There are only two ways to do mashed potatoes: the right way and the wrong way. Most people think theirs are done the right way, and -- sorry to say -- most people are wrong. Potatoes, butter, cream and salt: These are the only necessary elements in making proper mashers, and at Astoria Restaurant -- an unbelievably authentic Eastern Russian joint -- proper mashers are what's being served on nearly every plate of good, solid Russian comfort food. There may be a place for Maytag bleu, chives and bacon, but a mound of spuds sitting beside a simple rack of lamb or thick, meaty stroganoff is not that place. So in praise of simple pleasures, this year the Oscar goes to Astoria for its uncomplicated 'taters: thick, lumpy, warm and filling, folded in with cold butter and nothing else.
There are only two ways to do mashed potatoes: the right way and the wrong way. Most people think theirs are done the right way, and -- sorry to say -- most people are wrong. Potatoes, butter, cream and salt: These are the only necessary elements in making proper mashers, and at Astoria Restaurant -- an unbelievably authentic Eastern Russian joint -- proper mashers are what's being served on nearly every plate of good, solid Russian comfort food. There may be a place for Maytag bleu, chives and bacon, but a mound of spuds sitting beside a simple rack of lamb or thick, meaty stroganoff is not that place. So in praise of simple pleasures, this year the Oscar goes to Astoria for its uncomplicated 'taters: thick, lumpy, warm and filling, folded in with cold butter and nothing else.
Not too heavy and not too light, the meatloaf at Kathy and Bill's Diner will satisfy your loaf lust. A perfect blend of meat, bread and tiny, harmless veggies -- a smattering of mushrooms, onions and peppers that enhances the experience without threatening to upset the balance -- is crowned with a tomato glaze, then blanketed with brown gravy. Accompanied by its only proper neighbor -- homemade, lumpy mashers -- meatloaf doesn't get any better than this. Neither does lunch.


Not too heavy and not too light, the meatloaf at Kathy and Bill's Diner will satisfy your loaf lust. A perfect blend of meat, bread and tiny, harmless veggies -- a smattering of mushrooms, onions and peppers that enhances the experience without threatening to upset the balance -- is crowned with a tomato glaze, then blanketed with brown gravy. Accompanied by its only proper neighbor -- homemade, lumpy mashers -- meatloaf doesn't get any better than this. Neither does lunch.
Bruce Harrison, the owner of Sweet Bob's, is a man on a mission. Single-handledly, he's going to reverse the curse on his doomed storefront location on Broadway by introducing his brand of BBQ to the world. Although he has dreams of nationwide franchises, for now we can be thankful that he started his first joint right here in central Denver, where he serves up the best 'cue this side of Kansas City. Harrison fruit-smokes his meats with cherry, apple, kiwi and what have you, finishes them in the shop on a rotisserie, and can have your order bagged and ready at the counter in a minute flat on a good day. But be warned: The addictive potential of his sauce and sides is high. Try them once and you may never look at another rack of ribs the same way again.


Bruce Harrison, the owner of Sweet Bob's, is a man on a mission. Single-handledly, he's going to reverse the curse on his doomed storefront location on Broadway by introducing his brand of BBQ to the world. Although he has dreams of nationwide franchises, for now we can be thankful that he started his first joint right here in central Denver, where he serves up the best 'cue this side of Kansas City. Harrison fruit-smokes his meats with cherry, apple, kiwi and what have you, finishes them in the shop on a rotisserie, and can have your order bagged and ready at the counter in a minute flat on a good day. But be warned: The addictive potential of his sauce and sides is high. Try them once and you may never look at another rack of ribs the same way again.
The Shead family has a lot of history in the barbecue biz, but when you get right down to it, all that matters is the meat. And with that as the sole defining characteristic of good 'cue, we can confidently say that these folks know how to whip up a batch of small ends that'll have you begging for more once you've licked your fingers clean. The flavor is a cross between a thin Carolina tidewater sauce and a muscular KC-style mop, and the slow-smoked ribs are tender but solid -- none of that fall-off-the-bone baby food that some joints inexplicably brag about. The service is brisk, the dining room spare, and while you sometimes have to wait for your order to get it done right, it's worth it.


The Shead family has a lot of history in the barbecue biz, but when you get right down to it, all that matters is the meat. And with that as the sole defining characteristic of good 'cue, we can confidently say that these folks know how to whip up a batch of small ends that'll have you begging for more once you've licked your fingers clean. The flavor is a cross between a thin Carolina tidewater sauce and a muscular KC-style mop, and the slow-smoked ribs are tender but solid -- none of that fall-off-the-bone baby food that some joints inexplicably brag about. The service is brisk, the dining room spare, and while you sometimes have to wait for your order to get it done right, it's worth it.
Delivery drivers are the most forgiving of God's creatures. They bring us vital suste-

nance without comment or criticism, then leave as quickly as they come. They see us at our worst -- at those moments when we're too drunk, too lazy, too miserable or too whatever to face the outside world. And the outside world would be a much more difficult thing to face without the occasional order of Chinese BBQ ribs from Szechuan Express. Far from the dinky, dried-out dog biscuits that come with most pu-pu platters, these are huge, meaty and drenched in ridiculous amounts of sticky-sweet sauce. A single order is easily a pound and a half of ribs, and a double is enough to make your standard Styro-

foam takeout box bulge. Save some for the next morning, when the ribs are even better cold. Barbecue: It's what's for breakfast.


Delivery drivers are the most forgiving of God's creatures. They bring us vital suste-

nance without comment or criticism, then leave as quickly as they come. They see us at our worst -- at those moments when we're too drunk, too lazy, too miserable or too whatever to face the outside world. And the outside world would be a much more difficult thing to face without the occasional order of Chinese BBQ ribs from Szechuan Express. Far from the dinky, dried-out dog biscuits that come with most pu-pu platters, these are huge, meaty and drenched in ridiculous amounts of sticky-sweet sauce. A single order is easily a pound and a half of ribs, and a double is enough to make your standard Styro-

foam takeout box bulge. Save some for the next morning, when the ribs are even better cold. Barbecue: It's what's for breakfast.

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