Food & Drink

  • Best Belly

    Frasca

    For reasons we'll never understand, some people out there are afraid of eating pork belly. Maybe it's the name: The idea of eating anything's belly could be a little disturbing. But still, everyone with a tastebud left in their heads should immediately swallow all prejudices against this noble butcher's cut and get a taste of the wonderful pork-belly entree with… More >>
  • Best Buns

    Empress Seafood Restaurant

    Empress Seafood Restaurant is a classic dim sum joint. It's huge, it's entirely impersonal, and almost everything that goes on here happens in a different language. Every dim sum item available -- from dumplings to tripe -- is listed on one long paper menu, and no matter what you think you ordered, it's impossible to reconcile that with what eventually… More >>
  • Best Legs

    Tante Louise

    Just staying open for more than three decades is an achievement for any restaurant. But staying open and staying relevant? That's a real accomplishment. And that's what Tante Louise -- which opened in the old home of the even more venerable Normandy in 1973 -- has managed to do. In a newly hot restaurant neighborhood in a town where fine-dining… More >>
  • Best Snails

    Le Central

    They don't look like snails when they come to the table. They look like something baked inside a pastry shell. And from the first bite, they don't taste like you'd expect snails to taste. They taste more like a forestière of mushrooms, more like some dark fowl's meat -- turkey or duck, or something equally gamey. But snails they are,… More >>
  • Best Head in the City

    Taquería Patzcuaro

    When we talk about peasant cuisine these days, the conversations run toward comfort foods with a slightly musty past. No longer do we speak of such offal-centric dishes as French tête de veau or anything involving trotters or English lung pie. These days, peasant foods are more like a Disneyfied version of what we'd like to imagine our forebears having… More >>
  • Best Tail in the 'Burbs

    Caribbean Cuisine Plus More

    When you order oxtail at Caribbean Cuisine Plus, there's no question what you're eating. This is the southernmost edible portion of any animal, and with a little Tinker Toy ingenuity and some toothpicks, the big, rough-cut chunks sitting on your plate could probably be reassembled back into a semblance of a tail without too much difficulty. Served in a smoky,… More >>
  • Best Burrito Vendor

    Marisela Acevedo

    Burritos delivered to your door: Is Denver a great city or what? And there's no better burrito vendor than Marisela Acevedo. "The nice thing is that Marisela is here all the time," says Dan Hauser, who works in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building. "She knows who you are, she talks to you about your life. She's not just… More >>
  • Best Cheap Breakfast

    Santiago's

    Without a doubt, the Mexican people's greatest gift to their neighbors up north is the breakfast burrito. Forget your pottery, your Octavio Paz and the dulcet tones of the Tijuana Brass. Forget everything you ever knew about Menudo (the boy band, not the breakfast stew). Where would any of us be without the breakfast burrito? How would any of us… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Original Pancake House

    Breakfast is a very subjective thing. There are those who like to speed through the day's first meal, wolfing down something from the drive-thru on their way to the office, others who prefer to linger over well-brewed tea and fine pastries. Cold pizza makes a good breakfast, as do a pound of hash browns, six eggs and a steak served… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Bar

    20th Street Cafe

    To qualify as a breakfast bar, a place must do one thing -- serve breakfast -- and do it within a limited time span. In the case of the 20th Street Cafe, that span runs from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. weekdays (7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays), and never a minute longer. But if the owners want to knock… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Measured by Weight

    Johnson's Corner

    We brake for Johnson's Corner. After fifty years, this truck stop got a remodel that made it a shiny examplar of chrome-plate efficiency. But while its look has been updated, this landmark continues to serve the kind of breakfasts that have kept truckers going, and going, for the past fifty years. Nothing the kitchen does is small. It turns out… More >>
  • Best Croissants

    A La Tomate

    At A La Tomate -- owner Phil Collier's loving homage to the cuisine of Provence and Toulon -- everything is good, but the croissants are the best. Made fresh every day, they are impossibly buttery, with crackly shells and insides like clouds. Each one is a cholesterol hand grenade just waiting to go off -- doubly dangerous, since they're so… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Pastries

    Bistro Vendome

    When Bistro Vendome first opened, it tried to do three meals a day, every day. This ambitious plan was soon replaced by a dinner-only schedule that took a lot of pressure off the kitchen and chef Eric Roeder. Still, in a space like this -- tucked behind the main street, with a patio that opens onto the only quiet, secluded… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Soup

    Pho 79

    Pho -- that beef-broth-and-rice-noodle soup that's the most ubiquitous offering in Vietnamese cuisine -- is always eaten for breakfast. It's always eaten for lunch, too, and dinner on the streets of Da Nang, and as a midnight snack by drunken scooter kids in Saigon trying to sober up for the long ride home. But as a breakfast dish, pho is… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts -- Single Location

    Glazed and Confuzed Doughnuts

    Everyone loves doughnuts. But no one loves doughnuts quite as much as Elliott Vigil, owner of Glazed and Confuzed. Vigil knew nothing about doughnuts (except that he loved them) and nothing about the restaurant industry when he opened his shop last year. But that didn't slow him down. He found an industrial kitchen capable of producing 200 dozen a day,… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts -- Chain

    Krispy Kreme

    We've all seen the five o'clock news stories on Krispy Kreme franchise openings. The block-long lines, the goofy paper hats, that terrible, hypnotic "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign shining down from the windows. We've all laughed at the people willing to wait hours for their first dozen, fresh out of the oil at a new store, and vowed that we'd never… More >>
  • Best Waffles

    Devil's Food Bakery

    Make no mistake: Devil's Food is a dangerous place firmly dedicated to helping those with a weakness for the venal wrongs of gluttony to pave their way to hell with waffles. The house serves whipped sweet butter, real maple syrup -- thin, nutty and sweet with raw sugars -- and real whipped cream with its treacherous Belgians, working from a… More >>
  • Best Hangover Breakfast

    El Taco de México

    Long touted as mankind's only guaranteed cure for the common hangover, menudo is a hearty, spicy, slow-cooked stew made from hominy, chiles and stock, plus tripe, feet, knuckles, trotters or any other unattractive leftover cut of a cow requiring several hours (or days) of cooking to bring out its more subtle charms. El Taco de México -- which serves menudo… More >>
  • Best Expense-Account Breakfast

    Mirepoix

    You're in Denver on business, and you know that your boss, Mr. Dipstick, is a hardass when it comes to expensing meals out. He doesn't care what the circumstances are: If you're not entertaining a client at a business dinner, then you ought to be staying close to your room and snacking off Tic Tacs and pocket lint. But how… More >>
  • Best Power Breakfast

    Racines

    The power brokers at Racines can be tough to spot, because they look just like everyone else. But they're right there -- elbows on the tables, with green chile on their khakis and their sleeves rolled up -- having breakfast just like the neighbors, the college kids, the pols and the yuppies who surround them every morning at this funky,… More >>
  • Best Power Brunch

    Ristorante Amore

    Power breakfasts -- power anything, really -- have become a cliche in this post-crash recession era that we're struggling through. Gone are the days when businesspeople were flying so high on their own liquid assets and hubris that wasting an hour for breakfast meant wasting an hour that could've otherwise been used for making money. But that doesn't mean the… More >>
  • Best Blow-Out Brunch

    Ellyngton's

    When you want to really tie one on with a little distinction, head for Ellyngton's. This restaurant in the corner of the Brown Palace is all old-world swank, old-school class and jacket-and-tie top-hat dining, and the champagne brunch on Sundays is particularly glam. The linens are soft, the silverware comfortingly heavy, and the whole room seems to drip gold when… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    Lola

