It would be annoying that chef/owner Sam Kraydie keeps announcing that Pita Jungle is the best Middle Eastern restaurant around -- if it didn't also happen to be true. This vibrantly decorated, fern-draped eatery boasts the town's top baba ghanouj -- the eggplant charbroiled for extra flavor and mashed with lots of lemon -- as well as killer kabobs, homemade lebni (the creamy Middle Eastern yogurt) and heavenly hummus. And when he wasn't boasting, Kraydie was out procuring a pizza oven where he could make his own pitas. They come out of that oven fresh, hot and delicious, just ready to scoop up some well-seasoned shawarma.
Denver's never been overrun with Southwestern eateries, but we'd gladly surrender to this one. Everything in Julia Blackbird's pays homage to the Southwest, from the bright, colorful art and knickknacks -- the decor duplicates the owners' home -- to the chile-infused food made by chef/part owner Julia Siegfried-Garrison. The menu is basic, there's no liquor license (although we hope that may be coming), and on weekends, it's standing room only. But the place is packed for a reason: Siegfried-Garrison makes food that hits the soul, from complex chiles to Navajo stew, blue corn-coated chiles rellenos to zippy salsas. Creamy queso fresco adds richness to her enchiladas, the hearty posole will cure anything that ails you, and the pine-nut-packed chocolate cake is a perfect finale to any meal. It's the shortest distance between here and Sante Fe as the blackbird flies.
Denver's never been overrun with Southwestern eateries, but we'd gladly surrender to this one. Everything in Julia Blackbird's pays homage to the Southwest, from the bright, colorful art and knickknacks -- the decor duplicates the owners' home -- to the chile-infused food made by chef/part owner Julia Siegfried-Garrison. The menu is basic, there's no liquor license (although we hope that may be coming), and on weekends, it's standing room only. But the place is packed for a reason: Siegfried-Garrison makes food that hits the soul, from complex chiles to Navajo stew, blue corn-coated chiles rellenos to zippy salsas. Creamy queso fresco adds richness to her enchiladas, the hearty posole will cure anything that ails you, and the pine-nut-packed chocolate cake is a perfect finale to any meal. It's the shortest distance between here and Sante Fe as the blackbird flies.
The barrio in Sevilla, Spain, called Triana is colorful and lively, the birthplace of famous bullfighters, a mecca for poets and folksingers, and quite possibly the original home of tapas. The restaurant in Boulder called Triana is colorful and lively, a mecca for foodies, the birthplace of Boulder's most well-rounded Latin scene and quite possibly the purveyor of the most authentic tapas this area has ever seen. Running the show at Colorado's Triana is James Mazzio, one of Food & Wine's top ten up-and-coming chefs in 1999 and a marvel at all things Mediterranean. Not only does his new restaurant offer an extensive roster of tapas -- crispy clam strips sprinkled with sugar and salt and served in a brown paper cone, a tequila-spiked salmon "margarita," almond-stuffed dates wrapped in smoked bacon -- but it also features a heavenly array of Spanish dishes that stimulate the senses and soothe the soul (try the Mallorcan vegetable curry with cinnamon-flavored, golden-raisin-studded rice). All of this goodness is served amid concrete-topped tables, bullfighting-inspired wall art and the colors of Spain: blood red, midnight-sky blue, harvest-sun yellow. Add interesting Spanish wines and live flamenco music on the weekends, and all we can say is Olé!
The barrio in Sevilla, Spain, called Triana is colorful and lively, the birthplace of famous bullfighters, a mecca for poets and folksingers, and quite possibly the original home of tapas. The restaurant in Boulder called Triana is colorful and lively, a mecca for foodies, the birthplace of Boulder's most well-rounded Latin scene and quite possibly the purveyor of the most authentic tapas this area has ever seen. Running the show at Colorado's Triana is James Mazzio, one of Food & Wine's top ten up-and-coming chefs in 1999 and a marvel at all things Mediterranean. Not only does his new restaurant offer an extensive roster of tapas -- crispy clam strips sprinkled with sugar and salt and served in a brown paper cone, a tequila-spiked salmon "margarita," almond-stuffed dates wrapped in smoked bacon -- but it also features a heavenly array of Spanish dishes that stimulate the senses and soothe the soul (try the Mallorcan vegetable curry with cinnamon-flavored, golden-raisin-studded rice). All of this goodness is served amid concrete-topped tables, bullfighting-inspired wall art and the colors of Spain: blood red, midnight-sky blue, harvest-sun yellow. Add interesting Spanish wines and live flamenco music on the weekends, and all we can say is Olé!
When it comes to Caesar salad, Bravo! plays a different tune. Not content to offer the usual romaine pile topped with Caesar dressing, croutons and parmesan, this elegant Italian eatery hails Caesar by adding endive and radicchio, which boosts the bitterness and also inserts color, and then tosses the greens with crisp romaine in a well-balanced blend of garlic, anchovies, oil and vinegar. More saltiness -- the real appeal of Caesar, wouldn't you say? -- is provided by unexpected olives, and a crunchy slice of Gorgonzola-topped crostini adds texture and extra flavor. Encore!

