Best Burger With No Trimmings Whatsoever

Caro's Corner

Caro's Corner can be tough to find if you don't know what you're looking for, and even once you do find it, you won't see the niceties that some people find necessary for their dining enjoyment. Little things like tables, a menu, waitresses, regular hours, a phone. But if you can get past all that, you'll realize you're in a place where the grillman's art is still being practiced with a purity and simplicity that's all too rare these days. Owner Jeffrey Patterson does nothing but burgers. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, doubles of either, and that's it. There's a chalkboard on the wall that lists fries, and catfish nuggets on Friday, but forget those. At Caro's, the meat is what matters, and Patterson makes a beast of a burger, big as a dinner plate and as fresh as you'll get anywhere -- because nothing is done until you come through the door and ask for it. Yes, this means you'll have to wait a while, but know that in the end, the wait, the drive, everything, will all be worth it.
Caribbean Cuisine Plus, a relatively new storefront restaurant tucked back among the butchers and barbers and motor-vehicle offices in Aurora's suburban sprawl, does a lot of things remarkably well. Its friendly staff handles the large crowds with zero stress, takes orders smoothly, and turns out excellent cornbread, curried goat and Jamaican meat pies. And it does them all from a space that seems tiny enough to fold up and put in your pocket. But what Caribbean Cuisine Plus does best is jerk chicken -- that staple of Caribbean restaurants the world over. In this version, the meat is soft, perfectly spiced with onion, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper, and served over steamed white rice. The dish looks and tastes so simple, but remember: Making it seem easy is what the best restaurants all try to do. At Caribbean Cuisine Plus, the easiest thing about this chicken is enjoying it.
Breakfast King is where we go when we need to commune with the food gods of our forefathers. We come here to be reminded of a simpler time when there was fine dining only on special days and diners for all the others. We come for the chicken-fried steak. At the King, the steak is crisp and wrinkly on the outside, like an old man left out in the sun too long, and tender within from a good pounding with the tenderizing mallet and a soaking in milk; its thick crust holds up even under the weight of a thick, peppery, artery-choking, Southern-style white sausage gravy. And while the chicken-fried steak is undeniably the star of this plate, it comes dotingly attended by two eggs and fresh home fries in munificent proportions.


When you want fried chicken done right, you have to go to the source. You have to fall back on tradition -- when it was done best, first and with the most love. Yup, we're talking soul food, and in Denver, soul food really means just one place: Pierre's Supper Club. Although this longtime institution recently changed hands, new owner John Lewis doesn't plan to make any changes to what's been coming out of the kitchen for decades. And that would be the best catfish in town, great cornbread, good ribs, deep-green and flavorful collard greens, and -- most important -- perfect, crispy, peppery fried chicken. The breading is stiff and crunchy, the meat steaming-hot and tender, and when accessorized by a few shakes from the bottle of Pierre's Hot Sauce (one of the great bottled sauces of our time) sitting on each table, this chicken flies beyond the realm of backyard-picnic fare into something divine. There's a reason they call this stuff soul food, folks. And after a couple of pieces of Pierre's fried chicken, we think you'll know why.
Caribbean Cuisine Plus, a relatively new storefront restaurant tucked back among the butchers and barbers and motor-vehicle offices in Aurora's suburban sprawl, does a lot of things remarkably well. Its friendly staff handles the large crowds with zero stress, takes orders smoothly, and turns out excellent cornbread, curried goat and Jamaican meat pies. And it does them all from a space that seems tiny enough to fold up and put in your pocket. But what Caribbean Cuisine Plus does best is jerk chicken -- that staple of Caribbean restaurants the world over. In this version, the meat is soft, perfectly spiced with onion, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper, and served over steamed white rice. The dish looks and tastes so simple, but remember: Making it seem easy is what the best restaurants all try to do. At Caribbean Cuisine Plus, the easiest thing about this chicken is enjoying it.

Best Unexpected Chicken-Fried Steak

Lola

The chicken-fried steak at Lola comes as a double surprise. First, who'd even imagine that this upscale coastal-Mexican restaurant would be open for Sunday brunch? Given how packed the place is on weekend nights, you'd think that the staff would want to sleep in -- while their customers sleep it off. Instead, Lola opens its doors at 10 a.m. on Sundays, and while the Bloody Mary cart services the walking wounded, the kitchen cooks up a half-dozen brunch items, from exotic omelets to Mexican-style French toast to an incredibly good chicken-fried steak. Chef Jamey Fader pounds the hell out of a New York strip, coats it in a lightly spiced batter, fries it up and then smothers the whole thing with a sausage gravy made even better because it's based on Lola's homemade chorizo. Rise and shine!
Breakfast King
Mark Antonation
Breakfast King is where we go when we need to commune with the food gods of our forefathers. We come here to be reminded of a simpler time when there was fine dining only on special days and diners for all the others. We come for the chicken-fried steak. At the King, the steak is crisp and wrinkly on the outside, like an old man left out in the sun too long, and tender within from a good pounding with the tenderizing mallet and a soaking in milk; its thick crust holds up even under the weight of a thick, peppery, artery-choking, Southern-style white sausage gravy. And while the chicken-fried steak is undeniably the star of this plate, it comes dotingly attended by two eggs and fresh home fries in munificent proportions.
Food fads come and food fads go, but our love for Little Shanghai remains eternal. This Chinese restaurant has been a Denver institution for close to thirty years, drawing big stars -- the Rolling Stones are reputed fans -- and small-fry alike. Everyone has their favorite dishes at Little Shanghai, but we're partial to its take on fried rice. Its very, very rich take. An order of Rich Man's Fried Rice brings an elegant yellow half-globe to the table, with a shell of egg covering the treasure of scallops, shrimp, broccoli and rice. One bite of this, and baby, you're a rich man, too.

Best Unexpected Chicken-Fried Steak

Lola

The chicken-fried steak at Lola comes as a double surprise. First, who'd even imagine that this upscale coastal-Mexican restaurant would be open for Sunday brunch? Given how packed the place is on weekend nights, you'd think that the staff would want to sleep in -- while their customers sleep it off. Instead, Lola opens its doors at 10 a.m. on Sundays, and while the Bloody Mary cart services the walking wounded, the kitchen cooks up a half-dozen brunch items, from exotic omelets to Mexican-style French toast to an incredibly good chicken-fried steak. Chef Jamey Fader pounds the hell out of a New York strip, coats it in a lightly spiced batter, fries it up and then smothers the whole thing with a sausage gravy made even better because it's based on Lola's homemade chorizo. Rise and shine!
The brand-spanking-new Zengo is so big, so opulent, that we've just started to take it all in -- from the retro-hip decor to the exotic cocktails to the extra-squishy bar stools from which you can appreciate those cocktails. The menu is expansive, so yin-and-yangy that it demands study. Meditation, even. So we've started small, dropping by for a quick meal of sake and the best unexpected fried rice in town. As with everything else about the restaurant, care has been taken with each little tidbit in the dish, so that every bite provides a burst of fresh, tantalizing flavors. You'll leave wanting more. More food, more sake, more Zengo.

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