Don't worry if many of the dishes at Diane's Good-to-Go seem half-baked -- that's by design, since these two gourmet-to-go outlets assume that you'll get the goods, then take them home and reheat them in the oven or microwave. So Diane's plans ahead, labeling each item with instructions for how to bring it to full flavor. The soups, though, are already there -- and then some, with Diane's wild-mushroom soup a delicious case in point. Packed with mushrooms and enriched with cream, this concoction is as earthy, rich and creamy as mushroom soup can be (Campbell's doesn't even come close). So thick it's almost like condensed, this soup really is good food.

One of the last places you'd expect to get a stellar cup of soup would be a pizzeria, but last year Tony Velasquez, owner of Attivo Pizza and Italian Deli, and his kitchen manager, Jeff Carstens, decided to start experimenting with homemade soups. The result was fifteen flavor-packed soups, some impeccable versions of a classic (including an ultra-creamy cream of broccoli), others unique concoctions that have the regulars screaming for more. One soup is featured each day; if you're lucky, you'll drop by Attivo on the right day to try the lime soup with chicken and habaneros or the cream of tomato with fresh basil. Then again, you can't go wrong with the black bean, punched up with cilantro and jalapeos, or the chicken escarole, with just-cooked chicken breast in a double-cooked chicken broth. A cup costs a mere $2.50, and a bowl is $3.95; if you're lucky enough to live nearby, Attivo will deliver a quart to your door for $4.95. This soup's on, all right.
One of the last places you'd expect to get a stellar cup of soup would be a pizzeria, but last year Tony Velasquez, owner of Attivo Pizza and Italian Deli, and his kitchen manager, Jeff Carstens, decided to start experimenting with homemade soups. The result was fifteen flavor-packed soups, some impeccable versions of a classic (including an ultra-creamy cream of broccoli), others unique concoctions that have the regulars screaming for more. One soup is featured each day; if you're lucky, you'll drop by Attivo on the right day to try the lime soup with chicken and habaneros or the cream of tomato with fresh basil. Then again, you can't go wrong with the black bean, punched up with cilantro and jalapeños, or the chicken escarole, with just-cooked chicken breast in a double-cooked chicken broth. A cup costs a mere $2.50, and a bowl is $3.95; if you're lucky enough to live nearby, Attivo will deliver a quart to your door for $4.95. This soup's on, all right.
While this bustling north Denver joint continues to attract new customers drawn by its downhome cooking and refreshingly simple concept, a base of regulars comes for one thing, and one thing only: Bang!'s incredible hamburger. It's hard to say which is more amazing, the roll or the meat, but both are given special treatment, resulting in a superlative burger. The kitchen bakes the soft, faintly sweet buns every day, using a Swedish oatmeal recipe that Bang! got from a Junior League cookbook; while the bun's chewy shell holds everything together, the inside is just right for soaking up a burger's juices. And what juices: The burger is a half-pound of Maverick Ranch ground sirloin that's been seasoned just enough to bring out the flavor of the meat, then perfectly sautéed to a diner's specifications. It comes with a sweet and tangy homemade ketchup, lettuce, tomato and onion, and potato chips. Get your buns to Bang!

Readers' choice: Cherry Cricket

While this bustling north Denver joint continues to attract new customers drawn by its downhome cooking and refreshingly simple concept, a base of regulars comes for one thing, and one thing only: Bang!'s incredible hamburger. It's hard to say which is more amazing, the roll or the meat, but both are given special treatment, resulting in a superlative burger. The kitchen bakes the soft, faintly sweet buns every day, using a Swedish oatmeal recipe that Bang! got from a Junior League cookbook; while the bun's chewy shell holds everything together, the inside is just right for soaking up a burger's juices. And what juices: The burger is a half-pound of Maverick Ranch ground sirloin that's been seasoned just enough to bring out the flavor of the meat, then perfectly sautéed to a diner's specifications. It comes with a sweet and tangy homemade ketchup, lettuce, tomato and onion, and potato chips. Get your buns to Bang!

Readers' choice: Cherry Cricket

Pints Pub
If there's anything better than a bloody good Wimpy burger, it's a bloody good Wimpy for half the price. Monday through Thursday from 10 to 11 p.m., that's exactly what Pint's Pub, a veddy, veddy laid-back British brewpub, offers for just $2.50. To rate that price, though, you have to also shell out for one of Pint's foamy, handcrafted beers -- but you'll need one to wash this burger down, anyway. It's a half-pound of freshly ground, 80 percent lean chuck, topped with cheese and broiled until it's ready to leak juice into a fresh-baked crusty roll. Chips (that's fries to you Yanks) and a big, fat pickle round out one of the cheapest, most satisfying meals in town.
If there's anything better than a bloody good Wimpy burger, it's a bloody good Wimpy for half the price. Monday through Thursday from 10 to 11 p.m., that's exactly what Pint's Pub, a veddy, veddy laid-back British brewpub, offers for just $2.50. To rate that price, though, you have to also shell out for one of Pint's foamy, handcrafted beers -- but you'll need one to wash this burger down, anyway. It's a half-pound of freshly ground, 80 percent lean chuck, topped with cheese and broiled until it's ready to leak juice into a fresh-baked crusty roll. Chips (that's fries to you Yanks) and a big, fat pickle round out one of the cheapest, most satisfying meals in town.
A lot of folks go to Papa Frank's religiously on Sundays for the $5.95 all-you-can-eat spaghetti-and-meatballs deal. But this casual storefront run by the Rizzi family is also the final destination on another spiritual quest: the search for the perfect homemade pie. Although the selection changes daily, there are always four or five choices -- all of them delicious, and all encased in a flaky, shortening-rich crust. The peanut butter tastes more like creamy peanut butter than peanut butter itself; the coconut cream is enough to drive you cuckoo for coconuts. And not only does Papa Frank's bake a mean apple pie, but it also turns out more exotic fruit varieties, including pear. And when the Palisades are in season, the peach is enough to make a grown man weep with joy. Ask nice, and the Rizzis might even sell you a whole pie to go.
A lot of folks go to Papa Frank's religiously on Sundays for the $5.95 all-you-can-eat spaghetti-and-meatballs deal. But this casual storefront run by the Rizzi family is also the final destination on another spiritual quest: the search for the perfect homemade pie. Although the selection changes daily, there are always four or five choices -- all of them delicious, and all encased in a flaky, shortening-rich crust. The peanut butter tastes more like creamy peanut butter than peanut butter itself; the coconut cream is enough to drive you cuckoo for coconuts. And not only does Papa Frank's bake a mean apple pie, but it also turns out more exotic fruit varieties, including pear. And when the Palisades are in season, the peach is enough to make a grown man weep with joy. Ask nice, and the Rizzis might even sell you a whole pie to go.
Dazzle
We're dazzled by many things at Dazzle -- its ultra-cool dining room, its collection of martini shakers, its excellent vodka cocktails, its ambitious menu -- but our favorite is the $4 "mini-burger," or "bar burger," as Dazzle denizens order it. Although this is supposedly half the size of the standard burger, it's more than a meal. Two triangles of focaccia frame a hefty hunk of juicy, grill-greasy ground beef cooked just the way you like it; the burger's garnished with fresh, crispy lettuce, slices of tomato and red onion and a couple of cornichons, and sided with a big mound of some of the town's best French fries. The meat's juices do a great job of moistening the spongy housemade focaccia, but there are also ramekins of ketchup and a good-quality Dijon; cheeseheads will want to throw in the extra 50 cents to get a fat blob of Stilton or gouda melted onto the meat.

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