Flamingo, a converted Congress Park salon, once was devoted exclusively to ladies' locks. These days, it helps look after their tots. This coffeehouse caters to adults by providing the usual coffee drinks, pastries and occasional live entertainment, but it also offers a play area for toddlers and after-school snacks suitable for older kids. People reluctant to give up those long, relaxing hours in the coffeehouse just because they've become parents should flock to Flamingo.
Red Robin
With the Dragonfly Cafe, Greg and Christie Metheny hit on an idea whose time had truly come: a restaurant that wasn't just kid-friendly, didn't just make a few half-assed attempts at catering to children, but was actually built as a place for the little rugrats to congregate. But they kept the parents in mind, too: The Dragonfly's coffee shop/lunch bar is built around a play area for kids, so that Mom can keep an eye on Junior while grabbing a quick breakfast or lunch or cup of java. The menu includes wraps, panini sandwiches and salads, with PB&Js, sliced apples with caramel and plenty of other healthy choices for kids.
Big Bowl is one of those places we like to think of as dressed-up fast-food chains: They're more expensive and time-intensive than McDonald's, or even Noodles & Company, but then again, the portions are bigger and the extras more extravagant. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you're trying to please everyone -- your chic sister-in-law, customer-service-intensive grandmother, ravenous uncle Randy, half a soccer team and a thousand and one small, hungry, whining children. At times like these, it's the little things that count. Immediately on arrival, Big Bowl presents your kids with a bowl of rice and a cardboard takeout box filled with crayons, small toys, rookie chopsticks and a children's menu. That's enough to keep them occupied while you peruse the grown-up menu, which is expansive enough to include mac-n-cheese along with the stir fry for small-fry, potsticker and grilled-satay offerings.
True, true, dogs these days are already too fat. But since you've already committed to pampering your pets, you might as well try to make the snacks they're vacuuming up healthier and tastier. Blue Hills not only creates new doggie takeout dishes every day, but on Saturdays it hosts an all-you-can-eat buffet for pooches, where the dishes range from buffalo pizza to salmon hot dogs, turkey meatloaf and -- mmm, mmm -- liveroni. Thankfully, they also provide doggie bags. Atta boy!
Flamingo, a converted Congress Park salon, once was devoted exclusively to ladies' locks. These days, it helps look after their tots. This coffeehouse caters to adults by providing the usual coffee drinks, pastries and occasional live entertainment, but it also offers a play area for toddlers and after-school snacks suitable for older kids. People reluctant to give up those long, relaxing hours in the coffeehouse just because they've become parents should flock to Flamingo.
It's unlikely that any restaurant will ever top Adega when it comes to the size, depth and complexity of its wine list. That is, it's unlikely until someone else builds a restaurant around a wine room the way Adega did, until some other enterprising gang of booze-hounds assembles a store of 800 labels and thousands of bottles the way Adega's owners did, and until some other house arranges a menu so carefully tailored toward pairing. In the meantime, we have Adega, and -- lucky us -- it is both the best-stocked and least-intimidating wine board around. With a sommelier on the floor and a staff of native guides, you never have to wonder what to drink with dinner. Red or white, champagne or port, from the dizzyingly expensive to the sublimely affordable, no matter what your taste, Adega has a grape to feed your need.


True, true, dogs these days are already too fat. But since you've already committed to pampering your pets, you might as well try to make the snacks they're vacuuming up healthier and tastier. Blue Hills not only creates new doggie takeout dishes every day, but on Saturdays it hosts an all-you-can-eat buffet for pooches, where the dishes range from buffalo pizza to salmon hot dogs, turkey meatloaf and -- mmm, mmm -- liveroni. Thankfully, they also provide doggie bags. Atta boy!
What is it they say? That good things come in small packages? We wonder how sick chef/owner Sean Kelly must be of hearing that. Still, it was never so true as it is at Kelly's Clair de Lune, where everything -- from the menu to the dining room to the kitchen to the wine list -- is small, controlled and perfect. The wine bottles find a home in the racks beside the bar and in cubby holes along the walls in the dining room, and are carefully chosen to pair up wonderfully with whatever is on the menu that night. Crisp whites, strong, dark Bordeaux and Chimay -- the champagne of beers -- are the highlights of Clair's stock, and if you ever need help in choosing what will go best with what, just ask. The benefit of a short list is that the staff becomes intimately acquainted with every bottle. And at Clair de Lune, help is never far away.
In Denver, Mel and Jane Master are known for a lot of things. Their flagship restaurant, Mel's, is one of the most consistently excellent eateries in town, with a staff of top-notch professionals and a menu that's high-end and comforting at the same time. Outside of Denver, though, they're probably best known for the name they've made for themselves in the wine business. Lucky for us, Mel's gets to act as a focal point for all that grape expertise, and the restaurant's list -- which features primarily French vintages -- maintains a nice depth and breadth without pricing out the casual drinker or becoming too fussy. But what truly sets Mel's apart from the dozens of other good lists and good houses is the way the wine is neither elevated above nor subsumed by the food. The two menus strike a perfect balance, complementing each other equally and proving that the best companion you can ever have for a fine dinner is an equally fine bottle of wine.


It's unlikely that any restaurant will ever top Adega when it comes to the size, depth and complexity of its wine list. That is, it's unlikely until someone else builds a restaurant around a wine room the way Adega did, until some other enterprising gang of booze-hounds assembles a store of 800 labels and thousands of bottles the way Adega's owners did, and until some other house arranges a menu so carefully tailored toward pairing. In the meantime, we have Adega, and -- lucky us -- it is both the best-stocked and least-intimidating wine board around. With a sommelier on the floor and a staff of native guides, you never have to wonder what to drink with dinner. Red or white, champagne or port, from the dizzyingly expensive to the sublimely affordable, no matter what your taste, Adega has a grape to feed your need.

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