Z Cuisine and A Cote Bar a Absinthe
Over the past twelve months, many great restaurants have opened in Denver. But Z Cuisine is the best. In addition to its intimate room, amazing food, wonderful service and obsessively dedicated chef, Patrick Dupays, it has a special je ne sais quoi -- that indescribable, warm and electric vibe of a house working at its absolute peak. Every dinner here is a celebration of life and love and food and good company, every night a party. For bringing to Denver this joie de vivre, this endless revel and non-stop culinary bacchanal, Z Cuisine deserves to be named best new restaurant of the year.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Steve Ell's little-burrito-chain-that-could has come a long way in the dozen years since it opened its first outlet at 1644 West Evans Avenue -- all the way to Wall Street, where it raised $45 million on its first day of public trading this year. En route, Ells entered into a partnership with (read: sale to) McDonald's, making Chipotle another chain restaurant in a world that's already more or less owned by chains. But in this case, bigger is better: How else are the good people of Minnesota, Georgia or New Hampshire going to learn what a great burrito is supposed to taste like? Better Chipotle than Taco Bell. Better Chipotle than McDonald's, even. For that matter, better Chipotle than 99 percent of the mom-and-pop stores rolling burritos here in Denver, Colorado.

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