Food & Drink

  • Best Comfort-Food Restaurant

    Tom's Home Cookin'

    Since September 11, we Americans have been self-medicating our depression with foods that remind us of hearth and home, warmer, fuzzier times, and the good old days when you could get on a plane without getting felt up. Mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, roast chicken and Oreos are being consumed in record numbers as we seek out restaurants that comfort… More >>
  • Best Macaroni and Cheese

    Dazzle

    You're a grownup now, and it's time to put the neon orange mac 'n' cheese mix behind you, not inside you. In keeping with its name, Dazzle goes for something above and beyond, serving up a macaroni and cheese that's positively dizzying. Elbow macaroni and four cheeses -- parmesan, Fontina, mozzarella and gouda -- are mixed in just the right… More >>
  • Best Mashed Potatoes

    Solera

    Since chef Goose Sorenson -- formerly of Mel's Restaurant and Bar and Starfish -- took over the kitchen at this difficult address that last year was Ambrosia, things have been looking up. For Solera, the dining area has been reworked to seem more intimate and inviting, and the menu is filled with Sorenson's eclectic inventions, including foie gras on a… More >>
  • Best Meatloaf

    Bang!

    When the world's going to hell in a handbasket, you'll find us at Bang!, drowning our sorrows in the tangy, beef-rich homemade gravy that comes slathered over Bang!'s juicy meatloaf, a your-mama-never-made-it-like-this gourmet version with plenty of intense seasonings and none of the gristle often found in ground beef. The mashed potatoes (more gravy, please!) and sautéed spinach that come… More >>
  • Best Meatloaf Sandwich

    Lincoln's Road House

    Step into Lincoln's Road House, and it may seem as though you're back in the '70s-era wood-paneled basement at your friend's house where you used to sneak beers. But don't let the ultra-casual lounge atmosphere fool you: Behind the bar lurks a kitchen that knows what it's doing, especially when it comes to meatloaf. This loaf is meaty, all right,… More >>
  • Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    Rocky Mountain Diner - CLOSED

    Most restaurants hide the grilled cheese sandwich on the kids' menu, but the beloved Rocky Mountain Diner proudly puts it right beside the rest of its down-home comfort-food fare designed with adults in mind. And that's where this sandwich belongs. Two thick pieces of Texas-style toast are liberally buttered and grilled, then filled with so many slices of yellow American… More >>
  • Best Gooey, Melted Cheese in a Pot

    Swiss Haven

    When you're dining, nothing is as soothing as a big pot of cheese -- hot, molten goo ready-made for melting away the cares of the day. The aptly named Swiss Haven is so warm and welcoming a restaurant that by the time you're seated, you feel like you're sitting in the middle of a big tub of custard, while charming… More >>
  • Best Pot Roast

    Buckhorn Exchange

    The Buckhorn Exchange is in its 109th year, and unlike the hundreds of animals whose heads (and other parts) grace the walls, it's still alive and kickin'. And this restaurant really jumps at lunchtime, when the hungry hordes pile into its Old West-style dining room and dive into the pot-roast sandwich, the Buckhorn's best-selling comfort food. Good luck getting this… More >>
  • Best Pot Pie

    Great Northern Tavern

    All aboard for the ultimate in comfort food: the Great Northern Tavern's chicken pot pie. At this train-themed brewpub, the pot pie arrives as a huge crock filled with soft chicken chunks and fork-tender root vegetables suspended in a chicken-rich, lightly peppered country gravy that's just beginning to ooze out of a golden topper of rich, flaky pastry. The second… More >>
  • Best Comfort Breakfast

    Kathy and Bill's Diner

    The most comforting thing about comfort food is how satisfied your tummy feels after it's full. And it's not going to get any fuller than at Kathy and Bill's Diner, a place that clearly knows the meaning of "super-size." Every meal at this divey diner comes super-sized, but the breakfasts, which are served all day, are particularly big. The pancakes… More >>
  • Best Comfort Lunch

    Bruno's Italian Bistro

    Pasta is always comforting, but at midday, we need it most. For comfortable carbo-loading, head over to the soothing Bruno's, where nothing is rushed and the servers never fail to sport a smile. Start your meal with a bowl of that day's zuppa, maybe a creamy wild mushroom or a warming minestrone. Then follow up with penne Alfredo, with its… More >>
  • Best Southern Comfort

    Cafe Evangeline

    Owner Marilyn LeBlanc is so gracious, Cafe Evangeline feels more like a Louisiana home than a storefront on South Broadway. And a bit of the food at this small Cajun and Creole eatery is enough to transport you straight to the Bayou. The kitchen at Evangeline puts out a mean jambalaya and étouffée, and the catfish and frog's legs are… More >>
  • Best Cold Comforts

    Rocky Mountain Fruit Shake
    Tabor Center

    Forget those cooler-than-thou chain spots: Rocky Mountain Fruit Shake knows how to make a liquid lunch a stirring experience. Fresh fruits and juices mix with frozen yogurt or ice for healthy, refreshing shakes; for an extra boost, add protein powder, ginseng, lecithin or spirulina. Take the invigorating brew back to the office or sit in the food court where you… More >>
  • Best Comfy Seats in a Restaurant

    Citrus

    Everything at Citrus seems a bit overblown, from the cocktail waitresses clad in little black dresses to the copious amounts of Champagne consumed on any given night. And there's something about the velvety booths against the restaurant's far wall that takes even the cozy concept of "comfy" over the top. High-backed and banquette-style, these seats feel isolated from each other… More >>
  • Best Comfy Place to Sit While Waiting for a Table

    Mateo

    So many restaurants have stopped taking reservations, it's becoming commonplace for would-be diners to stand awkwardly in a foyer the size of a broom closet or resort to paying extra in order to drink overpriced liquor at an overcrowded bar until a table comes open. But Mateo, a charmingly hip Provençal spot in Boulder, makes the wait a worthwhile part… More >>
  • Best Service

    Mizuna

    The team at Mizuna works like a well-oiled machine. It helps that many of the staffers have been at this spot since it was Aubergine and were so happy there that when chef/owner Frank Bonanno and his partner, Doug Fleischmann, took over the space, they stuck around. But Bonanno and Fleisch-mann quickly gave them even more reason to be happy… More >>
  • Best Valet Service

    Boulder ChopHouse & Tavern

    Last fall, Boulder City Council approved the Boulder ChopHouse's valet service on one condition: The restaurant had to supply free valet parking for anyone who wanted to use the service, whether or not they were planning to eat at the restaurant. For reasons unknown, the ChopHouse agreed. As a result, folks hungry for a parking place in this congested part… More >>
  • Best Pooch-Friendly Restaurant

    Poggio's

    No, you can't bring Bear or Baldo inside; that wouldn't be sanitary. But Poggio's, a fresh-faced addition to the eateries of Highlands Square, provides a water dispenser for thirsty mutts outside; posts photos of pet-owning customers inside; and serves free doggie treats for canines who wait while their handlers pick up breakfast bagels stuffed with eggs and roasted peppers, panini… More >>
  • Best Family Restaurant

    Rosa Linda Mexican Cafe

    A great family restaurant begins with a great family, and you won't find a better one than the family behind Rosa Linda Mexican Cafe. As their northwest Denver eatery grew -- from a little walk-up burrito window to a series of colorful storefronts -- the children of Virgil and Rosa Linda Aguirre grew, too, from polite kids who used to… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream in a Restaurant

    Pesce Fresco

    As Pesce Fresco's name implies, the specialty at this stylish restaurant is fresh fish; the seafood dishes, particularly any involving pasta, are superb. (So is the Gorgonzola cheesecake appetizer.) But don't sell dessert short. Owners Joel and Merrilee Diner have trained their staff to always go the extra mile, and they model that behavior by making their own gelato-style ice… More >>
  • Best Cakes

    The Cream Puffery

    If the movie Chocolat had been about pastries instead of chocolate, the Cream Puffery could have played the part of the sensuous shop. Partners Amy DeWitt, a pastry chef and cake designer, and Cuban-born Lourdes Sanchez have created a dessert-lover's paradise. Although the Puffery also serves commendable authentic Cuban sandwiches and espresso, the cream of the crop are the cakes… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    2 Boys Baking Company

    There are indeed two boys who run the 2 Boys Baking Company, but they're shy. Instead of tooting their own horns, they insist that their baked goods speak for themselves -- and they're right. Still, it's hard to believe that just two people can produce all the wonderful items that fill this tiny spot to overflowing. Everything is made from… More >>
  • Best Baguettes

