Best Place to Pick Up the Sushi Habit

Japon

Less formal and intimidating than other sushi joints, Japon is a great place to go if you're just starting to get into sushi. Here the stakes are a little lower and the pace a little slower, a benefit of Japon's Old South Gaylord neighborhood setting. But the fish is undeniably excellent and the crew behind the bar approachable and helpful. At Japon, you get the sense that eating sushi doesn't have to be serious; it can simply be fun.

Best Place to Pick Up the Tab — Dinner

Wazee Supper Club

You finally did it: You beat all the competition and nailed down that contract for the National Widget Manufacturing Summit. You're feeling good, your staff is feeling good, and you want to take everyone out to celebrate. But not at a steakhouse — the NWMS was a nice payday, but not that nice. Still, you don't want to go too cheap, either. You want to show your guys a guaranteed good time — and the Wazee Supper Club is just the place. It's got a great bar, a cool staff, a passable jukebox and — most important in your case — an excellent menu filled with pizzas, stromboli, burgers, salads and sandwiches that are all priced to move. Plus, the Wazee is prepared to handle large parties at nearly all hours with a second-floor dining area and a kitchen that serves on most nights until one in the morning.

Best Place to Pick Up the Tab — Lunch

Capital Grille

Dinners at the Capital Grille can be murderously expensive. That dry-aged and hand-sculpted 24-ounce porterhouse, with sides, will run as high as your monthly car payment, and some of the bottles on the "Captain's List" could bankrupt a small Third World nation. But if you need to pick up a tab at a place that makes an impression, take our advice: Hit the Capital Grille for lunch. You'll get the same stellar service you get at dinner, see the same bluebloods and captains of industry who'll be back that evening — but you'll wind up holding a much smaller tab than you would at dinner. And if you order right, you'll have leftovers that you can enjoy at home that night, sitting on your couch in your underwear.
For those of us who just know we're not going to be able to drag ourselves out of bed for Sunday brunch, the Wynkoop Brewing Company is a required last stop on Saturday nights. Because this brewpub not only sells its excellent brews by the glass, but also by the jug, to go. So if you know you're going to be in for a rough morning that will require some hair of the dog, remember to drop by the Wynkoop before last call for a growler of Quinn's Scottish, Railyard or (if you ask really nicely) Patty's Chile Beer — a guaranteed cure for whatever ails you. And if alcoholic suds aren't quite your style, the Wynkoop also makes Tiger, its own artisan root beer, with Colorado honey and plenty of bite.
Yazoo Barbeque Company
Cassandra Kotnik
Here's how to tell if a barbecue joint is good: Count how many times you've been disappointed because it's sold out of nearly every damn thing. This is a regular problem at the original Yazoo BBQ location (there's a newer outpost in Greenwood Village), where dinner is often catch-as-catch-can, depending on how many other Deep South barbecue freaks have gotten there before you. But at least the kitchen makes mountains of pork shoulders every day, so it's unlikely to run out of pulled pork — which is handy, because pulled pork is what Yazoo happens to do better than anyone else in town.
Oshima Ramen doesn't just serve the best ramen in Denver, it serves the best ramen in America — because this is where Keiji Oshima's ramen invasion of the United States both began and ended. So we're the lucky inheritors of both Oshima's vision and his unparalleled Super Original Oshima Ramen, which is about as far from those 29-cent packets of grocery-store noodles and dust as you can get while still talking about basically the same food. The ingredients here are sourced from Japan (where Oshima has operated many ramen restaurants), and the broths and noodles are made fresh daily and by hand. The result is a ramen soup that could be the best not just in Denver, not in America — but anywhere.

Best Restaurant for Eating Your Vegetables

Masalaa

Masalaa
Masalaa is a great vegetarian restaurant because it's really not a vegetarian restaurant. Rather, it's a restaurant that just happens to not have meat on the menu — a fact that can easily go overlooked while you're gorging yourself on idly, aloo paratha, kofta curry with vegetable fritters, the most delicious aloo mutter anywhere, channa saag with chickpeas and a dozen kinds of dosa stuffed with anything from fried onions and potatoes to butter, fried vegetables or masala sauce. There's a big difference between working within a canon made up entirely of grains and vegetables and trying to work within a cuisine where all the meat has simply been removed — and that difference is delicious at Masalaa.
There are a lot of places around where you can pick up roasted green chiles; hell, some Wal-Marts roast 'em right in front of the store. But we like to get our bags full of Hatch chiles at Nick's. For one thing, Nick's is a garden center, which means the roasters are set up among the trees, vegetable stands and bedding plants — a setting much closer to nature than, say, a truck-stop sidewalk or highway off-ramp. For another, the smell of the chiles mingling with the smell of the fresh flowers and peaty potting soil is one of our favorite smells on earth. And finally, Nick's roasts a lot of chiles, which means that, on a good day, you can smell the place working from a mile away and just follow your nose.
Los Carboncitos
Courtesy Los Carboncitos Highlands Facebook
At Los Carboncitos, salsa is an elemental part of the meal, and every table is supplied with a caddy full of different varieties. No chips, though: That chips-and-salsa thing is an American invention, and Los Carboncitos is about as far as you can get from an American restaurant without updating your passport. This bright spot operates like a cool, urban Mexico City diner, offering comfort foods, tacos, huaraches and messy breakfast plates — all begging to be slathered with any one of the house's four custom salsas, ranging in heat and flavor from smoothly savory to napalm death.

Best Sandwiches in a Pancake House

Toast

Toast
Toast is a real eye-opener. Not only does it serve great breakfasts — including the town's best pancakes — but it offers a terrific lineup of sandwiches. From the simplest apple-and-brie sandwich (made with tart Fujis and a smear of cranberry pecan aioli) to a smartly fusion-y peppered chicken wrap with queso añejo, smoked chile cream and fresh salsa to a stunning curried chicken salad with chèvre, they're all masterful. Now, if only Toast would stay open for dinner...

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