    Saturday night may not have been all right, but Sunday brunch will make everything better -- as long as you eat it at Lola. Seven nights a week, chef Jamey Fader serves up sublime coastal Mexican fare at this South Pearl hot spot, and the margaritas coming out of the bar only add fuel to the fire. But on Sunday,… More >>
  • Best Lunch-Delivery Service

    Lemon Sisters

    When you can't get away from your desk but just can't stomach another vending-machine lunch, call the Lemon Sisters. For a $10 minimum order, owner Claire Griffin, aka Joy Lemon (there is no sister), will speed over with one of her fresh-made sandwiches, soups or salads. The sandwich menu is solid deli fare, and the soups -- particularly the Thai… More >>
  • Best Cheap Lunch

    Oshima Ramen - CLOSED

    Unlike in this country, where ramen is the subsistence cuisine of slackers, potheads and college students, in Japan ramen is a proper meal, one served both on the street and in sit-down ramen restaurants. More than soba, more than udon, the humble ramen noodle is Japan's most culturally identifiable food -- its Big Mac, its mac-and-cheese. But here in Denver,… More >>
  • Best Patio Lunch

    Jay's Patio Cafe

    When you're eating out, nothing's that cheap anymore -- but at Jay's Patio Cafe, you pay for what you get. And when you're getting dishes with names like Wasabi Roast Beef and Tuna Nicoise, dishes that sound like they should be part of the smarmy spiel of some Cherry Creek garçon, you expect to shell out a few euros. Not… More >>
  • Best Patio Anytime

    Tamayo

    Tamayo may have the two best outdoor patios in the city -- one right on Larimer Square, where you can see the dye jobs and hairpieces of pedestrians up close, the other raised up above the throngs, with a fabulous view of the mountains off in the distance. But Tamayo also has a great menu, which means you can spend… More >>
  • Best Power Lunch

    The Palm

    The world as we know it can be comfortably broken down into several sets of categories. For example, there are diner people and there are coffeehouse people, crème-brûlée people and chocolate-cake people, people who enjoy foie gras and people who would never consider eating the swollen liver of anything. And then there are people who like the Palm, and people… More >>
  • Best Dinner Under $5

    L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

    L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is a Big Island phenomenon -- a onetime Honolulu locals-only hangout that hit it big in the late '80s by offering Hawaiian plate lunches and hatching a plan for franchise world domination. Today, with over ninety locations nationwide (but just one in Colorado), L&L caters to the Big Hungry Boy in all of us with its chicken… More >>
  • Best Dinner Under $1.20

    California Bakery

    Just about every fast-food joint in the country now has some kind of dollar menu. A buck for some nasty greaseball cheeseburger. A buck for a few French fries of highly questionable provenance. But true gastronauts have always known that for real dining deals, you head to Blank-town -- Chinatown, Koreatown, any of those areas of the city where ethnic… More >>
  • Best Dinner for Two for $50

    Rioja

    Chef Jennifer Jasinski has hit the triple bull with her powerhouse new eatery in Larimer Square. One, she's got a great location -- smack in the middle of the hottest restaurant neighborhood in town, which she's made even hotter. Two, the space (some of which was once part of Josephina's, some nonexistent) is a great upscale-casual dining room that's fun… More >>
  • Best Blowout Dinner

    Zengo

    Conventional wisdom says that fifty dollars is about the max Colorado diners are willing to spend on a non-destination dinner for two. Birthdays, anniversaries, Flag Day -- at those times, people are willing to part with a little more green, and there are a lot of restaurants willing to take that cash. But say you've got a really special occasion… More >>
  • Best Big Plates

    L'Atelier

    L'Atelier chef/owner Radek Cerny is known for a lot of things. He was one of our biggest celebrity chefs in the days before the phrase "celebrity chef" became more of an insult than a tribute. His personal style of cuisine -- the layered sauces, the potato tuilles, the strange juxtapositions of worldly ingredients in predominantly French preparations -- was immediately… More >>
  • Best Small Plates

    Somethin' Else

    Tapas and other small plates are becoming almost de rigueur, now that the Denver dining scene is catching on to the fact that less is sometimes more. And no one does the small-plate thing quite as well as Sean Kelly's Somethin' Else. Last year, Kelly dumped the fine-dining approach of Clair de Lune in favor of casual small plates, and… More >>
  • Best Power Dinner

    Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse

    Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse is a tower of power. There are diners who are physically powerful (a herd of Broncos, for example), diners who are financially powerful, and diners who are just powerfully hungry and want a huge whack of 100 percent American Midwestern corn-feed beef. And Del Frisco's has just the right atmosphere for putting all that power… More >>
  • Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

    The Fort

    You know what, Skippy? Mom's not going to be impressed by your souvenir shot-glass collection or that autographed poster of the Coors Twins hanging over your futon. And while Dad might appreciate the engineering involved in turning your roommate's fish tank into a giant six-hitter bong, you know he's not going to like it when you serve him Beefaroni and… More >>
  • Best Place for a Cheap Date

    Hooters - CLOSED

    You want to celebrate. You want to break open a bottle of bubbly. But you don't want to bust the bank. Head straight for Hooters, where a skimpily dressed waitress will serve up an order of twenty wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon for a mere $139. That's a steal: A bottle of Dom alone sells for upwards of… More >>
  • Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

    Deluxe - CLOSED

    Dating is awkward enough -- you might as well do it in a place that gives you the edge. If you're a fella, what will impress the girl/guy of your dreams? Candles and soft music? Roofies and a prison tattoo? And if you're of the female persuasion, will your date be confused by any place setting more complicated than a… More >>
  • Best Dinner Destination for a Second Date

    Brix - CLOSED

    Second dates are tricky. You're comfortable enough in each other's company to make it through an entire meal without lapsing into sulky silence or trying to exit out the bathroom window, but neither of you knows yet how far this thing could go. If you're interested in going all the way, and you figure the other party is at least… More >>
  • Best Dinner Destination for a Third Date

    Vesta Dipping Grill

    Yeah, we all know what the third date means, you naughty little monkey. By now you've discovered that you like each other enough to spend a meal together without one of you trying to bury a cocktail fork in the other's back, but you've run out of small talk, cute stories and one-liners, so if you don't get your intended… More >>
  • Best Dinner Destination for Impressing Potential In-Laws

    Mel's Restaurant and Bar

    You don't want to look like you're trying too hard, but you don't want to look like you're not trying hard enough. You want a place that's swank, but not too swank, someplace that's classic rather than trendy. Most important, you want a restaurant where you can whip out that brand-new Visa with the $300 limit and not have to… More >>
  • Best Expense-Account Dinner

    Adega

    Don't wait until your boss picks up the tab to try Adega. It's expensive, but not prohibitively so, and Bryan Moscatello's smart New American menu has something for just about every income -- from small plates and TV dinners at the bar to fantastic tasting menus and a seasonal full menu on the floor. Still, if you happen to be… More >>
  • Best Dinner on Your Own Dime

    Potager

    The best thing about chef Terri Rippeto's little restaurant, a longtime favorite of many of Denver's better chefs, is that it never, ever disappoints. From the entirely seasonal, garden-driven menu -- summers full of fruits, winters rich with root vegetables -- to the comforting plain-plaster dining room and garden patio in the back, Potager can do no wrong. No matter… More >>
  • Best Last Supper

    Luca d'Italia

    There's this game cooks play when they get together. It doesn't have a name or any rules, but the crux of it is this: You're dying -- fatal disease, on death row, whatever. There's time for one last meal, anything under the sun. What's it going to be? No one wants to waste his last night on a tasting menu,… More >>
  • Best Family Restaurant

    Cafe Jordano

    Cafe Jordano doesn't take reservations, because if it did, there'd never be an open table for the neighbors, the folks who arrive a half-hour before the start of dinner and count heads to make sure they'll get a seat at that all-important first turn of the dining room. Over the years, we've learned the drill at Cafe Jordano and know… More >>
  • Best Kid Corral

