Bourbon Grill
Mark Antonation
Ah, the yin and yang, the sweet and sour of Colfax, Denver's most diverse and delicious street. At Bourbon Grill, you'll find everyone from hipsters to hookers, yuppies to immigrants, cops to East High students all congregating outside the little storefront to quench their common thirst with a big Styrofoam cup of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
City, O' City
Hunter Stevens
When City, O' City opened in the former home of WaterCourse, it quickly became the talk of the town because it reminded everyone of that one really great coffeehouse/bar in Williamsburg...or was it in the Mission? No, Amsterdam! It's easy to see why a space where espresso drinkers can mingle with port sippers and pint guzzlers might make you think of an establishment very far away from Denver. But that's only if you saddle our city with an inferiority complex. In fact, this "down-tempo coffeehouse and bar" fits right into its home on 13th Avenue, a latte's throw from the new wing of the Denver Art Museum. And in keeping with its cool setting and ambience, owner Dan Landes (who also owns WaterCourse, now relocated to 17th Avenue) has introduced a menu of veggie pizzas as well as performances by indie musicians and DJs. No coffeehouse is better geared to this city than City O' City.
Paris on the Platte Cafe & Bar
Cassandra Kotnik
Paris on the Platte has long been one of Denver's finest jolt joints -- and now it's among the few that can legally allow cigarettes, too, due to the Platte's designation as a tobacconist. As a result, Paris is a sturdy, smoky spot for the laptop set, with a menu full of caffeinated creations that make your eyes bug into the wee hours. For those who'd rather not ride out an all-night espresso buzz, there's the Paris Wine Bar right next door. Appealing and sophisticated, with a chill-out vibe and an unpretentious list of reasonably priced wines from around the world, Paris Wine Bar soothes the jitters as well as the soul -- and counteracts all the hyperactive hooey next door.
This is a town teeming with baristas: tattooed, spike-haired baristas; convenience-store baristas; baristas entombed in drive-up booths; smarmy Starbucks baristas; barely breathing baristas. But once in a while you come across someone who just understands the art of making espresso, and Doug Naiman has clearly bean there and done that. He patiently extracts his wicked brew from this Beauvallon bistro's sleek, shiny espresso machine (a fine, functional unit that's all work and no play) and doesn't hesitate to start over when the results are less than perfect.
Falling Rock Tap House could be the best beer joint not just in Denver, but in the entire beer-drinking world. Every fall, folks in town for the Great American Beer Festival make a pilgrimage to this LoDo institution to partake of a few of the more than seventy beers on tap -- all craft brewed, "no contract brews or megaswill." And countless more varieties are available by the bottle, from the most obvious Colorado choices to the most obscure Austrian offerings. With expansive kitchen hours and effusive employees, Falling Rock is a great joint to fall into.
Great Divide Brewing Co.
Eric Gruneisen
Great minds drink alike: That's the slogan of the Great Divide Brewing Company. We'll tap into that sentiment -- and there's no better place to do so than in the Great Divide Tap Room, a cool new space carved into the Ballpark neighborhood brewery. Sitting and swilling in this cozy, clubby nook, you can sample from the eight taps dispensing Great Divide's award-winning craft beers while watching those beers being produced in the brewery itself. Bottoms up.
Stranahan's Colorado Distillery
We've been waiting a long time to toast Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. But creating a brand-new whiskey takes time, and it wasn't until last spring that the very first barrel of Stranahan's was tapped at this micro-distillery in the Ballpark neighborhood. That initial taste was well worth the two-year wait, though. Stranahan's is smooth sipping whiskey that tastes as golden as it looks. And it's almost as rare as gold. Stranahan's is sold only in Colorado, and since just three barrels are produced per week, your best bet for finding it is at the distillery itself.
Wynkoop Brewing Company
Wynkoop Brewing
When the Wynkoop Brewing Co. opened almost twenty years ago in LoDo, there was no Coors Field, no sports bar every few steps, no brewpub every few steps past that. The Wynkoop was a pioneer not just in the microbrew industry, but also in this neighborhood, and for too many years, it's been taken for granted. But no more. Lately we've found ourselves heading to the Wynkoop on all sorts of occasions: when we needed a night out of the house, a place to watch the game, a spot to hold a last-minute business meeting, or just a bar stool where we could kick back with a couple pints of serious home brew. With recent improvements in service and an overhaul of the kitchen's down-to-earth menu of American classics (shepherd's pie, burgers, steaks, vegetarian green chile, even nachos), the Wynkoop once again rises to the top -- which is probably where it belonged all along.
A longtime resident of Highland, former Wynkoop brewer Kyle Carstens thought the area was perfect for a brewpub -- but it took him years to finally get his North Star brewpub up and running. Still, there's no denying that this place was worth the wait. Not surprisingly, the home brews are great -- but the ambience of the cozy, spring-green-painted spot is also unbeatable. Order up some tater tots, grab a fresh pint of the Pic's Pale Ale, and toast North Star's very bright future.
Palace Arms
The Brown Palace
The regular wine list offered to diners at the Palace Arms is as dense and heavy as a Leon Uris novel, containing both the house's most easily moved everyday bottles and a selection of the treasures kept buried in the basement. The full list is more like the Bible, written in large print on heavy-bond paper. For serious oenophiles only, it's a daunting tome that contains within its pages the very best of the vintner's craft and hints of the formidable cellar below filled with once-in-a-lifetime bottles. But even beyond depth and price, the Palace Arms has a real asset in staffers who aren't shy about sharing knowledge and are admirable in their restraint, allowing each table to define its own interest and then moving on from there. So can you get a thousand-dollar bottle of Chteau de Blah Blah here? Absolutely. But you can also get a forty-dollar bottle of something young and Spanish and walk away just as pleased (and drunk).

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