The Corner Office
Cassandra Kotnik
In London, the butchers from Smithfield Market celebrate the finish of a long day with a couple pints of Guinness, some beans and a plate of black pudding. In the swing-shift industrial towns of Northern China, men put away bowls of congee rice porridge and yu za kuei (fried crullers) before trudging off to the factories. Here in Denver? We've got the Corner Office, where, no matter how long or how weird your day has been, you can finish it (or, depending on your proclivities, start it) in true American style: with a shot of whiskey and a bowl of Crunch Berries. Cereal not your thing? The kitchen also does waffles, including blueberry cheesecake with graham cracker-maple syrup and a killer Black Forest variety with cherries and chocolate.
Izakaya Den
Izakaya Den
Funny thing about Izakaya Den: Owner Toshi Kizaki didn't write the menu for you. He didn't write it for the market, for the scene, for any specific demographic. He came up with the concept, the cuisine, many of the specific menu items to satisfy the wants and needs of one person only: Toshi Kizaki. See, Toshi, who also owns Sushi Den across the street, loves Denver, but he'd long felt that the city was missing a spot where people who work late (like him and cooks in general) could get something to eat. So finally, he just built that spot himself. And lucky for us he did. Because if the late-night crowds at the bar and in the dining room at Izakaya are any indication, there are a lot of people in this city who want to eat exactly like Toshi does: in great volume, with weird juxtapositions (Japanese-Mediterranean fusion) of flavors, and to do so long after the traditional dinner hour has come and gone.

Best Late-Night Mexican Restaurant

Tambien

Tambien
Tambien is all about the timing. When Jesse Morreale and Sean Yontz realized that Sketch just wasn't going to make it, they closed it up, fast, and turned the basement space into a darker, more sophisticated version of Mezcal. Today, Tambien is a great spot for after-dark boozing and carrying-on, with an uncomplicated menu full of Mexican comfort foods, a kitchen that works late and a big bar stocked with some of the best south-of-the-border intoxicants ever devised by man.
Mezcal
Danielle Lirette
At Mezcal, the talents of partners Jesse Morreale and Sean Yontz combine to create a great bar, a great neighborhood hangout, a great place to go when you're feeling like behaving badly. From the Mexican-soap-opera-and-lucha-libre theme in the dining room to the wondrous collection of tequilas and mezcals behind the bar, there are many reasons to love the place. Our favorite reason? Dollar tacos from 10 p.m. until close — the perfect way to get up for, come down from or suffer through anything that Friday night brings you. And the buck-fifty PBRs don't hurt, either.
Cherry Crest Seafood Market not only serves the best lobster in Denver, but it also has the best lobster deal in Denver. In season, you can get a full lobster dinner for around twenty bucks — easily half the price of the competition. And Cherry Crest is steaming and cracking Maine lobsters — the best — while some of the other guys are making do with coldwater Aussies, or worse. One word of caution: Come very early and be prepared to wait. Fortunately, the lobster's well worth it.
Smashburger
Yes, Smashburger is a small chain — but we don't expect that to be the case for long, not with such a genius concept and excellent execution. At Smashburger, the Denver-born idea of "fast-casual" dining is applied to the Denver-born idea of the cheeseburger, and the result is a culinary mash-up of a Chipotle-style business model, a sleek, modern diner and a burgers-at-the-bar vibe that makes Smashburger an ideal spot for a fast lunch, an easy dinner or even a moderately late-night snack. (All locations are open until 10 p.m.) As long as all its outlets keep turning out great burgers, this chain should be a smash hit.
Bastien's Restaurant
Mark Antonation
While Denver certainly boasts more than its fair share of upscale steakhouses, there's only one Bastien's — a place where people feeling more Humphrey Bogart than Gordon Gekko have been going for great steaks for decades. With its own kind of strange magic, Bastien's pulls everything — service and food, booze, decor and history — into one seamless, inimitable, only-in-Denver whole. The joint has been serving (in one form or another) since 1937, and it looks as though it hasn't been updated since Hugh Hefner banged his first bunny. From the streetside neon to the indoor twinkle lights, the paisley carpets to the battered martini shakers, Bastien's stands as not just a great steakhouse, but as one of the most honest, revered restaurants in town.
SAME Cafe
Mark Antonation
SAME Cafe owners Brad and Libby Birky have done the impossible. Not only did they open a restaurant with no prices on the menu and no cash register on the premises (just a box into which customers are asked to put a "donation," paying whatever they can or whatever they choose to), but they've managed to keep it open for more than a year. That's an amazing feat, but what's even more amazing about SAME (which stands for So All May Eat) is the food served here: an ever-changing lineup of hot, fresh and mostly organic dishes good enough to grace any downtown cafe, including apple-and-brie pizza, red beans and rice, chickpea salads, fresh fruit tarts and potato-and-bacon soup. Given the philosophy of the place, your karma can decide whether SAME Cafe offers the best free lunch in Denver, or simply the best bang for however many bucks you choose to give.
Tambien
When Jesse Morreale and Sean Yontz decided to duplicate the success they'd had at Mezcal with Tambien, they actually outdid themselves on the margaritas. Although the house recipe is ostensibly the same here as at Mezcal, Tambien puts a little more care — and a slightly larger tequila pour — into these deceptively simple drinks. There's no sweet-and-sour to make your teeth squeak, no tidy-bowl blue coloring, just good 30-30 tequila, a splash of Triple Sec and, most important, real fresh juice, squeezed that day (if not that hour). Tambien, hit us again.
El Tejado's potato tacos
Mark Antonation
El Tejado's potato tacos
El Tejado doesn't just serve some of the town's best, and most varied, Mexican food — fried snapper that you might find in Puerto Vallarta, street-style tacos and a thick, gravy-like green chile that could only be made in Colorado. During Sunday brunch, it serves that food with a side of mariachi music. The good-humored musicians play all the standards and take requests. Fair warning: When the Broncos are playing in town, the band often takes a break.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of