    Hillcrest Grill

    You may be someone's parents now, but you're still entitled to grown-up good food -- and the space to enjoy it. Hillcrest Grill is just the place for you. This neighborhood eatery not only has a decent kids' menu, but a fabulous children's play area -- a virtual kid corral -- where ankle-biters can go when they're done gnawing on… More >>
  • Best Diner

    The Breakfast King

    The Breakfast King is everything that a rust-belt boy, a trucker's son, an aficionado of greasy spoons or anyone with a little blue in his collar could hope for in a diner. First and foremost, it's open 24/7. Second, the waitresses know how to treat a regular and how to make those who aren't regulars feel like one anyway. Third,… More >>
  • Best Taco

    Mezcal

    Simplicity counts, and Mezcal's kitchen re-creates the simplest of Mexican street fare with its tacos. Owner Jesse Morreale and Sean Yontz (who consults in the kitchen) don't overreach, don't try to make a taco anything more than what it should be: an edible envelope stuffed with meat and greens. But the components -- soft corn tortillas, grilled meats, fresh salsas… More >>
  • Best Burrito

    El Taco de México

    El Taco de México doesn't do much to attract customers. It doesn't take credit cards. It doesn't advertise. It doesn't serve liquor. It doesn't provide more than a scant few places to sit. And still the customers keep coming -- because the one thing this taquería does do is offer the best taste of real Mexico available north of la… More >>
  • Best Green Chile

    Jack-n-Grill

    Chile importer turned restaurateur Jack Martinez has been verde, verde good to us. Jack-n-Grill turns out a green chile that's a magical mix of heat and sweet and smoky charred flavor that goes perfectly with everything from burritos to breakfast cereal. This green definitely follows the New Mexican model of diced, whole pods turned into sauce with as little intermediary… More >>
  • Best Colorado-Style Green Chile -- Chunky

    Brewery Bar II

    As green chile made its way up from New Mexico to Denver, it became thicker by the mile. And it reached stew-like perfection at Brewery Bar II, a classic dive on Kalamath Street that's renowned for its giant "Tiny" beers and crunchy chiles rellenos. But those rellenos wouldn't be nearly as good without the thick layer of green chile that… More >>
  • Best Colorado-Style Green Chile -- Smooth

    La Fiesta

    Ravenous crowds from all over town flock to La Fiesta for their mid-day meals -- and a chance to eat and party hearty. They're drawn by the convivial vibe of the huge dining room (this was once a Safeway), the friendly family that runs the joint (weekday lunches only) and the huge portions of delectably cheesy, greasy, addictive Colorado-style Mexican… More >>
  • Best Red Chile

    Little Anita's

    Little Anita's is an institution in New Mexico, where its locations spread across the state and its history stretches back thirty years. In the Land of Enchantment, foodies in the know generally consider it a destination of last resort; they respect its longevity yet think of it as a place to stop if you want to kill an afternoon making… More >>
  • Best Tamale

    Lola

    Chef Jamey Fader's menu changes with the seasons at Lola, his hot coastal-Mexican eatery. You can always count on several fish entrees as well as pork and beef, all boasting top-quality ingredients presented in fresh, and refreshing, ways. And now you can count on meaty surprises -- barbecued beef! -- inside the housemade tamales that are served up on Tamale… More >>
  • Best Chips and Salsa

    Bamboo Hut

    The Bamboo Hut's had a tough year, but it's coming back strong. For more than twenty years, this oddly named Mexican joint has been one of the town's best-kept secrets (no phone number, even), serving up great chicharrón burritos and searing green chile (made from peppers grown in Commerce City) to regulars willing to put up with the odd hours… More >>
  • Best Bar for Chips and Salsa

    Juanita's - CLOSED

    In many cases -- okay, in every case -- the most important thing influencing our appreciation of a Mexican joint's chips and salsa is the environment in which they're served. The best-tasting chips and salsa on the planet do nothing for us if they're dished up, say, by the sample ladies at the local Sam's Club. That's why we're such… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    Mezcal

    Mezcal's kitchen turns out fantastic Tijuana street-corner shrimp cocktails with big, tail-on shrimp floating in a sweet-and-spicy tomato juice with diced chiles, onions and big slices of fresh avocado, served with Saltines (the best part of any great coctel de camarones). It makes sopes with meat, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and all that good stuff packed inside a crisp, greasy… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Tamayo

    When the margarita was invented, it was an elegant drink -- an exquisite combination of great tequila and native juices that was as refreshing as the breeze blowing off the Mexican coast. But when it headed north -- no doubt brought back by those spring-breakers as a souvenir, like a social disease -- it morphed into a grain-alcohol, apple-juice orgy,… More >>
  • Best Tequila List

    Aztec Sol

    Can't afford a trip to Mexico this year? No problem. Aztec Sol is the next best thing to being there -- and an evening at this bar is so cheap you'll be able to drown your sorrows often. The brainchild of Jose Lara, whose family makes tequila back in the old country, Aztec Sol serves a grande selection of 200-plus… More >>
  • Best Tequila Ambassador

    Mezcal

    Fine-dining restaurants and wine bars have sommeliers -- the in-house experts and professional drinkers paid to know more than their customers about all things grape-ish. And while the character of sommeliers has changed somewhat in recent years (going from crepe-soled and tuxedoed experts on the elder vintages to young turks prouder of their cellar's boutique bottles than some dusty old… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    Monarck

    One of our proudest possessions is a smeared napkin that survived a very long night at Monarck. In a space that once held a crunchy coffeehouse, Francois Safieddine put the smoothest of upscale clubs, whose specialty cocktails include the mojito. While the mojito has become so ubiquitous in recent years that there's bound to be a Mojitos R Us store… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Morton's

    In honor of its 25th birthday last year, Morton's made the best even better: It came up with a cure for the common cold. By pouring its already splendid martinis into stainless-steel martini glasses, Morton's guaranteed that martini-lovers would be shaken, if not stirred. But the vessel surrounding your drink isn't the only surrounding that's important when you're drinking a… More >>
  • Best Wine Bar

    Paris Wine Bar

    Paris on the Platte has long reigned as one of the city's funkiest and most popular coffee shops. Now there's even more reason to like it: Platte's owners recently expanded their empire by converting the shop's adjoining bookstore into a classy, understated wine bar. With a well-chosen list of whites, reds and rosés, as well as a menu of grape-enhancing… More >>
  • Best Wine List

    Adega

    When it comes to a great wine list, there's just no beating the selection at Adega. Not as long as the restaurant keeps stocking bottles like its '98 Haut-Brion white Bordeaux, and those Spanish pinots, and those killer German and Austrian whites, and that bottle of '93 Leroy Clos de La Roche, and that roster of Latours and Mouton-Rothschilds that's… More >>
  • Best Wine List for Pairing

    Solera

    There's no doubt that Brian Klinginsmith knows his grapes. At Solera, he assembled a cellar that perfectly matched the simple, ingredient-driven menus assembled by chef Goose Sorenson, with a back stock of excellent bottles held out for special occasions or for those who'd come more for the booze than the grub. Although Klinginsmith has moved to California, his collectible legacy… More >>
  • Best Artisan Wine List

    Swimclub 32

    Swimclub 32 owners Chris Golub and Grant Gingerich ought to know a little bit about the grape-juice game. Before opening their hipper-than-hip, Asian-inspired, fusion-bistro-slash-tapas bar in the Highland neighborhood, they were both laboring in the cellars of one of the world's best-known wineries, Veuve Clicquot. The knowledge that they gained there certainly didn't go to waste, because now it's all… More >>
  • Best Sake List

    Swimclub 32

    Plunge into sake at Swimclub 32, which offers a straight-artisan, almost uncomfortably funky board of both old classics and newcomers. In some case the prices may seem high, but bear in mind that the house is doing a six-ounce wine pour on these bad boys. We don't know of another place in town where you can sip a clean, pure,… More >>
  • Best Beer List

    Falling Rock Taphouse

    Walking through the door of Falling Rock Taphouse is enough to make a beer fan fall in love all over again. This comfortable, casual saloon is serious about its brews, and it has over seventy of the world's best beers on tap, as well as an impressive collection of bottles both rare and wonderful. And Denverites aren't alone in their… More >>
  • Best Microbrew

    Avery Brewing Co.

