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Food & Drink

  • Best Joint

    Skylark Lounge

    A true joint has a little funk, a little style hidden underneath whatever else it is. And while on most nights of the week the Skylark Lounge is simply a great bar -- and a neighborhood hangout for nearly sixty years -- on those evenings when they pull back the tables and wire up the mikes for some live rockabilly,… More >>
  • Best Capitol Education While Noshing Wolfe¹s Barbeque

    Wolfe's Barbeque - CLOSED

    Wolfe's Barbeque, a jewel-box-sized restaurant on Colfax, feels like a Southern lunch place. But head cook and bottle washer Louis Wolfe is a Kansan by birth and a Denverite by choice. So much so that his walls are lined with collectible postcards of area buildings that date back to the 1900s -- and he can tell the story of each… More >>
  • Best Place to See Lawyers Behaving Badly The Palm

    The Palm

    The Palm, the Denver link in a chain of classic steakhouses, is ground zero for watching the city's legal establishment (those members who don't mind being watched, at least). Attorneys from the city's top firms hold down reserved tables, where they entertain clients and keep tabs on their rivals. Seeing a legal eagle in an Armani suit make the rounds… More >>
  • Best "Always Get Lucky on the Third Date" Dinner Destination

    Cuba Cuba

    Cuba Cuba has the power to move you. No matter how gray the day or unpromising the night, the big Havana vibe at this little tropical oasis will transport you to more laid-back latitudes the minute you step through the door. The food is fun -- from Cuban picadillo and rum-painted snapper to plantain chips and cigar selections with dessert… More >>
  • Best Freak-Show, Acid-Trip, "I Certainly Didn't Come Here for the Food" Mexican

    Casa Bonita

    Hunter Thompson once said of Circus Circus in Las Vegas, "This is what the whole hep world would be doing on a Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war." Well, that was then -- and today, Casa Bonita is the place to see what would really become of the world if the radical fun police ever had their… More >>
  • Best Hole-in-the-Wall

    20th Street Cafe

    There are three qualifications for a true hole-in-the-wall: It has to be tiny, locals-only, and do something so surprisingly well that it earns the lifelong loyalty of its regulars. The 20th Street Cafe hits the mark on all three. First, it's definitely small -- a dozen or so tables and a six-seat counter in a luncheonette-style storefront. Second, no tourists… More >>
  • Best Place to Feel Like an Unpaid Extra in a Tarantino Film

    Breakfast King

    It could be the solid, never-gonna-wash-it-out blue of the collars; the funky, unnatural orange-colored trim around the windows; the acetylene glow of headlights through the front windows at 3 a.m.; or just the way those two long-haul drivers keep looking over at you. But at Breakfast King, there are definitely moments when, if Quentin Tarantino's cameras aren't already rolling, someone… More >>
  • Best Spot for Watching the Colfax Nightlife

    Tom's Diner

    Hookers and junkies and bums, oh my! One night at Tom's is better than a whole week's worth of Cops on cable. True connoisseurs of dive culture will appreciate both the window seats looking onto one of the funkiest street corners in Denver -- the intersection of Colfax and Pearl -- and the sort of nightlife that creeps, crawls, slinks… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat on Colfax Avenue

    Solera

    While some people are content to simply feed their imaginations -- or cater to their animal passions -- on Colfax Avenue, thanks to Solera, it's also possible to satisfy more elevated appetites. You can thank Christian "Goose" Sorensen for that: He's a talented chef who's raised the level of cooking in this kitchen to match the cozy yet dignified surroundings.… More >>
  • Best Patio -- Urban

    My Brother's Bar

    It's spring, and in Denver, that means it's time to enjoy the crisp, fresh air of an outdoor patio and lots of crisp, fresh beverages. So head straight for My Brother's Bar, but don't be lulled into sitting in the dark, cozy confines of one of the bar's dining nooks. Continue on to the patio out back -- the perfect… More >>
  • Best Patio -- Suburban

    Roosters Bar & Patio

    Roosters Bar & Patio is fun central in suburbia, full of hot chicks serving cheap beer and plenty of strutting, bantamweight lotharios. In winter, Cher is the karaoke model of choice; in the summer, the action moves to the outdoor volleyball pit, which is always in use -- as are the patio porta-potties. Get down with your bad self, Broomfield!… More >>
  • Best Dinner After 10 p.m.

    Vesta Dipping Grill

    Chef Matt Selby and his crew of fire worshipers at Vesta Dipping Grill know how to turn up the heat on a Saturday night. Whether you're out with the gang bar-hopping through LoDo or looking for a late-night rendezvous with that significant someone, the kitchen's sophisticated, globe-trotting menu is sure to impress. The decor is stunning -- super-cool twisting lamps… More >>
  • Best Midnight Snacks

    Adega Restaurant + Wine Bar

    It's late, and you're in the mood for a little something, but Taco Bell just isn't going to do the trick. Instead, head to Adega, where a chic but surprisingly comfortable wine bar borders the most upscale dining room in town. Although that dining room stops serving after 10 p.m., a short menu featuring the best collection of small plates… More >>
  • Best Breakfast at 2 a.m.

    Pete's Kitchen

    For those with a serious case of insomnia, Pete's Kitchen is like the land of the midnight sun. No matter what the clock says, on the weekends you can always rise and shine with breakfast at Pete's, a late-night oasis serving a unique blend of Greek, gringo-Mexican and American dive cuisine -- griddle-fried eggs, homemade pies, excellent gyros cut from… More >>
  • Best Cheap Breakfast

    Kathy and Bill's Diner

    Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day -- and given the size of the breakfasts at Kathy and Bill's Diner, it could be the only meal of the day. If you want to get the most for your money in our sour economy, head over to this genuinely friendly eatery, where that buck -- and… More >>
  • Best Power Breakfast

    Racines

    Someone should do a business-school thesis on how many big decisions have been made and how many million-dollar deals closed in the casual, funky Racines and its younger LoDo sibling, Dixons. The number is probably pretty high. For twenty years now, Racines has attracted movers and shakers, lawyers and lobbyists, artists and neighbors -- and while at first glance… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    Panzano

    Thanks to chef Jennifer Jasinski, Panzano can accommodate both the power-hungry and the powerfully hungry. Panzano's elegant setting in the Hotel Monaco is the perfect place to conduct business away from the see-and-be-scene steakhouse crowd, and even when the deal goes south, Jasinski's northern Italian fare -- innovative, successful mergers of bold flavors and quality ingredients -- is sure to… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch -- Liquid

    CityGrille

    A three-hour liquid lunch? Why not? Anyone who's anyone has done some time on this pine, so just belly up to the bar and start working on it. CityGrille is the place to go when you want to see exactly how your local legislator or councilman behaves when there's not a TV camera being poked in his face. It's the… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Denver Diner

    There's no better way to check the pulse of a town than to sit for a while in one of its diners. You hear the news, trade a little gossip and see how people from all walks of life come together when -- and where -- status is irrelevant. Taking a seat at the Denver Diner's long counter is a… More >>
  • Best Dive

    Rodney's - CLOSED

    Appropriate, isn't it, that the best dive in town is a subterranean spot? When you walk down the stairs into Rodney's, you know you're really going somewhere. This place is a landmark, the sort of joint that Charles Bukowski was talking about every time he opened his mouth. Rodney Utz, who opened his namesake spot over twenty years ago, makes… More >>
  • Best Place to See Journalists Behaving Badly

