BEST USED-CAR OPTION 2006 | Precision Auto Diagnostics | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
You can rely on all the dealership blather about their certified "pre-owned vehicles" -- or you can invest a modest sum in an independent inspection before sinking your insurance settlement into that white-smoking clunker. Precision's Leo Russ has taken on dealers on behalf of extended-warranty companies and now stumps for consumers in person and online at; he's opinionated, intimately familiar with the flaws of various makes and models, and provides on-site service and a detailed report, complete with photos. Option? This guy should be part of the basic package.
Recently moved to a better showroom and expanded to include broker services, the Import Warehouse is an oasis of decent used-car deals amid a desert of hide-burning dealership experiences. The inventory is European (mostly Volvo, Audi and Volkswagen) and no-haggle priced, the staff is low-key and helpful, and here's the best part: One percent of the purchase price is donated to the charity of your choice or one of IW's approved causes, which range from local animal shelters and food banks to breast-cancer research. When was the last time you made out like a bandit while making nice?
The best parking value downtown is the meters lining the west side of the 1400 block of Wynkoop Street. Though they face one of LoDo's spendiest lots, these babies dole out a half-hour per quarter -- for up to five hours. That's right, mathematicians: For a scant fiddy cent, you get a whole hour to booze, shop, eat, whatever. You don't need to be Pythagoras to know that's a good deal.
Nobody believes in biodiesel as the fuel of the future more than north Denverite Lorance Romero, who mixes his own vegetable-oil-based B100 brew under the aegis of the Clearing House collective and Denver BioDiesel. It takes a lot of space to both fill and store barrels of the clean-burning energy source, so Romero is pleased as punch with his brand-new 1,700-square-foot work space, where he hopes to soon run hands-on classes for eco-conscious folks like himself. First up: Diesel 101 for Women and basics courses explaining how diesel engines can run biodiesel without expensive conversions. Way to go!


Upper Larimer St.

Jack Kerouac and friends would surely be surprised to find what the past twelve months have brought to their skid row. Early pioneers such as Architectural Antiques and the Larimer Lounge stood watch over gang turf wars and armed robberies, but now Espo's Gelato Shop & Caf, the Barkway, Checkpoint Racing, Meadowlark, Art & Anthropology and a gaggle of lofts have joined them on this urban frontier. The bums still stagger down the street en masse, lit on forties from the liquor stores that line the strip, but they're usually willing to lend a hand for a kind word and two bucks for a Cobra.


Bluebird District

The latest entry in the pantheon of "new" -- new country, the New West, the New South -- is New Colfax, and its epicenter is the Bluebird District, named for the iconic theater at Colfax and Adams Street. Over the past eighteen months, Cafe Star, Hooked on Colfax, Babooshka salon and ism Gallery have joined such stalwarts as Goosetown Tavern, Collins' Bicycles, Mezcal and Colfax Guitar Shop to create a bustling commercial district where dirt lots and cheap blow jobs once reigned. But not all signs of the old strip are gone: While shopping for flowers or buying a cup of joe, customers still chase off the occasional hooker -- although they've become less obvious and more expensive as they try to fit in with the New Colfax.
Cassandra Kotnik
Colfax Avenue is hot -- hot dog! You may have seen Steve and Linda Ballas before, in their popular, dog-slinging pooch coach at farmers' markets and other outdoor events around town, or at the Corporate Deli, which they used to run downtown. (And here's food for thought: Linda is the daughter of Blinky the Clown.) Now the couple has staked a permanent claim on Colfax at Steve's Snappin' Dogs, a sleek, diner-style enterprise in a renovated gas station. Here you can pick up Steve's trademark all-meat, no-filler Thumann's dogs, shipped in from Jersey, along with a side of chili fries, coleslaw or the unexpectedly yummy, crispy-puffy deep-fried green beans. That's it, in a bun, with mustard.
Like a true traveler, Ivy Morgan's Cargo comes and goes, sometimes packing up in the night and leaving an empty space behind. And now Cargo has returned, this time to a funky South Broadway storefront, but it's selling the same sort of reasonably priced Nepalese, Thai and Indian imports as before, including a great selection of quality incense and those cute, lucky-penis charms that everyone should have stashed in a drawer. Morgan has also brought back her fabulous graphic T-shirts boasting Asian floral designs, geishas and bodhisattvas that go so well with Cargo's brocade jeans, burnout velvet tops and quilted-satin swing coats. Welcome back.
You could write a book on what the Tattered Cover and its principled owner, Joyce Meskis, have meant not just to Denver, but to lovers of literature and free speech everywhere. That book begins in Cherry Creek North, where a pre-Meskis Tattered got its start in a little cubbyhole in 1972. Under Meskis, it kept moving to bigger and better locations -- the biggest and best the old Neusteter's department store on First Avenue, a five-story building that she filled with an astounding inventory of books, incredibly knowledgeable clerks, an ever-rotating array of authors who lectured in the basement, and even a restaurant on top -- the Fourth Story. But Cherry Creek has changed, and the Tattered Cover -- which added locations in LoDo a decade ago and more recently in Highlands Ranch -- is moving on. In June, it will open another store on East Colfax Avenue, in the old Lowenstein Theater that will soon be home to a movie theater and Twist & Shout, too. That will close the book on Cherry Creek, at least for now. You don't know what you've got 'til it's almost gone...
Often the hottest-selling items at Satellite Boardshop weren't the skates and snowboards, but the shoes. So owners Raul Pinto and J.G. Mazzotta opened a second Boulder store devoted entirely to street footwear, particularly special-release shoes by Adidas, Nike, I-Path and Vans. Though the location they chose has been a killing field for a bunch of boutiques over the decades, Installation has emerged an unexpected winner. And it's fitting that the art gallery/shoe store's most recent show was an exhibit by elusive San Francisco graffiti artist Bigfoot.

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