Buenos Aires Pizzeria
The best Cuban sandwich in town -- a miracle of pork, pork and pork, Swiss cheese, sharp mustard and pickles on lardy grilled and pressed bread -- just happens to be made at Buenos Aires Pizzeria, an Argentine joint best known for its pizza, empanadas and gnocchi. Weird? Maybe in any other city, but in Denver, it's just another example of the small culinary miracles you can discover when willing to go the distance to find something done right.
Cowbobas moved to 940 South Federal Boulevard in early 2016.
Corn dogs, gravy fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, T-bone steaks and boba tea. Of all the freaky fusions created by Denver's odd patchwork of ethnic neighborhoods, Cowbobas -- a Vietnamese cowboy steakhouse built, stocked and staffed without a hint of retro irony -- may feature the best. You can feel the Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese and American cultures rubbing up against each other every time you sit down here, order a steak -- choice, the preferred grade of backyard grillers everywhere, tasting of blood and gristle and char -- and baked potato and salad with a side of fries, then get your vacuum-sealed plastic cup of iced Vietnamese coffee with a Day-Glo panda on it. Amenities are limited to your choice of sauces and smiles from the waitresses, but no one who claims to truly love and understand Denver could possibly resist the charms of Cowbobas.
P.B. Loco speaks directly to those soft and gushy, sacked-out-in-front-of-the-TV-watching-Transformers memories of a particularly peanut-butter-obsessed slice of the Denver dining demographic. If you don't like peanut butter...no, if you don't love peanut butter, don't come here, because peanut butter is all this place serves, in myriad varieties, in sandwiches that run from the common (chunky peanut butter and marshmallow) to the completely fucking bizarre (curried peanut butter with pickles, coconut and potato chips) and cover every inch in between. The Elvis tribute of peanut butter, honey and bananas sprinkled with bacon bits on grilled white bread with a side of animal crackers could be the most deliciously decadent taste of anyone's childhood, ever.

Best Taste of Someone Else's Childhood

Steuben's

Steuben's Uptown
Cassandra Kotnik
Steuben's, brought to us this past year by the same people who brought us Vesta Dipping Grill ten years ago, opened huge with a full board of American classics from around the country. Over the following months, it only got huger -- and today it shows no signs of slowing down. But Steuben's does have one problem: In attempting to re-create all these fiercely regional and beloved tastes of home, it's managed to piss off just about everyone from everywhere, because everyone knows that their hometown favorite hot dog/cheeseburger/barbecue sandwich/what-have-you is the best in the world and can never be copied. Still, as long as you stay away from your home turf, the Steuben's menu serves as a magical gateway to everyone else's memories of such childhood favorites as lobster rolls, spaghetti with meatballs, gravy fries and cupcakes.
The Cherry Cricket
Courtesy of the Cherry Cricket
We love green-chile cheeseburgers. We've eaten a lot of them in this city, and although none has been the green-chile cheeseburger of our dreams -- that exists only at the Owl in New Mexico -- the Cherry Cricket's green chile cheeseburger is darn good. Part of that can be attributed to the atmosphere in which it's served: aggressively anti-Creek. More can be attributed to the fact that the burger comes properly charred, and covered with those hot, sweet chiles. And perhaps most of it can be attributed to the Cricket serving the ultimate liquid sidecar for a green-chile cheeseburger: two bottles of Genny Cream Ale and a Bushmills back.
Bud's Cafe & Bar
Lori Midson
Bud's Bar served the best bar burger last year, and ten years before that. Odds are pretty good that this small, insanely popular, biker-friendly roadhouse will serve the best bar burgers ten years from now, too. For decades, it has served nothing but burgers, and that single-minded focus has paid off with a two-fisted American classic that puts Bud's ahead of all the rest.
Griff's Hamburgers
The exact history of the Griff's Burger Bar chain is somewhat sketchy, but had the fast-food industry gone a little differently, we like to think that Griff's might have been a victor in the drive-thru burger war. We can imagine a time when Griff's -- not Burger King, not McDonald's -- would have come out on top and blanketed the world with its weird, A-frame, car-cult cheeseburgery goodness. Why? Because a Griff's burger kicks the shit out of anything served at Mickey D's. So does a Griff's shake. So do its fries. And its mascot -- some kind of bizarre little midget clown thing -- is definitely better than anything ever dreamed up by the suits on Madison Avenue. But even if Griff's never made the final cut in the real world, Denver still has two of its original outposts. And they're the best.
Old Fashioned Italian Deli
Stephen Cummings
In genetics, it's known that environmental stress breeds both diversity and specialization. Same thing goes for food. And since there's almost no environment in the lower 48 more harsh than that of Buffalo, New York, in the winter, it shouldn't come as any surprise that Buffalo boasts a wide range of regional cuisine (chicken wings, pizza, beef on weck, etc.) and a sense of specialization that makes its particular iterations on American classic foods the best. Witness the Sahlen's hot dogs and Weber mustard served at the Old Fashioned, one of Denver's very few exemplars of authentic Buffalo cuisine. Go ahead and order two dogs -- one with onions and hot sauce, the other with a generous shot of Weber's finest -- and think warm thoughts.
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
Danielle Lirette
We love hot dog carts. Seriously, a couple of dirty-water dogs, something salty out of a foil bag and a cold Coke is often the only thing that carries us through the day. But sometimes even the traditional charms of a street-corner vendor are not enough, and that's when we make the trek to the 16th Street Mall for one of Biker Jim's white veal brats, reindeer sausages or spiced bison dogs. Jim is always happy to talk about his gourmet-game product (when he's not working through a long lunch-rush line, that is), as well as his recent foray into the custom-cheesecake business. Some of Denver's finer restaurants are now serving the cheesecakes; you can get a single slice from one of the coolers behind Jim's cart.
Chicago Style Beef & Dogs
Courtesy Chicago Style Beef and Dogs Facebook
Stepping into Chicago the restaurant is like stepping into Chicago the city, thanks to decor dominated by case after case of colorful memorabilia devoted to the Bears, White Sox, Black Hawks and, yes, even the Cubs. Indeed, placards on the tables list significant events that have taken place since 1908 -- when the Cubs last won the World Series -- including the invention of television, which has allowed the team's fans to watch their beloved Cubs lose from the comfort of their own homes. But it's worth venturing out to taste Chicago's tasty ballpark fare, which is more than a match for the ambience. Those who dare to order a hot dog not served Chicago style should expect a side of good-natured attitude at no additional charge. To paraphrase Sean Connery in The Untouchables, that's the Chicago way.

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