    Denver Press Club

    The venerable Denver Press Club -- one of the few journalism organizations in the country with its own building -- has been lubricating the lips of Denver's ink-stained wretches since 1905 and received a much-needed makeover last fall. But while the new bar (complete with martini glasses featuring the likeness of late Rocky Mountain News columnist Gene Amole), restored fireplace… More >>
  • Best Place to See Politicians Behaving Badly

    Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue - CLOSED

    Every Monday night after Denver City Council adjourns, you can see your city government at work at the Cherokee, a longtime hangout in the Golden Triangle (it even predates the neighborhood's nickname). Councilmembers, their staff and assorted lobbyists head for the bar or order late-night suppers, sulking after a losing vote or offering up a victory toast as deals are… More >>
  • Best Place to See Athletes Behaving Badly

    Denver ChopHouse & Brewery

    Sports bars come and sports bars go, but the Denver ChopHouse remains the hands-down favorite for professional athletes' post-game dining and drinking, the place to celebrate big wins or drown their sorrows. Of course, booze and athletes (and their groupies) can be a volatile combination. More than one tipsy Avs player has gotten himself in trouble at the bar, and Broncos… More >>
  • Best Power Dinner

    Restaurant Kevin Taylor

    Top toque Kevin Taylor may be down to just three restaurants, but his namesake in the Hotel Teatro remains a powerhouse. When you're out to overwhelm a client, Restaurant Kevin Taylor will do the job. From the refined, restrained setting to the elegant, attentive service to a menu filled with top-quality ingredients in spectacular combinations, this restaurant is dressed to… More >>
  • Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

    Opus - CLOSED

    Situated on a quaint stretch of Littleton's old Main Street, Opus is far from the trendy fuss, maddening crowds and catch-it-if-you-can parking headaches of downtown. Chef Michael Long's smart, inventive and ever-changing menu is filled with high-class treats, updated lowbrow eats and lots of Colorado fare, so both courageous eaters and those somewhat more picky are sure to find something… More >>
  • Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

    1515

    The upstairs seating at the elegant 1515 has two very important benefits when you're trying to make like a big shot. First, it feels exclusive: You and your date stroll right past all the lonelyhearts and single drinkers at the downstairs bar as you're led up the staircase and into the comfortable, classically styled second-floor dining room. Second, there's Gene… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet a Blind Date

    Dark Horse Tavern

    For both the best- and worst-case blind-date scenarios, the Dark Horse Tavern has you covered. If things look bad, there are plenty of visual distractions and easy conversation starters to lessen the awkwardness. If things look good, you can show off your prowess at pinball and pool. And if things look really good, there are lots of dark nooks for… More >>
  • Best Place to End It on the Fourth Date

    Dazzle

    Two words for you, pal: jazz club. Such spots are custom-made for big breakup scenes, and Dazzle -- with its long, deep booths, chic crowds and high-volume background noise -- is perfect for giving the ex-love of your life the big "goodbye and good luck" speech. Walk right in, order a couple stiff shots of liquid courage and get on… More >>
  • Best Family Restaurant

    Cafe Jordano

    When you're in the mood for a sit-down dinner someplace without an indoor slide but don't want the other patrons clucking over your preschool dining companions, try Cafe Jordano. No matter if you're six, sixteen or sixty, everyone is joyfully welcomed at this surprisingly comfortable strip-mall Italian joint, with its warm yellow walls and service staff ready for anything. Far… More >>
  • Best Buffet/ All-You-Can-Eat Deal

    Namaste

    Everybody knows that Indian (and around these parts, Indian/Nepalese) restaurants have the best lunch buffets, and Namaste's is exceptionally good. A half-dozen savory main dishes are well complemented by warm naan, cool salads and robust soups. Slightly sweeter than most Indian fare, Namaste's take on classic curries and tandoori meats is guaranteed to please, with little risk of indigestion. The… More >>
  • Best Happy-Hour Deal

    Triana

    Tapas menus have the potential to empty your wallet in record time. A taste of this, a bite of that, and before you know it, you've not only spent your parking-garage fees, but you've pretty much guaranteed that your kid won't be going anywhere pricier than community college. That's not the case with Triana's happy hour, though, where seven days… More >>
  • Best Happy-Hour Tacos

    Mexico City Lounge

    For decades, the Mexico City Lounge has been famous for its steak tacos, with lunchtime crowds lining up for plates slicked with oil and topped with three flour tortillas stuffed with tender chunks of steak, melted cheese and slices of avocado. Now all this greasy goodness is also available at Mexico City's new happy hour, which runs from 5 to… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour for Absolutely Free Food

    Four Mile House - CLOSED

    Four Mile House started life as a barn, back in the days when what's now Glendale was filled with dairy farms dedicated to quenching Denver's thirst for more wholesome beverages. But by the time Jack Casey bought the place in the '60s, it was already a venerable tavern. Four decades later, it continues to provide its fans with many happy… More >>
  • Best Free Lunch and People-Watching

    Whole Foods Market

    Think there's no such thing as a free lunch? Think again. On weekends at Whole Foods Market in Cherry Creek, you can watch groceryland's most eclectic, entertaining crowd while snacking on enough bite-sized organic niblets to fill you up -- and then some. On any given Saturday, you'll find trays of sliced fruit, cups of deli delights or chunks of… More >>
  • Best Afternoon Free Hors D'oeuvres

    Costco

    It's hard to explain the basic human urge to pursue microwave cheese puffs, cold cuts and toaster waffles, but admit it: You love the stuff. Since Costco sells items like these in mega-quantities, it hires food demonstrators to hand out tastes, and you can count on snacking on at least ten selections any afternoon of the week at this giant… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Old South Pearl Street Farmers' Market

    Since farmers' markets now abound throughout the metro area, ambience can be as big a draw as the more standard offerings -- and it's definitely the atmosphere that sets Pearl Street's market apart from all the rest. This is a small, friendly affair with a strong community vibe, where folks can nosh on pastries and gossip, parents can push strollers,… More >>
  • Best Sweet Corn

    Native Nursery

    Tom Gillan's corn is fresh enough to eat uncooked, and here's why: "I literally wait at the end of the row while they're picking, load it into my truck and rush home," he says. Since it's hard to imagine a summer barbecue without fresh corn, and since it's harder still to find any such thing at the supermarket, Gillan's produce… More >>
  • Best Gas Station Cuisine

    Lori's Deli

    Forget the microwave burrito, the hurried Slim Jim, the ancient doughnut. When Lori's Deli whips up a custom egg sandwich or a Reuben, you'll vow never to go back to nasty road food again. Housed in a deli case at the back of a family gas station that's been going strong for more than eighty years, Lori's stocks only Boar's… More >>
  • Best Rethinking of the Convenience-Store Concept

    Sun Deli Groceries & Liquor

    Just over a year ago, Sharmilla Lalchandani and her family -- son Ravi and daughter Laxmi -- took over a failed convenience store at the east end of the Boulder Mall, then set out to transform the place. Sure, you can still buy cigs and a carton of milk here. But now the spicy aroma of chai hangs in the… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Lucky Market

