Julia Blackbird's, a charming little eatery that stands in northwest Denver but has its heart in New Mexico, makes a red sauce that's as multi-layered, deeply colored and earthy as red-rock country. Made from chiles grown in Chimayo, a town about 25 miles north of Santa Fe, this sauce benefits mightily from the chiles' rich flavor and slight heat. Try it as part of the "three sisters" entree: three enchiladas accompanied by Julia's trio of chiles.

At night, the Rialto Cafe is one of the snazziest restaurants around, offering both live jazz and some of the most decadent desserts imaginable. But in the morning, starting at an eye-popping 5:30 a.m., the Rialto gets down to business -- serious business. This discreet, dimly lit space is just the place for the solo salesman to get his thoughts together for that big meeting, or for local power-mongers to lay out their plans for taking over the world -- or at least that block out by Lowry. The Rialto's kitchen does its bit by serving up serious power food: omelettes made from smoked salmon; roasted-red-pepper cream cheese and artichoke hearts; chorizo-stuffed breakfast burritos; and, for the heavy-hitters going light, fresh juice and homemade pastries.
At night, the Rialto Cafe is one of the snazziest restaurants around, offering both live jazz and some of the most decadent desserts imaginable. But in the morning, starting at an eye-popping 5:30 a.m., the Rialto gets down to business -- serious business. This discreet, dimly lit space is just the place for the solo salesman to get his thoughts together for that big meeting, or for local power-mongers to lay out their plans for taking over the world -- or at least that block out by Lowry. The Rialto's kitchen does its bit by serving up serious power food: omelettes made from smoked salmon; roasted-red-pepper cream cheese and artichoke hearts; chorizo-stuffed breakfast burritos; and, for the heavy-hitters going light, fresh juice and homemade pastries.
Smacks Cafe is a very small eatery that sits in a strip mall and looks like the sandwich shop it used to be. In short, you'd never expect the place to fry up the best chicken this side of the Mississippi, but that's exactly what Smacks does. Deep-fried to order, the fried chicken can take anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on how busy this rib joint is -- but it's always worth the wait. Each piece (a half-bird's worth to an order) has been lightly salted, barely dusted with flour and then fried until the skin turns into a crisp shell barely holding in all the juicy, salty, lightly greasy flesh beneath. Add a side of homemade cornbread, macaroni blanketed with freshly grated cheese, and Smacks' down-home collard and mustard greens, as well as a slice of white cake, and your mouth's gone south for the winter.
Smacks Cafe is a very small eatery that sits in a strip mall and looks like the sandwich shop it used to be. In short, you'd never expect the place to fry up the best chicken this side of the Mississippi, but that's exactly what Smacks does. Deep-fried to order, the fried chicken can take anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on how busy this rib joint is -- but it's always worth the wait. Each piece (a half-bird's worth to an order) has been lightly salted, barely dusted with flour and then fried until the skin turns into a crisp shell barely holding in all the juicy, salty, lightly greasy flesh beneath. Add a side of homemade cornbread, macaroni blanketed with freshly grated cheese, and Smacks' down-home collard and mustard greens, as well as a slice of white cake, and your mouth's gone south for the winter.
Don't be crabby: Join the downtown club that's already found the best place to get happy -- and fed -- as the weekend swings into action. When you buy two drinks during Friday's 4-6 p.m. happy hour at Del Mar Crab House, the feed is free -- and it's a real catch, including shrimp-filled quesadillas, peel-your-own shrimp, hot wings, pepper poppers, and tri-color chips with salsa. If your ship came in at work this week, treat your newfound friends by shelling out for some oysters at reduced prices from the raw bar. This place is a pearl.
Don't be crabby: Join the downtown club that's already found the best place to get happy -- and fed -- as the weekend swings into action. When you buy two drinks during Friday's 4-6 p.m. happy hour at Del Mar Crab House, the feed is free -- and it's a real catch, including shrimp-filled quesadillas, peel-your-own shrimp, hot wings, pepper poppers, and tri-color chips with salsa. If your ship came in at work this week, treat your newfound friends by shelling out for some oysters at reduced prices from the raw bar. This place is a pearl.
Who'd think that a tiny Italian eatery in Parker would offer the area's best version of New York-style pizza? There's no question, though, that Tonti's makes the real thing: a drippy pie with a sweet, sweet sauce, thin, crackery crust and enough cheese that each bite creates a string that could stretch from one end of the restaurant to the other. It's tempting to order this pizza by the slice, so that you can eat it the way New Yorkers do: folding it in half and letting orange-colored oil run down your hand. But instead, we recommend that you order the whole pie, since we know you'll want to eat that much and more. Tonti's is a real bite of the Big Apple.
Who'd think that a tiny Italian eatery in Parker would offer the area's best version of New York-style pizza? There's no question, though, that Tonti's makes the real thing: a drippy pie with a sweet, sweet sauce, thin, crackery crust and enough cheese that each bite creates a string that could stretch from one end of the restaurant to the other. It's tempting to order this pizza by the slice, so that you can eat it the way New Yorkers do: folding it in half and letting orange-colored oil run down your hand. But instead, we recommend that you order the whole pie, since we know you'll want to eat that much and more. Tonti's is a real bite of the Big Apple.
From the heady aroma of medium-rare prime rib that greets you each Wednesday through Saturday, to the USDA prime steaks laid out like Tiffany flatware, to the astounding jumble of delicacies in the freezer -- ostrich cutlet, anyone? Elk medallion? Colossal prawn? -- Timberline Meats is a carnivore's dream. But anyone can sell meat: What sets Timberline apart is the love. Everyone who works at this tiny yet alluring meat market is not just interested in, not just obsessed with, but head over heels in love with edible animal parts. Buyers are sent off with a comforting "Oh, you'll think you died and went to heaven" from the owners, who used to run the Shriner's Temple kitchen.

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