Best Brewpub 2008 | Bull & Bush | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Evan Semón
The Bull & Bush, which is modeled after an old London pub with its low ceilings, dark wood and brass rails, didn't start out as a brewpub. But then, back when the Peterson brothers founded the B&B in 1971, there weren't any brewpubs in Colorado. Instead, it racked up another first when it hooked up to satellite dishes for sports programming, arguably becoming the country's original sports bar. That worked when Glendale was the swinging-singles center of Denver, but as the neighborhood changed, so did the Bull & Bush. The next generation of Petersons put the emphasis back on pub, adding a microbrew operation that turns out a small but impressive lineup of beers. Today the Bull & Bush remains small, friendly and very Cheers-like, a place where everyone may know your name, but they won't spill if you want to keep a low profile. And when the Petersons aren't brewing the stuff, they're likely to be behind the bar, pouring you your next beer.
On Sunday morning, we worship at the church of Lola, which doubles as a coastal Mexican restaurant the rest of the week. Sliding into our pew (make that booth), we give thanks for the basket of homemade breads (occasionally even pseudo-Pop-Tarts!) with which you can start the meal, for a menu that includes not just pancake and egg offerings, but a truly miraculous chicken-fried steak and specials that would tempt even the most religious weight-watchers to stray. And then we wash away a week's worth of sins with offerings from the bar, including mimosas and excellent margs. Lola offers the same brunch fare on Saturdays, but on Sunday there's live music to accompany the afternoon service. Let us pray...and eat.
Having booze with breakfast, or even for breakfast, does not make you an alcoholic, no matter what your mother/significant other/parole officer says. At Dixons, drinks are a respectable way to start a new day. And in case your last day ended badly, Dixons even removes the stigma of hangover abatement by serving up wake-up cocktails in respectable portions. Usually reserved for baby showers, bridal showers and other occasions that scream for liquor but generally deliver it only in small, how-delightful-to-be-drinking-something-other-than-wine-on-my-birthday portions, the mimosa here comes over ice in a pint glass, which not only delivers volume but saves you the embarrassment of trying to look butch while drinking out of something called a flute. And the Cajun Bloody Mary is mixed with enough spice and vodka that you won't be able to remember whether you've had your V8 that day. Rise and (moon)shine!
Unlimited prosecco: eight bucks. Getting smashed before noon on a Sunday morning: priceless. But while the drink-until-you're-done deal during brunch at Kevin Taylor's Prima Ristorante may be enough recommendation for fans of daylight misbehavior, this lovely little restaurant also puts out a killer brunch spread for those who actually want some food with their weekend pick-me-up. From shaved melon and prosciutto salads with mission fig and seafood agnolotti in lobster stock to poached eggs and prosciutto or Tuaca-spiked French toast, Prima's brunch lineup satisfies not just the cheapskate drinker, but the daylight gastronome as well.
Molly Martin
The winner and still the chomp. Bud's Bar in Sedalia has seen a lot of changes over the years, including a new owner, but this classic roadhouse remains dedicated to the noble art of burger-makin'. In fact, for decades it's made nothing but burgers: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, double hamburgers, double cheeseburgers and nothing else. Not even french fries. And given the crowds of bikers, locals and dedicated burger fanatics who line up here, the kitchen crew has had plenty of practice. Service can be brusque, the accommodations minimal and the crowds way beyond capacity on a good day, but there's still no better place to enjoy a burger than Bud's.
Courtesy of the Cherry Cricket
There are great burgers, and then there are great burger bars. And the best of these is the Cherry Cricket. The kitchen not only turns out a mean green-chile cheeseburger, but also offers a plethora of variations for those poor, deluded souls who like to top their patty of grilled cow with something other than a strong hit of green chiles. And the bar itself not only provides appropriate beverages for those devouring the kitchen's best product — appropriate in this case being a bottle of Rochester's Pride or Genesee Cream Ale and a shot of Bushmills Irish whiskey — but also pours just about anything else you could need from a good neighborhood. True, the Cricket experience has changed since the institution of the smoking ban (because the only thing better than a burger, a beer and a shot is a burger, a beer, a shot and a cigarette), but this bar remains Denver's best burger-centric watering hole, and a true treasure in rapidly changing Cherry Creek.
Cassandra Kotnik
Chef Scott Durrah opened this small cafe in the Highland neighborhood just so he could share the Jamaican and Caribbean flavors he loves with Denver. But in the process, he showed us just how refined and just how casual these tastes can be — offering a rough and rustic menu of Caribbean comfort food done with a careful and restrained hand. The place is small, with room for only a few tables and a small patio, but the flavors are big. The smell of his jerk seasoning alone can stretch a block in all directions, luring the curious and the hungry from far and wide.

Best Central/South American Restaurant

Los Cabos II

Over the past couple of years, Central and South American food has become a hot style as young chefs looked even farther south of the border for inspiration. But Denver has had its own inspirational Peruvian restaurant for years. Behind an unassuming downtown storefront is Los Cabos II, a combination restaurant/cultural center that's decorated with native art (and a giant stuffed llama) and serves authentic Peruvian peasant food to all comers. These days the crowd is just as likely to consist of adventurous office workers looking for a hit of bistek a la pobre, papas a la huancaina and a pisco sour as it is of displaced Peruvians hungry for a taste of home. Fortunately, the sudden attention placed on Peruvian cuisine has only made Los Cabos better, with a recent overhaul of both the space and the menu.
Corridor 44 does fans of sparkling wine a service by cracking some truly fine bottles of the bubbly and pouring it by the glass. Perrier Jouët Grand Brut, Moët & Chandon White Star, even Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label — the best champagne you're going to get before you start paying as much for your booze as your entree. And now, with a menu restructuring courtesy of consulting chef Troy Guard, you can pair your champagne, prosecco or plain brut with tastes of American caviar (at $100 an ounce), cucumber and wasabi oyster shooters, tempura lobster salad or even chocolate fondue.
When you're celebrating in style and price is (almost) no object, French 250 is the place to pop the cork. All of the major labels are well represented on this constantly changing champagne list, and there are some lesser-known rarities that give it character. And while you'll pay top dollar by the glass (and three times top dollar for a bottle), sometimes that's what required for a truly transcendent experience — which is the only way to describe putting down a bottle of the Moët & Chandon Imperial Nectar offered on the dessert board.

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