    Feeling lucky? Then head down to Lucky Market, where you'll find all those weird, freaky, Jesus-why-would-anyone-eat-that? ingredients you've been looking for. Need some pork pâté? Jackfruit chips? Frozen squid tentacles? Lucky's got you covered. It boasts a wall stacked high and wide with dishes, bowls and all manner of Asian kitchen accessories; it has so much freezer space, you may… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Grocery Store

    Arash Groceries and Deli

    Every Middle Eastern market has Dugh (a delicious yogurt/club soda drink), cardamom tea, saffron and the latest groovy Middle Eastern CDs. How Arash Groceries breaks out of the admittedly limited pack is by offering a fine selection of both common and exotic fruits and vegetables. Depending on the season, fresh figs, persimmons and pomegranates are available, and for more dangerous… More >>
  • Best Kosher Goodies

    Kosher Konfections

    If it isn't K, it's not okay: That's the rule in Denver's kosher households. And that's not always an easy rule to comply with, as anyone up against it can tell you. (You know the ones -- those poor folks often spotted studying labels at the grocery store for the oft-hidden symbol announcing that the food is, indeed, prepared according… More >>
  • Best Here's-the-Beef Service

    Jerky of the Month Club

    You've got mail! And what mail it is -- teeth-tearing, sodium-sucking, protein-packing jerky. Sign up with Rick Spencer's Steamboat Springs-based Jerky of the Month Club and you'll get a four-ounce portion of a specialty jerky every month for six months, all for the low, low price of $58. Or try a sampler pack for just $28. (Okay, there's some shipping… More >>
  • Best Meat Market

    Oliver's Meat Market

    No, not that kind. Oliver's Meat Market is probably not the place to go when you're looking for love, but it's the spot we think of when meat is on our minds. The same family has been running this same market at this same location since 1939, and in all those years, they've only gotten better at doing what they… More >>
  • Best Fish Fry

    Pierre's World Famous Baking & Frying Spicy Mix
    Pierre's Supper Club

    Lawrence Pierre recently sold his namesake supper club, but his packaged fish treatment means you can continue to savor his magic not only at Pierre's Supper Club (which is continuing business as usual), but at your own supper table, too. Pierre's secret blend -- available at Pierre's and select grocers -- is lean on the cornmeal and heavy on the… More >>
  • Best Bakery for Bread

    Paradise Bakery

    Most people are a little hesitant when they walk into Paradise Bakery for the first time. It's missing all those little things that people identify with the retail buying experience: bakery cases, counters, a cash register. All there is on the other side of the door is a working bakery full of bread ovens, stainless work tables and Michael Bortz… More >>
  • Best Bakery for Everything Else

    California Bakery

    Easily overlooked in the Russian Plaza strip mall, the oddly named, unassuming California Bakery does things with pastry that should probably be illegal, they're so good. Operating primarily for the benefit of the local ex-pat Eastern European community, this bakery stocks many baked goods you'll never see at your run-of-the-mill neighborhood spot. Fortunately, since all of the wares are right… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch TV While Waiting in the Checkout Line

    Avanza

    Yes, reading is an important and entertaining activity. The written word helps to remind us of the complexity of our fascinating world, even when we're bored out of our gourds. And yet there are many instances when reading is inappropriate. You should never read while driving, swimming, lovemaking or (dare we suggest it) standing in the checkout line of a… More >>
  • Best Throwback Grocery Store

    Boulder Co-op Market

    Some would say Only in Boulder, but we say About time! The old populist/hippie notion of mixing business and community is back at the Boulder Co-op Market, where members, who pitch in by paying an annual fee (after ten years, you're eligible for a lifetime membership), run the show and have a say in both how the store is run… More >>
  • Best Old-Time Soda Fountain

    Lyons Soda Fountain and Bakery

    There was a time in Rockwellian America when things were simpler, when reality TV was The Ed Sullivan Show, when the bad guys were all Russians and screenwriters, and when the soda fountain was the focal point of wholesome teenage activity. Those halcyon days may have gone the way of Ovaltine, hula hoops and the living wage, but you can… More >>
  • Best Wine Shop for Amateurs

    Marczyk Fine Foods and Wine

    No one in Denver has a wine palate quite like Pete Marczyk who, along with wife Barbara MacFarlane, has made Marczyk Fine Foods and Wine one of the great additions to the Denver landscape last year. Humbly claiming to be a wine neophyte himself, Marczyk personally samples every vintage that comes into his store, bravely tasting all the good, the… More >>
  • Best Wine List

    Adega Restaurant + WIne Bar

    With a list including thousands upon thousands of bottles covering just about every grape, vintage, brand and growing area available, it's hard to imagine anyone not finding something drinkable on Adega's racks. But you know what they say: Size isn't everything. In Adega's case, we're talking quality as well as quantity in the green-tinted aboveground wine room (called an adega… More >>
  • Best Wine List -- Artisan

    Clair de Lune

    Karin Lawler, who handles the stock for Clair de Lune's small, perfectly paired list, has turned away more grape-juice salesmen than she's talked to. Working closely with chef/owner Sean Kelly, Lawler keeps on board only those bottles that will blend elegantly with the ever-changing roster of plates coming out of Kelly's kitchen. Worried about not finding something drinkable? Don't be.… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Wine on Sunday

    Tewksbury & Co.

    When you're truly needy, there's always a way to get around Colorado's pesky blue laws. Dave Tewksbury, tobacconist and owner of Tewksbury & Co., happily sells Sunday libations to desperate souls, offering a small but distinguished collection of Colorado wines -- from a Carlson Vineyards Shiraz to a Plum Creek Cellars Merlot -- alongside cigars and hand-tied flies. His ABC… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection

    The Wine Company

    Sure, there are beer vendors who carry more brands, at lower prices, than the Wine Company, a tiny retailer in Littleton. But those outlets can't touch this store's thoughtfully chosen, well-tended selection of gourmet suds. The experts here know (and drink) the beers they carry and bring in treasures they crave and can sell. Go on, step into the cooler… More >>
  • Best Local Beer

    Old Scratch
    Flying Dog Brewery

    Flying Dog bottles up a whole line of brews -- from a deep chocolate porter to crisp lagers. But even without the Ralph Steadman label, Old Scratch would come out head and shoulders above the competition. An amber ale with a sharp bite and stinging, peppery aftertaste, Old Scratch has much more punch than the lagers. No doubt about it:… More >>
  • Best Local Beer to Go With Asian Food

    Jack Wacker Wheat Ale
    Tommyknocker Brewery

    The light, crisp, unfiltered taste of Tommyknocker's Jack Wacker pairs well with Asian food, perhaps because of the subtle late addition of lemongrass. Whatever the reason, it's a good excuse to drink local and eat global, so grab a six-pack to go with your pad thai and do your part for Colorado's economy.… More >>
  • Best Beer, Period, and the Best Place to Get It

    Chimay Red
    Above the Rim Fine Wines

    Chimay is brewed in Belgium by Cistercian Trappist monks who apparently have a direct line to God when it comes to the more ethereal matters of the beer-maker's art. This champagne of beers goes down smooth, follows its creamy head with a silky mouth-feel and fruity aroma, and packs a serious wallop. While full-sized bottles of the lesser breeds are… More >>
  • Best Keg Beer Alternative

