

    Falafel King

    When Schlomo Ravid opened the first Falafel King on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall in 1981, he couldn't have known that subsequent owners Avner and Amon Gilady would turn it into a food-court staple across town. Now Falafel King offers four ways to get good food fast: at the original Boulder site, in the Tabor Center and Republic Plaza on the… More >>
  • Best outdoor patio -- rural

    Chautauqua Dining Hall

    At the foot of the Boulder Flatirons sits a restaurant with a lot of room and a view. The Chautauqua Dining Hall occupies a historic 1898 building that once was open only in the summer but now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round. And in the kitchen of that building is Bradford Heap, a James Beard Foundation nominee as one… More >>
  • Best outdoor patio -- urban

    Highland's Garden Cafe - CLOSED

    Avid gardeners will tell you that the average garden requires at least three years to take hold, and even more if the plan is elaborate. Well, it's been about five years since Pat and Chuck Perry planted a garden outside their lovely Highlands Garden Cafe, and in that time, their restaurant has not only taken hold as one of Denver's… More >>
  • Best food at Six Flags Elitch Gardens

    Pizza Alley

    If you left it up to your children, their entire college savings plan would fund a dozen outings to Elitch's. And once inside, they'd feel no remorse about begging -- no, demanding -- that you devote your retirement nest egg to purchasing an endless parade of toxic snacks. Don't despair: A thriftier but still fun alternative does exist. Pizza Alley,… More >>
  • Best gourmet to go

    Tom's Home Cookin'

    Tom Unterwagner strives to make food that tastes just as good as Mom's used to -- and since these days Mom is as likely to be turning on the computer as she is the stove, that's a laudable goal. And Tom's Home Cookin' delivers (although not in the strict sense of the word, since you have to pick up the… More >>
  • Best salad

    California Pizza Kitchen

    Yes, with a name like California Pizza Kitchen, the pizza is one good reason to go to this popular new eatery in Cherry Creek. But there are so many more things to love than just the unique barbecued-chicken 'za. There's the fast service (which makes up for the long wait). And then there's the Oriental chicken salad: Fresh, ice-cold shredded… More >>
  • Best Caesar salad

    Piatti

    This warm, upscale but casual eatery may be a link in a California-based chain, but it knows a thing or two about Italian food. The pastas come covered with well-executed sauces; the wine list focuses on vino from the boot and is well-priced, to boot. But it's the Caesar that we truly hail. This salad is precisely, perfectly made, with… More >>
  • Best sides

    Restaurant Rue Cler

    Chef Michael Degenhart has clearly mastered the art of French cooking, as evidenced at his own restaurant, Rue Cler. While much of the menu consists of what Degenhart describes as "American with a world view," the sides have the spirit of French cuisine, in which every detail counts. And so Rue Cler offers Yukon gold mashed potatoes, feather-light and buttery;… More >>
  • Best vegetarian restaurant

    WaterCourse Foods

    By now, Denver diners -- meat-eaters and veg-heads alike -- accept as a matter of course that WaterCourse Foods serves the town's best vegetarian meals (sadly, it's still only open for breakfast and lunch). Not content to stick with the dry, lifeless ingredients that have become such a hallmark of vegetarian cooking, chef/owner Dan Landes is always expanding his repertoire… More >>
  • Best vegetarian dish in a non-vegetarian restaurant

    Tante Louise

    The ultra-polished, romantic and enchanting Tante Louise offers up a spectacular array of French-inspired dishes that are as artfully presented as they are drop-dead delicious. There's so much to choose from that most diners never make it to the end of the menu's roster, much less order the Degustation des Legumes -- which, not quite literally, translates to Option for… More >>
  • Best chocolate cake

    Pasquini's Pizzeria

    Man does not live by pizza alone, although he could give it a good try at Pasquini's. In fact, the fat, cheese-blanketed pies are so good that most Pasquini's diners don't make it to dessert. And that's a shame, because Pasquini's serves the best chocolate cake in town -- an enormous wedge that's simultaneously dense and fluffy, fervently chocolate and… More >>
  • Best kids' menu