    In a state rich with craft brews, it takes big flavor and muscle to stand out. Avery Brewing's Hog Heaven does that and more. Rich with malt, gooey with hops and deep with alcohol, this beer hogs the spotlight, thrilling beer geeks and gourmands and scaring off swill-sippers. Avery Brewing rules the roost of local breweries, and Hog Heaven is… More >>
  • Best New-Old Brewpub

    Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery

    While the brewpub industry has fallen flat in recent years, the Bull & Bush proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Now more than thirty years old, the Bull was modeled after the 300-years-older Bull & Bush near London and spent its first few decades as a classic Glendale watering hole -- which means the amount you… More >>
  • Best Anytime Drink Special

    The Lounge

    Lots of local watering holes offer great happy-hour specials and fleeting drink deals on whatever rotgut they've got clogging up their back stock. But the Lounge doesn't mess around. Instead, the barkeeps here serve one-buck cans of Old Style, all the time. The staple of a million Midwest union meetings and monster-truck rallies, Old Style is richer than Budweiser and… More >>
  • Best New Bar on Colfax

    Irish Snug

    Denver is suddenly inundated with Irish bars, but the Irish Snug led the way, in the process giving Colfax a stunning new storefront: This Dublin-style pub's facade looks like it was built in another century. The vibe inside is slightly less well-worn, although a growing group of loyal customers are doing their best to break the place in. Opened on… More >>
  • Best Bohemian Bar

    The Thin Man

    This saloon's name recalls both Bob Dylan and Dashiell Hammett, and its regulars are likely to be familiar with both. The Thin Man draws a funky sample of Capitol Hill's creative population, including local musicians, artists and filmmakers; book clubs and art collectives come here to brainstorm or plan their Burning Man installations. A former auto garage, the Man packs… More >>
  • Best Shot-and-a-Beer Bar

    Arap's Old Gun Shop

    Sometimes you just need a place to drink. A place where you can go about the serious business of altering your blood chemistry undisturbed by flashing lights, pounding bass lines or a bunch of nineteen-year-olds passing fake IDs and horking up their Jägermeister on the dance floor. And when you're in need of a place like this, you could do… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Don's Club Tavern

    Don's Club Tavern may be Denver's longest-surviving dive, as well as its most liquid asset. For decades, Don's has been the no-frills saloon of choice for those with a streak of Charles Bukowski in them, who are serious about their drinking. And there's no better way for a place that's been around forever to remind us of how much we… More >>
  • Best Place to See People in Chaps Without Horses (or Pants)

    The Denver Triangle

    Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, the Denver Triangle is one of the oldest leather bars in the country. But it didn't reach that ripe old age without a few growing pains. Back in the day, old-guard leather bars were reserved strictly for men, and woe to any woman who dared cross their dark dungeon doorsteps. Those times are long… More >>
  • Best Post-Club Bar Scene

    Kazmo's

    If you find yourself at Kazmo's at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning, it's a good bet you haven't just come from church -- or the comfort of your shower. No, more likely you're a survivor of Saturday night's continuing festivities and primed to re-engage. Victor Gomez, the Dominican-born proprietor of this windowless refuge, is happy to oblige, with a… More >>
  • Best Afternoon Tea

    House of Commons

    Yorkshire native Jessica Avery has created a stark, sunny space that shines in contrast to the ambience of coffeehouses we've become so accustomed to in this town, where folks can find a dark spot to swill caffeine and palaver on nearly every street corner. Her House of Commons is a welcoming space where you chat in hushed tones, though not… More >>
  • Best New Coffeehouse

    Monkey Bean Coffee and Bistro

    Where once lurked the Cutthroat Cafe, a gruesomely dubbed greasy spoon that took over from the equally gruesomely named Butcher's Block, there now sits the altogether cuddly Monkey Bean, a neighborhood joint for the rapidly improving Ballpark neighborhood. In a city clogged with cafes, Monkey Bean apes no one: Everything from its huge menu to its vibrant decor is full… More >>
  • Best Coffee Shop for a Convention

    Blackberries Ice Cream and Coffee Lounge

    The new, improved Colorado Convention Center looks fancy and all, but what if you're planning a confabulation that's a bit more humble? Then Blackberries is your site. Since the sprawling, scrupulously spotless space opened last year, it has hosted a bevy of events: charity fundraisers, writers' workshops, art openings, film screenings and, of course, Denver's perennial spoken-word gala, Cafe Nuba.… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Mirepoix

    At Mirepoix, Bryan Moscatello has assembled a roster of pitch-perfect New American dishes that range from jumped-up grilled-cheese finger sandwiches to one of the best high-end burgers in town, the latter coming with a side of the best french fries. The spuds are blanched first, then finished like frites to give the thick fries an excellent crunch, and finally crusted… More >>
  • Best Frites

    Bistro Vendome

    At Bistro Vendome, chef Eric Roeder can run a good crew out of a cramped galley; bang out fifty plates of classical trout amandine and faux cassoulet a night with the first one tasting just as perfect as the last; and compete and thrive among some serious culinary contenders on Larimer Square -- even though his space has zero street… More >>
  • Best Shoestrings

    Devil's Food Bakery

    French fries, home fries, seasoned fries, steak fries, crinkle-cut, waffle-cut and pommes frites: There are as many different varieties of fried potatoes as there are varieties of potatoes themselves. And the shoestring fries at Devil's Food Bakery put all others to shame. This haystack tangle of blanched and fried, super-thin-cut potato comes with the house's steak-frite plate. While fantastic, salty… More >>
  • Best Chili-Cheese Fries

    Sam's No. 3

    An order of chili-cheese fries is not something you leave to an amateur, to someone uneducated in the tricky chemistry of the combination of potatoes, chili and cheese. You want to go to a pro, and that's why you go to Sam's No. 3, where the kitchen has been pumping out Coney Island-style fries slathered in beans-and-meat chili and melted… More >>
  • Best Fried Cheese

    Maggiano's Little Italy

    When you want fried cheese, you want a lot of fried cheese. And Maggiano's Little Italy delivers. This giant Italian joint has the temerity, the cheek, the unabashed audacity to offer as an appetizer a brick of pure-white mozzarella, breaded, fried, and topped with...more cheese, then set afloat in a sea of marinara sauce like some cholesterol iceberg. Ahoy, cardiology… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Joseph's Southern Food

    Joseph's Southern Food is the new mouth of the South. From their cramped, mostly carryout space, partners Joe Johnson and Rick Bousman serve up the very best of Deep South cuisine. They do grill-fired burgers, catfish sandwiches, root-beer floats, fried shrimp, coleslaw, collard greens and cold peach cobbler. But their very best dish is the house-special fried-chicken dinner. Although it… More >>
  • Best Fancy-Pants Fried Chicken

    Table 6

    "Mother and child reunion" is the best description we've heard so far for the Rocky Chicken dish at Table 6. It's a fried egg, done over-easy, on top of a fried chicken breast and leg that are mounted on a nest of fried potatoes and onions. The whole plate is very intellectual, very New American smartass, but also very tasty… More >>
  • Best Chicken Wings