    The Party Pig

    Serious beer nuts dream of a home draft box, but few can swing the space and expense. Quoin Industrial to the rescue! The Golden-based business invented the 2.25-gallon Party Pig, a plastic device that fits in the fridge and serves fresh drafts in premium condition. It's great for home brewers, too. Oink oink.… More >>
  • Best Export Cask Beer

    The Painted Bench

    Cask-conditioned beer remains a small niche treat, but the Painted Bench and the Wynkoop Brewing Co. have teamed up to change that. The Bench hosts Wynkoop's lone off-site hand pump, dispensing delicious pours of cask-style ESB for visitors to the restaurant's antique Fountain Room. The beer engine gives real ale lovers an extra option for old-school beer; it's a move… More >>
  • Best Brewpub

    Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery

    Mountain Sun sets the standard for area brewpubs. Its homemade beers are some of Colorado's most adventurous creations, lofty wonders that cut no corners. To show how confident it is of its own brews, Mountain Sun also welcomes a roster of guest beers. Add a menu of low-priced/high-value bar fare, devoted regulars and occasional live entertainment, and you've got the… More >>
  • Best Brewery

    Avery Brewing Co.

    In a state rich with craft brewers, Adam Avery and his crew stand out by making no-holds-barred beers aimed at beer aficionados, not the masses. Avery's catalogue holds world-class everyday beers (India Pale Ale, ESB and Elle's Brown) and heady seasonals (Old Jubilation, New World Porter); better still is Avery's year-round roster of over-the-edge beers, including Hog Heaven and Belgian… More >>
  • Best Beer Bar

    Falling Rock Tap House

    Year after year, Falling Rock is the stone leader for bar-beer selections. Chris and Steve Black offer over seventy taps (and dozens of bottles) of the best beers not just in Colorado, but across the U.S and around the globe. The combination makes the Rock one of the world's great beer destinations.… More >>
  • Best Scotch List

    Pints Pub

    Pints Pub keeps building its reputation as one of America's premier single-malt spots by adding to its offerings. Owner Scott Diamond now serves over 200 of the world's best scotches, from long-loved standards to long-lost obscurities and rare, one-off vintages. For the lover of scotch, a session here is a head-spinning delight, a trip to Scotland's distilleries without the airfare.… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Lola

    With its vast collection of tequila and its hipper-than-thou setting, Lola has elevated the lowly margarita to an art form. Although even the house version is acceptable, by skipping the sweet-and-sour for fresh juice and choosing your own tequila -- from the more than eighty that Lola has on hand -- you can make yourself a margarita masterpiece. The drinks… More >>
  • Best Tequila Selection

    Aztec Sol

    We know what you're thinking. The world was a much simpler place when tequila came in only three varieties: yellow, clear and embalming fluid. But guess what, amigo? Now that tequila is hip, we've discovered that it comes in more varieties than there are colors in the big box of Crayolas. The best place to indulge in a liquid voyage… More >>
  • Best Vodka Selection

    Russian Cafe

    While the very first day of 2003 saw the venerable Little Russian Cafe rolling up its carpets after two decades in Larimer Square, owner Eugene Valershteyn's newer Russian Cafe in Littleton is still going strong. It serves plenty of the simple fare that Valershteyn grew up with, but we really love this spot for its comprehensive list of chilled vodkas… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Whiskey, Up, With No Bullshit

    The Thin Man

    Here's the straight skinny: When you arrive at the Thin Man, you may have this narrow bar to yourself. But sit awhile, and other people are bound to show up. We've found ourselves sharing the bar with bikers and think-tank types, drunken poets, the young and the restless, the old and the restless, and at least one professional bounty hunter… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    Sam's No. 3

    We know: The world can be a scary place sometimes. And whether you're eating to dull the pain of a broken heart, your vanishing 401K or just the sorry state of the world in general, Sam's No. 3 is sure to have something in the kitchen that'll fill you up right. The menu is the size of a dimestore romance novel,… More >>
  • Best Comforting Lunch

    Tom's Home Cookin'

    From its little outpost in Five Points, Tom's serves up the most comforting lunches in town. Mom-style meatloaf, Dixie-fried catfish and thick slabs of various meats are accessorized with wholesome sides; the choice extras include jalapeņo corn bread, banana pudding and sweet-potato pie. Tom's wonders draw loyal diners of every demographic, proof that down-home cooking is one of society's great… More >>
  • Best Mac 'n' Cheese

    Cracker Barrel

    These days it seems like everyone's trying to remake the classics, and while there's nothing wrong with adding the occasional hip twist to a perennial favorite, sometimes you just want good, old-fashioned mac 'n' cheese. And when you do, Cracker Barrel still makes the best. No Gruyère, no truffles, no bell-pepper brunoise or anything else weird: This simple, savory side… More >>
  • Best Cardiologist's Nightmare

    Cafe Jordano

    We don't even want to know how many grams of fat might be in Bob's Favorite, a gigantic, creamy-cheesy-buttery mess of a culinary masterpiece, but with a taste this good, who cares? The thick cream sauce (made with American, real mozzarella and shaved parmesan cheese) is the kind you want to mop up with your fingers before they take away… More >>
  • Best Mashed Potatoes

    Astoria Restaurant

    There are only two ways to do mashed potatoes: the right way and the wrong way. Most people think theirs are done the right way, and -- sorry to say -- most people are wrong. Potatoes, butter, cream and salt: These are the only necessary elements in making proper mashers, and at Astoria Restaurant -- an unbelievably authentic Eastern Russian… More >>
  • Best Meatloaf

    Kathy and Bill's Diner

    Not too heavy and not too light, the meatloaf at Kathy and Bill's Diner will satisfy your loaf lust. A perfect blend of meat, bread and tiny, harmless veggies -- a smattering of mushrooms, onions and peppers that enhances the experience without threatening to upset the balance -- is crowned with a tomato glaze, then blanketed with brown gravy. Accompanied… More >>
  • Best BBQ

    Sweet Bob's Barbeque

    Bruce Harrison, the owner of Sweet Bob's, is a man on a mission. Single-handledly, he's going to reverse the curse on his doomed storefront location on Broadway by introducing his brand of BBQ to the world. Although he has dreams of nationwide franchises, for now we can be thankful that he started his first joint right here in central Denver,… More >>
  • Best BBQ Small Ends

    Shead's Fish and Barbecue Heaven

    The Shead family has a lot of history in the barbecue biz, but when you get right down to it, all that matters is the meat. And with that as the sole defining characteristic of good 'cue, we can confidently say that these folks know how to whip up a batch of small ends that'll have you begging for more… More >>
  • Best BBQ Chinese Ribs

    Szechuan Express

    Delivery drivers are the most forgiving of God's creatures. They bring us vital suste- nance without comment or criticism, then leave as quickly as they come. They see us at our worst -- at those moments when we're too drunk, too lazy, too miserable or too whatever to face the outside world. And the outside world would be a much more… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Stout Pub

    This town is full of celebrated burgers, but none are as worthy as the burgers served at the Stout Pub, a great neighborhood tavern that took over the space that had been the Punch Bowl. Even a plain burger's great, but we drool over the Stout Hearty burger, your basic double stack of meat on a toasted roll with a combination… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Burger