    Roy's Cherry Creek

    Tired of stuffing your kids with the same old hot dogs, chicken planks, pizza bites and mac and cheese? Not as tired as they are of being stuffed with the stuff. Treat them like big people and take them to Roy's, where the kids' meals are just as special as the adults', and all ages are treated to some of… More >>
  • Best kids' menu for divorced parents

    Govnr's Park

    When a divorced parent decides to dine out with the kids, it's important to do so in an atmosphere as comfortable for the little ones as it is for Mom or Dad. At Govnr's Park, a longtime central Denver hangout, the scene is relaxed and casual (unless, that is, you met your future ex- over a big margarita here a… More >>
  • Best sandwiches

    TreeHouse Cafe

    Although its sandwiches top any others in town, the TreeHouse Cafe -- a repeat winner in this category -- remains one of Denver's best-kept secrets. Less than seven bucks buys you a sandwich big enough for two, a massive, jam-packed meal made of top-notch meats, cheeses and other fixin's, all piled into your choice of focaccia or baguette, marble rye… More >>
  • Best panini

    Panini Grill

    Although every sandwich shop and cafe thinks it wants to offer panini, what they usually cook up is a far cry from the way these grilled Italian sandwiches are supposed to turn out. For panini done right, head to Panini Grill, a teeny Italian bistro that not only grills a mean panini, but boasts a welcoming attitude and makes good… More >>
  • Best tuna melt

    Ambrosia Bistro

    Comfort food never tasted this haute cuisine. The lowly tuna melt goes upscale at Ambrosia Cafe, the eatery created last year in the old Firefly Space by chef Mark Gordon and his partner, John Barocas. They've created a simple yet trendy neighborhood spot complete with landscaped patio and parking outside and Asian-influenced dishes inside. Gordon is reaching high here, and… More >>
  • Best chicken noodle soup

    The Soup Kitchen

    What's in a name? For starters, this little spot just off the 16th Street Mall looks better than your average soup kitchen, although it's not exactly the Taj Mahal: Little bits of information are handwritten on scraps of paper and stuck to the display cases, pots and pans; baker's pallets are stacked everywhere; and the decor consists of dozens of… More >>
  • Best cream of mushroom soup

    Diane's Good-to-Go

    Don't worry if many of the dishes at Diane's Good-to-Go seem half-baked -- that's by design, since these two gourmet-to-go outlets assume that you'll get the goods, then take them home and reheat them in the oven or microwave. So Diane's plans ahead, labeling each item with instructions for how to bring it to full flavor. The soups, though, are… More >>
  • Best soup kitchen

    Attivo Pizza and Italian Deli

    One of the last places you'd expect to get a stellar cup of soup would be a pizzeria, but last year Tony Velasquez, owner of Attivo Pizza and Italian Deli, and his kitchen manager, Jeff Carstens, decided to start experimenting with homemade soups. The result was fifteen flavor-packed soups, some impeccable versions of a classic (including an ultra-creamy cream of… More >>
  • Best burger

    Bang!

    While this bustling north Denver joint continues to attract new customers drawn by its downhome cooking and refreshingly simple concept, a base of regulars comes for one thing, and one thing only: Bang!'s incredible hamburger. It's hard to say which is more amazing, the roll or the meat, but both are given special treatment, resulting in a superlative burger. The… More >>
  • Best late-night burger

    Pint's Pub

    If there's anything better than a bloody good Wimpy burger, it's a bloody good Wimpy for half the price. Monday through Thursday from 10 to 11 p.m., that's exactly what Pint's Pub, a veddy, veddy laid-back British brewpub, offers for just $2.50. To rate that price, though, you have to also shell out for one of Pint's foamy, handcrafted beers… More >>
  • Best pie