    Breadworks

    A real baguette is a work of art. While many bakeries attempt to create the elongated, cylindrical French bread, few are able to master its crisp, brown crust and airy, chewy center. But Breadworks succeeds were so many others fail. Here the baker rolls the dough tight so it rises just right, then leaves it in an enormous brick-and-tile oven… More >>
  • Best Cinnamon Rolls

    Daniel's of Paris

    Nestled in the middle of a nondescript strip mall, Daniel's of Paris is a cheery little bakery that makes gorgeous cakes, tarts, cookies and the town's best cinnamon rolls. These soft, doughy bundles of goodness are flecked with plenty of cinnamony sugar and topped with a thick slick of fondant, an icing made from sugar, water and cream of tartar… More >>
  • Best Challah

    Breadsmith

    Done right, this yeast-pumped egg bread, traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays, is something worth craving any day. Every Friday, Breadsmith has perfect challah ready to go: sweet, spongy-soft, braided loaves that sport even, smooth crusts with a thin, egg-yolk sheen. Eat it right away for the most velvety of fresh-bread textures -- oy! -- or let it… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Biscuits

    D'Eggos

    Get to D'Eggos early if you crave the best biscuits in town. They come out of the oven piping hot at the crack of dawn, whisked to your table by the efficient and personable Rose. Chewy and immense, they're good as the centerpiece of a hearty biscuits-and-gravy dish or on the side, slathered in honey and butter, accompanying one of… More >>
  • Best Eggs Benedict

    730 South

    The yolk's on all the other breakfast joints in town too chicken to get real: By making hollandaise to order, 730 South forever won our hearts (even as it clogs our arteries). Every weekend morning, this charming and casual bistro turns out the best eggs Benedict in town: a buttery croissant (rather than the traditional English muffin) split and topped… More >>
  • Best Eggs Benedict for Dinner

    Jax Fish House

    Sunday through Thursday nights, Jax Fish House features "blue-plate specials" that fit the mood of the day. On Mondays, that means fish 'n' chips; Tuesday is Wash Day, cleaning the kitchen out of shrimp and beans and rice. But Sunday dinner is our favorite meal at Jax, because that day's offering is steak 'n' eggs Benny, a serious version of… More >>
  • Best Cheap Breakfast

    The Chalet

    Rise and shine at the Chalet, which manages to be too cute and a total dive at the same time. Although the building is shaped like a Swiss cottage, behind its scalloped-edge windows and lacy curtains lurks a quintessential diner, where waitresses who have been there forever know all the regulars' names. The honey-fried chicken is delish -- all crackly… More >>
  • Best Place to Shlep Around on a Saturday

    Cherry Creek Farmers' Market

    There's no better way to waste a Saturday morning than wandering around the Cherry Creek Farmers' Market. Every weekend from May through October, the Bed, Bath & Beyond parking lot becomes a great place to stock up on fresh legumes and fruits harvested by local growers. If you haven't had breakfast, you can fill up on breads and pastries sold… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch Buffet

    Cucina Rustica

    Every Sunday, the elegantly rustic Cucina Rustica, located in the Lodge at Vail, unveils the brunch buffet blowout of all blowouts. You'll find the usual suspects -- made-to-order waffles and omelettes, eggs Benedict, housemade breads and pastries, a carving station that alternates between spit-roasted whole salmon, lamb, turkey and sirloin -- but since this restaurant specializes in Tuscan-style fare, it… More >>
  • Best à la Carte Brunch

    Piscos
    1120 E. 6th Ave.
    303-777-8222

    When it comes to innovation, most Sunday sit-down brunches lay an egg. But at Piscos, you won't find the same old, same old. The cuisine here is South American, which on Sundays translates into a half-dozen interesting dishes you won't find anywhere else in town. Check out the Chilean scramble, which stirs things up by mixing eggs with spinach, onions,… More >>
  • Best Power Breakfast

    Decisions

    Decisions is the best-kept secret on East Colfax, which could be why serious decision-makers decide to hold their power breakfasts here, away from prying eyes. The restaurant is close enough to the Capitol to appeal to lawmakers and right on the way to work for downtown types; stop by any morning and you'll see power brokers wolfing down eggs Benedict… More >>
  • Best Powerful Breakfast

    Sam's No. 3

    At Sam's No. 3, a wonderfully kitschy diner, the Kitchen Sink Skillet will either kill you or keep you fueled for an entire day. Two eggs, done your way, are placed on top of a skilletful of grill-crisped home fries that have been mixed with melted cheddar, grilled onions, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, sliced mushrooms and pieces of ham, bacon,… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Campo de Fiori

    Power to the businesspeople who cram into this authoritatively noisy spot for lunch, eager to see who else is there and ciao down on innovative, new-wave Italian fare. The bright, bustling Campo de Fiori is so noisy that no one can eavesdrop on your conversation, and the menu alone will give you plenty to talk about -- from bold gnocchi… More >>
  • Best Power-Lifting Lunch

    Café Monaco at the Colorado Athletic Club

    Those who frequent the Monaco outpost of the multi-site Colorado Athletic Club have an extra incentive to get a good workout: an in-house cafe that serves up better chicken wings and savvier Caesar salads than you'll find in most regular restaurants. Set up behind the check-in desk at this large workout facility, Café Monaco boasts a dozen wooden tables and… More >>
  • Best All-You-Can-Eat Deal

    Marrakesh

    Don't you know we're riding high on the Marrakesh express, an all-you-can eat buffet lunch featuring the best this restaurant has to offer? For $5.95, a diner can sample four Middle Eastern entrees, including a heavenly chicken dish, in addition to sides, salads and gooey sticky buns so sweet they'd make the gods weep. Although the meal itself is a… More >>
  • Best Free Happy Hour

    Tamayo

    Sidle up to the bar at Tamayo between 5 and 7 p.m. weekdays and prepare to get happy. Very happy. The jazzy, snazzy atmosphere at this upscale Mexican restaurant is enough to make you feel upbeat, but the happy-hour deal is guaranteed to elevate your attitude. During Hora Feliz, what is already one of the best margaritas in town comes… More >>
  • Best Cheap Happy Hour

    Del Mar Crab House

    Fishing for an inexpensive way to unwind after work? Cast your lot with the rest of the downtowners who head to Del Mar Crab House, an inviting, below-street-level eatery in Larimer Square. There's no bait-and-switch here: Look for the $2 appetizers offered Monday through Thursday, and you could net a cup of soup, mussels, peel-and-eat shrimp, crabcakes or steamed clams… More >>
  • Best Happy Half-Hour for Free Beer

    Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery

    The Park Meadows outlet of the Rock Bottom Brewery features a friendly deal on select Thursday evenings: Between 6 and 6:30 p.m., you can stop in and enjoy a free beer whenever a new brew is tapped. And since this offer is only one per customer, please, let us suggest a glass of Catcher in the Rye ale, the specialty… More >>
  • Best Expense-Account Dinner

    Restaurant Kevin Taylor - CLOSED

    Just looking at the appetizer menu at Restaurant Kevin Taylor, restaurateur Kevin Taylor's namesake that recently earned Mobil four-star status, is enough to overdraw our bank account. But when price is no object, serious foodies and folks with expansive expense accounts head straight for this elegant room, where the food is enough to make your eyeballs roll toward the heavens.… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for You and Sixty of Your Closest Friends

    Highland's Garden Cafe - CLOSED

    Last year, the popular Highland's Garden Cafe changed course: Instead of acting like a regular restaurant, it's now a mecca for folks looking to get together with anywhere from six to sixty for private meals in the comfort of these two joined Victorian homes. While the gorgeous spaces are still open to the public a few times a month, the… More >>
  • Best Place to Tell Your Mother You're Gay

    BJ's Carousel - CLOSED

    Okay, maybe the name should be her first clue, but if that doesn't do it, a walk through the bar, filled with drag queens and male strippers, might be all she needs. But sometimes Mom just doesn't get it, and that's when you can sit down in the colorful dining room at BJ's Carousel and, over very good, all-you-can-eat spaghetti… More >>
  • Best Place to Tell Your Significant Other It's Over

    Sacre Bleu

    Mars and Venus never had it so bad: You two come from such different planets, NASA is trying to get additional funding to study your relationship. It's clearly time to end it, and Sacre Bleu is just the place for that. Start the evening with dinner in the upscale eatery's lavishly decorated dining room, and after the bill has been… More >>
  • Best Place to Pop the Question

