Best French Toast -- Freedom Toast Division

Dozens

Dozens
There's a fine distinction between the classic egg-batter-and-French-bread breakfast most people think of as French toast, and the slices of pure American ingenuity dished up at Dozens. The Aurora eatery (which also does some lunches, but only until 3 p.m.) has a way with eggs, with hash, with everything a man could need to get up and going in the morning. But what this kitchen does with true distinction is French toast -- cranking up the calories and pumping up the pleasure by slathering a couple of thick slices of battered and grilled bread with raspberry cream cheese, then serving the whole thing with a good-sized portion of fresh fruit. Only trouble is, our favorite part of French toast is the syrup. And after all this, doesn't syrup seem like overkill?
More deals per square inch are made in this place than anywhere else in the city. One reason, of course, is that the Capital Grille is so crowded. Amid the dark wood, red leather, polished mirrors and trophy heads, business is taken care of, futures are made and broken, and -- through it all -- a fantastic lunch is served. The Grille specializes in steaks, but the menu is also full of classic steakhouse extras. There are burgers, including one made of lobster and crab; half-chickens roasted on the bone; great mashed potatoes; shrimp cocktails; and the best lobster bisque in the city, all doled out by a staff of waitresses, managers and floormen who are second to none. If you consider yourself one of the city's power elite, you'd better put a few Grille lunches in your Blackberry, because that's where business is getting done these days. And if you don't, you might want to spend your next lunch hour polishing up that resumé.


Diamond Cabaret & Steakhouse
Talk about bang for your buck! These days, five dollars won't go far in most places. But most places aren't the Diamond Cabaret, where lusty lunchers can dive into a lavish, all-you-can-eat buffet for only $4.95. And the scenery is free! While lovely ladies prowl the stage -- albeit a tad less enthusiastically than during the evening hours -- diners down heaping plates of smoked turkey or juicy prime rib, with a salad and maybe a cup of tomato-basil soup on the side, as well as cake and cookies. Offered Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., this steal of a deal attracts a lot of testosterone-rich men, who use their leftover lunch money to "tip" the friendly staff. But be prepared for a shock when you leave: In this deliciously dark den, you can forget that it's only mid-afternoon and your cubicle awaits.
When you want to meat and greet, you go to the Palm. When you want to get down to serious business, you go to Morton's of Chicago. From the moment you step through the barely marked door on Wynkoop Street into this intimate, almost cave-like steakhouse, you feel as though you're in the most important, secret club in the world -- one where the service is white-linen elegant yet chummy; the conversations are hushed, perhaps in homage to the amounts of money being discussed; and the deals are as big as the 48-ounce porterhouse -- and just as bloody rare. From the martinis huge enough to quench the most powerful thirst, to the still-squirming lobster that just went by on the morgue-like cart that displays your eating options, to the late-night liqueurs brought out for special customers, dinner at Morton's is a very big deal.


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.
More deals per square inch are made in this place than anywhere else in the city. One reason, of course, is that the Capital Grille is so crowded. Amid the dark wood, red leather, polished mirrors and trophy heads, business is taken care of, futures are made and broken, and -- through it all -- a fantastic lunch is served. The Grille specializes in steaks, but the menu is also full of classic steakhouse extras. There are burgers, including one made of lobster and crab; half-chickens roasted on the bone; great mashed potatoes; shrimp cocktails; and the best lobster bisque in the city, all doled out by a staff of waitresses, managers and floormen who are second to none. If you consider yourself one of the city's power elite, you'd better put a few Grille lunches in your Blackberry, because that's where business is getting done these days. And if you don't, you might want to spend your next lunch hour polishing up that resumé.

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.
Morton's the Steakhouse
Courtesy of Morton's
When you want to meat and greet, you go to the Palm. When you want to get down to serious business, you go to Morton's of Chicago. From the moment you step through the barely marked door on Wynkoop Street into this intimate, almost cave-like steakhouse, you feel as though you're in the most important, secret club in the world -- one where the service is white-linen elegant yet chummy; the conversations are hushed, perhaps in homage to the amounts of money being discussed; and the deals are as big as the 48-ounce porterhouse -- and just as bloody rare. From the martinis huge enough to quench the most powerful thirst, to the still-squirming lobster that just went by on the morgue-like cart that displays your eating options, to the late-night liqueurs brought out for special customers, dinner at Morton's is a very big deal.
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.

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