When it comes to Caesar salad, Bravo! plays a different tune. Not content to offer the usual romaine pile topped with Caesar dressing, croutons and parmesan, this elegant Italian eatery hails Caesar by adding endive and radicchio, which boosts the bitterness and also inserts color, and then tosses the greens with crisp romaine in a well-balanced blend of garlic, anchovies, oil and vinegar. More saltiness -- the real appeal of Caesar, wouldn't you say? -- is provided by unexpected olives, and a crunchy slice of Gorgonzola-topped crostini adds texture and extra flavor. Encore!

Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill
Mark Antonation
While recent Census Bureau statistics enlightened some locals to the fact that Denver is becoming an increasingly diverse city, patrons of Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill have known it all along. On any given night (or late morning, or mid-afternoon), the deliciously dilapidated interior crawls with the young, the old, the hip and the downtrodden -- all united under a common appreciation for cheap drinks, friendly service and getting blotto in comfortable surroundings. Nestled in the lobby of the historic Colburn Hotel -- a sociological study in and of itself -- Charlie Brown's may be the only place in town where you can order a double Bloody Mary with a side of eggs at 8 a.m. and not be looked at sideways by your server. Charlie's is best experienced during happy hour, on the patio, in the summertime, when the first round is two for one and the people-watching is prime. But this 75-year-old gem is always a divey treat, right down to the collection of nautical gear decorating the island bar (eat your heart out, Ship Tavern!) and the Tin Pan Alley-era soundtrack provided by pianist Pauly Lopez. And now, a toast!
While recent Census Bureau statistics enlightened some locals to the fact that Denver is becoming an increasingly diverse city, patrons of Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill have known it all along. On any given night (or late morning, or mid-afternoon), the deliciously dilapidated interior crawls with the young, the old, the hip and the downtrodden -- all united under a common appreciation for cheap drinks, friendly service and getting blotto in comfortable surroundings. Nestled in the lobby of the historic Colburn Hotel -- a sociological study in and of itself -- Charlie Brown's may be the only place in town where you can order a double Bloody Mary with a side of eggs at 8 a.m. and not be looked at sideways by your server. Charlie's is best experienced during happy hour, on the patio, in the summertime, when the first round is two for one and the people-watching is prime. But this 75-year-old gem is always a divey treat, right down to the collection of nautical gear decorating the island bar (eat your heart out, Ship Tavern!) and the Tin Pan Alley-era soundtrack provided by pianist Pauly Lopez. And now, a toast!
Is that a pickle in your pocket, or are you just happy to see the best sandwiches in town? Both Spicy Pickle outlets specialize in friendly, efficient service that quickly crafts sandwiches out of top-notch ingredients. The breads provide the base: They're made by Il Fornaio and prove the ideal foundations for subs (thick, chewy Italian loaf) and panini (a soft focaccia). Then pile on any Boar's Head meat (we like the rosemary ham), cheese (the goat gets us), topping (check out the corn relish) and spread (harissa mayo is a zinger) in any combination you can think of. The kitchen remembers to pay attention to details: The lettuce is shredded extra-thin and then mixed with the mayo for super-gloppicity; if you get your sandwich to go, each half will be wrapped snug in butcher paper for easier eating. And everything, of course, comes with the Spicy Pickle's signature snappy, housemade pickle. Is everybody happy?

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