    The Greenbriar Inn

    Over the past 35 years, hundreds of men -- and a couple of women -- have popped the question at the Greenbriar, a romantic old country inn surrounded by twenty acres of lush landscaping, with a heated, French-door-lined atrium and an elegant, wood-lined dining room. Let the management know of your plans ahead of time, and they'll get as many… More >>
  • Best Place for a Nooner

    The Burnsley Hotel - CLOSED

    It's noon, and you're feeling naughty. Head to the Burnsley Hotel, where the dimly lit, low-ceilinged dining room has an intimate atmosphere and cozy nooks and crannies just right for cuddling up. If it's true love, split an entree of angel-hair pasta with fresh roma sauce so that you can slurp up the noodles together. If it's just sex, go… More >>
  • Best Place to Take Your New Girlfriend and Her Kids

    Cherry Creek Grill

    Last year, Cherry Creek Grill was Bandera, the best place to find divorced and single forty- and fifty-somethings who liked their liquor. Under a new name but the same ownership, it's now a family-friendly eatery that's the perfect spot to treat your date -- and her kids -- to dinner. The space is groovy enough to be impressive, and the… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Smokers

    Racines

    At most restaurants, where there's smoke, there's ire. And even at Racines during the first six hours of the day, smokers can light up only in the welcoming bar area. But starting at 2 p.m. -- and all day on Sundays -- Racines gives smokers some room of their own by turning the comfortable back area of the restaurant, with… More >>
  • Best Place to Recover From Smoking

    Taki's - CLOSED

    In Japan, miso soup is known as "smoker's soup," because the soy and ginger in the restorative brew are thought to counteract the harmful effects of cigarettes. And nowhere in town is the miso soup more flavorful and restorative than at Taki's, where owner Hisashi Takimoto has been working on his own brand of miso -- now available in grocery… More >>
  • Best Way to Avoid Cloud Cover

    Denver Guide to Smoke-Free Dining

    Anyone who's had a restaurant meal ruined by clouds of secondary smoke coming from the next table (or one across the room), take note: With a little help, even you can safely inhale your food. GASP of Colorado (Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution) and the Denver Alliance on Tobacco and Health have teamed up to compile the Denver Guide to… More >>
  • Best Way to Get Your Smoke-Cooking Degree

    Culinary Institute of Smoke-Cooking

    "The only advanced, home-study cooking course designed to improve the grilling and smoke-cooking skills of the novice backyard BBQuer, the professional chef and the advanced competition cook," the Culinary Institute of Smoke-Cooking was founded in the mid-'80s by Missouri residents Ruthie Knote and her late husband, Charlie. But CISC has since become the grill next door, as a group of… More >>
  • Best Smokers

    Outdoor Kitchen

    Smoking at high altitude means battling Arctic temperatures and a short supply of oxygen -- major threats to the low-and-slow technique. The Big Green Egg smoker overcomes those obstacles, though, thanks to its ceramic body and tunable top and bottom dampers. The egg-cellent Egg, available at the Outdoor Kitchen, lets 'cue hounds feed their smoking addiction year-round -- and makes… More >>
  • Best Smoked Turkey

    Sam Taylor's Bar-B-Que - CLOSED

    Although the smoked turkey is only available at Sam Taylor's Barbecue from Thanksgiving through New Year's, this bird is worth waiting for. The longtime Denver BBQ joint puts a whole turkey in a convection smoker with applewood and hickory, then smokes it for 24 hours. The surround-heat seals in the juices, so that when you cut through the skin, they… More >>
  • Best Turkey Legs

    The Rib Shack

    Do you march to a different drumstick? Shake a leg over to the Rib Shack, where they grill up dozens of big, meaty turkey legs every day. On their own or wearing a sock of barbecue sauce, these gamey gams are worth every penny of their $5.35 price tag.… More >>
  • Best Pig's Ears

    Zona's Tamales - CLOSED

    Our friend the pig has many worthy parts, from the feet that give kick to menudo to those juicy fat hams to that tasty underbelly. At Zona's Tamales, even the pig's ears go to a good cause -- cooked until tender (except for that crunchy cartilage) and slathered with mustard and onions, they fill a novel sandwich. Are you listening?… More >>
  • Best Dinner Under $5

    Tokyo Joe's
    Seven metro locations

    It can be costly enough feeding yourself, much less fueling up a whole family, which is why Tokyo Joe's was such a welcome addition to the Denver dining scene. This homegrown chain cooks up Japanese fare that's a clean, healthy alternative to grease-laden fast food. The tasty bowls, many of which are in the $4 range, feature marinated, grilled chicken… More >>
  • Best Dinner After 10 p.m.

    Zodiac Lounge

    All signs point to the Zodiac Lounge. During the week, this Mediterranean club serves dinner until 10 p.m. But on Fridays and Saturdays, the kitchen stays open until 1 a.m., and the late-night hours prove the perfect time to experience this sensory-overload "entertainment experience." Munch on delectable fried calamari, duck quesadillas, grilled tenderloin kabob and buttery shrimp scampi in the… More >>
  • Best Dinner After 1 A.M.

    Two-Fisted Mario's Pizza

    After a night of boozing, a slice of New York-style pizza dripping with cheese is just the one-two punch you need to make it home. The conveniently located Two-Fisted Mario's is open until 2 a.m. during the week and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, which gives you plenty of time to regroup after the bars close by putting a… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    Nicois

    Finally, a place that knows how to do tapas right. These little Spanish-style starters aren't supposed to be full-fledged plates, nor are they supposed to be priced like them. Nicois recognizes this and offers more than a dozen ways to sample delightful combinations of full-flavored Mediterranean ingredients, including squid stuffed with roasted shrimp, seared foie gras, serrano ham with manchego… More >>
  • Best Starters

    Vasil's Euro-Grille

    So many restaurants are hell-bent on putting all those newfangled, exciting ingredients on their appetizer lists that they forget all about the old-school classics, such as escargots bourguignonne and jumbo shrimp cocktail. Vasil's Euro-Grille, however, remembers to pay homage to the past even as it celebrates the new. The shrimp, for example, comes with that traditional cocktail sauce -- here… More >>
  • Best Finishers

    Micole

    We're sweet on Micole's pastry chef, Steven Fling, who continues to makes some of the most interesting, appealing desserts around. His eight-item roster includes such wonders as smoked golden pineapple in a coconut mousse with Myers's rum ice cream; a white-chocolate timbale surrounded by a basil-strewn apricot salad and apricot soup; and a "study" of three pears (pear tart, port-poached… More >>
  • Best Slacker Oasis

    Paris on the Platte

    Okay, so Paris on the Platte is not for everyone. If you don't like loud music or cigarette smoke, or you feel uncomfortable in the presence of artists, goths, ravers, punks, indie rockers, computer-game players, Lord of the Rings enthusiasts, writers and unabashed readers, you might want to stick to Starbucks. But for those who prefer their caffeine with a… More >>
  • Best Tea

    Tea Train

    If you're the sort who prefers -- no, aches -- to linger over your cozy cuppa, log on to Longmont-based Tea Train's comprehensive Web site immediately: You'll find yourself immersed in heady choices. The offerings include fine versions of all the classic black darjeelings, assams and keemuns, some with such intriguing designations as "Midnight Kiss" (a subtly perfumy Chinese brew)… More >>
  • Best Online Potica

    Orbit Corporation

    Hailed as a national treasure in Slovenia, potica is a European sweetbread that's time-honored -- and very time-consuming to make. Fine bread dough is rolled extremely flat and then sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, raisins, walnuts and many other ambrosial additions; it's then "primed" in a special, temperature-controlled box and baked. Robert and Frank Mauro started making potica in their kitchen… More >>
  • Best Square Deal

    Bump & Grind

    Among Bump & Grind's many post-meal wonders is a dreamy apricot-walnut bar, a square block of sweet sustenance. The Bump's pastry ace starts with a sticky, crumbly crust, then tops it with a blend of flour, apricots, sugar and walnuts. The baked result is a dense mouthful of whole-earth goodness that doubles as a supreme breakfast bar.… More >>
  • Best Wholesome Whole-Milk Tour

    Karl's Farm Dairy

    It's surrounded by sprawling suburbs, but Karl's Farm Dairy, a family-owned operation, hangs on to its cow-powered past. The dairy's new retail outlet, just down the road on 120th, serves up the best milk in Colorado, fresh-squeezed stuff made by the herd of Guernseys that roam the pasture out back. And tours of the dairy are an udderly amazing experience… More >>
  • Best Three-Drink Maximum