    Luciano's Pizza and Wings - CLOSED

    The chicken wing took off in Buffalo, New York, so it's no wonder that the best chicken wings in town are made by a man who spent most of his life steeped in the near-mythological upstate New York pizza-and-wing scene. Kris Ferreri, owner of Luciano's Pizza and Wings, comes from a family whose Buffalo roots go back to the turn… More >>
  • Best Fried Oysters

    Deluxe - CLOSED

    Dylan Moore is one weird cat. He bailed on a promising career as a young chef, turning his back on the food world just when he, and California Cuisine, were at the height of their powers. But after more than a decade on the outside, he's picked up right up where he left off. At Deluxe, the food sometimes seems… More >>
  • Best Fried Polenta

    Il Fornaio

    Il Fornaio's crostini di polenta should go down in culinary history as one of the last, best, most original things anyone has managed to do with polenta, the must-have ingredient of the last decade. Here an order brings pan-fried squares -- like Italian finger sandwiches -- of crisp polenta topped with Italian ham, simple mozzarella, zucchini sliced thin as paper,… More >>
  • Best Fried Crabs

    Chez Thuy

    They're simple little things, the soft-shell crabs at Chez Thuy -- deep-fried whole, with a beautiful golden batter crisp out of the oil and just a little spicy, the shells inside chewy, yielding and full of juicy meat. The accompanying nuoc mam fish sauce is bright as acetylene, so sharp that a sniff of it is dizzying, like a toot… More >>
  • Best Fried Spinach

    Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai

    Pim Fitt does two unusual things at Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai. First, she'll occasionally tour customers through her kitchen, showing how the dumplings are crimped, how the spring rolls are rolled. And second, with the exception of the pad thai, nothing her kitchen makes tastes like any Thai food you've tasted before. Odds are good she'll have something knocking around… More >>
  • Best Fried Dessert

    Table 6

    Chefs get credit for lots of things. They get props for inventing a cuisine, for refining a cuisine, occasionally for ruining a cuisine. But at Table 6, Aaron Whitcomb gets the nod for stealing. Okay, maybe not stealing, exactly. To be more polite, let's say he gets credit for introducing Denver diners to an addictive taste of the Gulf Coast… More >>
  • Best White-Trash Weiner

    Brix - CLOSED

    "A rather special hot dog" -- that's what owner Charlie Master calls Brix's straight-up, gourmet-meets-white-trash weiner. It's a Hebrew National all-beef frank, set on a good bun and topped with the kitchen's sauerkraut, then served with homemade red-cabbage-and-red-onion coleslaw on the side. If one of these dogs, along with a couple of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, isn't the best… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Saray

    Saray, right number. Qwest isn't having an easy time of it these days, but employees need only step outside their downtown headquarters building and walk over to a cart on the corner to find quick comfort. The Saray cart peddles a great 75-cent hot dog; double that, and you can get a lightly grilled Sabrett weiner that hangs off the… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Bud's Bar

    Hamburgers are like a religion. There's pomp and ritual in their construction and delivery, a sacred compact between burger eater and burger maker that revolves around mutual respect and attention to a set of rules. And once a seeker of burger perfection has found a patty that speaks to him, nothing short of fanatical conversion can change his mind or… More >>
  • Best New American Burger

    Mirepoix

    Buffalo burgers, turkey burgers with sweet-potato purée, Maryland crab-boil burgers -- Mirepoix offers them all. The kitchen makes no claims of authenticity or traditionalism, but instead takes the idea of the classic American burger and turns it back on itself, giving it a real regional flair. By using the best ingredients in an array of inspired fixings, mounting everything on… More >>
  • Best Old American Burger

    Jim's Burger Haven

    Sometimes you just want a burger. Not a buffalo burger, not some coddled Kobe-beef monstrosity with butter lettuce, aioli and heirloom tomatoes. Just a burger: dead cow on bread. That's when you head right for Jim's Burger Haven, a car-cult joint whose origins can be traced to the glory days of ten-cent milkshakes and miniskirted carhops. The burgers date from… More >>
  • Best Burger Bar

    Cherry Cricket

    The town's chefs love the Cherry Cricket. Softball teams, musicians, barflies, night creatures and neighbors all love the Cricket. Why? Because the Cricket is a classic burger bar where the smoke is thick (unless you're in the new non-smoking section), the company good, the coolers stocked and the burgers among the best in town. With its dark wood, chrome-edged tables… More >>
  • Best Cheesesteak

    Pat's #1

    For reasons that have never been entirely clear, Denver -- a city 2,000 miles removed from the front lines of the Pat's-versus-Geno's sandwich war -- has always been a battleground fought over by rival cheesesteak operations. There's east side versus west side, foothills against flatlands, and that competition is all good for cheesesteak consumers. But Pat's #1 is the winner,… More >>
  • Best Cheesesteak Experience

    Taste of Philly

    Taste of Philly is a little storefront operation that looks, feels and smells more like a real Philly joint than some places actually operating in sight of Independence Hall -- from the cramped seating (six tables set nearly on top of each other) and counter that opens straight onto the tiny galley kitchen, to the Tastykakes by the register and… More >>
  • Best Cheesesteak From a Cart

    Philadelphia Filly

    The Philadelphia Filly was once a stationary restaurant, but then Sally Rock and Dale Goin decided to take their authentic Philly cheese-steaks on the road. They now serve their sandwiches at fairs and other annual events; during the Taste of Denver, for example, there are always huge lines snaking out from the Filly's booth. But the rest of the time,… More >>
  • Best New York Deli Sandwich

    Deli Tech - CLOSED

    New York City is famous for lots of things. It's got Broadway and the Empire State Building, the Rockettes, Donald Trump's hair, more hookers per capita than any city outside of Southeast Asia, and the best restaurants anywhere in the world. Of those, some of the most universally recognizable are the delis that dot Midtown and the outer boroughs, and… More >>
  • Best Kosher Deli

    Bagel Deli & Restaurant

    Three things are always true about the Bagel Deli. First, there's inevitably someone in line ahead of us arguing with the counter help over how to assemble his sandwich, proving that not only does the staff take sandwich-making seriously, but so do the customers. Second, there will always be someone who -- despite the big board listing all the available… More >>
  • Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    Chedd's Gourmet Grilled Cheese

    At Chedd's, Dirk and Wendy Bruley have elevated the humble grilled cheese sandwich to an art, doing it better, smarter and in more wondrous variety than anywhere else in town. Grilled cheese is just about all they do at Chedd's, in a thousand different combinations that no one may have tried before. You want ham and limburger? Chedd's can do… More >>
  • Best Sandwich Board

    A La Tomate

    Phil Collier, the owner of A La Tomate, is a man multiply obsessed. He and his kitchen do great pastries, decidedly Frog-ish pizzas that are both weird and wonderful, and also put out a sandwich board so full of high-class, high-quality ingredients that the only way to contain it is on a huge chalkboard hung behind the counter. Absolutely everything… More >>
  • Best Off-the-Menu Sandwich

    Mikey's Italian Bistro

    The menu at Mikey's Italian Bistro is filled with well-executed Southern Italian dishes, from simple spaghetti and meatballs to calorie-laden lasagnas. But it's an off-the-menu item that's a must-have. Ask chef/owner Alaya Ouerfelli for a chicken-parm sandwich, and prepare to melt into food-coma delight. While too many chicken parms are made of old bird that's been breaded and flash-fried, Mikey's… More >>
  • Best Celebrity Sandwich

    Deli Italia

    Bernadette O'Dell's Zoot Sandwich is a frequent treat along Santa Fe Drive on First Fridays. Partly because the hot soppressata, roasted red pepper and mozzarella creation is so damned delicious, and partly because its namesake, Zoots by Suavecito's, is located on Santa Fe. Craig Peña, Suavecito's owner, frequented the deli so often that O'Dell finally named a sandwich after the… More >>
  • Best Salami Sandwich

