Mercury Cafe
Marilyn Megenity can't stand cars. Most days, she walks to the Mercury Cafe, the restaurant/cafe/community hub she's owned for more than two decades in an assortment of locations, most recently in this comfy two-story building on the edge of downtown. But even this dedicated piéd-ophile has to hit the road now and then. And when Megenity gets motoring, she drives her Peacemobile, a 1982 Mercedes sedan that's fueled by waste, not gas. Megenity uses a fuel hybrid that's processed from reconstituted cooking oil, vegetable products, even fry grease. Painted in bright colors, with banners advertising its eco-friendliness, the Peacemobile is usually parked in front of the restaurant it has come to symbolize. Megenity makes a gas-free life seem easy, practical and worthy of a test drive.
At more raucous dim sum restaurants, you order your meal by shouting and pointing at a favored plate on a passing cart. At Mee Yee Lin -- a bright and busy little dim sum restaurant in the same neighborhood as its more cavernous competitors -- the service works sushi-bar style, with every table getting a paper menu and pencil so that diners can pick precisely what they want and how much of it they'd like. And while that eliminates some of the adventure, it also guarantees that you have no one but yourself to blame if you wind up with chicken feet. Our advice: Concentrate on meats that come from above the ankles, as well as the many variations on buns and dumplings.


L'Atelier
Courtesy L'Atelier Facebook
Radek Cerny -- chef, owner and sole motivating force behind the unbelievable L'Atelier -- never does anything small, never does anything simply. His restaurant is a riot of strangeness and color, and his giant plates would be a joke if it weren't for the fantastic stuff that comes on them. Of particular note are his sweetbreads, which arrive in a classic Cerny potato-starch tuile, floored with whipped Yukon Golds, on a plate done up like a Nagel print from the '80's -- triangles of black and white with doodles of pale green and hot-pink infused oils. The centerpieces of all this artifice are the delicious glands, perfectly cooked, tender and swimming in a dark sugarcane sauce that gives them a well-balanced, high, humming sweetness.
Other people eat this. Just keep telling yourself that other people eat this every day and enjoy it a lot. They must, because otherwise why would fried intestine be on Mee Yee Lin's 75-item-strong dim sum menu? So be brave. Be resolute in your desire to sample the true cuisines of other lands. Now taste. See? It's not as bad as it sounds. Mee Yee Lin's fried intestine is crisp and crunchy and tastes something like pork rinds, something like the meat in menudo. In fact, it tastes exactly like fried intestine. Like how you'd think that something's guts, cooked until crunchy, would taste.
That benchmark of Asian food, that great equalizer of world cuisine, that humblest, most savory of bites. Ladies and gentlemen, we give youŠthe dumpling. In a town chock-full of restaurants churning out thousands of dumplings of every conceivable nationality seven days a week, Little Ollie's is the place that does them best. Plump little pillows, pan-fried, stuffed with a smooth paste of pork, herbs and spices, these dumplings are best when dipped in a side of the warm, gingered soy sauce served with every order. This Cherry Creek landmark has been dishing up Americanized Asian fusion cuisine for years, and the dumplings never fail to please.


At more raucous dim sum restaurants, you order your meal by shouting and pointing at a favored plate on a passing cart. At Mee Yee Lin -- a bright and busy little dim sum restaurant in the same neighborhood as its more cavernous competitors -- the service works sushi-bar style, with every table getting a paper menu and pencil so that diners can pick precisely what they want and how much of it they'd like. And while that eliminates some of the adventure, it also guarantees that you have no one but yourself to blame if you wind up with chicken feet. Our advice: Concentrate on meats that come from above the ankles, as well as the many variations on buns and dumplings.
Really, Parisi makes the best pizza, period. End of contest. It just happens to be on a thin crust. The cooks laboring before the blast-furnace heat of Parisi's stone ovens could put their pizzas together on cardboard, spread sauce and melt cheese over Wonder bread, assemble the ingredients for a Margherita, Rustica or caper-and-anchovy Napoli on top of old Pinto seat covers, and we'd still die for these pies, because at Parisi, what goes on top matters so much more than what's underneath. That's not to say the crust isn't good; it is. But the handmade mozzarella, speck, scamorza, artichoke hearts and prosciutto are what really set these pizzas apart. For their new, expanded location, owners Simone and Christine Parisi have assembled a list of two dozen pies -- enough to satisfy even the most esoteric tastes -- and every one we've tried has been exemplary.
That benchmark of Asian food, that great equalizer of world cuisine, that humblest, most savory of bites. Ladies and gentlemen, we give youŠthe dumpling. In a town chock-full of restaurants churning out thousands of dumplings of every conceivable nationality seven days a week, Little Ollie's is the place that does them best. Plump little pillows, pan-fried, stuffed with a smooth paste of pork, herbs and spices, these dumplings are best when dipped in a side of the warm, gingered soy sauce served with every order. This Cherry Creek landmark has been dishing up Americanized Asian fusion cuisine for years, and the dumplings never fail to please.
Some things never change, and the thick-crust, Sicilian-style deep-dish pizza served up by the Sarlo clan is one of those things. The pizza has been made the same way through three generations of this family, most recently by Anthony Sarlo and his crew at Vita Bella, the Italian eatery they opened

in suburbia two years ago. This pie is assembled from the best ingredients -- fresh spinach, stemmed by hand, astringent black olives, Pecorino romano, fresh mozzarella, garlic, garlic and more garlic -- that are sealed up inside a thick double crust like a true pie, then baked just the right amount in one of Vita Bella's big ovens. If you're thinking of ordering one of these monsters, you'd better be prepared to wait; even under the best of circumstances, they can take upwards of forty minutes to finish. But once you lift out that first slice? It's like Disneyland: You never remember the wait.

Step through the doors of New York Pizzeria and you're stepping into a true New York pizzeria. The smell of hot ovens, sweating dough, sweet tomatoes and charred baking flour is as unmistakable as it is universal, and while the decor isn't much to speak of -- call it Brooklyn street-corner chic, with a black-and-white linoleum floor, a dozen scattered tables and booths, and the ubiquitous New York skyline prints -- we'd like the place less if it were any different. Linen cloths and real table settings have no place in a proper pizzeria; the slices here come on paper plates already going limp from the magic orange grease leaking all over everything. The sauce is mild, the crusts are thin and limber, the ingredients are fresh, and every pie is proof that this kitchen knows every trick, every taste and everything that a kitchen in Denver can about making a New York pie New York right.

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