Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe celebrated its thirtieth birthday on January 17. We were among the regulars who stopped by that day, to chat with members of the Aguirre family and remember the first time we came to this spot on West 33rd Avenue, then a down-and-out neighborhood that was decades away from being dubbed "LoHi." An artist who had a studio around the corner was raving about the burritos that Rosa Linda and Virgil Aguirre were serving out of the little storefront they'd just opened -- and we hurried over there for a taste of what definitely deserved to be named the Best Burrito in the Best of Denver 1985,our second edition of what's become an annual celebration of the city.
In the three decades since, the five Aguirre children have grown up and had children of their own. You can often find them at Rosa Linda's, which has grown, too, into neighboring storefronts. And the neighborhood has definitely grown up -- and up; big apartment complexes are going up right across the street, and the people who came in on Saturday all grumbled about parking before they got serious about eating. But Virgil and Rosa Linda are still here, taking the same care with a single order that they do with the Thanksgiving feast that feeds thousands. For them, all Denver is family. See also: Best of Denver 2014 Winners
Of course, Denver's restaurant scene has also grown, with national, even international, businesses growing out of other burrito ventures. And every year, we've documented the state of that scene in the Best of Denver.
The Best of Denver 2015 -- our 32nd annual edition -- will hit the streets (and the web) on Thursday, March 26, and the Best of Denver Readers' Poll is now live here. As always, we're looking for your nominations in many of the categories that will be included. After the first round of voting, there will be a time-out in mid-February to determine the five finalists in each category, then a second round of voting to pick the ultimate reader's choice. And this time, all voting will be done online.
That's not the only change we've introduced to the issue over the years. Although the basic mission of the Best of Denver -- to honor our very favorite people, places and things in the metro area -- has remained constant, there are always variations on the theme. While some categories always appear on the poll -- Best Hamburger and Best Pizza, for example -- we're always adding new ones and retiring others, as trends and tastes change. This year is the first time Best Colorado Distillery appears on the poll, for instance, reflecting how that industry is now booming. And we just took off Best Tater Tots, since that fad seems to be cooling -- but if we find a great Tater Tot dish, we may create a special editor's award for it.
That's because tabulating the poll winners is just the start of our Best of Denver efforts. Not only does our BOD squad come up with their own editorial winners for each of the poll categories, but we also make awards in hundreds of categories that are not on the poll. There may not be enough Sudanese restaurants in Denver to merit asking our readers to name their favorite -- but there's no reason we shouldn't give an award to the town's single Sudanese restaurant if it's doing a very good job.
And so many restaurants are doing very good jobs these days. Last week, when Gretchen Kurtz reviewed the second restaurant in as many weeks that is limited by a tiny kitchen (the Bistro at Stapleton, following Amass), we remembered the year that then-critic Kyle Wagner gave the Best New Restaurant award to the now-defunct Biscuit, which didn't have a kitchen at all (2000 was not a big year for restaurant openings). But in 2014, several hundred restaurants opened in the metro area -- and we're predicting a hot competition in that category.
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So it's time to bring out your best! You can vote in the Best of Denver 2015 Readers' Poll here.