    Pat's #1

    The salami sandwich may be the highest example of the sandwich-maker's art, requiring a mastery of everything from ingredient selection to structural engineering. And Pat's #1 passes the test with flying colors. There's nothing peculiar to its salami sandwich, no weird secret ingredients or artisan bread. Instead, it boasts best-quality meat in good proportion to fresh lettuce and strong, funky… More >>
  • Best Pecan Pie

    Wolfe's Barbeque - CLOSED

    Wolfe's Barbeque makes tasty pulled-pork sandwiches, and its barbecued tofu is legendary. But the true, can't-miss item here is owner Louis Wolfe's pecan pie. The crust is light and flaky, and the pecan filling has the texture of chiffon on the tongue. Not too dense or too sweet, it's the perfect post-barbecue treat. Wolfe sells his homemade confection by the… More >>
  • Best BBQ

    M&D's Cafe - CLOSED

    Mack and Daisy Shead started out with a modest storefront; twenty years later, they have a million-dollar Five Points barbecue joint. But through the years, the essential core of any great BBQ operation has remained the same: the recipes. The Sheads' knowledge stretches back generations, and that heritage flavors the ribs, the small ends, the chicken and the sides --… More >>
  • Best Baby Backs

    Big Papa's BBQ - CLOSED

    Come to Papa. This may look like just another strip-mall barbecue joint, but Big Papa's makes a sublime rack of baby-back ribs, all charred and crusty 'round the edges, smooth and fatty and tender inside. Making them even better are Papa's homemade sauces, four varieties from different regional traditions: Memphis, Kansas City, a mustard-spiked Carolina and a Deep South. Papa's… More >>
  • Best BBQ in a Garage

    Brooks Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

    The space that holds Brooks Smokehouse Bar-B-Que -- down a driveway and next to a nondescript house on Fairfax Street -- isn't really a garage, but it comes close enough. The Brookses have turned what was once a catering business into one of the best BBQ joints in the city, offering ribs, brisket, chicken, excellent country-style sides and Louella's own… More >>
  • Best BBQ in a Gas Station

    Dr. Daddio's Kitchen on Wheels

    Jim Walker -- best known as "Dr. Daddio" -- may be a smooth hand when it comes to dishing out the tunes on KUVO, but the man also knows his way around good barbecue. While this little restaurant counter on the left-hand side of a gas station out on Airport Boulevard may not be the prettiest or the best-stocked joint… More >>
  • Best BBQ Sauce in a Bottle

    Brick-Hot Bar-B-Que Sauce

    If you think Denver barbecue takes a walk on the mild side, run to your computer and order up some Brick-Hot Bar-B-Que Sauce. Produced and packaged in Lakewood, this sauce has a smoky, dark and ever-present heat that runs right along that ragged edge between really friggin' hot and just too hot, without becoming so forward that it kills any… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Thin Crust

    Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana

    The pizza at Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana straddles that dangerous line between honest, wood-fired thin-crust excellence and faddish, overdone, cracker-crust nonsense. So far, though, Proto's has stayed on the right side of that line, turning out wonderful, hand-tossed pies that are first-rate examples of the thin-crust form, even if they're irregularly shaped, sometimes unevenly covered, and never consistent from one 'za… More >>
  • Best Pizza -- Thick Crust

    Beniamino's

    Ben Guest had been talking about opening a pizza joint for fourteen years, ever since he moved to Denver from Chicago's South Side. His friends were getting kinda sick of hearing about it. But he finally took the plunge, and his pizzas were worth waiting for. The Mile High City was badly in need of a decent stuffed pie, and… More >>
  • Best New York-Style Pizza

    New York Pizzeria

    New Yorkers agree that there are just two ways to do a pizza: the New York thin-crust way, and the wrong way. Lucky for us, that's the way they feel at the New York Pizzeria, too, and that's the way the kitchen has been making its pies since the day this pizzeria opened. With crusts that are thin but never… More >>
  • Best French-Style Pizza

    A La Tomate

    Technically, what A La Tomate serves isn't even a pizza. It's a tarte à la tomate -- a golden-brown, braided, buttery, pastry-shell tart filled with pizza-like toppings that comes straight from the cafes of Provence to Denver's 17th Avenue. At first bite, the pie tastes...weird. The sauce is keyed to French tastes, kicked up with a strong dose of herbes… More >>
  • Best Masterpizza

    The Oven

    Until you've tasted what a French-trained, James Beard Award-nominated executive chef can do once he decides to open a dream neighborhood pizza place, you really haven't tasted pizza's potential. But since the debut of the Oven, Mark Tarbell's wood-fired pie joint in Belmar, now you can. Here, every pizza is hand-tossed; topped with the best organic, locally produced and artisan… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Slices

    Famous Pizza

    Famous Pizza has a vibe that lets you know you've come to the right place. It could be the abraded tile, the wobbly tables, the decor that's half Greek diner, half God knows what -- but there's definitely something in the collision between look, neighborhood and attitude that makes Famous the best spot for feeding that late-night jones for thin-crust… More >>
  • Best Stromboli

    Tonti's

    A great pizza folded in half is a great calzone. And what's better than a great calzone? A great stromboli -- essentially a pizza that's been involved in a high-speed collision with a fast-moving Italian sandwich, with the resulting mess folded up like a calzone and baked. Tonti's stromboli is a huge pocket of baked pizza dough, stuffed with deli… More >>
  • Best Pasta in a Pizza Place

    Armando's Ristorante Pizzeria

    While Armando's pies are outstanding, particularly the deep-dish spinach Sicilian, this venerable pizzeria deserves a prize for another portion of its menu: the pastas. The kitchen does just about every classic neighborhood Italian starch you can think of, including admirable gnocchi, fat little ravioli, and a fresh capellini pomodoro with garlic, capers, white wine and cherry tomatoes. There's also an… More >>
  • Best Deli in a Pizza Place

    Parisi Italian Market and Deli

    Although Parisi's relocated and expanded restaurant is wonderful, it's the fantastic Italian deli that gets us through the door. Italian deli meats and whole frozen Muscovy ducks, as well as fresh-made mozzarella, prepped-to-cook entrees, sides and frozen stocks and sauces from Parisi's own kitchen are enough to make us love this place beyond all reason and good sense. But there… More >>
  • Best Handmade Pasta

    Rioja

    In a lot of ways, Rioja is a dream restaurant -- the sort that chefs fantasize about, with a great location, a solid crew of experienced veterans and a menu that allows that crew to improvise upon favorite dishes night after night. For chef Jennifer Jasinski, that means doing pasta -- lots of pasta. Lots of beautifully executed, expertly balanced… More >>
  • Best Spaghetti and Meatballs

    Vita Bella Pizza and Pasta

    It shouldn't be tough to make a decent plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Matter of fact, it should be harder to mess it up than to do it right. And yet for the longest time, the good people of Denver have suffered through some of the worst Italian food served anywhere. But no more. Several good family-run Italian places have… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Luca d'Italia

    Frank Bonanno wants people to think of one thing when they hear his name: authenticity. He wants everything he touches, every plate that comes out of his kitchen, to be absolutely authentic, and that's what he's accomplished at the splendid Luca d'Italia. Although the dishes on the menu may seem unfamiliar, it takes just a bite to know you're eating… More >>
  • Best Everyday Italian

    Tonti's

    Every neighborhood needs a neighborhood Italian joint, particularly one as good as Tonti's. From the outside, there's nothing special about this strip-mall spot, nothing that separates it from the hundreds of also-rans plugging away night after night. You could drive by it a hundred times and never give it a second look. But if you do happen to drop in,… More >>
  • Best Once-a-Week Italian