    Opal

    There's a lot of talk these days about the hamburgers in Manhattan out-pricing each other, but why hop a plane to taste the Big Apple's beef when we've got a perfectly elegant version right here in Denver -- and for less than $10? The Kobe beef burger at Opal -- which uses shoulder-cut American Wagyu rather than the purebred, pampered… More >>
  • Best Bison Burger

    Ted's Montana Grill

    Ted Turner will be remembered for CNN, colorizing movies and the Tomahawk Chop -- but the bison burgers served at Ted's Montana Grill are his true bid for immortality. Big, juicy patties of ground bison (not buffalo) are cooked to your specs (and better specify them rare or medium rare -- this is bison, not E.coli-ridden beef), then served on… More >>
  • Best Way to Fit as Many Meats as Possible Between Two Buns

    Crown Burger

    Go on. You know you want to. Forget the squawking of your self-righteous vegetarian ex-girlfriend, forget your waistline, screw PETA and just order the Royal Burger at Crown Burger. One chopped-beef patty, lettuce, tomato and "special sauce" -- that's good for a start. But add roast beef, ham, pastrami and bacon, and now we're really talking. This burger is a… More >>
  • Best Route-66-Style A-Frame Drive-Thru

    Griff's Burger Bar

    Finding a great classic drive-thru on Route 66 wouldn't be a surprise -- but in the middle of busy Broadway? Still, the traffic on this artery can make you feel like you're on an interminable road trip without even leaving the city limits, so pull over and treat yourself. Griff's serves up burgers wrapped in waxed paper, along with fries… More >>
  • Best Wings

    Wingman - CLOSED

    Mark Wolfe, owner of Wingman (formerly Woody's Wings), is a brave guy. Not only did he open a hopping little spot dedicated (almost) entirely to the art -- nay, the majesty -- of cooking the humble chicken wing, but he then took his wings and carefully crafted sauce to Buffalo, the temple of the chicken wing. And was he laughed… More >>
  • Best Fries

    Bistro 250

    So many indignities have been heaped on the humble potato. So many wrongs have been done in its name. So many cooks have been content to just dunk fistfuls of frozen potato pieces in hot oil and shovel the resulting pasty, greasy fries out to diners who don't expect much more. But not Joe Sinopoli. First at Adde Brewster and… More >>
  • Best Alternative Fries

    Sweet Bob's Barbecue

    Egg whites, dried kiwi, a little brown sugar, a little cinnamon, a little vanilla, a few other little things -- that's all that Bruce Harrison, owner of Sweet Bob's, will say when you ask what's in the sauce that comes with his sweet-potato fries. But those words don't even begin to describe these frites, which become as sugary as candy… More >>
  • Best Fried Cheese

    Main Street Tavern

    At the Main Street Tavern, the mozzarella stick has finally grown up and gotten some class. The mozzarella-and-prosciutto spring rolls here put real mozzarella, thick-sliced prosciutto and whole basil leaves inside a crisp spring roll skin for an updated, mature take on the late-night bar-food classic. The rolls come out piping hot, gooey and deliciously salty thanks to the prosciutto,… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Rocky Mountain Diner/Castle Cafe

    The fabulous pan-fried chicken at the Rocky Mountain Diner and its southern sibling, the Castle Cafe, is enough to fry you to the moon. Pieces of tender bird are coated in a spicy, super-secret-recipe batter, then fried in heart-healthy canola oil until they're tender and juicy inside, golden-brown and crisp outside. With other places dropping fried chicken off their menus,… More >>
  • Best Fried Squid

    Jalapeņo Mexican Grill

    Think you're not a calamari kind of person? That just might be because you've never had your squid done south-of-the-border style. Jalapeņo Mexican grill takes thick-cut rings of squid, rolls them in finely ground herbed breadcrumbs, then sends 'em down for a quick swim in the deep fryer, where they're in the oil just barely long enough to cook through,… More >>
  • Best Fried Calves' Glands

    Mizuna

    Frank Bonanno and his crew at Mizuna do just about everything pretty darn well, but the one thing they do far and away better than any other kitchen in town is sweetbreads. Thymus glands are devilishly hard to cook right; they require careful handling and perfect timing in the pan. But in expert hands, the result can be a sublime… More >>
  • Best Deep-Fried Twinkies

    Wingin' It

    Twinkies are good. Twinkies drizzled with chocolate sauce and piped with whipped cream are better. Now take that same Twinkie and dunk it in 350-degree fryer oil for a few seconds, and what you have is a dessert so ridiculously sweet and mind-numbingly bad for you that no life can be considered well-lived until you try one. And now, thanks to… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Colorado Style

    Beau Jo's

    Sometimes you just have to go with a classic. Beau Jo's invented the concept of Colorado-style pizza, and since 1973 has been serving mountain pies with its slightly spicy signature sauce, heaps of toppings and fresh braided crusts. You can use those bones to mop up honey, making a slice both a main course and dessert. Whether you're rewarding yourself… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- New York Style

    NY Pizzeria

    For East Coast transplants, there's only one way to do pizza properly -- and that's the way they've been doing it since day one at NY Pizzeria. The hands-down favorite of many ex-pat Big Apple kitchen crews in Denver, this slightly run-down strip-mall pie joint does everything right. The crusts are thin -- a little crispy, but pliable enough to… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Chicago Style

    Nicolo's Chicago Style Pizza

    It's tough to find a good taste of the Windy City out here on the wrong side of the Midwest. A decent vendor's-cart hot dog with ballpark mustard and all the trimmings? Good luck. Pepper and sausage (pronounced "sassage") like old Ma used to make? Forget it. But if you're looking for a good Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and aren't quite… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Connecticut Style

    Papou's Pizza

    Up-and-comer Papou's Pizza has cornered the Denver market for Connecticut-style pizza -- primarily because it's the only place in town making pies this way. The toppings are high-quality and laid on with a generous hand, but what really sets this pizza apart is the way it's cooked: pan-baked in a brick oven. With thick, soft, chewy crusts on the bottoms… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Sicilian Style

    Vita Bella Pizza & Pasta

    Anthony Sarlo, owner and top pizza guy at Vita Bella, has a lot of history in the pie game. His father (owner of Armando's in Cherry Creek) and grandfather (who owned the Continental and the Oriental Manor in New York) have spent their lives in the business; his grandmother has spent her whole life cooking for the clan; his aunt… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Head on the West Side

    Taquería Patzcuaro

    The defining characteristic of peasant cooking is the creative use of those less attractive bits of an animal so that absolutely nothing goes to waste. And the big secret of peasant cooking is that a lot of these cuts, scorned by the casual carnivore, are actually the tastiest bits there are. Exhibit A: the tacos cabeza at Taquería Patzcuaro. The… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Head on Santa Fe

    El Taco de México

    For regulars at El Taco de México, the brain taco is nothing strange. It may not be something they eat every day, but it's no odder to them than it would be for someone else to see tongue in the cold case at a European deli, or escargot on the board at a French restaurant. The thinking goes like this:… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Burrito

    Sam's No. 3

    Like sex or a good accountant, a breakfast burrito is one of those things you don't give much thought to until the first time you have it, and afterwards you wonder how you ever lived so long without it. Happily, there are about 17 million places in Denver where you can get a breakfast burrito. And while almost all of… More >>
  • Best Burrito

