Griff's Hamburgers
Back in the day, Griff's could have given McDonald's a run for its money. But today is not that day. Now, as you pull off Broadway into a parking lot dwarfed by the I-25 interchange, you see the remains of a chain that coulda been a contender -- one of the last surviving locations of an empire that once covered several states. The board of fare sketched out on Griff's menu is dominated by the classics: burgers, fries and milkshakes, all assembled with care. The oddly named Giant burger consists of one small patty on a soft burger roll with fresh onions, pickles and mustard. It's fine on its own, but order it as part of a Monster Meal, and it's a real deal. For less than five bucks, you get a burger, a bag of greasy, crisp and perfect fries, and a drink -- more than enough to get you where you're headed, even if where you're going is nowhere fast.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

Mel's Restaurant and Bar

What impresses your folks? Big steaks? A good bar? A crowd that arrives for dinner dressed in something better than work boots and an Avs jersey? No matter what you think will make Mom and Pop sit up and take notice, odds are you'll find it at Mel's. From the swank Cherry Creek address to the beautiful space, from the expert staff to the new, elegantly simple menu courtesy of Tyler Wiard, Mel's is all about making every dinner and every diner feel like something special. So whether you're out to brag about your promotion, show off that new engagement ring, celebrate your release from detox or just try to make the parental units forget that you're 32 and still living in their basement, Mel's provides the ideal backdrop.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Client

Adega Restaurant + Wine Bar

"Johnson? Consolidated Widget is looking for someone to promote their new line of shower-curtain rings. Their man will be in town tomorrow, and I don't need to tell you how much we need that contract. Play hardball, boy! Send them a muffin basket!" Or better yet, get on the phone and call for reservations at Adega. Chef Bryan Moscatello has been wowing folks on a national scale for almost two years now by helming one of the top restaurants and wine bars in the country. And while the hype has died down a little locally -- there's no longer a three-month wait for Friday-night reservations -- Adega is still going strong. With artistic and sometimes whimsical New American menus featuring such dishes as venison steak and eggs, pork loin and country-fried rabbit; excellent service; and a beautifully appointed dining room that surrounds the giant, glassed-in wine room from which Adega takes its name, the tables at Adega are always set to impress.

Best Dinner Destination When You've Got No One to Impress

Brewery Bar II

Thirty years after it made its debut on Kalamath Street, Brewery Bar II is now about as close as you can get to honest, unmanufactured perfection in a divey, old-guard neighborhood bar. It's small, cramped and homey, smells alternately wonderful or horrific, depending on how close you end up to the men's room, and the walls are covered with the knickknacks of a collective beer-drunk sports culture. At this hole-in-the-wall, you can expect (and deserve) an earful of abuse from the staff if you try to do something like split a check three ways during overtime in a Broncos game or demand that the kitchen serve your chile on the side. But once you get in the swing of things, Brew II is the perfect spot for an unpretentious lunch or just a few too many drinks with the guys. On those nights when you're after a hot, greasy, cheesy Mexican meal and have no one to impress, Brew II will fill you up right.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

Vesta Dipping Grill

Short of roofies, booze, candles and dim lights are still the best way to kindle the fires of passion. At Vesta Dipping Grill, fire and passion are the primary elements on display. And booze, of course. With its virtually endless combinations of appetizers, entrees and thirty-odd dipping sauces, Vesta's menu is structured for sharing. And the gorgeous space -- all wrought iron, wood and brick, with deep, horseshoe-shaped booths and well-spaced tables illuminated by guttering candlelight -- is made for getting that mojo working. What are you waiting for? The good folks at Vesta are doing all they can to make it easy on you, Romeo, so splash on some cologne, polish up that gold card, and get ready to feel the love.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

Mel's Restaurant and Bar

What impresses your folks? Big steaks? A good bar? A crowd that arrives for dinner dressed in something better than work boots and an Avs jersey? No matter what you think will make Mom and Pop sit up and take notice, odds are you'll find it at Mel's. From the swank Cherry Creek address to the beautiful space, from the expert staff to the new, elegantly simple menu courtesy of Tyler Wiard, Mel's is all about making every dinner and every diner feel like something special. So whether you're out to brag about your promotion, show off that new engagement ring, celebrate your release from detox or just try to make the parental units forget that you're 32 and still living in their basement, Mel's provides the ideal backdrop.

Best Dinner Destination When You've Got No One to Impress

Brewery Bar II

Brewery Bar II
Kenzie Bruce
Thirty years after it made its debut on Kalamath Street, Brewery Bar II is now about as close as you can get to honest, unmanufactured perfection in a divey, old-guard neighborhood bar. It's small, cramped and homey, smells alternately wonderful or horrific, depending on how close you end up to the men's room, and the walls are covered with the knickknacks of a collective beer-drunk sports culture. At this hole-in-the-wall, you can expect (and deserve) an earful of abuse from the staff if you try to do something like split a check three ways during overtime in a Broncos game or demand that the kitchen serve your chile on the side. But once you get in the swing of things, Brew II is the perfect spot for an unpretentious lunch or just a few too many drinks with the guys. On those nights when you're after a hot, greasy, cheesy Mexican meal and have no one to impress, Brew II will fill you up right.
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.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

Vesta Dipping Grill

Vesta
Mark Antonation
Short of roofies, booze, candles and dim lights are still the best way to kindle the fires of passion. At Vesta Dipping Grill, fire and passion are the primary elements on display. And booze, of course. With its virtually endless combinations of appetizers, entrees and thirty-odd dipping sauces, Vesta's menu is structured for sharing. And the gorgeous space -- all wrought iron, wood and brick, with deep, horseshoe-shaped booths and well-spaced tables illuminated by guttering candlelight -- is made for getting that mojo working. What are you waiting for? The good folks at Vesta are doing all they can to make it easy on you, Romeo, so splash on some cologne, polish up that gold card, and get ready to feel the love.

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