    Ristorante Amore

    A bottle of red, a bottle of white, a nice table looking out on the hustle and bustle of Cherry Creek on a Saturday night, and a date to meet there once a week at the same time -- that's all it takes to fall in love. Billy Joel understood that, and so does Greg Goldfogel, owner of Ristorante Amore.… More >>
  • Best Once-a-Month Italian

    Frasca

    No matter how much you eat or how long you stay at Frasca, you'll always leave wanting more -- and you'll start planning your return as soon as possible. A month should be long enough to rebuild your bank account, although considering the quality of the food and the talent in the kitchen, the prices are pretty reasonable. And while… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse

    Capital Grille

    In this decidedly steak-and-potatoes town, where steakhouses spring up faster than mushrooms after a soaking rain, Capital Grille remains a cut above the rest. We've eaten a lot of prime and put away a lot of baked potatoes at meat markets around the city, putting up with snooty servers and imperious hosts. And we've always come back to Capital Grille,… More >>
  • Best Cheap Steakhouse

    Bastien's

    We don't care how many newfangled steakhouses open in this burg, we'll keep going to Bastien's. We don't care if one opens where the steaks are dipped in gold and served by waitresses booted from Hooters for being of too low a moral character, we'll still keep going to Bastien's. As a matter of fact, a steakhouse could open where… More >>
  • Best Cheap Steaks

    Club 404 - CLOSED

    From its home on Broadway, Club 404 has seen a lot of Denver history come and go -- more than fifty years of it -- and during all that time, there's been one constant. And that would be Jerry Feld, 404's owner. Sure, he's now got family helping him with the day-to-day business of running the joint, but it's a… More >>
  • Best New West Steakhouse

    Elway's

    No, Big John isn't flipping tenderloins on the grills in the back, but he does show up every now and then -- and he's nothing but gracious when he does. And, no, the dining room isn't filled with fat guys in Broncos jerseys and sweatpants. Actually, Elway's draws the kind of crowd you see at every other high-tone address in… More >>
  • Best Mild West Steakhouse

    Northwoods Inn - CLOSED

    There are some rooms where we like seeing everyone dressed to the nines, restaurants where dignity and formality and pomp feel right. And then there's the Northwoods Inn. Here, the ragtime piano player wears arm garters and people throw their peanut shells on the floor and eat soup out of a communal pot. Here, the house can serve something on… More >>
  • Best Seafood in a Steakhouse

    Capital Grille

    Maybe it's the wonderfully pretentious presentation of the lobster bisque, the bowl brought by a soft-footed server who laces the top of the soup with decanted sherry for a fine, sharp, smoky alcohol hit. Or maybe it's the liquid velvet texture and strong lobster flavor of the bisque itself, an ideal balance between creamy richness and big buttery whacks of… More >>
  • Best Burgers in a Fish House

    McCormick's Fish House and Bar

    Everyone knows about the great seafood at McCormick's: the daily airlifts of fresh fish, the weekly and seasonal specials, the talented kitchen that's there to put everything together, the terrific dining room and bar spaces tucked into the corner of the classic Oxford Hotel. But one of the lesser-known winners on this decidedly fishy menu are the burgers, which are… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant for You and Ten of Your Closest Friends

    Go Fish Grille

    Larry Herz and his crew at Go Fish Grille have created a seafood restaurant with zero pretension but a worthy goal: to fill its coolers and freezers with the finest product that can be wrangled out of suppliers who still think of Denver as a B-grade market (at best). We wouldn't suggest this as a romantic destination -- too many… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Zengo

    We know that Zengo is not so much a seafood restaurant as a restaurant that happens to serve seafood in addition to a lot of other things. But that doesn't matter. When you're after great fish, nobody handles the creatures of the briny deep quite like this kitchen -- and with a Latino-Asian twist, at that. Whether you order an… More >>
  • Best Lobster

    Somethin' Else

    Somethin' Else, Sean Kelly's neighborhood tapas joint, takes the fancified crustacean from the rarefied level of special occasions and anniversaries and returns it to everyday eating, where it belongs. Here the lobster tail is served without fanfare alongside all the other great small plates -- but at fifteen bucks, this perfectly prepared lobster is a big deal. … More >>
  • Best Lobster Mac-and-Cheese

    Mizuna

    Mac-and-cheese may be the best survivor of the comfort-food trend that swept the food world a few years ago, then mercifully departed. And we'd like to keep Mizuna's mac-and-cheese around for a long, long time. Butter-soft lobster-claw meat, perfectly poached, comes mounted on pasta robed in smooth mascarpone cheese that's about as far from out-of-the-box-Kraft as you can get. Baby,… More >>
  • Best Crab Cakes

    Go Fish Grille

    The crab cakes at Go Fish Grille are big enough to be a meal. A very delicious meal. They come to the table straight out of the pan, decadently stuffed with quality back-fin crabmeat that's been left in fat chunks rather than overworked into shreds, mixed lightly with breadcrumbs and not at all with bell peppers or onions or celery… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Sushi Den

    In its grasping quest toward food-town respectability, Denver is now home to several restaurants that have gone so far above and beyond the call, they're not just the best of their category here, but can compete with restaurants across the country. Exhibit A: Sushi Den. There's no other sushi restaurant in the Mile High City -- and very few in… More >>
  • Best Sushi Bar

    Sushi Tazu

    Best o-toro in town, best sea urchin in town, best sushi bar in town, hands down. Sushi Tazu is the semi-subterranean sushi bar where everyone knows your name. If they were ever to make a Japanese version of Cheers, it would be set in a place like Tazu, staffed by a crew like the one that works behind the curving… More >>
  • Best Sushi Bar in the 'Burbs

    Kassai Sushi

    At last count, Denver had something on the order of 17 billion sushi bars, with a new one opening every 45 seconds. There are strip malls that boast three sushi bars within a hundred paces, and in the 'burbs, a man can't chuck a side of bonito without it going straight through the window of a sushi bar that's opening… More >>
  • Best Sushi Restaurant for Eating an Entire Tuna

    Sonoda's - CLOSED

    Over the past twenty years, Sonoda's has grown to four locations that serve big crowds. It's clearly making money, and just as clearly pouring it back into buying more fish, since the dining rooms don't look like they've been redecorated since the late '80s. But as long as Sonoda's keeps buying tuna, that's okay with us. Anything you can imagine… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Domo Restaurant

    There are Japanese restaurants in town that do great sushi, excellent yakitori, fine gyoza, wonderful ramen. But only at Domo do the disparate elements of Japanese cuisine come together in one perfect, country-style restaurant. And only at Domo could you enjoy this cuisine in such a zen-like setting, with beautiful service, tree-stump seats, a charmingly understated dining room and --… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai

    You know you've found a great ethnic restaurant when nothing tastes like anything you've tasted before -- and it all tastes good. You think you've had Thai food before? Not until you've had it at Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai, a great restaurant in an awful location. While the menu reads a lot like every other Thai menu in the city,… More >>
  • Best Quick Thai

    Spicy Basil

    There are those restaurants where you plan to eat -- making reservations, picking out the right outfit, booking the babysitter -- and those you go to when the urge strikes you. Spicy Basil is all about whim. This small Thai-fusion storefront is just the spot for a quick lunch when you've got Asian on the brain, a place that inspires… More >>
  • Best Thai Curries

    Tommy's Thai

    Tommy's Thai straddles the border between what Thai cuisine truly is and what those who've never had the real thing think Thai cuisine ought to be. As a result, Tommy's offerings can come off muted, those raw edges of ethnic flavor rubbed smooth by continued refinement for the neighborhood palate. But this dialing down works for the kitchen's curries, which… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    JJ Chinese Restaurant