    Papa Frank's

    A lot of folks go to Papa Frank's religiously on Sundays for the $5.95 all-you-can-eat spaghetti-and-meatballs deal. But this casual storefront run by the Rizzi family is also the final destination on another spiritual quest: the search for the perfect homemade pie. Although the selection changes daily, there are always four or five choices -- all of them delicious, and… More >>
  • Best bar burger

    Dazzle

    We're dazzled by many things at Dazzle -- its ultra-cool dining room, its collection of martini shakers, its excellent vodka cocktails, its ambitious menu -- but our favorite is the $4 "mini-burger," or "bar burger," as Dazzle denizens order it. Although this is supposedly half the size of the standard burger, it's more than a meal. Two triangles of focaccia… More >>
  • Best french fries

    Piscos

    McDonald's may think it invented the French fry as we know it, and the French are just snooty enough to claim pommes frites as their own, but the fact is that potatoes were grown in South America long before they ever made it to Europe. As a result, our friends south of the border know a thing or two about… More >>
  • Best fish 'n' chips

    Clancy's Irish Pub

    Let the chips fall where they may, and they're likely to land at Clancy's Irish Pub. There's nothing fishy about this honest-to-goodness pub in the heart of Wheat Ridge, which serves the best fish 'n chips in town. Big planks of beer-battered cod are deep-fried until the crust bubbles and the fish steams inside; they're delivered in a paper-lined basket… More >>
  • Best lamb

    Ilios

    Since Ilios is a Mediterranean restaurant, it's no surprise that it does lamb well; the surprise is that it does it well in so many ways. Start with the spicy barbecued lamb ribs, available as a tapas or an entree. The best way to eat these succulent, fat-dripping bones is with your hands, which means you'll be able to lick… More >>
  • Best ham

    NoNo's Cafe

    It's a big yes, yes to NoNo's, a whimsically decorated eatery that focuses on Southern-style cooking, with a special emphasis on New Orleans dishes. The menu changes every two weeks, and we go hog wild whenever we hear that the ham steak is available. Pig out on a thick-cut slice of smoked pork, cooked until the fat around the edges… More >>
  • Best spam

    Yoko's Express - CLOSED

    We've never managed to find anyone at Yoko's, a cute, mostly takeout place in Sakura Square, who can explain why a Spam roll is part of the bento repertoire -- but some things are better left a mystery. It's true that the pressed-pork product is popular in Japan -- again, for reasons that remain unclear -- but it's unlikely that… More >>
  • Best steakhouse

    Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House

    A great steakhouse is about more than great steak -- although that's certainly the prime consideration. Second comes the service, which must be knowledgeable and a tad snooty for all the important people who want to eat big meat, but not so snooty that the common man feels out of place. Third is the setting, with extra points for manly… More >>
  • Best prime rib

    El Rancho - CLOSED

    Although El Rancho opened fifty years and several owners ago, it's still in its prime. And so is the beef, a well-marbled rib roast dry-aged three weeks and cut off the bone in pieces ranging from eight ounces ($18.95) to sixteen ($30.95), tender as a baby's butt and served au jus. Every time you stick your fork in this prime… More >>
  • Best roast duck

    Vesta Dipping Grill

    Cooking duck isn't all it's quacked up to be: Keeping the flesh moist and the skin non-greasy takes some know-how, and complementing the duck's sweet, faintly gamey flavor without overpowering it or turning the bird into a meaty dessert is trickier still. But at Vesta Dipping Grill, chef Matt Selby makes it all look easy. His brown-sugar-smoked roast duck is… More >>
  • Best roast chicken

    Mountain View Cafe

    The Mountain View Cafe may look like an unlikely spot -- it's a bright-white, houselike structure tucked into a yard filled with statuary and lush foliage -- but its roast chicken is downright unbelievable. This bird is big, both in taste and portion. For $6.95, you get soup or salad (if you're a fan of feta, go with the Greek),… More >>
  • Best pre-ski pastries

    Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe

    After a stop at the Butterhorn Bakery, it's all downhill. This Frisco cafe is always packed with people fueling up for the slopes on everything from the Frisco skillet to biscuits and gravy to the best baked goods that side of the Continental Divide. In defiance of high-altitude cooking hazards, the Butterhorn keeps bringing out trays covered with huge cinnamon… More >>
  • Best fried chicken

    Caldonia's Bar-B-Que - CLOSED

    You wouldn't think a sports bar would have a sporting chance of serving the town's best fried chicken -- but Caldonia's scores with one high-flying bird. And this kitchen does more than chicken right; it's been serving up respectable, Oklahoma-style barbecue for over two decades. The fried chicken carries the flavor of the deep South -- its wet and juicy… More >>
  • Best chicken wings

    Calypso

    The folks at Calypso are pulling their fun Caribbean nightclub/jerk joint together on a wing and a prayer -- but what a wing! Four bucks buys ten of the flash-fried little appendages, which come plain or slicked with your choice of jerk seasonings or hot sauce, or a combination of the three. The jerk coating is our favorite, a sweet,… More >>
  • Best chicken little

    Little India

    The elegant, aptly named Little India does many things well, including a goodies-packed $5.95 lunch buffet and the saag paneer, a sophisticated take on creamed spinach. But the tandoori Cornish game hen is really something to crow about. Each little hen is marinated in yogurt that's been infused with garlic and ginger, then placed in the clay oven for a… More >>
  • Best chicken a la king

    The Blue House

    The Denver Dry Tea Room is just a memory, the top-floor space where for decades businessmen chewed each other up while ladies serenely lunched now a hip, $1.5 million loft. Assuming that its new owner, Rutt Bridges, doesn't plan to throw a citywide open house anytime soon, though, it's still possible to get a taste of the old place. That's… More >>
  • Best fried calamari

    Seven 30 South

    In the space once occupied by Pour La France! sits Seven 30 South, a revamped concept from PLF's owners that shifts the focus away from breakfast and lunch and toward a more sophisticated dining experience. Chef Kip Wotanowicz has created a menu that matches the tony new interior, one that features a number of innovative offerings. Tops on the list… More >>
  • Best barbecued ribs

    Brothers BBQ

    Oh, brother! We have no bones to pick with the O'Sullivans, who continue to turn out the best ribs in town at their Brothers BBQ. They came to Denver from England via the South, working on their barbecue along the way. For example, they took the peppery, vinegary Memphis sauce and refined it until the vinegar is nothing but a… More >>
  • Best barbecued brisket

    Blest Bar-B-Que of the Rockies

    When Pastor Gene Washington got the call to take his family to an old soda fountain in Littleton and start serving up great barbecue, he answered -- and as a result, we're blessed with Blest Bar-B-Que of the Rockies. From Grandma Sharon down to granddaughter Jasmine, everyone puts their hands in, and their work pays off with such rib-stickin' sides… More >>
  • Best barbecued buffalo

    Buffalo Corral

    When third-generation rancher George Harral and his wife, Georgia, left Texas behind, they knew they wanted to set up a smoke shop somewhere. Lucky for us, they picked a great site: Lookout Mountain, in a hundred-year-old building that reeks of history. The Harrals then set out to smoke everything imaginable -- and even a few things that weren't -- from… More >>
  • Best burnt barbecue

    We're Smokin' BBQ

    In Kansas City, the smoky tips of brisket that can't be sliced off and sold are called burnt ends or brownies. Some KC eateries have made a name for themselves with these tidbits, and with good reason: The extra smoke makes for concentrated barbecue flavor. And after trying for some time to get their brownies right, We're Smokin' has the… More >>
  • Best plate of spaghetti

    The Saucy Noodle

    The Saucy Noodle may be down -- this spring a fire gutted its storefront location along with the space next door, where the Noodle had just expanded -- but don't count it out yet. When owners Erin and Nathan Markham (who've been running the place since before Sam Badis, the original owner and Erin's dad, passed away four years ago)… More >>
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