Ten best Denver restaurants in Cherry Creek

When Mark Fischer turned Phat Thai into Harman's eat & drink, which Gretchen Kurtz reviews this week, he was working off a great model -- his Pullman in Glenwood Springs. There was just one obstacle, Kurtz reports: the space's Cherry Creek location. Cherry Creek was once the heart of Denver's dining scene, but those days are long-gone. Still, while many of Cherry Creek's dining offerings today range from lifeless chains to uninspired independents, there are definitely good restaurants in the neighborhood.

Here, in no particular order, are ten that Cafe society writers return to again and again.

See also: Harman's eat & drink: A fast change from Phat Thai results in some dishes to remember

10) Ondo's Spanish Tapas Bar 250 Steele Street #100 Ondo's is a must for tapas enthusiasts. The husband-and-wife duo of Curt and Deicy Steinbecker got their training in San Sebastian, and their traditional Spanish small plates include such classics as jamón ibérico, imported Manchego and San Simon cheeses, and patatas bravas served with Romesco, a spicy roasted red bell pepper sauce. And Ondo's has killer specials to boot: Drop down into this subterranean space on a Monday and all bottles of wine are 50 percent off, Tuesday is three-dollar paella night, and on Wednesdays, patrons can order a wine flight for only $15. 9) True Food Kitchen 2800 East Second Avenue True Food Kitchen, Cherry Creek's health-boosting newcomer, follows the anti-inflammatory food philosophy of Dr. Andrew Weil. As a result, its menu is free of most things butter and fat but still full of inventive dining options, with dishes like a hearty spaghetti squash casserole and seasonal autumn salad with roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts. And the sleek, modern interior is usually packed with sleek, health-conscious Creekers. 8) Aviano Coffee 244 Detroit Street After months of renovation (following a surprise move), Aviano's beautiful new space is stunning, with rustic, wood-planked walls and a central bar system. Aviano pours cult-favorite Intelligentsia Coffee, a rare thing in Denver, using several different brew methods. And it serves up pastry and other snacks to cut through the buzz. 7) Second Home Kitchen + Bar 150 Clayton Lane Second Home, the JW Marriott's in-house bar and restaurant nestled in the heart of Cherry Creek, is an oasis that exudes nostalgia -- in a swank, but understated way. The home-cooked philosophy -- executed through classic comfort dishes like chicken and waffle and lobster pot pie -- permeates the atmosphere, which is perfect for a leisurely meal or lingering over glasses of wine at the bar. Head over during the social hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and try the "Chips and Dip," a decidedly upscale take on the two with roasted potatoes and warm cheddar dip and ranch potato chips paired with a French onion dip. 6) Patxi's Pizza 185 Steele Street Every neighborhood needs a solid, go-to pizza joint, and in Cherry Creek it's Patxi's, a link in a California chain that feels more like a neighborhood hangout. Although known for its deep dish, Patxi's offers several crust styles -- everything from a crunchy cornmeal pan crust to a "00" super-thin crust. The kitchen offers gluten-free fare and vegan mozzarella, too.

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