Fishing for an inexpensive way to unwind after work? Cast your lot with the rest of the downtowners who head to Del Mar Crab House, an inviting, below-street-level eatery in Larimer Square. There's no bait-and-switch here: Look for the $2 appetizers offered Monday through Thursday, and you could net a cup of soup, mussels, peel-and-eat shrimp, crabcakes or steamed clams (oysters are 75 cents each). And on Fridays, the snacks are on the house: The happy-hour buffet includes shrimp, hot wings, chips and salsa, jalapeo poppers and quesadillas. With well drinks, beer and wine all priced at $3.50, you can raise your glass to reeling in a real catch.
The Park Meadows outlet of the Rock Bottom Brewery features a friendly deal on select Thursday evenings: Between 6 and 6:30 p.m., you can stop in and enjoy a free beer whenever a new brew is tapped. And since this offer is only one per customer, please, let us suggest a glass of Catcher in the Rye ale, the specialty of this location and a Great American Beer Festival bronze award winner. Sip and savor the flavor; you'll still have time to get home and warm up the TV for Friends.
Just looking at the appetizer menu at Restaurant Kevin Taylor, restaurateur Kevin Taylor's namesake that recently earned Mobil four-star status, is enough to overdraw our bank account. But when price is no object, serious foodies and folks with expansive expense accounts head straight for this elegant room, where the food is enough to make your eyeballs roll toward the heavens. There's homemade ravioli filled with black truffles and roasted garlic, tuna ceviche awash in coconut milk and served in a tuille made from chiles and coriander, and ravioli stuffed with Maine lobster and crab. A four-course meal here will set a person back sixty bucks -- and that's without tax and tip, much less wine -- but who cares when someone else is paying? And if that someone desperately wants you as a client, go ahead and order that ounce of "000" Beluga caviar ($85), which doesn't really go with a bottle of 1959 Château Margaux, but what the heck -- it's only $2,400, and worth every penny. And so are you.

Best Restaurant for You and Sixty of Your Closest Friends

Highland's Garden Cafe

Last year, the popular Highland's Garden Cafe changed course: Instead of acting like a regular restaurant, it's now a mecca for folks looking to get together with anywhere from six to sixty for private meals in the comfort of these two joined Victorian homes. While the gorgeous spaces are still open to the public a few times a month, the rest of the time the charming rooms -- many decorated with trompe l'oeil walls and overlooking lush gardens and a stunning back patio -- hold groups of businesspeople, wedding rehearsals, family reunions and old friends, all of whom get to take advantage of chef/owner Pat Perry's striking dishes paired with wines from the extensive cellar. Party on.

Best Place to Tell Your Mother You're Gay

BJ's Carousel

BJ's Carousel
Okay, maybe the name should be her first clue, but if that doesn't do it, a walk through the bar, filled with drag queens and male strippers, might be all she needs. But sometimes Mom just doesn't get it, and that's when you can sit down in the colorful dining room at BJ's Carousel and, over very good, all-you-can-eat spaghetti for $2.50, drop the bomb. If she runs out screaming, you won't have blown too much cash, and any change you have left over will snag a bag of popcorn from the old-fashioned machine in front. Then you can sit back and watch the floor show.

Best Place to Tell Your Significant Other It's Over

Sacre Bleu

Mars and Venus never had it so bad: You two come from such different planets, NASA is trying to get additional funding to study your relationship. It's clearly time to end it, and Sacre Bleu is just the place for that. Start the evening with dinner in the upscale eatery's lavishly decorated dining room, and after the bill has been paid -- insist on going Dutch, by the way, and treat yourself to the foie gras -- announce that it's over. Then head into the lavishly decorated bar, where dozens of available beautiful people linger over Champagne splits and sashimi tuna, reminiscing about the good ol' dot-com days. If you can't find Mr. Right, at the very least you'll find Mr. Right Now.
Greenbriar Inn
Courtesy of Greenbriar Inn
Over the past 35 years, hundreds of men -- and a couple of women -- have popped the question at the Greenbriar, a romantic old country inn surrounded by twenty acres of lush landscaping, with a heated, French-door-lined atrium and an elegant, wood-lined dining room. Let the management know of your plans ahead of time, and they'll get as many people in the restaurant involved as you'd like -- or not. Some folks propose quietly and then slink off into the night, while others ask chef Edwin K. Wiles II to come out and take their picture. Hide the ring in a mess of pan-fried frog's legs or have your waiter drop it into a glass of champagne. Whatever happens next is up to the two of you.
It's noon, and you're feeling naughty. Head to the Burnsley Hotel, where the dimly lit, low-ceilinged dining room has an intimate atmosphere and cozy nooks and crannies just right for cuddling up. If it's true love, split an entree of angel-hair pasta with fresh roma sauce so that you can slurp up the noodles together. If it's just sex, go for the hearty, blood-pumping beef tenderloin with béarnaise. And if you're too worked up to go back to work right away, might we suggest a trip upstairs to one of the Burnsley's newly remodeled rooms?

Best Place to Take Your New Girlfriend and Her Kids

Cherry Creek Grill

Last year, Cherry Creek Grill was Bandera, the best place to find divorced and single forty- and fifty-somethings who liked their liquor. Under a new name but the same ownership, it's now a family-friendly eatery that's the perfect spot to treat your date -- and her kids -- to dinner. The space is groovy enough to be impressive, and the food is good for all ages. The kids' menu features the usual grilled cheese, chicken sandwich and PB and honey, along with more serious dishes, including roasted chicken and prime rib; each kids' meal is $5 and includes a side, a drink and a Dove bar. The adult fare is just as tasty (roasted chicken is a sure bet for grownups, too), and the odd cabbage-laced mashed potatoes -- like the chicken, a holdover from the Bandera lineup -- are a must. In the end, everyone goes home happy -- as long as they go to their own homes.
Racines
Courtesy Racines
At most restaurants, where there's smoke, there's ire. And even at Racines during the first six hours of the day, smokers can light up only in the welcoming bar area. But starting at 2 p.m. -- and all day on Sundays -- Racines gives smokers some room of their own by turning the comfortable back area of the restaurant, with its warm lighting and sink-into-them swivel chairs, into a smoking section where ciggy heads can light up, eat a great salad (filled with heart-healthy veggies) and enjoy one of the best margaritas in town.

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