    Coors Brewery Tour

    Those in need of a free buzz need look no further than Golden's Coors Brewery. The standard tour of the facility lasts only 45 minutes, and midway through, drinking-age guests are given a Dixie-cup-sized gulp of brew, under the apparent assumption that they might not be able to complete the journey without one. Even better, the circuit winds up at… More >>
  • Best Liquor Is Quicker but Candy Is Dandy Tour

    Hammond's Candies

    When you're suddenly overcome by a craving for sweets -- you know, that sudden unstoppable need for sugar -- Hammond's Candies satisfies. Before you sink your sweet tooth into a gooey strawberry caramel or break off a piece of the company's famous ribbon candy, though, you might want to take a free tour of the factory. After all, the buildup… More >>
  • Best Cheese Plate

    Vesta Dipping Grill

    How much do we love this cheese plate? Let us count the wheys: At Vesta Dipping Grill, a hip, stylish restaurant in LoDo, Matt Selby, the kitchen's big cheese, is so serious about promoting the virtues of this dairy product that his well-selected, beautifully presented cheese plate is offered as both an appetizer and a dessert. The selection changes weekly,… More >>
  • Best Wine and Cheese Restaurant

    The Village Cork

    The Village Cork is just adorable, a wee bit of a place with a bar and five tables tucked into it. Once an ice-cream shop and then a deli, now it's the most charming of hangouts, a place for folks to stop by for a glass of wine -- choose from two dozen or so reds and whites, all available… More >>
  • Best Cheese Shop

    The Truffle

    Forty seconds into this engaging little shop, owners Kate and Dave Kaufmann will have you tasting a few cheeses you've never heard of before. Two minutes later, you'll have tasted ten. The generous taste tests are only part of what makes the Truffle the best cheese shop in town, though. Unlike the pre-wrapped wedges you find at grocery stores, the… More >>
  • Best Outdoor-Picnic Combo

    St. Kilian's Cheese Shop

    With these two stores nestled against each other in the Highland neighborhood, you've got the makings of a perfect picnic. First, stop by St. Kilian's, where Hugh O'Neill and Ionah de Freitas (former owners of Hugh's American Bistro) stock cheeses from all over the globe, including ones made right in our own Colorado back yard. They also have fresh-baked bread,… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Patio -- Urban

    Tamayo

    Tamayo won the location lottery when it took over the space that had been occupied by Cadillac Ranch and turned the second-floor terrace into a Mexican retreat. Every night that the weather cooperates, you can watch the sun set over the mountains and smell the fresh air, blessedly free of car exhaust, even though the traffic whizzing below on 14th… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Patio -- Suburban

    Yia Yia's Eurocafe

    Over the past five years, Yia Yia's Eurocafe has become a Denver Tech Center mainstay, in part because of its efficient, gracious service and well-executed Mediterranean food (including fabulous crab risotto cakes), and in part because it has one of the best outdoor patios in town. Overlooking a man-made pond, complete with fountain, and facing southwest to catch the last… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Sunflower

    As the area's best option for meat-free dining, Sunflower continues to blossom. Even though this tidy, sun-filled spot offers free-range chicken, seafood and hormone-free game meats, the bulk of its menu is vegetarian. The dishes are made from ingredients that contain no preser-vatives, chemical additives or artificial elements -- and they're even prepared in aluminum-free cookware, using non-irradiated herbs and… More >>
  • Best Salads

    Bistro Adde Brewster

    Best known for its see-and-be-seen scene where the in-the-know go to snuggle up against the bar and chat with owner Adde Bjorklund, Bistro Adde Brewster is also the town's premier stop for savvy salads. Featuring absolutely fresh ingredients tossed in unique combinations, the salads come in two styles: small plates, such as warm-braised Belgian endive leaves mixed with bacon, or… More >>
  • Best Soups

    Hilltop Cafe

    At the Hilltop Cafe, a charming, bright-yellow New American-style spot in a house on a hill in Golden, chef Ian Kleinman has made soups a specialty. His repertoire includes nearly a hundred concoctions, most of his own design, that he rotates regularly, and there isn't a loser among them. Kleinman does right by the classics -- a cool, creamy vichyssoise… More >>
  • Best Mushroom Soup

    Aix

    Fungi freaks can stop digging: Aix, a wonderful eatery with the air of Provence, makes the most of mushrooms with its wild-mushroom soup. Part chunky, part purée, this magical elixir tastes of nothing but 'shrooms -- from the pungent, heady broth to the butter-soft bits and a crowning touch of white-truffle oil. For true mycophagists -- you know who you… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Deli Tech - CLOSED

    If Deli Tech served nothing but its pastrami sandwich, it would still be serving the best sandwiches in Denver. The pastrami is totally New Yawk-style, with succulent, fat-edged, well-seasoned beef straight from NYC's Carnegie Deli. Get it on rye -- anything else is heresy, really -- and savor the juice-soaked crusts at the end. Once you're ready for a break… More >>
  • Best Cheesesteak

    Santoro's Brick Oven Pizzeria

    Sure, sometimes it seems like it might be easier to drive to Philadelphia, home of the cheese-steak, than to negotiate the weird setup at Heritage Hills. But even back in Pennsylvania, you might not find a cheesesteak as good as the one made at Santoro's Brick Oven Pizzeria. This tidy joint, decorated with hand-painted murals and not-too-cutesy Italian knickknacks, makes… More >>
  • Best Hamburger

    CityGrille

    CityGrille, a newly remodeled Capitol Hill hot spot, just keeps getting hotter -- and its burger just keeps getting better. To make its take on the American classic, the kitchen grills up 80 percent lean ground sirloin, then slaps it on a yielding, juice-soaking Bluepoint Bakery bun. The burgers are fine plain, but they're also good gussied up; one particularly… More >>
  • Best Over-the-Top Burger

    1515

    Owner Gene Tang has made many changes at 1515 over the years, not the least of which was shaving the restaurant's name down to a number. But he's added on everywhere else, from an expanded wine list that recently earned a coveted "Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator to a host of dishes created by chef Olav Peterson that roam… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    CityGrille

    Handy, isn't it, for a restaurant that makes the town's best burger to also make its best French fries? Ronald McDonald, eat your heart out: These strips are the real deal, skinny and salty, with flavor that comes from a quick dip in hot oil rather than a trip to a flavor factory. The fries are delivered to your table… More >>
  • Best Fried Olives

    Decisions

    Olive and learn at Decisions, where the most intriguing appetizer is an order of deep-fried olives. The kitchen starts with black ones, stuffs them with Asiago cheese, covers them in seasoned breadcrumbs, fries them up and then serves them in a martini glass with a housemade ranch dressing on the side. They're weird, wild and wonderful.… More >>
  • Best Fried Cheesecake

    Bastien's

    At Bastien's, a retro supper club, it sometimes seems like time has stopped -- back in the days when a steak had to be marbled with fat and no one said a discouraging word about cholesterol. And as if a plain old piece of cheesecake weren't a heart attack waiting to happen, Bastien's wraps the thing in a regular-sized tortilla… More >>
  • Best Fried Cheese Curds

    Tony's

    If you're from Wisconsin, cheese curds need no explanation. For those of you who didn't start out in the Dairy State, curds are the form that cheese takes before it's been aged for sale. These baubles look a little like styrofoam packing peanuts and have a texture that makes them squeak when you bite into one. Tony's starts with cheddar-cheese… More >>
  • Best Fried Sweets

    Carol Lee Donut Shop

    All of those trendy chain doughnut places may get the press, but that's not the hole story. For a doughnut to really touch the spot, it has to come with a history. Carol Lee Donut Shop has been serving up fried treats for over two decades. The doughnuts make great dunkers, the raspberry roll goes cinnamon one better, and the… More >>
  • Best Fried Oysters

    McCormick's Fish House & Bar

    Aw, shucks. Long before other seafood restaurants realized that Denverites had the raw courage to slurp down oysters, McCormick's was offering a wide selection of the fresh suckers every day. Even fried, these oysters are pearls: tender, tasty flesh encased in a light cornmeal crust. If the kitchen isn't too busy -- and fat chance of that, since the corner… More >>
  • Best Fried Squid

    Denver ChopHouse & Brewery

    Baseball fans and LoDo regulars alike make tracks to this train-themed brewpub a baseball's throw from Coors Field. As a result, the Denver ChopHouse sports some of the town's best people-watching -- but once we've settled into a cozy, private back booth, we find it tough to take our eyes off our order of calamari. The squid comes coated in… More >>
  • Best Surprise Squid