    For those addicted to searching out the true flavors of the mysterious East, JJ Chinese Restaurant is a wonderland of sights and smells and tastes -- highly specific regional cooking featuring dishes native to chef/ owner Kevin Ho's home province of Guangdong. For those who prefer something more along the lines of sesame chicken? Well, then JJ can be flat-out… More >>
  • Best American Chinese Restaurant

    Imperial Chinese Restaurant

    Man cannot live on pig intestines alone. And on those nights when you crave something comfortingly familiar yet still vaguely ethnic, Imperial Chinese Restaurant fits the bill. Although the dining room here is red-dragon-and-white-tablecloth elegant, it attracts a casual crowd of diners looking for the kind of tame, sterile thrills that only Chinese food done Colorado-style can offer. Which means… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Kim Ba

    Kim Ba's menu is huge (and most of it in Vietnamese), listing a range of regional dishes that offer a whirlwind tour from the Highlands down to the Delta and back again. Even after many visits, we have yet to find a single thing that we wouldn't eat again (and again and again). The fat shrimp wrapped in grilled flank… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Coffee

    Pho 79

    When you order Vietnamese coffee at Pho 79, the waiter warns you that it's strong. When he brings it to the table, he warns you again that the house makes it powerful, and to be careful. And after waiting for the peaceful drip-drip-drip of the tin filter to finish and the hot coffee to bleed down through the ice to… More >>
  • Best French-Vietnamese Restaurant

    Chez Thuy

    Since it moved into this stand-alone strip-mall space in 1993, Chez Thuy has been offering history lessons told in food. It's a casually shabby clearinghouse with menus as thick as a world atlas, each outlining the story of the cuisine of Vietnam, which, in the historical record, reads like a murderous, ill-fated yet oddly fortuitous collision of cultures and a… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Le Central

    Le Central gets knocked around a lot for things it doesn't do wrong. People complain about the service, saying it's snooty -- when it's actually just French. They grumble about long waits on lunch service when the house is full -- which really means the place is popular. But the one thing nobody ever seems to complain about is the… More >>
  • Best Cajun Restaurant

    Brooks Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

    Every visit to Brooks Smokehouse is a two-for-one treat. Not only do Ronald and Louella Brooks serve some of the town's best BBQ in their odd little spot, but they also dish up fried gator, good Frenchy frogs' legs, fat boudin sausages and a stellar, tomato-heavy crawfish étouffée. The Brookses originally hail from Louisiana, the cradle of Cajun cooking; lucky… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    India's Restaurant

    The best love affairs start in the most surprising ways. A glance, a kiss or -- in the case of India's Restaurant -- just one taste of the most delicious, beautiful, shocking boti masala. And from there, things only get better. The dining room, which is decorated as though the owners were determined to shoehorn a thousand years' worth of… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Sunflower Restaurant

    Chef Jon Pell, the guiding force behind Sunflower, continues to put out the best vegetarian fare in the area -- and he does it at a restaurant that serves meat. That's because Sunflower isn't really a vegetarian restaurant; it just happens to have an award-winning vegetarian chef and a kitchen capable of lavishing as much attention on a carrot stick,… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

    Denver Woodlands

    Here's how good Denver Woodlands is: You could eat every meal here every day for a week and never realize it's a vegetarian restaurant. That's not a knock against the herbivores in the crowd, merely a measure of how superior cuisine can transcend all boundaries and prejudices, and remind even the most dedicated snob that when you're eating great food,… More >>
  • Best Indian Lunch Buffet

    Little India

    Little India's particular take on Indian food is an odd mix of regional specialties, all cooked in the tradition of northern Indian cuisine by a Punjabi chef hired by the restaurant's Punjabi owners, the Malhotra and Baidwan families. The regular menu is long and dignified, showcasing the curries and masalas that even casual eaters of Indian food would recognize, as… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Kabul Kabob

    Now safely past the one-year mark, Kabul Kabob still serves the best, cheapest, most amazing Afghan cuisine imaginable. Everything about this slightly ramshackle little neighborhood eatery is wonderful. A party of four can easily get a table any night of the week. The servers are brutally honest about what's good and what's not so good in the kitchen. And most… More >>
  • Best Middle-of-Nowhere Restaurant

    Bugling Bull Trading Post

    Okay, the Bugling Bull is not so much a restaurant as a gas station and general store offering canned goods, cold Cokes, fly kits, bug spray, ammunition, hunters' cammies, radiator fluid and other esoteric sundries of a classic back-road pull-through. And, no, it doesn't have all those conveniences that most restaurants do -- things like tables, a cash register and… More >>
  • Best Way to Piss Off the Dishwasher

    Elway's

    For a serious steakhouse, Elway's has a goofy streak a mile wide running through it. Milk and cookies for dessert, shrimp cocktail mounted over smoking dry ice and, for a real hit of comfort-food nostalgia, do-it-yourself s'mores. This plate is served as a warmed bowl of homemade, melted chocolate ganache, a half-dozen marshmallows, some graham crackers, a long fork and… More >>
  • Best Chef

    Frank Bonanno

    Mizuna and Luca d'Italia, Frank Bonanno's two (and counting) houses, exist today almost beyond the bounds of classification. They're neither casual eateries nor necessarily fine dining. They're each dedicated to their own style of cuisine -- Italian for Luca, French-Mediterranean for Mizuna -- but neither work from any kind of standardized canon, depending instead on improvisation and reworking classics into… More >>
  • Best Crew

    Table 6

    Table 6's crew has taken everything that the city and the entire country (thanks to a nod from John Mariani in Esquire's list of the best new restaurants of 2004) could throw at them, and they're still on their feet, still cooking, still doing the job. Under the direction of chef Aaron Whitcomb, Table 6 has remained vital, relevant and,… More >>
  • Best Crew in Training

    Work Options for Women Program

    The food here may not be haute, but it's high-quality. And it isn't dished up by culinary celebrities, but rather by a hardworking group of real service-industry sluggers training for the day when they might be the ones wearing the clean white jackets and the big chef's hats. For the past eight years, Work Options for Woman has staffed the… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant Promotion

    Denver Restaurant Week

    The All-Star Game may have been a bust for restaurants, but they scored -- and scored big -- ten days later, when Denver's first Restaurant Week kicked off. This joint venture of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and, most important, a group of hardworking food-industry types had restaurants across town packed during what's often the slowest week of… More >>
  • Best New Law

    "Doggie-Bag" Wine

    When the Colorado Legislature lowered the official blood-alcohol-content level to .08 during its 2004 session, restaurateurs feared a financial fallout, worrying that DUI-wary diners would opt to go wineless. So the Colorado Restaurant Association successfully lobbied for a new law that allows diners to take their undrunk wine home with them, recorked and wrapped up, doggie-bag style (and then stashed… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Restaurant

    Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe

    Twenty years is a long time to wait for a neighborhood to catch up with you. Since the day they opened their little storefront burrito joint in February 1984, the Aguirre family has worked to make the Highland neighborhood the very best it can be. They've fed the less fortunate at Thanksgiving and Christmas, sponsored charity events, spread the gospel… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant Neighborhood

    Larimer Square

    How great is it that Denver's best new neighborhood restaurant is also Denver's oldest restaurant neighborhood? Once the center of the city's commercial district, by the '60s all those great Victorian buildings in the 1400 block of Larimer Street had slid down to skid-row status, and only the intervention of Dana Crawford saved them from destruction. Still, for many years,… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant (Since March 2004)

    Frasca

    It seems almost cheap to pass judgment on Frasca, since praising it is like looking over a Monet watercolor, tasting a bottle of 1955 Petrus or listening to Charlie Parker play and saying, "Hey, that's pretty good." Of course Frasca is good. It's so good as to be almost beyond words, having raised the bar to such a height that… More >>
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