    Chipotle

    Chipotle started out as one lone outpost on East Evans Avenue, then grew to stretch across metro Denver -- and now, with McDonald's as its partner, can world domination be far away? Frankly, Chipotle deserves to be a global power. The eateries offer good, fast service, which is always competent and sometimes downright cheerful. They all use high-quality ingredients, absolutely… More >>
  • Best Burrito -- Traditional

    Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe

    Before burritos the size of dachshunds became the rage, before tortillas started wrapping everything in sight, Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe was selling great shredded-beef burritos from the window of its tiny storefront. Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same: Over the past eighteen years, Rosa Linda's has expanded, absorbing more space along the block, adding tables… More >>
  • Best Taco

    Jack-n-Grill

    Jack-n-Grill takes top honors in several categories, because its food is just that good. And why is it so good? "We cook with love," explains general manager Jack Martinez II. And, in fact, you can taste the love -- but you also taste the flavorful grilled meats that serve as the basis for Jack-n-Grill's tacos. Succulent shrimp, juicy chicken and… More >>
  • Best Cheap Fish Taco

    Jalapeņo Mexican Grill

    A fish taco is serious business. There are so many ways to screw it up, so many ways to do it wrong, and -- in our judgment, anyhow -- a strict set of rules for doing it right. Jalapeņo Mexican Grill does it very, very right. It starts with batter-dipped and fried chunks of mild, fresh whitefish on a thick… More >>
  • Best Tamales

    Vega

    Vega, Sean Yontz's upscale Latin/New American restaurant in the old Sacre Bleu space, has a lot of good things going for it. It's a great space, done in cool earthtones with high-backed booths. It has a comfortable bar that's rarely too crowded; friendly, attentive service; and a kitchen that's turning out some of Denver's most innovative cuisine. But perhaps the… More >>
  • Best Chips and Salsa

    Chubby Burger Drive-Inn

    The salsa's always fresca at the Chubby Burger Drive-Inn, a ramshackle takeout joint known to all Mexican-food lovers as "the original Chubby's." Over the past thirty years, Chubby's has built its reputation on the back of sloppy, big-ass burritos, solid tamales and hot, hot green chile -- but what we really love is Chubby's fresh, rough-chopped salsa, which the kitchen… More >>
  • Best Chips and Queso

    Luna's on 38th

    The best chips are made in-house. And the kitchen at Luna's, a humble, friendly Highland hangout, keeps pumping out fresh, crisp, light tortilla chips. Still hot from the fryer, they're perfect for dipping into the thick, gooey, chile-spiked homemade queso or just munching alongside your Cuervo.… More >>
  • Best Chips -- Plantain

    Cuba Cuba

    Sweet Jesus, these things are addictive! Sweeter than potatoes but less sweet than you might imagine given the plaintain's close relationship with bananas, Cuba Cuba's deep-fried plátanos fritos, served with a tart garlic-citrus mojo, are the most munchable chips in town.… More >>
  • Best Mexican Dish in a Non-Mexican Restaurant

    Parlour Bar and Grill

    Now that the flavors of Old Mexico have made their indelible mark on the tastes of American gourmands, it's no surprise that south-of-the-border influences keep showing up in the darnedest places -- resulting in some pretty damned bad dishes. But the Parlour cooked up a winner with its blue-corn-tortilla shrimp enchiladas served with salsa verde, chile-lime cream, Monterey Jack cheese… More >>
  • Best New Mexican Green Chile

    Jack-n-Grill

    As good as any you'd find in New Mexico -- and better than most -- the green chile at Jack-n-Grill is a work of commendable simplicity. Green chiles from Socorro are melded with salt, pepper, tomatoes, garlic and cubed pork to create the perfect topper for any of the restaurant's entrees. If you've been raised on the gloppy, gravy-like chile… More >>
  • Best Green Chile

    Benny's Restaurant y Cantina

    Ah, Benny's, how do we love thee? From your sprawling expanse of dining rooms to your potent margaritas to your gringo-friendly menu, it's no wonder you pack 'em in from morning to night. Straddling the fence between the old-world Mexican of Chihuahua and the modern culinary horrors of Taco Bell and squeeze-bottle salsa, you stand firm, giving legions of hungry… More >>
  • Best Mexican Mexican

    El Taco de México

    For decades, El Taco de México has been the place to go in Denver for a real taste of Old Mexico. It's a gathering place for the Spanish-speaking community, an after-church destination for big bowls of menudo, a hot spot for wasted musicians looking for some quick grub after the gig, and a jumping lunch joint that attracts a generous… More >>
  • Best High-End Mexican

    Tamayo

    Mmm...botanas. If there's any better bar food than tapas, it's botanas -- the little bites and appetizers served with firewater all over Mexico proper. At Tamayo -- Richard Sandoval's upscale Larimer Square homage to the Mexican Riviera of his youth -- you can sample the flavors of Acapulco and beyond for free during the hora feliz (happy hour) that runs… More >>
  • Best Colorado Mexican

    La Fiesta Supper Club

    Hungry throngs from all sides of town flock to La Fiesta's cavernous dining room for the chips and powerhouse salsa, for the crisp chiles rellenos, for enchiladas so big they come hanging off the edge of the plate, and for verde done not in the raw, unadulterated fashion popular on the southern end of the green-chile trail, but in a… More >>
  • Best Mexican With Mariachis

    El Tejado

    El Tejado serves great, authentic Mexican fare -- camarones cocktails, whole red snapper, carne asada tacos -- as well as such north-of-the-border innovations as a thick, hot, gravy-like green chile. But somehow, everything tastes better at Sunday brunch and on Wednesday nights -- when meals are accompanied by strolling mariachis, who walk between tables and take requests. How about "Strum… More >>
  • Best Cheesesteak From a Cart

    Philadelphia Filly

    They've been listed as one of the "Top Ten Hidden Treasures in America." They've gotten the nod on the Food Network's Best Of. Folks from all over the world can see their place talked about in-flight on Delta Airlines. And now you can frequent the Philadelphia Filly -- the little cheesesteak cart that could - not only at lunch, at… More >>
  • Best Philly Cheesesteak

    Taste of Philly

    Yo, Philadelphians know that most "Philly-style" steaks are crap. Gourmet steaks loaded with fancy veggies served on a toasted baguette may be what we'd like to think they're eating in the City of Brotherly Love, but they're not. They're devouring crumbly grilled meat, American or Provolone cheese, and maybe some fried onions or peppers piled high on a soft, chewy… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse

    Morton's of Chicago

    Prepare to meat your maker. In some circles, a dinner at Morton's of Chicago is considered a reasonable sacrifice to the gods, a way to thank them for your good luck. Drop a few hundred clams on a chunk crabmeat cocktail, on a perfectly cooked Porterhouse steak, on a potato bigger than your head, on a chocolate soufflé -- you're… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse Bar Food

    Sullivan's Steak House

    Although the obliging staffers are happy to serve you anything off Sullivan's menu in the clubby, boxing-themed bar, there's plenty to chew on in the bar menu alone. The cheeseburger, steak sandwich and blackened New York strip are particularly worthy of your attention: big, big portions of quality meat, cooked as requested, served with the ideal spud sides, and just… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Lola

    Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes getting right to the point is better than a whole lot of fancy-pants messing around. And when you're talking about seafood, this is almost always the case. At Lola, Dave Query and Jamey Fader (both also associated with Jax, a longtime Best of Denver fave) have taken this wisdom to heart and come up with… More >>
  • Best Seafood Cookbook

    Jax Fish House Book of Fish Dave Query and Jill Zeh Richter

    "Running a successful fish house is like juggling ice cubes on a hot day," says Jax chef/owner Dave Query in the preface to the new Jax Fish House Book of Fish. And while he might be right -- doing fresh fish properly in a state that doesn't even border a state that borders an ocean -- can be rough, Query… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Opal

    In Japan, a sushi chef will study for years just to learn the proper way to use a knife. He will apprentice himself to a master chef, work insanely long hours, learn everything he can about rolling fish up with rice -- and then spend a lifetime getting better and better at it. For hundreds of years, the Japanese have… More >>
  • Best Sushi Between Two Car Dealers

    Sushi Uokura

    When the sheer drudgery of haggling through "low, no haggle prices," test-driving and penny-pinching gets to you, take a break. The interior of Sushi Uokura is incongruously reminiscent of the most casual of beach houses, and the sushi is excellent, without an ounce of the precious pretention that's befallen so many Denver favorites. And when you've finally hammered out an… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Domo

    Why a Japanese country restaurant -- not to mention Zen garden, museum and complete Japanese cultural center -- is located in this industrial part of Denver is anybody's guess. What Domo's doing here, however, is very clear: Chef/owner Gaku Homma Domo's serving the town's best Japanese food -- both authentic provincial fare and sushi -- in a setting that's a… More >>
  • Best Combo Asian

    Moongate Asian Grill

    The tiny, almost unbelievably cute Moongate Asian Grill restaurant offers a culinary exploration of Asian foods. Even a package tour of the Pacific wouldn't let you try this many cuisines -- and Moongate saves you not just the time and expense, but also the malaria shots required for such a venture. Where else can you have chicken satay and panang… More >>
  • Best Americanized Chinese

    Imperial Chinese Restaurant

    Let's face it: Americanized Chinese is, well, Americanized Chinese. But when it's done well -- and Imperial Chinese does it very well -- it's still good food. Imperial ups the ante by recommending wines to pair with the dishes, by not hiding its meats under thick batter and molasses-sweet candy glazes, and with dining-room decor that's an elegant improvement over… More >>
  • Best Fortune Cookies

    Little Shanghai Cafe

    Crack open one of the elegant, foil-wrapped cookies at Little Shanghai Cafe, and what message do you find? "Confucius say you'll keep coming back to Little Shanghai, a Denver institution for almost three decades." Oops, wrong cookie: Little Shanghai would never do anything that blatant. Instead, it keeps its customers coming back by serving quality Chinese dishes, both Americanized and… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Ocean City - CLOSED

    Family-style pig's-ear salad, sauces thickened with pork blood, whole baked tilapia swimming in dark, sweet soy reduction -- if you want to eat real Chinese food, your best bet is the green menu at Ocean City. If you follow the kitchen crews from other Chinese restaurants come closing time, they'll invariably head to the parking lot of Ocean City, an… More >>
  • Best New Use of an Old Chinese Restaurant

    Luca D'Italia

    Once upon a time (actually, just a couple of months ago), the space at 711 Grant Street was home to China Hill -- a small Chinese restaurant known in the neighborhood for its reasonable prices and flaming pu-pu platters. But now, thanks to a little good luck and a lot of hard work by Frank Bonanno and Doug Fleischmann, what… More >>
  • Best Korean in the Last Place You'd Expect

    DiDi Deli

    While the humble DiDi Deli serves unexpectedly good chicken salad sandwiches and cheeseburgers, its Korean menu really steals the show. The Korean barbecue, for example, is nutty in flavor, tender and a little sweet. Bi bim bop -- a useful yardstick for measuring Korean food -- is a traditional dish of mild barbecued beef, fresh bean sprouts, lettuce, mushrooms, shredded… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese in a Hut

    Kim's Food to Go

    The ramshackle structure that is the entirety of Kim's kitchen is about as out of place in Boulder as a fish in a tree, but it's a welcome sight in the dining landscape. Even though open kitchens -- those stages on which smiling cooks in starched whites glide around under dramatic point lighting, showing off for a room full of… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Asian Deli

    A tiny eatery housed in the same space as an Asian market in a Boulder strip mall, the Asian Deli is like a pearl -- a spectacular find in dubious surroundings. Almost anything on the menu can be had for less than seven bucks, and there are nearly 150 items on that menu, including two dozen soups. But a bargain… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Coffee

    T-Wa Inn

    There are a lot of things to love about the T-Wa Inn. In season, it serves great soft-shell crabs, breaded and fried in butter. When the kitchen isn't going nuts with the mint, it makes a great spring roll. And on a good night, the stuffed quail is worth killing for. But there's one thing T-Wa does perfectly every time:… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Thai Basil Asian Fusion

    Aside from the name, there's no fusion at Thai Basil. The cuisine of Thailand is the primary focus at this groovy little Wash Park eatery, and while a scattering of Vietnamese and Chinese dishes can be found on the menu, it's the curry -- calibrated for the adventurous eater, with plenty of spice and heat to spare -- that has… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Maruti Narayan's

    Although there's a lot of great Indian food in town, Maruti Narayan's takes top honors. From its humble beginnings as a coffee shop to its current incarnation as a sit-down lunch and dinner destination, Narayan's has consistently impressed Denver's Indian and Nepalese communities and wowed many adventurous local diners along the way. Never straying too far from classic preparations into… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Jerusalem

    This University of Denver neighborhood hangout with its ramshackle patio doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's one of Denver's most beloved restaurants. And what's not to love? Jerusalem serves spicy hummus, fat little stuffed grape leaves, crisp and lemony falafel, tender shawarma sandwiches folded up in fluffy pitas that overflow with onions, tomatoes and parsley in tzatziki… More >>
  • Best Bastilla

    Cafe Paprika

    Bastilla is a Moroccan party food, but there's no reason you can't use it to celebrate everyday life. Made up of several layers of delicate, crisp phyllo dough filled with saffron-spiced chicken, onions, crushed almonds and herbs held together with an egg batter, bastilla is pan-cooked into a round pie and topped with powdered sugar and an ornamental design drawn… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Le Central

    Le Central is the sort of place everybody pictures when they're daydreaming of a meal at the perfect French cafe. And Le Central doesn't just look that way; it tastes that way, too. In Robert Tournier's cozy bistro, the true heart of French cuisine is honored every night by a kitchen that knows exactly what it's doing. Escargot en brioche,… More >>
  • Best Mortgage- the-House French Fusion

    Adega Restaurant + Wine Bar

    Adega's chef, Bryan Moscatello, doesn't mess around. Caviar, rare wild mushrooms, Plugrá butter -- nothing but the best of everything goes into what ultimately comes out of his kitchen. Adega featured a $300-per-plate dinner on New Year's Eve, offers seasonal prix fixe truffle-tasting menus that run $170 a head before the wine, and is one of the very few houses… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Venice