    Jalapeņo Mexican Grill

    We've always known that Jalapeņo Mexican Grill makes fab tacos, filling soft tortillas with delish deep-fried fish, but we never expected its squid to be right up there, too. At this fast-food-style spot, the squid are barely dusted with flour, then deep-fried until golden but still soft and pliant, with none of the chewiness or rubberiness you might expect. Ranch… More >>
  • Best Squid Salad

    Whole Foods Market
    Three metro locations

    We wouldn't squid you: This salad is one of the tastiest, healthiest (if addictive) things you'll ever eat, a combination of black mushrooms, sesame oil, sesame seeds, ginger, seaweed and fresh, yielding calamari whose flavors run together so that every bite becomes an earthy, nutty, spicy explosion. When we seafood like this, we eat it!… More >>
  • Best Pickled Herring

    Cafe Berlin

    Cafe Berlin doesn't have to fish for compliments over its pickled herring: The fish, pickled and spiced in-house, is tangy, firm and incredibly refreshing. Does the attractive little eatery do as well by other German specialties? You're darn Teuton! The sausages and schnitzels are superb, even better washed down with something from Cafe Berlin's large collection of German wines and… More >>
  • Best Fish Tale

    Cutthroat Cafe

    The servers say regulars know the story, but every time a newcomer walks in, they have to tell it again. The divey Cutthroat Cafe used to be an even divier Butcher Block, but the new owner changed the name to reflect the two most important things for him: fishing and his wife, the real love of his life. Cutthroat trout… More >>
  • Best Fried Fish

    Dixons - CLOSED

    At Dixons, Goodfriends and Racines, three sibling restaurants and local institutions, the fish and chips entree snags us hook, line and sinker. The bait begins with the batter, which is augmented by Dixons Angel Amber beer, a brew made off-premises that Dixons shares with its relatives. Sweet, fresh chunks of North Atlantic cod are dipped in the batter and then… More >>
  • Best Roast Fish

    240 Union

    Don't throw this one back: Roasted to order in a brick oven, 240 Union's fish is all crispy, sea-salty, lemon-tart skin and moist, silky flesh that melts in your mouth. The price and type of fish change with the seasons -- sometimes it's a snapper that's big enough for two, sometimes it's a sea bass you won't want to share… More >>
  • Best Broasted Chicken

    Okoboji Inn

    Broasting falls somewhere between roasting and frying, a patented process that was invented by the Broaster Co. back in 1952. Basically, it involves marinating a whole chicken, then putting it in a special pressure fryer that seals in the juices while keeping the oil content to a minimum. The result is one tasty bird: crispy skin, moist meat. The Okoboji… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Kapre Lounge & Fried Chicken #1

    The Kapre Lounge is a Denver institution, a longtime outpost on Welton Street that serves the best fried chicken in town. This is Southern-style chicken, with a crunchy, oily, peppery, lightly battered skin covering slippery, juice-dripping bird. And since the chicken is cooked in heart-healthy canola oil, go ahead and splurge on sides of buttery collard greens and dense macaroni… More >>
  • Best Sesame Chicken

    Moongate Asian Grill

    Fly us to the Moongate, one of this town's best-kept secrets. The tiny, six-table eatery in a tiny, nondescript strip mall cooks up quality Asian fare with big flavors -- and it's equally adept with the most popular dishes from each of the major cuisines in that region. While the tempura (Japanese), chicken satay (Indonesia) and egg rolls (Vietnamese) are… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Steak

    Bonnie Brae Tavern

    The Dire family has been serving good old-fashioned diner fare at this Bonnie Brae roadhouse since 1934 -- when the road outside was still dirt, rather than today's busy University Boulevard. But not much else has changed since those days. Sure, the pizza toppings have gotten more exotic, and microbrews now sit next to Coors at the bar (oh, yes,… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse

    Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse

    At Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, the steaks are awesome. The service is gracious. The wine list is impressive. The dining room is classy. The sides are stellar. The prices are up there -- but you get what you pay for. For the best steaks in town, Del Frisco's is the winner and still the chomp.… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse for the Common Man

    Texas Land & Cattle Steak House

    Saddle up and head south -- into the heart of suburban sprawl, for pity's sake -- for some of the best steaks in town. Texas Land & Cattle Steak House, a link in a chain out of Austin, serves up a heapin' helpin' of food in low-key surroundings; this steakhouse manages to feel like a Western watering hole without hitting… More >>
  • Best Prime Rib

    The Downtown Broker

    Prime rib is such an old-time tradition, it's not surprising to find the town's best version at the Downtown Broker, a thirty-year-old restaurant that has seen more proposals and anniversaries than Mickey Rooney. The elegant dining room -- part of a former bank -- is all Japanese cherry wood, ornate knickknacks, rich fabrics, cozy booths and low lighting. The service… More >>
  • Best BBQ Ribs

    Rib Crib Bar & Grill

    We're tickled by the ribs at the Rib Crib, which Evergreen native Troy Tyus took over last year from the Crib's original owners, who'd had the place for thirteen years. Along with the restaurant, Tyus got their secret recipes -- including how to rub and applewood-smoke St. Louis-cut pork ribs, baby backs and beef ribs so that they arrive at… More >>
  • Best BBQ Pork

    Rocky Mountain Barbecue & Catering

    It may boast the oddest location for a barbecue place we've ever seen, tucked away inside a big, fancy business park, but Rocky Mountain Barbecue & Catering is the real deal. For proof, try the pulled pork: salty and rich, with just the right amount of charred bits, and as tender as the big, puffy bun it sits on. Pour… More >>
  • Best BBQ Pizza

    Bourbon Street Pizzabar & Grill
    5117 S. Yosemite St., Greenwood Village
    303-721-6150

    Pizza covered with barbecued chicken is all the rage these days, but the first place to offer a BBQ pie in these parts was the N'Awlins-themed Bourbon Street. This fun, lively pizzeria features two dozen funky pies, ranging from the garlic-packed Dracula's Nightmare to the Philadelphia Story, which comes covered with cheesesteak essentials. But our all-time favorite is the Louisiana… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- New York Style

    Anthony's
    Five metro locations

    Yo! Anthony's serves the most authentic New Yawk 'za in town. Super-thin crackly crust. Sweet sauce. Lots of drippy cheese. Fold a slice in half, and orange grease runs everywhere. Don't argue: You're gonna like it.… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Chicago Style

    Meglio's

    Just stepping inside either of the two Meglio's outposts is enough to transport you back to the Windy City: Chicago memorabilia covers the walls, and regulars are always ready to chat about da Bears. But the pizza here is the real deal, too. In Chi-town, pizzerias pour it on thick -- and Meglio's follows suit by serving deep-dish pies so… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Colorado Style

    Wazee Supper Club

    The Wazee Supper Club, started nearly thirty years ago by the Karagas brothers, was a lower-downtown institution long before the area acquired the nickname "LoDo." Although this classic is now owned by the Wynkoop Brewing Co.'s John Hickenlooper (Jim Karagas still has My Brother's Bar), the pizza coming out of the kitchen is the same unique pie that Denverites have… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Iowa Style

    Justine's Pizza

    An Iowa-style pizza? If you never sausage a thing, head to Justine's Pizza, a little joint in Loveland that serves an "Eastern-Iowa-style" pie -- which translates to topped with sauerkraut and Canadian bacon and proves surprisingly tasty. How're you gonna keep 'em down on the farm? With pizzas like this.… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- By the Slice

    Papa Keno's

    Here's one place where bigger is better, because one piece of Papa Keno's pie could be enough to satisfy. Then again, it's hard to get enough of this pizza's crispy crust, gooey cheese and sweet sauce enhanced by plenty of oregano. The super-casual Papa Keno's is an ideal drop-in spot -- especially judging by the number of customers from the… More >>
  • Best Calzone

    Wedge Pizza Co.

