The Saucy Noodle
Molly Martin
The Saucy Noodle is back, and it's better than ever. Neither rain nor snow nor last spring's restaurant-gutting fire could put an end to this Denver institution. Today the Saucy Noodle is run by Erin and Nathan Markham -- original owner Sam Badis, Erin's dad, passed away five years ago -- and it has both an expanded space and a snazzy new look. But one thing remains a constant: the red sauce, the same quintessential version the kitchen's been cooking up since 1964. Sweet and smooth, with a faintly tart undertone and a rich, simmered-all-day consistency, the red goes with anything, but we particularly like it ladled over a plate of homemade spaghetti noodles, thick, chewy and al dente all the way, with a coupla fat meatballs on the side and a basket of bread. Is that Italian? You bet your noodle.
It's 3 a.m. You're tired and you're hungry. You don't want a Grand Slam -- you want some home cooking that'll calm your frazzled nerves. You want the real McCoys. Open 24-7 and operating diner-style, McCoys specializes in good, inexpensive comfort food: country-style fried chicken and mashed potatoes covered with pepper-speckled white gravy, a remarkably tasty plate of spaghetti with meatballs, and, of course, breakfast anytime, including big, fat cinnamon rolls with an icing roof. Really in need of comfort? Try the pot roast, drowning in dense, salty brown gravy and so cooked down it's like baby food for adults. As you spoon up some sustenance, you can watch big people working on their late-night relationship issues.
McCoy's Restaurant
Mark Antonation
It's 3 a.m. You're tired and you're hungry. You don't want a Grand Slam -- you want some home cooking that'll calm your frazzled nerves. You want the real McCoys. Open 24-7 and operating diner-style, McCoys specializes in good, inexpensive comfort food: country-style fried chicken and mashed potatoes covered with pepper-speckled white gravy, a remarkably tasty plate of spaghetti with meatballs, and, of course, breakfast anytime, including big, fat cinnamon rolls with an icing roof. Really in need of comfort? Try the pot roast, drowning in dense, salty brown gravy and so cooked down it's like baby food for adults. As you spoon up some sustenance, you can watch big people working on their late-night relationship issues.
Something's in the air, and it smells like cream spirit. From cow's milk bleu to well-aged goat, Dave and Kate Kaufman have their knives on the pulse of imported cheeses, and they sell the best of them at The Truffle. Let the government confiscate what it will: This duo is determined to make sure Denver gets the raw goods, be it Boerenkaas or Taleggio, Bleu d'Auvergne or crottin de Chavignol. Feel free to ask for a taste (although chances are one of the Kaufmans will have already offered it), then buy your favorites. But don't cut out yet: Linger a while and peruse some of the other gourmet goodies in this charming shop, including obscure olive oils, bulk cornichons, quince jam and, of course, its namesake fungi. Pass the crackers, please.

The Truffle
Something's in the air, and it smells like cream spirit. From cow's milk bleu to well-aged goat, Dave and Kate Kaufman have their knives on the pulse of imported cheeses, and they sell the best of them at The Truffle. Let the government confiscate what it will: This duo is determined to make sure Denver gets the raw goods, be it Boerenkaas or Taleggio, Bleu d'Auvergne or crottin de Chavignol. Feel free to ask for a taste (although chances are one of the Kaufmans will have already offered it), then buy your favorites. But don't cut out yet: Linger a while and peruse some of the other gourmet goodies in this charming shop, including obscure olive oils, bulk cornichons, quince jam and, of course, its namesake fungi. Pass the crackers, please.

Since Charlie Huang opened his Little Ollie's in Denver (the original is in Aspen), the eatery's gone through a few growing pains. But today Little Ollie is all grown up and serving the cleanest-tasting Chinese food in town. This is flavor-filled fare that showcases natural ingredients and puts a fresh spin on traditional favorites. The steamed whole sea bass, for example, is a delight to the senses -- the ginger and seafood scents start wafting toward your table the second the dish comes out of the kitchen -- and the curried chicken and stir-fried lobster are wonderfully novel approaches to classics. After a lengthy fight with the city, the patio is an officially great place to eat in the winter (it's heated) or summer (excellent people-watching). And finally, Little Ollie's boasts a well-chosen wine list that would be appealing in any restaurant, let alone a Chinese one. Little Ollie wins this award on a wok.
Since Charlie Huang opened his Little Ollie's in Denver (the original is in Aspen), the eatery's gone through a few growing pains. But today Little Ollie is all grown up and serving the cleanest-tasting Chinese food in town. This is flavor-filled fare that showcases natural ingredients and puts a fresh spin on traditional favorites. The steamed whole sea bass, for example, is a delight to the senses -- the ginger and seafood scents start wafting toward your table the second the dish comes out of the kitchen -- and the curried chicken and stir-fried lobster are wonderfully novel approaches to classics. After a lengthy fight with the city, the patio is an officially great place to eat in the winter (it's heated) or summer (excellent people-watching). And finally, Little Ollie's boasts a well-chosen wine list that would be appealing in any restaurant, let alone a Chinese one. Little Ollie wins this award on a wok.
New Saigon
Mark Manger
At long last, we found a better Vietnamese restaurant than New Saigon, one with even more than the hundreds of dishes this place offers, one with even more deeply flavored sauces, one with an even more welcoming attitude. To get there, hop on a plane bound for Saigon. Get off and start walking...
At long last, we found a better Vietnamese restaurant than New Saigon, one with even more than the hundreds of dishes this place offers, one with even more deeply flavored sauces, one with an even more welcoming attitude. To get there, hop on a plane bound for Saigon. Get off and start walking...
Potager
Lindsey Bartlett
Potager knows how to get a meal off to a great start. This "kitchen garden" offers an ever-changing roster based on what's in season, and the appetizers are an ideal way to sample as much as possible, in realistic portions for a good price. From the always-stunning soufflé of the month to unique salads, homemade pâtés and innovative crostinis, Potager's starters not only whet your appetite, but they tease it, tickle it, and get it so darned aroused you can't wait to see what's next.

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