Now safely past the one-year mark, Kabul Kabob still serves the best, cheapest, most amazing Afghan cuisine imaginable. Everything about this slightly ramshackle little neighborhood eatery is wonderful. A party of four can easily get a table any night of the week. The servers are brutally honest about what's good and what's not so good in the kitchen. And most of it is very good indeed: The kitchen turns an expert hand to dishes like bulanee kachalu and mantua dumplings filled with ground beef and onions. And your party of four can sample nearly everything on the menu and still get out for less than fifty bucks.


Jerusalem Restaurant
Danielle Lirette
Now safely past the one-year mark, Kabul Kabob still serves the best, cheapest, most amazing Afghan cuisine imaginable. Everything about this slightly ramshackle little neighborhood eatery is wonderful. A party of four can easily get a table any night of the week. The servers are brutally honest about what's good and what's not so good in the kitchen. And most of it is very good indeed: The kitchen turns an expert hand to dishes like bulanee kachalu and mantua dumplings filled with ground beef and onions. And your party of four can sample nearly everything on the menu and still get out for less than fifty bucks.

Okay, the Bugling Bull is not so much a restaurant as a gas station and general store offering canned goods, cold Cokes, fly kits, bug spray, ammunition, hunters' cammies, radiator fluid and other esoteric sundries of a classic back-road pull-through. And, no, it doesn't have all those conveniences that most restaurants do -- things like tables, a cash register and menus. But every once in a while, when the weather is right and the fellas are feeling frisky, they pull out the box smoker and the big, backyard barbecue grills and spend the day turning out the best ribs, baby backs, burgers and brats any man could ever hope to find while driving around completely lost in the middle of nowhere.

Okay, the Bugling Bull is not so much a restaurant as a gas station and general store offering canned goods, cold Cokes, fly kits, bug spray, ammunition, hunters' cammies, radiator fluid and other esoteric sundries of a classic back-road pull-through. And, no, it doesn't have all those conveniences that most restaurants do -- things like tables, a cash register and menus. But every once in a while, when the weather is right and the fellas are feeling frisky, they pull out the box smoker and the big, backyard barbecue grills and spend the day turning out the best ribs, baby backs, burgers and brats any man could ever hope to find while driving around completely lost in the middle of nowhere.

Best Way to Piss Off the Dishwasher

Elway's

For a serious steakhouse, Elway's has a goofy streak a mile wide running through it. Milk and cookies for dessert, shrimp cocktail mounted over smoking dry ice and, for a real hit of comfort-food nostalgia, do-it-yourself s'mores. This plate is served as a warmed bowl of homemade, melted chocolate ganache, a half-dozen marshmallows, some graham crackers, a long fork and one of those Sterno-fired mini-grills that we've only seen used before as the centerpiece of Chinese-restaurant pu-pu platters. With just a few ingredients and implements, this dessert can make a mess unparalleled in the Denver white-tablecloth scene. We're talking melted marshmallows stuck to the plates, welded onto the tines of the fondue forks and smeared all over the grill, as well as chocolate on the tablecloth and (more than likely) all over the customers. So, please, keep the poor dishwashers in mind when ordering this dessert -- maybe kick 'em a couple bucks on the tip.