    Wedge Pizza Co., a spacious, spanking-clean new pizzeria, makes pies that are a work of art, with cheese swirled around the thin, hand-tossed crust and a lot of thick, sweet sauce. But our favorite way to get a Wedge is as a calzone, with the crust folded over our choice of toppings, then slicked with olive oil and thrown back… More >>
  • Best Deal With the Devil

    Lechuga's Italian Restaurant and Lounge

    Lechuga's is such an authentic red-sauce joint, you expect to see Frank and the boys lounging around a table covered with a red-checked cloth, sharing a laugh and a bottle of Chianti. But if Ol' Blue Eyes were still with us, he'd probably get right in line with everyone else, peering into the heated display case next to the cash… More >>
  • Best Plate of Spaghetti

    Three Sons

    Three Sons is another north Denver landmark, an Italian eatery whose slick, busy dining room is decorated with Roman busts and softly colored lights. The fried chicken is one of the specialties here; if you can't resist ordering it, you'll still want to add a side of spaghetti. Even a side here is a hefty helping, a mound of perfectly… More >>
  • Best Chianti Collection

    Panzano

    If a squat green bottle covered with straw is your only Chianti experience, it's time to take a trip to Tuscany. And you won't need to go any farther than 17th Street, to Panzano, a lovely restaurant named after a village in the Chianti Classico region of Italy. Yes, in that country, Chianti is a classic. In this country, it's… More >>
  • Best Wine Shop

    Reservelist

    Looking for the perfect bottle of wine? Reserve some time at Reservelist, an astounding collection of small-batch, hard-to-find wines from around the world. Owner Chris Farnum, a sommelier well on his way to earning his master certification, has built a store that is literally a wine cellar, temperature-controlled and humidity-injected, where the wines are arranged by locale, variety and order… More >>
  • Best Wine Shop for First-Timers

    Corks

    Tired of cooler-than-thou wine stores? Try Corks, a warm, very drinker-friendly store with a completely down-to-earth approach. Owners Glenn Ehrlich and Pam Glynn, former advertising folks who decided one day that it would be neat to own a wine shop, have assembled around 300 wines, 90 percent of which cost less than $15 a bottle. The shop is divided into… More >>
  • Best Wine List in a Restaurant

    Fourth Story

    Restaurants looking to make their wine lists more accessible to diners should take a page from the Fourth Story and offer a variety of grapes and styles from a variety of locations, with enough rarities thrown in here and there to keep more serious wine enthusiasts interested. (No need to try to impress people with a 300-page roster that would… More >>
  • Best Beer in a Wine Store

    The Wine Company

    Despite its name, the Wine Company carries as much great beer as it does wine. And while many beer vendors slap the goods on the shelves and leave it to the customers to figure out what to drink, the staff here drinks -- and thinks about -- its beery inventory. As a result, burgeoning beer geeks can get great advice… More >>
  • Best Mead

    Redstone Meadery

    Drinkers wanting the latest buzz get their kicks with the honey wines made by David Myers at his Redstone Meadery. Once an at-home mead maker, Myers has turned his avocation into a vocation. His not-too-sweet bottled and draft meads are making the elixir accessible to the masses while turning Myers into the area's newest brewing revolutionary. Beowulf would be proud.… More >>
  • Best Corona Substitute

    H.C. Berger Brewing Co.

    Finally, a local brew for the wimpy Mexican beer drinkers among us! The H.C. Berger Brewing Co., usually known for its German-style beers, recently turned its eyes south and came up with Federales Export Cervesa Pils-ner. The beer's even poured into clear, longneck twelve-ounce bottles -- the better to grab all those folks who usually reach for a Corona or… More >>
  • Best-Kept Bar Secret

    Barmen

    When Peter Coors visited the town in Germany whence the original Adolph Coors sprang, he liked the local lager. So he brought some back to Golden and gave it to the boys in the lab. "Can we make this?" he asked. Turned out they could -- and the result is Barmen, a very rare brew available in only a handful… More >>
  • Best Bar Beer Selection

    Falling Rock Tap House

    For local beer hunters, no other bar touches the array of brews you can bag at Falling Rock. Owners Chris and Steve Black offer a palate-perplexing roster of over 70 draft beers and another 200-plus bottled versions; they eschew mass-market swill in favor of the best in national and craft beers. A year-round Great Global Beer Festival is as close… More >>
  • Best Brewpub Beer Selection

    Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery

    The warmth of the Mountain Sun lies in its intoxicating list of in-house beers. Brewer Mike Altman makes a dizzying selection of assertive, cut-no-corners beers, from the hoppy Colorado Kind to a toothy Scotch ale and a glorious, coffee-enhanced porter. As if that weren't enough exceptional brew, the house also serves a guest list of Colorado's best microbrews -- a… More >>
  • Best Brewmaster

    Adam Avery
    Avery Brewing Company

    Don't tell Adam Avery that the thrill-seeking spirit of the craft-beer boom has faded. Adam builds his company's growing sales (and national reputation) on big beers that challenge the most jaded palates. His IPA is a world classic, his stout lives up to its Out of Bounds title, and Hog Heaven barley wine is one of the country's hoppiest beers.… More >>
  • Best Brewpub for Beer

    Bull & Bush

    This long-lived watering hole combines three of bar culture's better merits -- alcohol, televised sports and a convivial pub vibe -- for a pleasing new hybrid. But it's the in-house beer that elevates the Bull & Bush to all-star status and keeps regulars coming back year after year. Head brewer Gabe Moline crafts a long list of exceptional beers, most… More >>
  • Best Brewpub for Food

    Wynkoop Brewing Co.

    Wynkoop Brewing Co., Denver's oldest brewpub, sits in a historic building, and for a few years, the menu seemed as ancient as the space. But these days the kitchen is as hopping as what's brewing in those giant tanks, and the food is not only consistently good, it's cutting-edge fare. At no other brewpub would we be brave enough to… More >>
  • Best Dive

    Casa Bonita

    Casa Bonita may not immediately come to mind when you're searching for a dive. You're thinking a dark little hole-in-the-wall, not a giant original eatertainment complex filled with canned Mexican music and canned refried beans. But consider: Foodies certainly think they're slumming when they come here. And as at any more traditional dives, inadvertent entertainment abounds. Besides, at Casa Bonita… More >>
  • Best Unexpected Food in a Dive

    Lancer Lounge - CLOSED

    At the Lancer Lounge, a true neighborhood joint, everyone knows your name -- even if you've forgotten it by the time you stumble in. Although legendary for its stiff drinks and amiable stiffs, the Lancer has some new bragging rights: It serves hearty, down-home food, thanks to Sully, who's now stirring the pot. A decided improvement over earlier operations (we're… More >>
  • Best Old Bar

    Duffy's Shamrock Restaurant & Bar

    The longest bar in Denver draws a clientele that's more eclectic and genuine than any you'll find at downtown's more freshly scrubbed haunts. Depending on the hour, Duffy's feels like an East Coast diner, a down-home cookery or a good ol'-fashioned Irish pub, where waitresses offer patience and sympathetic smiles to those who've had one too many Guinnesses. The look… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Lime - CLOSED

    Already the bomb, Lime is primed to go thermonuclear once the good weather comes to stay. That's when owners Curt Sims and William Logan will throw open the French doors in the back of their basement space and debut Lime's grand outdoor patio, sunken below Larimer Square and surrounded by high brick walls. Until then, fast-spreading word of mouth will… More >>
  • Best Place to Read the Game

    Pints Pub

    Pints Pub has little in common with LoDo sports bars: Beer selecting is about the most strenuous activity going on inside the thoroughly English, charmingly rustic little spot in the Golden Triangle. Still, regulars do enjoy watching a good game now and then. They'd just prefer that it not interrupt their conversation or overwhelm their senses. (The bar's many handcrafted… More >>
  • Best Rugby Bar

    Cadillac Jack's

    At Cadillac Jack's, real dudes with broad shoulders and real broads with hoarse throats gather to cheer their favorites on the tube and celebrate the dull ache of the latest scrum with plenty of beers and, yes, rugby songs. The tavern is especially lively in the latter half of September.… More >>
  • Best Background Noise in a Bar

    Swanky's

    Taking customer service to new levels, Swanky's pumps soft-porn Cinemax movies through the bar's bank of televisions. This entertainment approach gets points with patrons, who attempt to score while watching the pros hit home runs with ease, amid orgasms and under great lighting. Pick-up lines come easy, too: "Say baby, how'd you like to go to my place and do… More >>
  • Best 22-Boob Salute

    Lodo's Bar and Grill

    Everyone loves firefighters, but no one shows their feelings as enthusiastically as the female customers on the rooftop deck of Lodo's Bar and Grill. Warmed by the sun and perhaps a few cocktails, they stand at attention whenever a truck races out of the nearby fire station -- and salute the boys by flashing them as they barrel by. The… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Steve Lighthouse
    Pints Pub

    At Pints Pub, bartender Steve Lighthouse has developed a loyal following that appreciates his good humor, effortless shmoozing -- and the great drinks he pours. Born in Belfast, Lighthouse grew up in Denver and was educated at Stanford, so he brings a rare perspective to the bar. A theater lover, he recommends shows to his customers, and he considers it… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Brown Palace Hotel

