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.
Club 404 is unique to the Denver dining scene, an irreplaceable landmark in a city that doesn't have many left. There are regulars who've been coming here since Nixon was in office, and one owner, Jerry Feld, who's had the 404 since the Eisenhower administration. There are twinkle lights behind the bar, as well as an albino frog in the aquarium and souvenirs of fifty years' service pinned up everywhere, like the fetishes of cargo cultists. But what's best about the place is the menu, another relic from a bygone era. At Club 404 you can get a steak -- the 404 T-bone -- for $8.95. It's preceded by a salad in a plastic bowl and dressing in a giant syrup jug, and when your meat arrives, it does so with out-of-the-box mashers on the side topped with gravy from a can. Still, the steak is good -- bloody, tender, meaty but not too thick, a rind of grill-crisped fat running all the way down the edges -- and a meal at 404 is exactly what you'd expect in a joint like this: generous, filling, handled with decades of experience, and cheap. There are steakhouses downtown where it costs twice as much to park as it does for an entire dinner here, and if you're willing to suffer a cut less delicate than the prize T-bone, dinner can be had for five bucks.

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.
First clue that you're in a good seafood restaurant: no ambulances out front. The second? A menu that changes every day, and sometimes twice a night. At McCormick's, the dozens of varieties of sea critters available each day are grouped like some kind of aquatic U.N., by their nationality or ocean of origin. Everything is beautifully fresh, presented simply and treated with great care by a kitchen now in the competent hands of chef Steve Vice. Great crabcakes, crawfish, lobster and classics like baked salmon and fillet of sole are the mainstays, but if you're looking for adventure, jump in. The water's fine here.
Bastien's Restaurant
Mark Antonation
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.
Denver Wheel Club 404
Club 404 is unique to the Denver dining scene, an irreplaceable landmark in a city that doesn't have many left. There are regulars who've been coming here since Nixon was in office, and one owner, Jerry Feld, who's had the 404 since the Eisenhower administration. There are twinkle lights behind the bar, as well as an albino frog in the aquarium and souvenirs of fifty years' service pinned up everywhere, like the fetishes of cargo cultists. But what's best about the place is the menu, another relic from a bygone era. At Club 404 you can get a steak -- the 404 T-bone -- for $8.95. It's preceded by a salad in a plastic bowl and dressing in a giant syrup jug, and when your meat arrives, it does so with out-of-the-box mashers on the side topped with gravy from a can. Still, the steak is good -- bloody, tender, meaty but not too thick, a rind of grill-crisped fat running all the way down the edges -- and a meal at 404 is exactly what you'd expect in a joint like this: generous, filling, handled with decades of experience, and cheap. There are steakhouses downtown where it costs twice as much to park as it does for an entire dinner here, and if you're willing to suffer a cut less delicate than the prize T-bone, dinner can be had for five bucks.
Okay, we all understand that the only seafood that should be eaten in a steakhouse is that queen of the deep blue sea, the lobster, right? The Capital Grille gives lobster the royal treatment, serving up crustaceans that weigh anywhere from two pounds to the-monster-that-ate-Cleveland size. Bibs are available (and necessary), as are an array of nasty-looking shell-cracking implements, but the best way to get at the sweet meat hiding inside all that armor is a hammer. Too bad this dining room is a little too classy for the mallet-and-cocktail-fork approach.
There are few foods in the world as perfect as the mussel, few foods so filled with potential greatness, few so often mucked up by incompetent kitchens trying to do too much with a thing that's so good when left pretty much alone. Luckily for us, Le Central not only knows how to handle mussels properly, but it offers them in huge portions for under ten bucks, sided with excellent pommes frites in all-you-can-eat quantities. Le Central's kitchen prepares the moules nine ways, including a simple white-wine mariniere; a less simple, Pernod-rich provenal; and the exotic au saffron, with tomatoes, saffron and onions in a cream-and-shallot broth.
First clue that you're in a good seafood restaurant: no ambulances out front. The second? A menu that changes every day, and sometimes twice a night. At McCormick's, the dozens of varieties of sea critters available each day are grouped like some kind of aquatic U.N., by their nationality or ocean of origin. Everything is beautifully fresh, presented simply and treated with great care by a kitchen now in the competent hands of chef Steve Vice. Great crabcakes, crawfish, lobster and classics like baked salmon and fillet of sole are the mainstays, but if you're looking for adventure, jump in. The water's fine here.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of