Best Way to Piss Off the Dishwasher

Elway's

Elway's Cherry Creek
For a serious steakhouse, Elway's has a goofy streak a mile wide running through it. Milk and cookies for dessert, shrimp cocktail mounted over smoking dry ice and, for a real hit of comfort-food nostalgia, do-it-yourself s'mores. This plate is served as a warmed bowl of homemade, melted chocolate ganache, a half-dozen marshmallows, some graham crackers, a long fork and one of those Sterno-fired mini-grills that we've only seen used before as the centerpiece of Chinese-restaurant pu-pu platters. With just a few ingredients and implements, this dessert can make a mess unparalleled in the Denver white-tablecloth scene. We're talking melted marshmallows stuck to the plates, welded onto the tines of the fondue forks and smeared all over the grill, as well as chocolate on the tablecloth and (more than likely) all over the customers. So, please, keep the poor dishwashers in mind when ordering this dessert -- maybe kick 'em a couple bucks on the tip.
Mizuna and Luca d'Italia, Frank Bonanno's two (and counting) houses, exist today almost beyond the bounds of classification. They're neither casual eateries nor necessarily fine dining. They're each dedicated to their own style of cuisine -- Italian for Luca, French-Mediterranean for Mizuna -- but neither work from any kind of standardized canon, depending instead on improvisation and reworking classics into modern interpretations. The crews in both restaurants are fiercely talented and incredibly well trained, and they consistently knock out some of the best plates in the city, night after night, week after week. And at the center of all this is Bonanno, who -- after years of working his ass off and paying his dues -- is now coming into his own not just as Denver's best chef, but as an artist, craftsman and businessperson who's known and respected throughout the industry. For years, Bonanno spent every one of his rare vacations cooking stages (short apprenticeships) at some of the best houses in the country; now line dogs and galley kids from some of the best houses in the country are coming to him, asking for a week, two weeks, a month in his kitchen so that they might learn the tricks and techniques that make his restaurants so good. What's more, a lot of these cooks are choosing to stay after their stints are complete, joining Bonanno's crew permanently or asking him to help them find work at Denver's other top addresses. So for all of this -- for his personal talent behind the burners, his dedication to Denver's ever-struggling scene and his vicious competitive streak, as well as for the way his restaurants have thrived, his reputation traveled, and his crews gone from merely great to a rarefied sort of brilliant smoothness over the past couple of years -- Bonanno takes the prize.

Mizuna and Luca d'Italia, Frank Bonanno's two (and counting) houses, exist today almost beyond the bounds of classification. They're neither casual eateries nor necessarily fine dining. They're each dedicated to their own style of cuisine -- Italian for Luca, French-Mediterranean for Mizuna -- but neither work from any kind of standardized canon, depending instead on improvisation and reworking classics into modern interpretations. The crews in both restaurants are fiercely talented and incredibly well trained, and they consistently knock out some of the best plates in the city, night after night, week after week. And at the center of all this is Bonanno, who -- after years of working his ass off and paying his dues -- is now coming into his own not just as Denver's best chef, but as an artist, craftsman and businessperson who's known and respected throughout the industry. For years, Bonanno spent every one of his rare vacations cooking stages (short apprenticeships) at some of the best houses in the country; now line dogs and galley kids from some of the best houses in the country are coming to him, asking for a week, two weeks, a month in his kitchen so that they might learn the tricks and techniques that make his restaurants so good. What's more, a lot of these cooks are choosing to stay after their stints are complete, joining Bonanno's crew permanently or asking him to help them find work at Denver's other top addresses. So for all of this -- for his personal talent behind the burners, his dedication to Denver's ever-struggling scene and his vicious competitive streak, as well as for the way his restaurants have thrived, his reputation traveled, and his crews gone from merely great to a rarefied sort of brilliant smoothness over the past couple of years -- Bonanno takes the prize.

Table 6's crew has taken everything that the city and the entire country (thanks to a nod from John Mariani in Esquire's list of the best new restaurants of 2004) could throw at them, and they're still on their feet, still cooking, still doing the job. Under the direction of chef Aaron Whitcomb, Table 6 has remained vital, relevant and, more to the point, packed since the day it opened, with crowds and a nationwide buzz. And while this crew has struggled -- falling occasionally from the peak of its talents, simply worn down by the never-ending grind of full houses night after night after night -- it's never been put down for the count. "Doing the job" is sometimes the best compliment that can be given to a kitchen operating under stress, meaning everyone there is still slugging it out, still giving every plate their whole heart and full attention. And that's what Table 6 has done this year. Under pressure that would have made a lesser team crumble and flake, these guys are still in there, still turning out some of the best food the city has to offer.


Table 6
Cassandra Kotnik
Table 6's crew has taken everything that the city and the entire country (thanks to a nod from John Mariani in Esquire's list of the best new restaurants of 2004) could throw at them, and they're still on their feet, still cooking, still doing the job. Under the direction of chef Aaron Whitcomb, Table 6 has remained vital, relevant and, more to the point, packed since the day it opened, with crowds and a nationwide buzz. And while this crew has struggled -- falling occasionally from the peak of its talents, simply worn down by the never-ending grind of full houses night after night after night -- it's never been put down for the count. "Doing the job" is sometimes the best compliment that can be given to a kitchen operating under stress, meaning everyone there is still slugging it out, still giving every plate their whole heart and full attention. And that's what Table 6 has done this year. Under pressure that would have made a lesser team crumble and flake, these guys are still in there, still turning out some of the best food the city has to offer.

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