    The Brown Palace has always stirred up a nostalgic longing for the martini's golden era, when the drink wasn't mixed with chocolate or blueberries and the concept of "class" meant more than a big wad of disposable income. When the hotel's Atrium, always an elegant choice for tea or a quiet cocktail, recently revamped its after-work menu options to include… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Lime - CLOSED

    You may feel as though you're sitting inside a big lime in Lime, a trendy, way-cool space, but that just makes you crave a marg all the more. Pucker up: Lime's Mighty Margarita is 21 ounces of frozen glory, a mix of Sauza Gold tequila, Grand Marnier and a signature (and secret) lime mix that's more like a breath of… More >>
  • Best Margarita in a Box

    Boulder Beverage Company

    Just add tequila and go, go, go. Those beautiful bad boys at the Boulder Beverage Company created a real liquid asset with Margarita on Tap! Each box holds enough non-alcoholic juice -- a combo of lime and lemon -- to make 24 five-ounce margaritas on the rocks. Available in local liquor stores, the marg mix is about to go national:… More >>
  • Best Non-Alcoholic Beverage

    Julia Blackbird's

    One sip of the strawberry lemonade at Julia Blackbird's, and you'll be transported to Santa Fe. No packaged-mix drink that looks all pretty and pink and tastes like Kool-Aid, this lemonade is made fresh with fat chunks of strawberry. It's just sweet and tart enough to cool the tongue through a plate of spicy enchiladas. Bottoms up!… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    Free chips and salsa

    They're baaaack! At Mexican restaurants around town, baskets of chips and salsa are suddenly reappearing. Eateries that still feel the economic need can cash in on their chips -- and let the rest fall where they may.… More >>
  • Best Chips and Salsa

    Little Anita's

    The snappy Little Anita's is owned by a family from New Mexico, and the restaurant's reliance on chiles from that area makes all the difference. Chips come freshly fried, slightly oily and hot, so it's a pleasure to dip them into the cool salsa, fired with red and green chiles and hot enough to make you sweat, but also boasting… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Burrito

    Playa de Oro, Jerry's Mexican Restaurant

    This past year, Jerry Gallegos and his family added Jerry's Mexican Restaurant to the tiny empire that already included two Playa de Oro locations. These days, Gallegos is doing the cooking at Jerry's, while his brother Ismal cooks at the original 38th Avenue site and his nephew, Jose Rodriguez, works the #2 store at Federal and 72nd. But all three… More >>
  • Best Burrito

    Benny's Restaurante y Cantina

    Since he started out in the kitchen of the Oak Alley Inn over two decades ago, Benny Armas has been winning fans with his cooking, and the sirloin-steak burrito at his namesake Benny's Restaurante y Cantina gives ample proof why. This is the kind of addictive fare that gives Mexican food a good name in this town -- and keeps… More >>
  • Best Taco

    Jack-n-Grill

    It's hard to decide which taco we like best at Jack-n-Grill, because they're all great. In fact, so are the authentic Frito pie and the killer, fiery-hot green chile cooked up at this north Denver spot that excels at New Mexican-style Mexican. But if we could only choose one thing to eat at this happy, inviting place run by the… More >>
  • Best Tacos al Carbón

    El Lucero - CLOSED

    You don't expect to find decent Mexican fare, much less great Mexican, at a busy Littleton strip mall. But at El Lucero, a small but buzzing joint where the specials of the day are illegible on the dry-erase board and few of the employees speak English, the food needs no translation. In any language, your best bet is the tacos… More >>
  • Best Chile Relleno -- Soft

    Taquería Patzcuaro

    Take one fire-roasted poblano chile, jam it with Monterey Jack cheese, drop it into a bowl of eggy batter and then fry the heck out of it on the grill until the exterior forms a thin, crackly crust and the cheese just starts to peek out. Delicious as the final result will be, it will only hint at the delights… More >>
  • Best Chile Relleno -- Crispy

    Mi Cocina

    Inside this unassuming but very brightly painted, salmon-toned building, the Sierra family makes fabulous Mexican food. The pork carnitas are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the guacamole is always freshly mashed. But the real draw at this colorful spot is the crispy chile relleno, a long poblano filled with Jack cheese and wrapped in a won ton wrapper, then deep-fried until the… More >>
  • Best Green Chile

    La Cocina de Marcos

    When this family-run restaurant first opened on South Quebec, it was very small and had no liquor license. In its new digs, La Cocina de Marcos not only has room to move, but it also serves beer and wine -- all the better for washing down the well-executed, flavorful Mexican fare made from scratch. Everything is good here: Try the… More >>
  • Best Green Chile That's Actually Green

    Pique

    In Mexico, chile verde is actually green -- not red, not orange, not gray -- which helps explain its name. Since most Denver-born green chiles include tomatoes, some Mexicans -- Guanajuatan transplants Paola and Sergio Hernandez among them -- think it should rightly be called red. The Hernandezes can call the green chile they make at Pique, their teeny little… More >>
  • Best Red Chile

    Jack-n-Grill

    Jack Martinez, owner of Jack-n-Grill, used to sell roasted chiles from Socorro, New Mexico, on Federal Boulevard, so he knows his chile. To make red chile, he takes a variety of the New Mexican pods and purées them into a deep, rich, rojo sauce that carries the sun-kissed flavors of the earth they were grown in. Try it smothering Jack-n-Grill's… More >>
  • Best Mexican Bakery

    Panadería & Pastelería Santa Fe

    The sign behind the counter of colorful goodies at Panadería & Pastelería Santa Fe reads "Bienvenido a su panadería," and patrons are made to feel welcome, indeed. Baker/owner Juan Acuņa always has an extra minute to explain his intricate pastries -- sugar-coated conchas, ear-shaped orejas, lemon-flavored flautas, empanadas, cream-stuffed horns -- or discuss in depth the spices he carries, many… More >>
  • Best Indian Market

    Tajmahal Imports

    For nearly twenty years, Tajmahal Imports has been one-stop shopping for Aurora's large population of Indian and Pakistani natives. Don't expect a re-creation of the famous palace, though: This jam-packed store is a tidy dive offering a mix of commercial, bulk and pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods. You can create an entire Indian meal from these goods: dozens of types of dal,… More >>
  • Best South American Market

    Emporio Minas From Brazil

    Have a hankering to imitate some of Café Brazil's dishes in your own kitchen? You'll quickly realize that many of the required ingredients -- from the elusive dendê, the lighthearted palm oil that lends its warm orange color and irreplaceable zesty tropical flavor to Brazilian seafood dishes, to farinha de manioca, the ground manioc meal that, toasted, becomes the essential… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Market

    Arash Grocery and Deli

    Shopping at Arash Supermarket is like going on a treasure hunt: You never know what you'll find tucked away in some corner. The bustling store is bursting with Middle Eastern items, from locally baked pitas the size of pizzas to imported and domestic feta to many types of tahini to real basmati rice. Produce here is much cheaper than at… More >>
  • Best Asian Super Store

    Asian Supermarket

    If you can't find an Asian ingredient at the Asian Supermarket, that ingredient simply doesn't exist. This vast warehouse of a grocery store stocks forty kinds of rice noodles alone, all haphazardly jammed into one aisle. Unfamiliar cans of squishy-looking ingredients share space with forty-pound bags of rice and twenty brands of coconut milk. Several aisles are devoted to plastic… More >>
  • Best Italian Market

    Vinnola's Market

    Walking into Vinnola's Market is like traveling back in time to an East Coast-style deli of decades past. Everyone's friendly and yelling and laughing; deli workers are passing slices of cheese and salami over the counter for inspection by little old blue-haired Italian ladies. Those goods always pass muster: The smallish market carries all of the important imported meats and… More >>
  • Best Eastern European Market

    European Mart

    Good things come in small packages, and European Mart proves it. This tiny store is crammed with smoked fish and sauerkraut, kasha and Danish cheeses, even Swiss specialties and Hungarian tidbits tracked down by owner Dmitry Gershengorin -- and the deli case is full of imported meats, pretty cakes and other baked items. Because Glendale boasts a sizable Russian population,… More >>
  • Best Old-Fashioned Meat Market

    Fred's Fine Meats

    Fred Deligio is the quintessential neighborhood butcher, a guy who really cares about his customers, always remembering how you like your steaks cut and when you need pork butt instead of loin. At Fred's Fine Meats, he brings in Choice-grade meat and ages it for three weeks himself; he also makes his own Italian and German sausages and bratwurst. Need… More >>
  • Best Meat Market for Singles

