In the classical canon, there are five mother sauces -- delicate and complex base mixtures from which all other sauces are born. But since this list of mothers was compiled ages ago by the French culinarians, it was weighted heavily in the direction of old Continental classics, and nowhere among the five is there a sauce that, through any miracle of reproduction, could produce a chile like that offered up by Marcela Guerrero and her kitchen at Cielo. This is a travesty of geographic isolationism, because these days, chile sauces belong among those charmed few bases from which all things spring. Cielo's green is a sweet, meaty, thick stew of flavors, primary among them the complex taste of chile as fruit. And the red is a smooth lava of heat mounting on heat, tempered in its upper reaches by a singing touch of honey. These are not just simple chile sauces, but artistic, well-balanced creations that -- in the true style of the mothers -- have been built up from a classic base into something related to, but wholly different from, that which gave them birth. But beyond all that -- and most important -- they're delicious.
Brewery Bar II
Kenzie Bruce
At Brewery Bar II, there's no element of Mexican cuisine that cannot be improved by the addition of melted cheese. No ingredient that can't be wrapped in a tortilla or deep-fried, no weakness in flavor or texture that can't be bullied up with a liberal dose of the house's custom chile -- a red-and-green blend that's heavy on the pork, but so far from the pure heat and flavor of traditional verde that comparison is nearly impossible. If, like us, you've strayed a bit from your Hatch-purist prejudices, then you, too, can grow to love this biracial chile without reservation. Sweet, watery, hot without being numbing, it kicks the endorphins into overdrive, then throws in that killer jolt of chile flavor right at the end to make everything it touches taste better.
Mexican hamburger.
Mark Antonation
Mexican hamburger.
There are those who go for the cheap thrills -- the quick, delicious burn that green chile makes when it reaches the sinuses. But red has its pleasures, too, and there's no red chile more pleasant than the version that La Fiesta's been dishing out for close to thirty years. This red chile has a fire all its own, a complex layering of flavors that speaks of much more than mere chile powder. But, of course, you're not going to eat it on its own. You're going to order it smothering an enchilada filled with gooey yellow cheese or drowning the best crispy chile relleno in town. This plate is hot!
Over the years we've eaten our way around Rosa Linda's menu, devouring everything from the soft chiles rellenos to the classic shredded beef burrito. But for a Mexican meal that really sticks to your costillas, try the steak ranchero -- tender diced beef mixed with chiles and onions in a killer red chile sauce.
In the classical canon, there are five mother sauces -- delicate and complex base mixtures from which all other sauces are born. But since this list of mothers was compiled ages ago by the French culinarians, it was weighted heavily in the direction of old Continental classics, and nowhere among the five is there a sauce that, through any miracle of reproduction, could produce a chile like that offered up by Marcela Guerrero and her kitchen at Cielo. This is a travesty of geographic isolationism, because these days, chile sauces belong among those charmed few bases from which all things spring. Cielo's green is a sweet, meaty, thick stew of flavors, primary among them the complex taste of chile as fruit. And the red is a smooth lava of heat mounting on heat, tempered in its upper reaches by a singing touch of honey. These are not just simple chile sauces, but artistic, well-balanced creations that -- in the true style of the mothers -- have been built up from a classic base into something related to, but wholly different from, that which gave them birth. But beyond all that -- and most important -- they're delicious.
Let's hear it for the new kid on the very old block. In a market already saturated with high-end meateries, the Capital Grille -- which opened in Larimer Square in late 2003 -- sets itself apart by outdoing the competition in every vital category. The decor is picture-perfect, full of dark wood, leather and manly hunting-dog prints. The atmosphere is clubby without being exclusionary; the service is exemplary; and the kitchen is dedicated to the noble task of delivering meat to the masses with minimal fuss and zero distraction. All of the steaks are dry-aged for maximum tenderness and concentration of flavor, the sauces -- from the tarragon-heavy béarnaise to the Roquefort maître d' butter -- are beautifully executed steakhouse classics, and the sides are kept simple, focusing primarily on the greater glories of a steak's only proper companion: the humble potato. So kudos to the rookie: If meat matters to you, you can't do any better than dinner at the Capital Grille.
Over the years we've eaten our way around Rosa Linda's menu, devouring everything from the soft chiles rellenos to the classic shredded beef burrito. But for a Mexican meal that really sticks to your costillas, try the steak ranchero -- tender diced beef mixed with chiles and onions in a killer red chile sauce.

Best Steakhouse for Your Next NRA Meeting

Northwoods Inn

Soup served out of communal iron pots, straight iceberg salads made by the hundreds every day, big bowls of peanuts on every table and dead animals on all the walls: This is what a steakhouse used to be, before the suits got ahold of the idea and started turning them into hifalutin, cigars-and-martinis clubhouses for the rich and powerful. The Northwoods Inn, which has been in operation more or less continuously since 1961, harks back to those days when steakhouses were restaurants for the common man -- places that needed spittoons, where you could order your dinner by pointing at the appropriate trophy head on the wall. These days, the Northwoods Inn caters primarily to families and big parties that, no matter how huge, can still get lost in the giant 250-seat dining room. The restaurant is so popular that waits of up to two hours on the weekend are not uncommon. The food is simple -- big whacks of meat, well prepared and served as a package with soup, salad and baked potato -- but even with the volume this kitchen does, every order still receives the personal attention deserved by good cuts of prime meat. If Charlton Heston ever comes back through Denver, we suggest he stop by the Northwoods Inn for a taste of old-time Colorado -- when men were men and no cow was safe.
Let's hear it for the new kid on the very old block. In a market already saturated with high-end meateries, the Capital Grille -- which opened in Larimer Square in late 2003 -- sets itself apart by outdoing the competition in every vital category. The decor is picture-perfect, full of dark wood, leather and manly hunting-dog prints. The atmosphere is clubby without being exclusionary; the service is exemplary; and the kitchen is dedicated to the noble task of delivering meat to the masses with minimal fuss and zero distraction. All of the steaks are dry-aged for maximum tenderness and concentration of flavor, the sauces -- from the tarragon-heavy béarnaise to the Roquefort maître d' butter -- are beautifully executed steakhouse classics, and the sides are kept simple, focusing primarily on the greater glories of a steak's only proper companion: the humble potato. So kudos to the rookie: If meat matters to you, you can't do any better than dinner at the Capital Grille.
Bastien's isn't retro; the rest of the world is. If you're looking for the cocktail culture of the '50s, a time capsule of early-'70s swinger swank still sealed and unchanged, then head straight for Bastien's. If anything in this place has come around again into a third generation of recycled cool, it's only a happy accident. The Bastien's we know and love today came to life on January 1, 1959, and was an instant hit, a destination in a time when there weren't many. Truman Capote hung out here, fer chrissakes. And forty years later, the trappings of Bastien's best years are still intact. So are the deals: You can still get an entire dinner -- good steak, drinks and dessert included -- for under thirty bucks, and eat like a successful aluminum-siding salesman would have on a Friday night forty years back. Like they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and the batteries on Bastien's Timex ran down a long time ago.

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