Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

Opus

Opus
Situated on a quaint stretch of Littleton's old Main Street, Opus is far from the trendy fuss, maddening crowds and catch-it-if-you-can parking headaches of downtown. Chef Michael Long's smart, inventive and ever-changing menu is filled with high-class treats, updated lowbrow eats and lots of Colorado fare, so both courageous eaters and those somewhat more picky are sure to find something to their liking. Rather than dragging your parents along to the neighborhood brewpub where everyone knows you as Booger, why not show some class, make the reservations and impress them with your taste and refinement? Trust us: After dinner at Opus, they might even forget about that "lamp" they saw your pothead roommate hiding when they dropped by your apartment last week.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

Opus

Situated on a quaint stretch of Littleton's old Main Street, Opus is far from the trendy fuss, maddening crowds and catch-it-if-you-can parking headaches of downtown. Chef Michael Long's smart, inventive and ever-changing menu is filled with high-class treats, updated lowbrow eats and lots of Colorado fare, so both courageous eaters and those somewhat more picky are sure to find something to their liking. Rather than dragging your parents along to the neighborhood brewpub where everyone knows you as Booger, why not show some class, make the reservations and impress them with your taste and refinement? Trust us: After dinner at Opus, they might even forget about that "lamp" they saw your pothead roommate hiding when they dropped by your apartment last week.


Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

1515

1515 Restaurant
The upstairs seating at the elegant 1515 has two very important benefits when you're trying to make like a big shot. First, it feels exclusive: You and your date stroll right past all the lonelyhearts and single drinkers at the downstairs bar as you're led up the staircase and into the comfortable, classically styled second-floor dining room. Second, there's Gene Tang -- owner, manager and floorman extraordinaire, who spends all night, every night swanning between the tables, pressing the flesh, pouring the wine and making everyone feel like the most important person in the house. The wine list (assembled by Tang, who's also a trained sommelier) is ambitious but easy to navigate, and the seasonal menus are designed by executive chef Olav Peterson with an eye toward the casual fine-dining palate. With dinner at 1515 running so smoothly, you have nothing to worry about but the goodnight kiss.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

1515

The upstairs seating at the elegant 1515 has two very important benefits when you're trying to make like a big shot. First, it feels exclusive: You and your date stroll right past all the lonelyhearts and single drinkers at the downstairs bar as you're led up the staircase and into the comfortable, classically styled second-floor dining room. Second, there's Gene Tang -- owner, manager and floorman extraordinaire, who spends all night, every night swanning between the tables, pressing the flesh, pouring the wine and making everyone feel like the most important person in the house. The wine list (assembled by Tang, who's also a trained sommelier) is ambitious but easy to navigate, and the seasonal menus are designed by executive chef Olav Peterson with an eye toward the casual fine-dining palate. With dinner at 1515 running so smoothly, you have nothing to worry about but the goodnight kiss.


For both the best- and worst-case blind-date scenarios, the Dark Horse Tavern has you covered. If things look bad, there are plenty of visual distractions and easy conversation starters to lessen the awkwardness. If things look good, you can show off your prowess at pinball and pool. And if things look really good, there are lots of dark nooks for privacy. Throw in cheap, reliably good eats, and you can see why this Dark Horse is a winner.
For both the best- and worst-case blind-date scenarios, the Dark Horse Tavern has you covered. If things look bad, there are plenty of visual distractions and easy conversation starters to lessen the awkwardness. If things look good, you can show off your prowess at pinball and pool. And if things look really good, there are lots of dark nooks for privacy. Throw in cheap, reliably good eats, and you can see why this Dark Horse is a winner.


Best "Always Get Lucky on the Third Date" Dinner Destination

Cuba Cuba

Cuba Cuba has the power to move you. No matter how gray the day or unpromising the night, the big Havana vibe at this little tropical oasis will transport you to more laid-back latitudes the minute you step through the door. The food is fun -- from Cuban picadillo and rum-painted snapper to plantain chips and cigar selections with dessert -- and the shoulder-to-shoulder weekend crowds of smart Denver diners out for a sophisticated mini-spring break give the whole place a humid, sexy edge that's sure to break anyone's ice. And hey, if the lively crowds, spicy Latin music and expertly casual floor staff orchestrated by Kristy Socarras Bigelow don't loosen things up, have the bar mix up a few of its killer mojitos. After a couple of these, luck will have nothing to do with getting lucky.

Best Place to End It on the Fourth Date

Dazzle

Dazzle
Two words for you, pal: jazz club. Such spots are custom-made for big breakup scenes, and Dazzle -- with its long, deep booths, chic crowds and high-volume background noise -- is perfect for giving the ex-love of your life the big "goodbye and good luck" speech. Walk right in, order a couple stiff shots of liquid courage and get on with it. Don't be a shlub. Don't give her any of that "It's not you, it's me" crap. Just tell her: "It's you and we're done," take the obligatory drink in the face with some élan, then sit back and try to look crestfallen and vulnerable while she stomps out the door and out of your life. With a live band on the stage, no one will have heard you tell her why it was over, and if you're lucky, Ms. (or Mr.) Right Now will feel so sorry for you sitting there alone that he or she will help nurse your wounds with a few top-shelf martinis. If things go well, you can retire to the comfortable (and slightly quieter) lounge for a late-night nibble.

Best Place to End It on the Fourth Date

Dazzle

Two words for you, pal: jazz club. Such spots are custom-made for big breakup scenes, and Dazzle -- with its long, deep booths, chic crowds and high-volume background noise -- is perfect for giving the ex-love of your life the big "goodbye and good luck" speech. Walk right in, order a couple stiff shots of liquid courage and get on with it. Don't be a shlub. Don't give her any of that "It's not you, it's me" crap. Just tell her: "It's you and we're done," take the obligatory drink in the face with some élan, then sit back and try to look crestfallen and vulnerable while she stomps out the door and out of your life. With a live band on the stage, no one will have heard you tell her why it was over, and if you're lucky, Ms. (or Mr.) Right Now will feel so sorry for you sitting there alone that he or she will help nurse your wounds with a few top-shelf martinis. If things go well, you can retire to the comfortable (and slightly quieter) lounge for a late-night nibble.


Cafe Jordano
When you're in the mood for a sit-down dinner someplace without an indoor slide but don't want the other patrons clucking over your preschool dining companions, try Cafe Jordano. No matter if you're six, sixteen or sixty, everyone is joyfully welcomed at this surprisingly comfortable strip-mall Italian joint, with its warm yellow walls and service staff ready for anything. Far from looking down their noses when Junior rubs spaghetti carbonara in his hair, the waitresses just smile knowingly and reach for the kitchen towels. We've seen the staff do everything short of singing Broadway show tunes to quiet a crying toddler while the adults at the table were busy stuffing themselves full of Jordano's fat, homemade, cheese-stuffed manicotti and washing it down with red wine at one of the few places in town still serving sweet Italian Lambrusco by the glass.

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