Much has been done to the poor french fry in the name of progress, and most of it has been bad. But Max Burgerworks has finally managed to come up with an innovation that's a real improvement. The fries, hand-cut and nicely handled by the kitchen's fryer crews, are big, crisp, lightly salted and served in generous portions. They're fine on their own, but on request are served with a side of good, fresh guacamole and salsa. Chips and salsa, chips and guac -- those are good pairings, no doubt. But if there's one fusion novelty that deserves a prize, it's Max Burgerworks' notion of serving french fries and Mexican guacamole together in an American burger joint.
Most people know Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing for its huge-selling Fat Tire, but serious beer nuts love its more ambitious beers. And Trippel is the best of New Belgium's bolder bunch. This honey-hued, bottle-conditioned wonder is brewed with a Belgian yeast, by a Belgian brewer (the revered Peter Bouckaert), and blessed with Saaz hops. Better and more elegant than most of its brewed-in-Belgium counterparts, Trippel delivers a crisp malt profile, hints of herbal bitterness and a deceptive 8.5 percent alcohol by volume.
Sharon Guisinger is the only O.B. (original bartender) left at the High Street Speakeasy, which opened just a year ago, but in our book, she's the best anywhere in town. It's telling that Guisinger -- a registered nurse by day -- is studying to become an emergency-room nurse or Flight for Life EMT, because she's cool under pressure and able to multi-task at warp nine when her bar's packed. (She generally works Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays.) But when the Speakeasy's down to just a handful of customers, Guisinger's truly at her best. She's a naturally feisty conversationalist, as well as an excellent listener -- and both are prime bartender traits. She also mixes a mean drink, especially her own original concoctions. Try the sticky but tasty Astronaut (sorry, secret recipe) or, better yet, her Iced Diva (fresh coffee, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, half and half, Baileys and Kahla).
No. For the last time, the French did not invent the french fry. That was the Belgians. But as with so many things, the French took them, made them better and claimed all the credit. This means two things. One, it must suck to be Belgian, having your one great idea stolen like that. And two, when you're looking for great frites, your search should start and end in the French cafes. In Denver, that search inevitably leads to Le Central, which does pommes frites better than anyone else. The kitchen takes shoestring-cut potatoes, blanches them in oil, holds them, then sends them down again for a proper frying, with the result being hot, crisp frites, crunchy on the outside and soft within. They're the perfect accompaniment to sandwiches (in particular, Le Central's sandwich de lardons -- a bacon sandwich, again co-opted by the sneaky French), are classically paired with strip or hanger cuts of steak for steak frites, and come in an all-you-can-eat portion alongside the huge bowls of mussels that are Le Central's other spécialité de la maison.
Much has been done to the poor french fry in the name of progress, and most of it has been bad. But Max Burgerworks has finally managed to come up with an innovation that's a real improvement. The fries, hand-cut and nicely handled by the kitchen's fryer crews, are big, crisp, lightly salted and served in generous portions. They're fine on their own, but on request are served with a side of good, fresh guacamole and salsa. Chips and salsa, chips and guac -- those are good pairings, no doubt. But if there's one fusion novelty that deserves a prize, it's Max Burgerworks' notion of serving french fries and Mexican guacamole together in an American burger joint.
In terms of food, there are many ways to classify people. Are you a thin-crust-pizza person, or do you prefer thick? Hot meatloaf for dinner or cold meatloaf sandwiches for lunch? With french fries, the choice is between thin-cut or thick. And if you're a thick-cut, skins-on, boardwalk-style french- fry sort, then Santoro's Brick Oven Pizzeria is for you. The kitchen hand-cuts its spuds on the fat side, fries them brown and crisp, almost like home fries, then serves them up in huge, greasy portions, liberally sprinkled with coarse-grain salt for a little taste of the county fair, neighborhood carnivals and summers spent slumming it at Thrasher's on the Ocean City boardwalk.
A hot dog without chili is a pathetic pup indeed. So we went straight to the source: Sam's #3. There's an art to the chili dog that's been lost in most places west of Chicago, but in the kitchen at Sam's #3 on Havana, it's been kept alive, because it's still practiced every day. First you need a good bun. Not some sissy supermarket roll, but a big, solid, hot-dog bun dense enough to hold some weight. Next, you need a good dog, and Sam's uses nothing but the best all-beef wieners for its Coney Island classic. After that, you need chili -- strong, meaty, steam-table chili with a consistency thick enough to glue everything together. Thin chili will only turn the bread to mush; spicy chili will overpower the taste of the split and grilled dog. But at Sam's, the chili is just right -- dense, sloppy and mild, but capable of causing instant, fierce heartburn in those of weak disposition. And finally, the last thing a truly great chili dog needs is a fork -- because if you can pick the thing up and eat it with your hands, it ain't done right. The new Sam's #3 downtown (which occupies the site of the very first Sam's) is trying hard, but if you want a dog with real bite, head to Havana.
Le Central
No. For the last time, the French did not invent the french fry. That was the Belgians. But as with so many things, the French took them, made them better and claimed all the credit. This means two things. One, it must suck to be Belgian, having your one great idea stolen like that. And two, when you're looking for great frites, your search should start and end in the French cafes. In Denver, that search inevitably leads to Le Central, which does pommes frites better than anyone else. The kitchen takes shoestring-cut potatoes, blanches them in oil, holds them, then sends them down again for a proper frying, with the result being hot, crisp frites, crunchy on the outside and soft within. They're the perfect accompaniment to sandwiches (in particular, Le Central's sandwich de lardons -- a bacon sandwich, again co-opted by the sneaky French), are classically paired with strip or hanger cuts of steak for steak frites, and come in an all-you-can-eat portion alongside the huge bowls of mussels that are Le Central's other spécialité de la maison.
Short of chili, the next best thing for putting a cap on that dog is Mady's Olde Tyme Beer Mustard. This thick, spicy beer mustard is the pride and joy of Mady's Specialty Foods, a Highlands Ranch outfit that also does champagne and honey mustards, bread mix and peanut brittle. Made locally, out of nothing but quality ingredients and Killian's Irish Red lager, this mustard is a solid blend of flavors, bittersweet and powerful, textured like French whole-grain and perfect for boiled dogs fresh out of the water.
In terms of food, there are many ways to classify people. Are you a thin-crust-pizza person, or do you prefer thick? Hot meatloaf for dinner or cold meatloaf sandwiches for lunch? With french fries, the choice is between thin-cut or thick. And if you're a thick-cut, skins-on, boardwalk-style french- fry sort, then Santoro's Brick Oven Pizzeria is for you. The kitchen hand-cuts its spuds on the fat side, fries them brown and crisp, almost like home fries, then serves them up in huge, greasy portions, liberally sprinkled with coarse-grain salt for a little taste of the county fair, neighborhood carnivals and summers spent slumming it at Thrasher's on the Ocean City boardwalk.

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