Le Central
Tante Louise has been around for forty years, but everyone's favorite relative is as spry as ever. For classic French fare with a contemporary twist, for gracious service, for Old World elegance and an unbeatable wine list, Aunt Louise is the lady.
Tante Louise has been around for forty years, but everyone's favorite relative is as spry as ever. For classic French fare with a contemporary twist, for gracious service, for Old World elegance and an unbeatable wine list, Aunt Louise is the lady.

Best Resurrection of a Restaurant

Bang!

When owners Cissy Yin and Jeff and Chris Oakley closed the original Bang! last fall, their faithful customers hardly knew what to do with themselves. Fortunately, the popular Highland eatery reopened less than a month later in a space across the street, this time with a liquor license, table service and a bit more space. Now serving dinner only, the charming eatery -- yeah, it's a little strange going down the alley and in through the back door, but you'll get used to it -- has expanded its menu to offer even more wonderful down-home cooking. The spicy peppered shrimp with mango habanero salsa is a must, but so is the celebrated meatloaf; the wine list is short but sweet (and well-priced). All in all, Bang! is one of Denver's best -- by a long shot.

Best Resurrection of a Restaurant

Bang!

When owners Cissy Yin and Jeff and Chris Oakley closed the original Bang! last fall, their faithful customers hardly knew what to do with themselves. Fortunately, the popular Highland eatery reopened less than a month later in a space across the street, this time with a liquor license, table service and a bit more space. Now serving dinner only, the charming eatery -- yeah, it's a little strange going down the alley and in through the back door, but you'll get used to it -- has expanded its menu to offer even more wonderful down-home cooking. The spicy peppered shrimp with mango habanero salsa is a must, but so is the celebrated meatloaf; the wine list is short but sweet (and well-priced). All in all, Bang! is one of Denver's best -- by a long shot.

Best Vegetarian Dish in a Non-Vegetarian Restaurant

Chinook Tavern

When we eschew meat, we like to sink our teeth into the sun-dried-tomato polenta at Chinook Tavern. Sharply flavored tomatoes fill the creamy-centered, crunchy-crusted polenta; a garlic-packed pesto and velvety housemade mozzarella add depth; and roasted red bell peppers and sautéed mushrooms bring sweetness and earthiness into the mix. The dish is so big, it's almost enough for two very healthy meals; it's so tasty, you won't even miss the meat.

Best Vegetarian Dish in a Non-Vegetarian Restaurant

Chinook Tavern

When we eschew meat, we like to sink our teeth into the sun-dried-tomato polenta at Chinook Tavern. Sharply flavored tomatoes fill the creamy-centered, crunchy-crusted polenta; a garlic-packed pesto and velvety housemade mozzarella add depth; and roasted red bell peppers and sautéed mushrooms bring sweetness and earthiness into the mix. The dish is so big, it's almost enough for two very healthy meals; it's so tasty, you won't even miss the meat.

At too many sports bars, the chef is a former high school quarterback who thinks he should be in the kitchen because of his great touchdown pass of '76 -- a glorious moment he re-creates every time he turns out another imitation pigskin burger. But Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Grill has a real star in front of the stove: Bill Clifford, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who turns out winning fare that's long on flavor and short on price. Clifford scores with appetizers ranging from crispy, cheese-gooey potato skins to warm, sweet crabcakes with homemade tartar sauce; he scores with entrees that include meat-dripping baby-back ribs and crackly crusted pizza; and he scores again in the end zone with housemade apple crisp and banana cream pie. Lazy Dog isn't just a one-man show, however: All of the staffers here go the extra distance to make sure diners get a great meal.
At too many sports bars, the chef is a former high school quarterback who thinks he should be in the kitchen because of his great touchdown pass of '76 -- a glorious moment he re-creates every time he turns out another imitation pigskin burger. But Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Grill has a real star in front of the stove: Bill Clifford, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who turns out winning fare that's long on flavor and short on price. Clifford scores with appetizers ranging from crispy, cheese-gooey potato skins to warm, sweet crabcakes with homemade tartar sauce; he scores with entrees that include meat-dripping baby-back ribs and crackly crusted pizza; and he scores again in the end zone with housemade apple crisp and banana cream pie. Lazy Dog isn't just a one-man show, however: All of the staffers here go the extra distance to make sure diners get a great meal.
Luigi's Bent Noodle
Hunter Stevens
The menu at Luigi's Bent Noodle issues a challenge: "If this isn't the best minestrone recipe you've ever tasted, we want your recipe." Hey, we surrender -- we know we don't have any-

thing to beat this minestrone, and we doubt anyone else this side of Italy does, either. Luigi's minestrone is a thick, hearty tomato-based stew of vegetables, super-soft beans, melt-in-your-mouth bits of pasta, and sausage that's just spicy enough to bring it all together, but not so spicy that it takes over. This bewitching brew is available by the cup, the bowl and the really big bowl. Bigger is better.

The menu at Luigi's Bent Noodle issues a challenge: "If this isn't the best minestrone recipe you've ever tasted, we want your recipe." Hey, we surrender -- we know we don't have any-

thing to beat this minestrone, and we doubt anyone else this side of Italy does, either. Luigi's minestrone is a thick, hearty tomato-based stew of vegetables, super-soft beans, melt-in-your-mouth bits of pasta, and sausage that's just spicy enough to bring it all together, but not so spicy that it takes over. This bewitching brew is available by the cup, the bowl and the really big bowl. Bigger is better.

Best Of Denver®

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