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?
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?
Over there -- isn't that the city's top attorney having someone for lunch? And over there -- a greedy developer eyeing his companion's steak the same way he'd eye an empty plot in the Platte Valley! Take note of all the action on your special Palm Restaurant notepaper, thoughtfully provided by the management of a steakhouse known as much for its deals as its meals. Just be careful not to drip any grease on those notes -- you may need them in court.
Over there -- isn't that the city's top attorney having someone for lunch? And over there -- a greedy developer eyeing his companion's steak the same way he'd eye an empty plot in the Platte Valley! Take note of all the action on your special Palm Restaurant notepaper, thoughtfully provided by the management of a steakhouse known as much for its deals as its meals. Just be careful not to drip any grease on those notes -- you may need them in court.
The Over-the-Top Burger at 3rd Ave. Eclectic Burgers and Cuisine is off the charts in more ways than one. If you have too many, your bank account may seize up even before your heart: This burger will set you back a fast $22. But it's worth experiencing at least once if you're intrigued by the thought of a half-pound of juicy, hand-ground beef topped with seared foie gras, sautéed chanterelles, caramelized onion, a thick slice of beefsteak tomato and peppery arugula -- all soaked with a red-wine-spiked butter. Rich, rich, rich.
The Over-the-Top Burger at 3rd Ave. Eclectic Burgers and Cuisine is off the charts in more ways than one. If you have too many, your bank account may seize up even before your heart: This burger will set you back a fast $22. But it's worth experiencing at least once if you're intrigued by the thought of a half-pound of juicy, hand-ground beef topped with seared foie gras, sautéed chanterelles, caramelized onion, a thick slice of beefsteak tomato and peppery arugula -- all soaked with a red-wine-spiked butter. Rich, rich, rich.
The Briarwood Inn
When your water glass has been empty for an hour and you're eating steak with a spoon, when your second course arrives a half hour after the first and your check is set down before dessert, remember this: You could be sitting in the elegant Briarwood Inn, sipping champagne and celebrating the kind of ser-vice this town hasn't seen on a consistent basis since servers started getting 401(k) plans. At this 21-year-old bastion of good taste, many of the staffers have been here from the start -- where else would they want to be? -- and the veterans train the new hires. As a result, everyone understands that genuine cheerfulness, efficiency and decorum -- rather than condescension, laziness and eye-rolling -- are essential service elements, and warmth and professionalism permeate the Briarwood experience. Until the economy tanks completely and people start begging for service jobs, diners can take heart in the knowledge that they'll be treated well at the Briarwood.

When your water glass has been empty for an hour and you're eating steak with a spoon, when your second course arrives a half hour after the first and your check is set down before dessert, remember this: You could be sitting in the elegant Briarwood Inn, sipping champagne and celebrating the kind of ser-vice this town hasn't seen on a consistent basis since servers started getting 401(k) plans. At this 21-year-old bastion of good taste, many of the staffers have been here from the start -- where else would they want to be? -- and the veterans train the new hires. As a result, everyone understands that genuine cheerfulness, efficiency and decorum -- rather than condescension, laziness and eye-rolling -- are essential service elements, and warmth and professionalism permeate the Briarwood experience. Until the economy tanks completely and people start begging for service jobs, diners can take heart in the knowledge that they'll be treated well at the Briarwood.

Best Place to Score With a Twenty-Something Whose Parents Still Pay the Rent

California Pizza Kitchen

After a hard day of shopping at the Gap, world-weary twenty-year-olds with more disposable income than the average office worker head to the CPK, as the California Pizza Kitchen is known by those in the know, to bond over barbecued-chicken-covered pizza and chopped salads. Look for them in groups of giggly blondes (at the tables) or Goth wannabes of either gender (at the counter), and then watch as they pick up their valet-parked used Audis and drive off in search of meaning. Food of choice: anything with cheese.

Best Of Denver®

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