After a night of boozing, a slice of New York-style pizza dripping with cheese is just the one-two punch you need to make it home. The conveniently located Two-Fisted Mario's is open until 2 a.m. during the week and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, which gives you plenty of time to regroup after the bars close by putting a sugary soda and a slice into your system. Better yet, order a large pie and take the rest home with you: There's nothing like cold pizza for a hangover.
Finally, a place that knows how to do tapas right. These little Spanish-style starters aren't supposed to be full-fledged plates, nor are they supposed to be priced like them. Nicois recognizes this and offers more than a dozen ways to sample delightful combinations of full-flavored Mediterranean ingredients, including squid stuffed with roasted shrimp, seared foie gras, serrano ham with manchego cheese, and crispy-fried salt-cod fritters. The price is particularly appealing: Each taste treat is $3.50, which means you can snack on one or two as a starter, or put together a half-dozen and make a meal out them. Spring for a cava, Spain's answer to Champagne, while you're at it. Nice.
So many restaurants are hell-bent on putting all those newfangled, exciting ingredients on their appetizer lists that they forget all about the old-school classics, such as escargots bourguignonne and jumbo shrimp cocktail. Vasil's Euro-Grille, however, remembers to pay homage to the past even as it celebrates the new. The shrimp, for example, comes with that traditional cocktail sauce -- here a tangy homemade version -- as well as a salsa of pickled asparagus, endives and apples that's a savvy, zesty counterpoint to the sweet shrimp meat. And while the standby of oysters Rockefeller gets the usual treatment of creamy spinach and a splash of Pernod, the dish also features tomato-pumped hollandaise and shaved Asiago for a nutty twist. But wait, there's more: honey-baked goat cheese with roasted tomatoes, kalamatas and balsamic; seared foie gras on a slice of "crème brûlée" French toast with a raspberry reduction; and wild-mushroom risotto finished with white-truffle oil. If Vasil's wants to start something, we're ready.
We're sweet on Micole's pastry chef, Steven Fling, who continues to makes some of the most interesting, appealing desserts around. His eight-item roster includes such wonders as smoked golden pineapple in a coconut mousse with Myers's rum ice cream; a white-chocolate timbale surrounded by a basil-strewn apricot salad and apricot soup; and a "study" of three pears (pear tart, port-poached pear and pear sorbet). But the real icing on the cake is the creamy-textured apple-and-cheddar "crème brûlée" in a calvados syrup that's like nothing you've tasted before. Thanks to Fling, Micole finishes in first place.
Paris on the Platte Cafe & Bar
Cassandra Kotnik
Okay, so Paris on the Platte is not for everyone. If you don't like loud music or cigarette smoke, or you feel uncomfortable in the presence of artists, goths, ravers, punks, indie rockers, computer-game players, Lord of the Rings enthusiasts, writers and unabashed readers, you might want to stick to Starbucks. But for those who prefer their caffeine with a little character, this charmingly imperfect cafe is a temporary refuge from the world of corporate aggression. With an ever-changing assortment of works by local artists hanging from the brick walls and an equally colorful cast of regulars, Paris is an unassuming piece of pseudo-bohemian heaven. Check the adjoining bookstore for good deals on used titles and exotic smokes, or try one of the kitchen's tasty specialty sandwiches; thanks to liberal hours, you can eat as late as 2 a.m. on the weekend. We can only hope we'll always have Paris.
If you're the sort who prefers -- no, aches -- to linger over your cozy cuppa, log on to Longmont-based Tea Train's comprehensive Web site immediately: You'll find yourself immersed in heady choices. The offerings include fine versions of all the classic black darjeelings, assams and keemuns, some with such intriguing designations as "Midnight Kiss" (a subtly perfumy Chinese brew) and "Dark and Stormy Night" (smoky and strong), as well as sprightly greens, whites and oolongs and some unusual and healthy herbal mixes featuring rooibos and yerba maté from South America. But don't miss the chance to visit the tea merchant's retail store: While purchasing your leaves for home brewing -- with assistance from a very able staff -- you'll also be treated to a delightful seasonal menu of brews served in tummy-tingling steamed, iced or traditionally steeped combinations. Our favorites? There are too many to list, but don't miss the Chocolate River and Vanilla Bean chai mixes. Chai cha cha!
Hailed as a national treasure in Slovenia, potica is a European sweetbread that's time-honored -- and very time-consuming to make. Fine bread dough is rolled extremely flat and then sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, raisins, walnuts and many other ambrosial additions; it's then "primed" in a special, temperature-controlled box and baked. Robert and Frank Mauro started making potica in their kitchen when they needed a little extra money for the holidays; when the demand became overwhelming, Nancy Fognani joined the team, and their home-based potica business became Orbit Corporation, Inc. Your grandma Mirjana would have toiled for hours over this holiday treat, but you can order the tasty pastry with a simple click of your mouse.
Among Bump & Grind's many post-meal wonders is a dreamy apricot-walnut bar, a square block of sweet sustenance. The Bump's pastry ace starts with a sticky, crumbly crust, then tops it with a blend of flour, apricots, sugar and walnuts. The baked result is a dense mouthful of whole-earth goodness that doubles as a supreme breakfast bar.
It's surrounded by sprawling suburbs, but Karl's Farm Dairy, a family-owned operation, hangs on to its cow-powered past. The dairy's new retail outlet, just down the road on 120th, serves up the best milk in Colorado, fresh-squeezed stuff made by the herd of Guernseys that roam the pasture out back. And tours of the dairy are an udderly amazing experience that puts you face-to-face with the four-legged artisans. Take the kids for a quick lesson in where that non-fat, pasteurized stuff got its start.
Those in need of a free buzz need look no further than Golden's Coors Brewery. The standard tour of the facility lasts only 45 minutes, and midway through, drinking-age guests are given a Dixie-cup-sized gulp of brew, under the apparent assumption that they might not be able to complete the journey without one. Even better, the circuit winds up at a bar where each person is allowed three full-sized drafts of his choice, gratis. Teetotalers get three sodas -- or can order beers and just pass them to their suds-loving buddies (another good reason to bring along a designated driver). Make ours a triple.

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