Tapas and other small plates are becoming almost de rigueur, now that the Denver dining scene is catching on to the fact that less is sometimes more. And no one does the small-plate thing quite as well as Sean Kelly's Somethin' Else. Last year, Kelly dumped the fine-dining approach of Clair de Lune in favor of casual small plates, and since the amuses and appetizers were always the best courses at Clair, it's no wonder that Somethin Else's small plates are something special. Kelly and chef de cuisine Seth Black have put a decidedly Mediterranean spin on the original Spanish concept of wine-bar snacking, offering dishes like fried baby artichoke hearts in a thin, cold citric aioli; spicy patatas bravas with a double shot of hot and sweet paprika; and a spread of seafood plates presented so nakedly that every flavor has its chance to shine. These tapas are the tops.

Tapas and other small plates are becoming almost de rigueur, now that the Denver dining scene is catching on to the fact that less is sometimes more. And no one does the small-plate thing quite as well as Sean Kelly's Somethin' Else. Last year, Kelly dumped the fine-dining approach of Clair de Lune in favor of casual small plates, and since the amuses and appetizers were always the best courses at Clair, it's no wonder that Somethin Else's small plates are something special. Kelly and chef de cuisine Seth Black have put a decidedly Mediterranean spin on the original Spanish concept of wine-bar snacking, offering dishes like fried baby artichoke hearts in a thin, cold citric aioli; spicy patatas bravas with a double shot of hot and sweet paprika; and a spread of seafood plates presented so nakedly that every flavor has its chance to shine. These tapas are the tops.


Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse is a tower of power. There are diners who are physically powerful (a herd of Broncos, for example), diners who are financially powerful, and diners who are just powerfully hungry and want a huge whack of 100 percent American Midwestern corn-feed beef. And Del Frisco's has just the right atmosphere for putting all that power into play. It's decked out like some fantasy country club for high-tone power brokers, with its deep leather couches, gleaming wood paneling, stone fireplace and tuxedoed waiters working the floor. Big money moves through the room every night, sometimes colliding in unusual ways, and at the end of the evening, those chasing the green can retire to the lounge for a glass of port and fire up one of the house's thirty brands of premium cigars.

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse is a tower of power. There are diners who are physically powerful (a herd of Broncos, for example), diners who are financially powerful, and diners who are just powerfully hungry and want a huge whack of 100 percent American Midwestern corn-feed beef. And Del Frisco's has just the right atmosphere for putting all that power into play. It's decked out like some fantasy country club for high-tone power brokers, with its deep leather couches, gleaming wood paneling, stone fireplace and tuxedoed waiters working the floor. Big money moves through the room every night, sometimes colliding in unusual ways, and at the end of the evening, those chasing the green can retire to the lounge for a glass of port and fire up one of the house's thirty brands of premium cigars.


Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

The Fort

The Fort Restaurant
Mark Antonation
You know what, Skippy? Mom's not going to be impressed by your souvenir shot-glass collection or that autographed poster of the Coors Twins hanging over your futon. And while Dad might appreciate the engineering involved in turning your roommate's fish tank into a giant six-hitter bong, you know he's not going to like it when you serve him Beefaroni and nachos on paper plates. So if your parental units are coming for a visit and you want to show them how far their progeny has come, just suck it up and make reservations at the Fort. Owner Sam'l P. Arnold has been making his bones (marrow-filled) at this restaurant-cum-attraction of the Old West for forty years. The gorgeous views from the Foothills, the decor (the restaurant sits inside a replica of Bent's Fort) and the food (bison tongue, bull testicles, gunpowder whiskey) provide more than enough diversion to keep the talk from straying too close to uncomfortable topics like how that philosophy degree they paid for still hasn't gotten you out of your job selling popcorn and Goobers to the crowds at the local AMC.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing the Folks

The Fort

You know what, Skippy? Mom's not going to be impressed by your souvenir shot-glass collection or that autographed poster of the Coors Twins hanging over your futon. And while Dad might appreciate the engineering involved in turning your roommate's fish tank into a giant six-hitter bong, you know he's not going to like it when you serve him Beefaroni and nachos on paper plates. So if your parental units are coming for a visit and you want to show them how far their progeny has come, just suck it up and make reservations at the Fort. Owner Sam'l P. Arnold has been making his bones (marrow-filled) at this restaurant-cum-attraction of the Old West for forty years. The gorgeous views from the Foothills, the decor (the restaurant sits inside a replica of Bent's Fort) and the food (bison tongue, bull testicles, gunpowder whiskey) provide more than enough diversion to keep the talk from straying too close to uncomfortable topics like how that philosophy degree they paid for still hasn't gotten you out of your job selling popcorn and Goobers to the crowds at the local AMC.


Hooters
You want to celebrate. You want to break open a bottle of bubbly. But you don't want to bust the bank. Head straight for Hooters, where a skimpily dressed waitress will serve up an order of twenty wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon for a mere $139. That's a steal: A bottle of Dom alone sells for upwards of $160 at most liquor stores. This date may not be the most romantic, but the right person will appreciate its delightful tackiness.

You want to celebrate. You want to break open a bottle of bubbly. But you don't want to bust the bank. Head straight for Hooters, where a skimpily dressed waitress will serve up an order of twenty wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon for a mere $139. That's a steal: A bottle of Dom alone sells for upwards of $160 at most liquor stores. This date may not be the most romantic, but the right person will appreciate its delightful tackiness.


Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

Deluxe

Deluxe
Dating is awkward enough -- you might as well do it in a place that gives you the edge. If you're a fella, what will impress the girl/guy of your dreams? Candles and soft music? Roofies and a prison tattoo? And if you're of the female persuasion, will your date be confused by any place setting more complicated than a paper napkin and a spork? Deluxe answers all those questions. The vibe is cool and sultry without screaming end-of-date sex. The lights are dim, the seating intimate -- but not so cozy that you'll be on each other's laps (unless you choose to be). And the retro-California menu provides enough variety -- from salsa-spiked oysters to filet of beef -- that anyone can find something suited to his or her tastes. Sure, there's a risk that your date might end up liking the restaurant more than your date likes you (and there's also a chance that among all the beautiful people gathered here, your date might find a better prospect while you're hiding in the restroom), but if the relationship is meant to be, there's no better place to get it started than over a plate of fusion dumplings and a couple of glasses of wine at Deluxe.

Best Dinner Destination for Impressing a Date

Deluxe

Dating is awkward enough -- you might as well do it in a place that gives you the edge. If you're a fella, what will impress the girl/guy of your dreams? Candles and soft music? Roofies and a prison tattoo? And if you're of the female persuasion, will your date be confused by any place setting more complicated than a paper napkin and a spork? Deluxe answers all those questions. The vibe is cool and sultry without screaming end-of-date sex. The lights are dim, the seating intimate -- but not so cozy that you'll be on each other's laps (unless you choose to be). And the retro-California menu provides enough variety -- from salsa-spiked oysters to filet of beef -- that anyone can find something suited to his or her tastes. Sure, there's a risk that your date might end up liking the restaurant more than your date likes you (and there's also a chance that among all the beautiful people gathered here, your date might find a better prospect while you're hiding in the restroom), but if the relationship is meant to be, there's no better place to get it started than over a plate of fusion dumplings and a couple of glasses of wine at Deluxe.


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