Although El Rancho opened fifty years and several owners ago, it's still in its prime. And so is the beef, a well-marbled rib roast dry-aged three weeks and cut off the bone in pieces ranging from eight ounces ($18.95) to sixteen ($30.95), tender as a baby's butt and served au jus. Every time you stick your fork in this prime rib, more juice runs out -- which works just fine with El Rancho's chunky, buttery mashed potatoes. The regular entrees come with the spuds and a salad -- and that's after a signature relish tray loaded with crudites and dip. Good any night, the prime rib is a real deal on Wednesday nights, when it's all-you-can-eat (and that includes the sides) for $21.95. See you back at El Rancho for that one, pardner.
Vesta
Mark Antonation
Cooking duck isn't all it's quacked up to be: Keeping the flesh moist and the skin non-greasy takes some know-how, and complementing the duck's sweet, faintly gamey flavor without overpowering it or turning the bird into a meaty dessert is trickier still. But at Vesta Dipping Grill, chef Matt Selby makes it all look easy. His brown-sugar-smoked roast duck is something to behold -- although you won't gaze at it too long, because you'll be ripping into the tender duck meat. Although the brown sugar is definitely a factor, it serves as an extension of the duck's own natural sweetness. Augment it with one of Vesta's three dozen dipping sauces (the dried berry chutney and honey soy are our faves), and this dish really flies.
Cooking duck isn't all it's quacked up to be: Keeping the flesh moist and the skin non-greasy takes some know-how, and complementing the duck's sweet, faintly gamey flavor without overpowering it or turning the bird into a meaty dessert is trickier still. But at Vesta Dipping Grill, chef Matt Selby makes it all look easy. His brown-sugar-smoked roast duck is something to behold -- although you won't gaze at it too long, because you'll be ripping into the tender duck meat. Although the brown sugar is definitely a factor, it serves as an extension of the duck's own natural sweetness. Augment it with one of Vesta's three dozen dipping sauces (the dried berry chutney and honey soy are our faves), and this dish really flies.
The Mountain View Cafe may look like an unlikely spot -- it's a bright-white, houselike structure tucked into a yard filled with statuary and lush foliage -- but its roast chicken is downright unbelievable. This bird is big, both in taste and portion. For $6.95, you get soup or salad (if you're a fan of feta, go with the Greek), massive sides of mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, and half a chicken that's almost as big as a standard fowl, flecked with fresh herbs and redolent of lemon juice, with a crispy, salty skin holding in firm, moist meat. But good as this is, Mountain View also does right by other Greek, Mexican and American offerings, delivering huge portions for small prices -- with a nice view of the Front Range thrown in for free.
The Mountain View Cafe may look like an unlikely spot -- it's a bright-white, houselike structure tucked into a yard filled with statuary and lush foliage -- but its roast chicken is downright unbelievable. This bird is big, both in taste and portion. For $6.95, you get soup or salad (if you're a fan of feta, go with the Greek), massive sides of mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, and half a chicken that's almost as big as a standard fowl, flecked with fresh herbs and redolent of lemon juice, with a crispy, salty skin holding in firm, moist meat. But good as this is, Mountain View also does right by other Greek, Mexican and American offerings, delivering huge portions for small prices -- with a nice view of the Front Range thrown in for free.
After a stop at the Butterhorn Bakery, it's all downhill. This Frisco cafe is always packed with people fueling up for the slopes on everything from the Frisco skillet to biscuits and gravy to the best baked goods that side of the Continental Divide. In defiance of high-altitude cooking hazards, the Butterhorn keeps bringing out trays covered with huge cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, fluffy croissants, cream-oozing eclairs and unbelievably tasty blackberry/strawberry/blueberry/kiwi fruit tarts. Grab some to go -- or forget about the snow, sit yourself down, and eat your way through the day's offerings.

After a stop at the Butterhorn Bakery, it's all downhill. This Frisco cafe is always packed with people fueling up for the slopes on everything from the Frisco skillet to biscuits and gravy to the best baked goods that side of the Continental Divide. In defiance of high-altitude cooking hazards, the Butterhorn keeps bringing out trays covered with huge cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, fluffy croissants, cream-oozing eclairs and unbelievably tasty blackberry/strawberry/blueberry/kiwi fruit tarts. Grab some to go -- or forget about the snow, sit yourself down, and eat your way through the day's offerings.

You wouldn't think a sports bar would have a sporting chance of serving the town's best fried chicken -- but Caldonia's scores with one high-flying bird. And this kitchen does more than chicken right; it's been serving up respectable, Oklahoma-style barbecue for over two decades. The fried chicken carries the flavor of the deep South -- its wet and juicy meat is covered by a crispy, crunchy shell that glows golden with just the right amount of grease. An order brings you a half-bird's worth of parts along with steamed broccoli, a fat mound of skin-on, country-style mashed potatoes smothered in peppery gravy and a sugar-kissed cornbread muffin. After downing all that, you'll need to join one of Caldonia's pick-up volleyball games -- but unlike the other players, you might want to keep most of your clothes on.
You wouldn't think a sports bar would have a sporting chance of serving the town's best fried chicken -- but Caldonia's scores with one high-flying bird. And this kitchen does more than chicken right; it's been serving up respectable, Oklahoma-style barbecue for over two decades. The fried chicken carries the flavor of the deep South -- its wet and juicy meat is covered by a crispy, crunchy shell that glows golden with just the right amount of grease. An order brings you a half-bird's worth of parts along with steamed broccoli, a fat mound of skin-on, country-style mashed potatoes smothered in peppery gravy and a sugar-kissed cornbread muffin. After downing all that, you'll need to join one of Caldonia's pick-up volleyball games -- but unlike the other players, you might want to keep most of your clothes on.
The folks at Calypso are pulling their fun Caribbean nightclub/jerk joint together on a wing and a prayer -- but what a wing! Four bucks buys ten of the flash-fried little appendages, which come plain or slicked with your choice of jerk seasonings or hot sauce, or a combination of the three. The jerk coating is our favorite, a sweet, fiery mixture that soaks into the meat -- but the hot's a hot number, too, with enough buttery richness to keep it from being all about pepper sauce. (Celery sticks and ranch or blue-cheese dressing come on the side, in case you need to cool off.) Beneath the sauce, the skin on these wings is crisp and chewy, while the meat below that is moist and flavorful. And if you're in the mood to take a flyer on something new, the "Bahamas curry tuna splash" appetizer will knock you straight to Jamaica. Chef Desmond French, a native of Kingston, makes the dip from curried tuna (not the canned kind, either), raisins, sugar and celery, and provides celery sticks and carrots for getting the mess into your mouth. Good stuff, mon.

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