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.

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.

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

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.

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