McDonald's may think it invented the French fry as we know it, and the French are just snooty enough to claim pommes frites as their own, but the fact is that potatoes were grown in South America long before they ever made it to Europe. As a result, our friends south of the border know a thing or two about tubers, and Nicole and Rick Fierro ferreted out their secrets during a few fact-finding trips to come up with recipes for Piscos, the South American eatery they opened this year in the old home of Chives. Many of the Fierros' discoveries adorn the appetizer sampler platter, which includes Brie-enriched empanadas and heavenly humitas, a fresh-corn version of tamales. But what really gets the fingers fighting are the papas fritas: thin, crunchy and faintly greasy fries that are sprinkled with the perfect amount of fine-textured salt and arrive steamy hot.

Readers' choice: McDonald's

Clancy's Irish Pub
Danielle Lirette
Let the chips fall where they may, and they're likely to land at Clancy's Irish Pub. There's nothing fishy about this honest-to-goodness pub in the heart of Wheat Ridge, which serves the best fish 'n chips in town. Big planks of beer-battered cod are deep-fried until the crust bubbles and the fish steams inside; they're delivered in a paper-lined basket that also holds a pile of Clancy's thin, crispy fries and a cup of homemade tartar sauce. Throw back a few Guinnesses, keep your head over your food and out of the way of the darts, and you'll know why Irish guys are smiling.
Let the chips fall where they may, and they're likely to land at Clancy's Irish Pub. There's nothing fishy about this honest-to-goodness pub in the heart of Wheat Ridge, which serves the best fish 'n chips in town. Big planks of beer-battered cod are deep-fried until the crust bubbles and the fish steams inside; they're delivered in a paper-lined basket that also holds a pile of Clancy's thin, crispy fries and a cup of homemade tartar sauce. Throw back a few Guinnesses, keep your head over your food and out of the way of the darts, and you'll know why Irish guys are smiling.
Since Ilios is a Mediterranean restaurant, it's no surprise that it does lamb well; the surprise is that it does it well in so many ways. Start with the spicy barbecued lamb ribs, available as a tapas or an entree. The best way to eat these succulent, fat-dripping bones is with your hands, which means you'll be able to lick that sweet sauce off of your fingers long after the meat is gone. The lamb kabobs are another baaa-gain at ten bucks, which buys a huge skewer of tender, lemon-marinated meat, jasmine rice and two sauces for dipping: one a tangy curry yogurt, the other a roasted-red-pepper purée. And while lamb accounts for only part of the gyros's moist, meaty makeup (this rotisserie-cooked specialty also includes ground beef), it contributes most of the flavor. And finally, there's the grilled rack of lamb, which drapes well-grilled chops with a fennel marsala sauce that plays well off the lemony lamb. Be still, our bleating heart.

Since Ilios is a Mediterranean restaurant, it's no surprise that it does lamb well; the surprise is that it does it well in so many ways. Start with the spicy barbecued lamb ribs, available as a tapas or an entree. The best way to eat these succulent, fat-dripping bones is with your hands, which means you'll be able to lick that sweet sauce off of your fingers long after the meat is gone. The lamb kabobs are another baaa-gain at ten bucks, which buys a huge skewer of tender, lemon-marinated meat, jasmine rice and two sauces for dipping: one a tangy curry yogurt, the other a roasted-red-pepper purée. And while lamb accounts for only part of the gyros's moist, meaty makeup (this rotisserie-cooked specialty also includes ground beef), it contributes most of the flavor. And finally, there's the grilled rack of lamb, which drapes well-grilled chops with a fennel marsala sauce that plays well off the lemony lamb. Be still, our bleating heart.

It's a big yes, yes to NoNo's, a whimsically decorated eatery that focuses on Southern-style cooking, with a special emphasis on New Orleans dishes. The menu changes every two weeks, and we go hog wild whenever we hear that the ham steak is available. Pig out on a thick-cut slice of smoked pork, cooked until the fat around the edges turns translucent and starts to caramelize, then slicked with a super-sweet raisin sauce so good you'll swear it was supposed to be dessert. For still more sugar, dig into the sweet-potato crunch that comes on the side, a brown-sugary goo that puts the comfort into food. Ham I am.

It's a big yes, yes to NoNo's, a whimsically decorated eatery that focuses on Southern-style cooking, with a special emphasis on New Orleans dishes. The menu changes every two weeks, and we go hog wild whenever we hear that the ham steak is available. Pig out on a thick-cut slice of smoked pork, cooked until the fat around the edges turns translucent and starts to caramelize, then slicked with a super-sweet raisin sauce so good you'll swear it was supposed to be dessert. For still more sugar, dig into the sweet-potato crunch that comes on the side, a brown-sugary goo that puts the comfort into food. Ham I am.

We've never managed to find anyone at Yoko's, a cute, mostly takeout place in Sakura Square, who can explain why a Spam roll is part of the bento repertoire -- but some things are better left a mystery. It's true that the pressed-pork product is popular in Japan -- again, for reasons that remain unclear -- but it's unlikely that in that country Spam is featured in a roll with the name "Rocky." Whatever the explanation for its existence, the Rocky roll is actually delicious, with the pig parts stuffed in the center and surrounded by rice, mayo and cucumbers. We've been Spammed!

We've never managed to find anyone at Yoko's, a cute, mostly takeout place in Sakura Square, who can explain why a Spam roll is part of the bento repertoire -- but some things are better left a mystery. It's true that the pressed-pork product is popular in Japan -- again, for reasons that remain unclear -- but it's unlikely that in that country Spam is featured in a roll with the name "Rocky." Whatever the explanation for its existence, the Rocky roll is actually delicious, with the pig parts stuffed in the center and surrounded by rice, mayo and cucumbers. We've been Spammed!

A great steakhouse is about more than great steak -- although that's certainly the prime consideration. Second comes the service, which must be knowledgeable and a tad snooty for all the important people who want to eat big meat, but not so snooty that the common man feels out of place. Third is the setting, with extra points for manly opulence that isn't so manly it offends gals; fourth are the side dishes, which should be rich overloads of gooey goodness, filled with butter and cream and salty enough that many drinks must be consumed. And so finally, of course, the drinks must be well-poured. There are a few more bonus items: People who like to smoke should feel welcome, and a good dessert never hurts. Del Frisco's scores on all counts. The meat is literally prime -- although that doesn't get in the way of its full flavor -- and the staff accommodating without being smothering, savvy without being condescending. The sides are superb: crispy-edged, soft-centered skillet potatoes with onions; unbelievably buttery sautéed mushrooms; a house salad that boasts a slice of incredible, crisp bacon. Martini and Manhattans are treated with equal respect here, and the wine list is excellent. Non-smokers may not be thrilled that an occasional whiff of Marlboro makes it into the dining room (although the ventilation system actually works pretty well), but that's the price you pay for also having the best cigar room in town -- the perfect place to toast to a steakhouse that's very well done. Which is rare, indeed.

Readers' choice: Morton's of Chicago

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