Larimer Square
How great is it that Denver's best new neighborhood restaurant is also Denver's oldest restaurant neighborhood? Once the center of the city's commercial district, by the '60s all those great Victorian buildings in the 1400 block of Larimer Street had slid down to skid-row status, and only the intervention of Dana Crawford saved them from destruction. Still, for many years, Larimer Square served primarily as a tourist attraction that locals visited only for seasonal events, with restaurants like the Magic Pan feeding the masses. But no more. Today Larimer Square remains a must-stop for visitors to the city -- but it really belongs to those of us who live here, as the heart of Denver's eating and entertainment life. It holds some of the city's best restaurants -- Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Capital Grille -- as well as great bars, happening clubs, cool shops and unbeatable patios, not to mention Ted Turner's buffaloes. In addition to Crawford, we should also thank Jeff Hermanson and Larimer Square Management Corporation for figuring out how to make the city's oldest block its best.

Best New Restaurant (Since March 2004)

Frasca

It seems almost cheap to pass judgment on Frasca, since praising it is like looking over a Monet watercolor, tasting a bottle of 1955 Petrus or listening to Charlie Parker play and saying, "Hey, that's pretty good." Of course Frasca is good. It's so good as to be almost beyond words, having raised the bar to such a height that comparisons with other restaurants are pointless. Frasca exists in a place far removed from the usual definitions of success and failure, even those so nebulous they're generally applied to love and art. The owners, chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, both come from the French Laundry -- Mecca to modern foodies -- and they've imprinted the genius of its chef, Thomas Keller, on everything they do here. The staff is flawless, the service more comforting, more personal and more subtly enveloping than any we've experienced before. The cooks in the kitchen operate at a level of perfection we would have previously thought unapproachable, serving up the cuisine of Friuli, a region in northern Italy. If there's anything at all to complain about, it's that the wait for a prime table at Frasca is now measured in months, not hours. But we're fine eating at the bar, where seating is first come, first served. We'd eat standing up on the sidewalk if we had to. So, yes, Frasca is good. Frasca is without peer. It's not just the best new restaurant of the year, but quite possibly where you'll have the best meal of your life.

Best New Restaurant (Since March 2004)

Frasca

Frasca Food and Wine
Kelly Kaoudis
It seems almost cheap to pass judgment on Frasca, since praising it is like looking over a Monet watercolor, tasting a bottle of 1955 Petrus or listening to Charlie Parker play and saying, "Hey, that's pretty good." Of course Frasca is good. It's so good as to be almost beyond words, having raised the bar to such a height that comparisons with other restaurants are pointless. Frasca exists in a place far removed from the usual definitions of success and failure, even those so nebulous they're generally applied to love and art. The owners, chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, both come from the French Laundry -- Mecca to modern foodies -- and they've imprinted the genius of its chef, Thomas Keller, on everything they do here. The staff is flawless, the service more comforting, more personal and more subtly enveloping than any we've experienced before. The cooks in the kitchen operate at a level of perfection we would have previously thought unapproachable, serving up the cuisine of Friuli, a region in northern Italy. If there's anything at all to complain about, it's that the wait for a prime table at Frasca is now measured in months, not hours. But we're fine eating at the bar, where seating is first come, first served. We'd eat standing up on the sidewalk if we had to. So, yes, Frasca is good. Frasca is without peer. It's not just the best new restaurant of the year, but quite possibly where you'll have the best meal of your life.

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