    Tony's Meats and Deli

    Want a guy who knows his pesto from his prosciutto? Need a vegetarian woman? Head straight to Tony's, the best meat/meet market in town, a mecca for the lonely looking for a date (or at least dinner). Every weekend, singles converge around the ready-made soups and pasta sauces in the frozen-foods section of this massive gourmet grocery store, checking out… More >>
  • Best Meat Market for Knees and Necks

    Midopa

    Midopa is an excellent Asian market specializing in Korean and Japanese ingredients, with a killer housemade kim chee and inexpensive, fresh sushi sitting in a case near the front counter. But Midopa also stocks the best selection of hard-to-find animal parts we've ever seen. Necks, backs, feet, knees and other odds and ends from a variety of critters are available… More >>
  • Best Fish Market

    Whole Foods

    Fishing for an interesting dinner? Head to any Whole Foods markets and have a chat with the knowledgeable staffers in the seafood section. They'll point out a tip-top fresh specimen, perfectly cut, from their dizzying array and then tell you ten different ways to prepare it, along with what other fish might work just as well in the same dish.… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Roy's of Cherry Creek

    Roy's, which came to Cherry Creek by way of Hawaii, is once again the catch of the year for its fresh, well-prepared seafood. We're always reeled in by the menu's interesting combinations, including cassoulet made from sea scallops and filet mignon, and broadbill swordfish dusted and pan-fried with mochiko, a rice flour. This classy, elegant restaurant isn't afraid to offer… More >>
  • Best Sushi Bar

    Hapa

    This hip, Hapa-ning chain now has three links (two in Boulder), but we like Hapa's Cherry Creek sushi bar best. The sushi is always super-fresh, interesting and well executed, offered in cutting-edge combinations that might sound silly but actually work. For starters, there's the "multiple orgasm," a tempura-battered sushi roll filled with cream cheese, crab and smoked salmon, all fried… More >>
  • Best Sushi When Size Matters

    Fujiyama Grill & Sushi

    Fujiyama owner Denny Kang thinks big is better, and he proves it by offering sushi that's much larger than you get at other sushi bars for the same price -- and just as tasty. Enjoy your fish while sitting at the red-topped sushi bar decorated with cute little aquariums, right near a massive, lavender-hued mural of the Japanese mountain that… More >>
  • Best Sushi When Price Matters

    Fontana Sushi

    At Fontana Sushi, it seems like almost every hour is happy hour, since the $1 sushi special runs from 6 to 10 p.m. weekdays and 7 p.m. to midnight on weekends. The low price doesn't mean low quality, though, and while the sushi chefs can be a little slow, and the sushi isn't always flawlessly assembled, it's unfailingly fresh and… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Domo

    A visit to Domo has become a cultural tour of Japan, complete with a Zen garden, an intriguing museum, a jumping sake lounge, an appealing dining room and, now, an extensive sushi selection. Still, chef/owner Gaku Homma continues to focus on creating the most healthful, authentic versions of provincial Japanese foods -- yakimono, tojimono, curry, udon -- along with saishoku… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Little Ollie's

    Little Ollie's woks the walk. The kitchen produces dishes that are incredibly polished, not to mention filled with the best Chinese cooking in town. The steamed fish, stir-fries, sweet spare ribs and black-bean sauces evoke the streets of Hong Kong, but the delivery there surely leaves something to be desired when compared with the gracious, efficient service at Little Ollie's.… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Thai Bistro

    When we want to Thai one on, we head to Thai Bistro. The dining room is sweet and simple, with greenery for color and just a few Thai touches here and there -- but in the kitchen, it's all Thai, all the time. Chef/owner Lek Phromthong knows his way around sweet-salty-sour-spicy, and he balances those elements to good effect in… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    New Orient

    Owner Sue Smith goes above and beyond at her simple but spiffy Asian restaurant in the 'burbs. In dishes such as lobster and crab pot stickers and Vietnamese seafood paella, New Orient presents the flavors of Vietnam in a fresh and innovative way. Don't expect noodle-house prices: The macadamia-sesame-encrusted walleye or two-mushroom beef tenderloin will set you back a bit.… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Masalaa

    You won't miss meat at Masalaa, an all-vegetarian Indian eatery, because everything is so well seasoned that there's no shortage of flavor. In fact, the name Masalaa means "spice" in Hindu. The kitchen specializes in southern Indian dishes that you rarely find in Denver, as well as superior versions of traditional favorites from all over the South Asian subcontinent. Masalaa… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Ali Baba Grill

    The laid-back Ali Baba Grill cooks up the usual Middle Eastern favorites, but the difference here is that these dishes are absolutely packed with flavor. Creamy, smooth hummus carries a fresh lemon-juice-and-garlic punch, and the baba ghanouj contains eggplant that's been roasted until it's nearly caramelized, so that the dip has a deep, sweet quality. The just-made tabbouleh is always… More >>
  • Best California-Mediterranean Restaurant

    Mizuna

    The name, which refers to a Japanese green, is your first clue that Mizuna is all over the map, pulling from international flavors and ingredients to make dishes so stunning, they're over the top. Still, most of the items at this charismatic bistro are inspired by the New American sensibilities of California cuisine, with a heavy reliance on Mediterranean components… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Panzano

    Italian food is more than spaghetti and meatballs. A lot more. And Panzano, which is named for a small wine town in Chianti, proves it with inspired, well-executed dishes that evoke what you might find at the finest inns of Tuscany. Panzano is lucky to have chef Jennifer Jasinski do the translating: She relies on bold flavors, rich sauces and… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Tante Louise

    Chef Duy Van Pham may be Vietnamese, but his food couldn't be more French if he were cooking at Le Cordon Bleu. Pham has settled in at Tante Louise very nicely, helping the old aunt preserve her thirty-year-old reputation for serving the best French food in town. From the charcuterie plate to the fruit tarts, a meal at the AAA… More >>
  • Best Cuban Restaurant

    Cuba Cuba

    Get your mojo working at Cuba Cuba, Denver's first totally Cuban restaurant. Owners Kristy Socarras Bigelow, her husband, Brian Bigelow, and her brother, Enrique Socarras, have turned two side-by-side, pre-1880 dwellings in the Golden Triangle into party central, with one house looking like a casual, convivial replica of the Casablanca set, complete with palm-frond fans and a bright, open-air feel,… More >>
  • Best South American Restaurant

    Café Brazil

    As Latin-food lovers race to the new South American spots cropping up across town like plantains in a tropical heat wave, savvy south-of-the-border aficionados continue to savor the culinary carnaval that is Café Brazil. The only thing zestier than the colorful decor in this tiny, fascinating space is the food, from the fab fejoida (Brazil's national dish) to the particularly… More >>
  • Best Southwestern Restaurant

    Julia Blackbird's New Mexican Cafe

    When it comes to authentic New Mexican food, Julia Blackbird's flies right. The vibrantly colored, busy cafe is the ideal setting for chef/owner Julia Siegfried-Garrison's flamboyant flavors and bold ingredient combinations. The Chimayo chiles stuffed with goat cheese and dusted with blue-corn meal make for chiles rellenos that are out of this world. Closer to home, go straight to Taos… More >>
  • Best New American Restaurant

    Potager

    You say New American, I say contemporary American, he says fusion. Whatever. In recent years, Potager has come into its own as a consistently exciting restaurant that almost defies definition, using ingredients from all over the world to create interesting, enticing dishes. From appetizers of Berkshire blue-cheese ravioli over arugula and updated crab Louie to oven-roasted saddle of rabbit with… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Recovery

    Sacre Bleu

    Mein Gott, we thought Sacre Bleu was a goner. But then owner Julie Payne wisely gave it up, and her ex-husband, Michael Payne, stepped in to try to sort things out. Lo and behold, he succeeded in doing just that, bringing in a savvy staff -- including chef Hamilton Cowie -- and toning down the attitude a bit, so that… More >>
  • Best Romantic Restaurant

    Dushanbe Teahouse

    Okay, we know a teahouse may not be the first location that pops into your mind when you're in a romantic mood. But Dushanbe isn't your typical teahouse. A gift of the mayor of Dushanbe, Boulder's sister city in Tajikistan, the elaborately decorated building is breathtaking, a work of art featuring hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling tiles, tables, stools and columns,… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant (since March 2001)

    Deli Tech - CLOSED

    Start spreading the news: Thanks to Deli Tech, Denverites can finally take a real bite of the Big Apple. Finally, pastrami on rye we can really sink our teeth into. Finally, latkes that are light and crunchy. Finally, borscht that can't be beet. Brought to us by two former New Yorkers (and longtime Coloradans), Fred Anzman and Barbara Simon-Anzman, Deli… More >>
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