Buffalo isn't cheap, but if you're a fan of these walking buffets of the plains, then go directly to the Fort Trading Company, an offshoot of the Fort restaurant. Sam Arnold has put together a variety of cuts and packages, providing natural, hormone-free, Colorado-raised and free-range buffalo that you can buy and have shipped back home. Although the site also offers elk steaks, quail and some other game meats, buffalo is the focus. You can get it as filets, strips, burger meat and bratwurst, but the roasts -- while pricey at $150 for five pounds of untrimmed tenderloin -- are probably the best deal if you've got a dozen hungry cowboys to feed.
Luciano's Pizza and Wings
Kris Ferreri grew up in Buffalo, cut his teeth on the two-note cuisine that made Buffalo famous. Chicken wings and pizza, pizza and chicken wings -- that's really all Buffalo has besides the Bills. And now we have the wings and pizza, because Ferreri now runs a joint on Broadway, where he offers Denver an honest taste of the things he knows best. And while the boxy, slightly thicker-than-Brooklyn pies are good, what he does best are the wings -- tender, slathered in just the right kind of sauce when ordered regular, and served to-go in a foil-lined cardboard box that smells like home to anyone who's spent time in the Nickel City.
From top to bottom, the taste of Philly is exactly what Taste of Philly delivers. The little storefront looks like an authentic East Coast operation with its tiny dining room, Eagles pennants and requisite framed pictures of Rocky Balboa. The counter is always crowded, the six tables cluttered with dine-in customers and people waiting for their to-go orders. The cooler right across from the register is packed with cans of birch beer and bottles of black-cherry Wishniak, and there are Tastykakes for sale. So it looks and feels like Philly -- and the food coming out of the cramped kitchen definitely tastes like it. Every sandwich arrives on an Amoroso's roll -- the only kind of roll for a serious kind of sandwich -- and the cheesesteak is the best you'll find outside the City of Brotherly Love.
Pat's Philly Steaks and Subs
Pat's #1 is not the best restaurant in the world. The french fries are terrible, the soda machine is sticky, and the help is only occasionally helpful. But none of that matters, because no one makes a better hoagie than this Pat's. The rolls are fantastic, the ingredients fresh and stacked tall, and we're pretty sure they put heroin in the sandwich oil, because that's the only thing that could explain the wickedly powerful cravings we get for their salami sandwich with nothing more than lettuce, oil, salt, pepper and a slice or two of funky provolone. No matter what kind of cold sandwich you want -- from a simple ham-and-cheese hoagie to a stacked Italian with everything -- it's listed on Pat's long menu, and the hoagie made by the freakishly talented galley crew is bound to be the best you've ever gotten your hands on.
Tables
Mark Manger
Last spring, Amy Vitale left Strings to start Tables, a cozy little spot in Park Hill, with Dustin Barrett. And in the process, the partners moved sandwiches to an entirely new level in this town. Tables' menu recognizes sandwiches for exactly what they should be: transport vehicles for the best ingredients, front-loaded in interesting combinations. So here, a simple turkey sandwich takes on layers of gourmet complexity with the addition of brie and artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes and handmade herb pesto. Ham and cheese gets a boost from sliced pears, watercress and a smear of apricot jam. And as if great sandwiches weren't enough, Tables recently got a liquor license and has now started offering full dinner service.
Buenos Aires Pizzeria
Not surprisingly, Buenos Aires Pizzeria is best known for its South American pizzas and, to a lesser extent, its fantastic spread of empanadas. But this spot also offers the best Cuban sandwich we've found outside of the Cuban neighborhoods of Miami. Thick-sliced ham, good Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on grilled bread -- that's all that constitutes a Cuban. But put together right, the sandwich is so much more, and Buenos Aires does it very right. The bread is larded, pressed and grilled until crisp, melting all the ingredients inside together, and the sandwich is then plated with a side of salty fries that could only be improved if they were served in a twist of wax paper. In Havana.
Big Bill's New York Pizza
Mark Manger
Big Bill's has great pizzas, calzones and chicken parm sandwiches, as well as the requisite New York mementos hung all over the walls to let everyone know that this is the real deal. But what truly gives Bill's an honest feel of New York's blue-collar latitudes are the Drake's Cakes stocked proudly behind the counter. Just as Tastykakes are key to a Philly cheesesteak joint, the Drake's coffee cakes and Yodels give Big Bill's that extra bump of authenticity, making it an indispensable outpost for any ex-pat New Yorkers doing time in the Mile High.
Although New York is renowned for celebrity hot spots and chef-driven ego-bistros, the delis there offer the truest taste of Manhattan. And here in Denver, that taste is best represented by Deli Tech -- an authentically styled New York deli (right down to the etched skyline and brisk service) that offers everything a proper deli should. There are huge stacked sandwiches filled with pastrami and Swiss, excellent corned beef, bagels and lox, borscht, pickles, latkes and rye bread like you can't get anywhere else in town. Much of the meat is imported from the Carnegie Deli, and the chicken soup alone is enough to transport you right back to the Big Apple.
We have the fine state of New Jersey to thank for producing Sean Kelly, for giving him his first kitchen jobs, and for sending him to Denver, where -- after doing apprentice work at some of the city's best houses, then opening and closing a few joints of his own -- he now walks the floor and oversees the kitchen at Somethin' Else. Here, Kelly takes the small-plates concept international, fusing Mediterranean, French, Italian and American influences into a menu of unparalleled excellence. On Tuesdays he cooks whole suckling pigs, on Thursdays the city's best lobster bouillabaisse. In between, there's the regular menu of fried baby artichoke hearts and patatas bravas, mussels in saffron broth, veal albondigas and an amazing golden beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts. The Garden State's loss is definitely our gain.
Little Anita's New Mexican Foods
Scott Lentz
Any Denverite who's ever spent time in the Land of Enchantment will tell you that while the New Mexican outposts of Little Anita's are nothing to write home about, our two locations are an indispensable hedge against homesickness for the regional flavors that make Albuquerque and its environs such a foodie hot spot. The blue-corn enchiladas slathered in green chile and topped with a fried egg are right off the menu at the Range in Bernalillo, the red chile a staple of New Mexican cuisine that's rare here, and the sopapillas among the only ones in town done right. And Little Anita's even recognizes the true meaning of Christmas: a plate done with half red, half green chile, in real New Mexico style.

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