    There's just one problem with Venice: So many people came to love this place so fiercely and so soon after it opened that it outgrew its modest, twenty-table location just days after opening. Since Venice has no lobby or bar, would-be diners had to gather in the parking lot and wait for a table to open up. And if they… More >>
  • Best Italian Lunch Specials

    Parisi

    Simone Parisi, a native of Florence, and his wife, Christine, a native of Boulder, always wanted to open an authentic pizzeria in Denver, and that's exactly what they did a few years ago. But Parisi, a charming neighborhood spot in northwest Denver, is much more than a pizzeria: It's also an Italian market and deli that cooks up great lunch… More >>
  • Best Deli Sandwich

    Salvaggio's Deli

    Yes, there's a place for deli favorites named after Hollywood stars and sandwiches stacked so high you've got to unhinge your jaw like a python just to take a bite -- but this isn't that place. Salvaggio's depends on quality rather than gimmicks to keep people coming back, and its sandwich of red bells and mozz is a great example.… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    WaterCourse Foods

    Don't worry, folks: No animals were harmed in the making of your barbecue at WaterCourse Foods. While everyone probably expects the casual coifs and generalized ennui that pervade this funky collegiate hangout, what comes as a surprise are the big-ass helpings of honestly good food that's good for you, too. WaterCourse has veggie stir-fries and a half-dozen breakfast offerings all… More >>
  • Best Fluffernutter Sandwich

    Pour House Pub

    Elvis used to send his private plane to Denver to pick up his favorite food: fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. When it opened last year, the Pour House Pub, a great spot for beer guzzling and shooting pool, honored the King with its own peanut-butter-and-banana concoction. But you can't stop progress. The Pour House recently replaced the brewski-soaking treat with an even… More >>
  • Best Place to Go When You're Waiting to Be Seated Somewhere Else

    Hanson's Grill and Tavern

    Single-handedly saving South Pearl from the yuppie invasion, Hanson's Grill and Tavern offers a comfortable oasis amid all the SUVs and boob jobs. After its opening last summer (in the former home of the beloved Oak Alley Inn), this mellow neighborhood eatery quickly became a favorite of construction workers and corporate types, frat boys and professors on hiatus, drunken poets… More >>
  • Best New Kid on the Block

    Forest Room 5

    Thomas Nesler told the neighborhood he was going to put a cool new bar/tapas restaurant/neighborhood hangout in a run-down space on 15th Street -- in a building that was a firehouse back in 1879, then a grocery store, then a saloon for fifty years, most recently the Highland Bar -- but no one envisioned how very cool his Forest Room… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    Highland's Garden Cafe - CLOSED

    It was a noble experiment, what Pat Perry tried to do with her Highland's Garden Cafe: turn it into a mostly private dining facility, available for parties and, occasionally, dinners open to the public. But all the public could remember was how much they loved eating at Highland's Garden -- loved eating there, and hated having to remember when they… More >>
  • Best Starters

    Clair de Lune

    There's nothing that Clair de Lune doesn't do well, but the one thing Sean Kelly's place does better than anyone else in town is appetizers. Picture the plateau de fruits de mer -- one of the few mainstays on a menu that changes according to the whims of the chef and the winds of commerce -- with its spiced shrimp,… More >>
  • Best Finishers -- Chocolate

    Triana

    Triana warmed our hearts -- and stomachs -- with its molten chocolate cupcake. It's just what it sounds like: a spongy, dark-chocolate cupcake, dusted with confectioners' sugar, with milky chocolate lava inside that oozes out to mix with sweet macerated strawberries, vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of thick caramel sauce. While it may take a while for your cupcake… More >>
  • Best Finishers -- Everything Else

    Fourth Story Restaurant

    Who says there's no place left for the classics? At the Fourth Story, pastry chef Syd Berkowitz blows us away with his towering, spongy, cream-cheese-frosted and achingly sweet carrot cake with coconut-rice-pudding ice cream and warm bourbon-raisin sauce. The first time we tried it, it made us want to get up, make new reservations and eat a second meal just… More >>
  • Best Cheese Course

    Vesta Dipping Grill

    Artisan cheeses from around the world come together beautifully on the cheese plate at Vesta Dipping Grill. Far from the plain, cutting-block cheese presentations of yesterday, this new-age version of the old standby is pumped up by the inclusion of fresh strawberries, raspberries, figs, candied walnuts, and salad greens laced with aged balsamic vinegar. And knowing full well that a… More >>
  • Best Cheese Guy

    Jeremy Myers
    Cook's Fresh Market

    Cheese whiz Jeremy Myers takes home the Cheesehead Trophy this year, for capably arranging the globe-trotting cheese board at Cook's Fresh Market, and for having more milk-related trivia stored up in the old melon than any other human being should ever need in ten lifetimes.… More >>
  • Best Grill Crew

    Vesta Dipping Grill

    Chef Matt Selby's grillardins at Vesta Dipping Grill win the Fire-Eater Award. Not only do they deserve it just for hanging tough in a restaurant where damn near every menu item has to come (at least in part) off their station, but they also put out some of the best, most butter-tender and flawlessly temped tenderloin we've had anywhere.… More >>
  • Best Sauté Crew

    Opus - CLOSED

    The Iron Skillet Medal of Honor goes to chef Michael Long's sauté crew at Opus, for conspicuous and sustained gallantry in the face of a chef who's been known to change his menu by phone from the golf course just a few hours before the start of service. Granted, Long's particular brand of ironic culinary artistry is a welcome addition… More >>
  • Best Fry Guy

    Dick Lande
    Stout Pub

    Fried cheese, fried onion rings, fried pickles. No matter how good something is in its natural state, it can only be improved by a dunk in the fryer. And it's for his unfailing dedication to this simple fact that we award Dick Lande -- a 25-year veteran of the kitchen at 2052 Stout Street, now home of the Stout Pub… More >>
  • Best Garde-Manger Man

    Seth Black
    Clair de Lune

    Seth Black, Sean Kelly's right-hand man and, in fact, the only other pair of hands in Clair de Lune's kitchen, is the hardest-working garde-manger in show business. All the salads, all the cold apps -- all those antipasti plates and plateaus de fruits de mer that come banging out of Clair's kitchen -- come straight from Seth to you. For… More >>
  • Best Front-of-the-House Crew

    Mizuna

    No need goes unmet nor any desire unfulfilled at Mizuna, where the service on the floor runs as smoothly and professionally as the business behind the line. From the minute you step through the doors of this comfortable French-Mediterranean eatery, you are folded into a complete dining experience that includes perfectly timed courses and flawless table-side service rendered by a… More >>
  • Best Celebrity Chef

    Sean Kelly
    Clair de Lune

    Why is Sean Kelly Denver's best celebrity chef? For doing what a chef was born to do: cook. After closing Aubergine and the Biscuit, Kelly could have done just about anything. By his own admission, there were people lining up, just waiting to throw bags of money at him. But for reasons of his own, rather than taking the devil's… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Opal

    The last thing Denver needed was another French-Asian fusion restaurant. But the folks behind Opal opened it anyway. The last thing Denver needed was another up-market sushi bar. But they opened it anyway. Everything about Opal -- from the original triumvirate of owners and the over-staffed (and over-starred) kitchen, to the space and the concept -- seemed like a bad… More >>
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