Mac-and-cheese may be the best survivor of the comfort-food trend that swept the food world a few years ago, then mercifully departed. And we'd like to keep Mizuna's mac-and-cheese around for a long, long time. Butter-soft lobster-claw meat, perfectly poached, comes mounted on pasta robed in smooth mascarpone cheese that's about as far from out-of-the-box-Kraft as you can get. Baby, it doesn't get any better than this.

Mizuna
Joni Schrantz
Mac-and-cheese may be the best survivor of the comfort-food trend that swept the food world a few years ago, then mercifully departed. And we'd like to keep Mizuna's mac-and-cheese around for a long, long time. Butter-soft lobster-claw meat, perfectly poached, comes mounted on pasta robed in smooth mascarpone cheese that's about as far from out-of-the-box-Kraft as you can get. Baby, it doesn't get any better than this.

The crab cakes at Go Fish Grille are big enough to be a meal. A very delicious meal. They come to the table straight out of the pan, decadently stuffed with quality back-fin crabmeat that's been left in fat chunks rather than overworked into shreds, mixed lightly with breadcrumbs and not at all with bell peppers or onions or celery (heaven forbid), so the taste of good crab is all you get in every bite. Unless, of course, you order the cakes with one of the dozen-plus sauces listed on the menu, which offer crab fanatics the chance to try a different flavor every night until they've exhausted all pairing options and have to start over.


The crab cakes at Go Fish Grille are big enough to be a meal. A very delicious meal. They come to the table straight out of the pan, decadently stuffed with quality back-fin crabmeat that's been left in fat chunks rather than overworked into shreds, mixed lightly with breadcrumbs and not at all with bell peppers or onions or celery (heaven forbid), so the taste of good crab is all you get in every bite. Unless, of course, you order the cakes with one of the dozen-plus sauces listed on the menu, which offer crab fanatics the chance to try a different flavor every night until they've exhausted all pairing options and have to start over.

In its grasping quest toward food-town respectability, Denver is now home to several restaurants that have gone so far above and beyond the call, they're not just the best of their category here, but can compete with restaurants across the country. Exhibit A: Sushi Den. There's no other sushi restaurant in the Mile High City -- and very few in the continental 48 -- that can match a place that gets orders flown in daily from the fish markets of Japan, serving slices and hand rolls of fish that, in some cases, were swimming less than 24 hours before they arrived in Denver. Thanks to these deliveries, Sushi Den runs daily sets of specials featuring unusual critters (needlefish, baby tuna) rarely seen on other sushi menus, and even the plainest rolls are made from superior ingredients and by sushi chefs who've learned well the lesson that the chef is merely a mode of transport between coolers and customer. This is a kitchen operating without ego -- which is amazing, because if anyone has bragging rights to its product, it's Sushi Den.


Sushi Den
Sushi Den
In its grasping quest toward food-town respectability, Denver is now home to several restaurants that have gone so far above and beyond the call, they're not just the best of their category here, but can compete with restaurants across the country. Exhibit A: Sushi Den. There's no other sushi restaurant in the Mile High City -- and very few in the continental 48 -- that can match a place that gets orders flown in daily from the fish markets of Japan, serving slices and hand rolls of fish that, in some cases, were swimming less than 24 hours before they arrived in Denver. Thanks to these deliveries, Sushi Den runs daily sets of specials featuring unusual critters (needlefish, baby tuna) rarely seen on other sushi menus, and even the plainest rolls are made from superior ingredients and by sushi chefs who've learned well the lesson that the chef is merely a mode of transport between coolers and customer. This is a kitchen operating without ego -- which is amazing, because if anyone has bragging rights to its product, it's Sushi Den.

Best o-toro in town, best sea urchin in town, best sushi bar in town, hands down. Sushi Tazu is the semi-subterranean sushi bar where everyone knows your name. If they were ever to make a Japanese version of Cheers, it would be set in a place like Tazu, staffed by a crew like the one that works behind the curving bar here, and filmed live before a studio audience of the sort of dedicated fish freaks who frequent Tazu. This is a sushi bar where you can get to know the guy rolling your fish -- and sometimes even have a short conversation before the chef has to run off and wrap up an order of three dozen tekka maki for a bunch of half-drunk Creekers down the way. Unlike bartenders, these sushi chefs aren't interested in helping you solve your personal problems or discussing last night's box scores, but if you want to talk about the freshness of the ama ebi or the color of your uni, they're all ears.


Best o-toro in town, best sea urchin in town, best sushi bar in town, hands down. Sushi Tazu is the semi-subterranean sushi bar where everyone knows your name. If they were ever to make a Japanese version of Cheers, it would be set in a place like Tazu, staffed by a crew like the one that works behind the curving bar here, and filmed live before a studio audience of the sort of dedicated fish freaks who frequent Tazu. This is a sushi bar where you can get to know the guy rolling your fish -- and sometimes even have a short conversation before the chef has to run off and wrap up an order of three dozen tekka maki for a bunch of half-drunk Creekers down the way. Unlike bartenders, these sushi chefs aren't interested in helping you solve your personal problems or discussing last night's box scores, but if you want to talk about the freshness of the ama ebi or the color of your uni, they're all ears.

At last count, Denver had something on the order of 17 billion sushi bars, with a new one opening every 45 seconds. There are strip malls that boast three sushi bars within a hundred paces, and in the 'burbs, a man can't chuck a side of bonito without it going straight through the window of a sushi bar that's opening -- or a sushi bar that's closing to make way for another sushi bar. But unlike the profusion of Starbucks or Wal-Marts out in the hinterlands, the sushi-bar explosion is a positive thing. Particularly if you live in Aurora, near Kassai Sushi. At this pleasant spot, there's always room for another body at the bar, always something interesting on the menu. And if the sushi chefs aren't exactly talkative, they're quick -- able to knock out an order of tuna hand rolls faster than you can say "Tekka maki and a bowl of miso, please." The buck-a-roll sushi happy hour is a killer deal, and the house even delivers. See? The suburbs aren't entirely uncivilized.


At last count, Denver had something on the order of 17 billion sushi bars, with a new one opening every 45 seconds. There are strip malls that boast three sushi bars within a hundred paces, and in the 'burbs, a man can't chuck a side of bonito without it going straight through the window of a sushi bar that's opening -- or a sushi bar that's closing to make way for another sushi bar. But unlike the profusion of Starbucks or Wal-Marts out in the hinterlands, the sushi-bar explosion is a positive thing. Particularly if you live in Aurora, near Kassai Sushi. At this pleasant spot, there's always room for another body at the bar, always something interesting on the menu. And if the sushi chefs aren't exactly talkative, they're quick -- able to knock out an order of tuna hand rolls faster than you can say "Tekka maki and a bowl of miso, please." The buck-a-roll sushi happy hour is a killer deal, and the house even delivers. See? The suburbs aren't entirely uncivilized.

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