Best Place to Buy a Piñata and a Divorce 2008 | La Piñata Loca | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Traditional Mexican sweets, music and decorations for a quinceañera party are available at lots of locations on Denver's west side. But how many places also offer an impressive array of piñatas — from SpongeBob to Spider-Man to Hello Kitty — as well as phone cards and the services of a notario público? This job is somewhat weightier than the Anglo notary public, since it involves handling a range of paperwork, from immigration and taxes to translation and divorce. The idea of picking up a piñata with your divorce papers sounds, well, smashing.
Stoners do stupid stuff. And for the most hard-core smokers — those who toke up before weddings, funerals and job interviews — the Gift Shop could be a lifesaver. Say your bong breaks at the last minute and you spill bong water all over your only good jacket. Or maybe you're a procrastinator-on-the-go who needs a pipe and an outfit. The Gift Shop is one-stop shopping for dudes like you. Just duck behind the Scarface poster on the front door: It's like a head shop and the men's department all rolled into one. Puff, puff, pass.
Okay, this team isn't exactly new. Because just as older men have long frequented the bars of Cherry Creek, hoping to grab hold of some sweet young thing to comfort them in even older age, older women have used those same watering holes as their own happy hunting grounds. But never before has the hot-flashing set been so hot. And so Chez Jose, the longtime Mexican joint in the heart of the Creek, decided to honor this prowling pack by naming its flag-football team the Cherry Creek North Cougars, selling T-shirts bearing the team name for twenty bucks each.
It's easy to put on airs at most open-studio art classes. Think classical music, a perfectly still model and a slew of pretentious artists poised behind their easels. Not at Rene Farkass's class. Denver's longest-running figure-drawing course is held in a slumped brick building that doubles as Farkass's art storage space and features a number of his large, colorful "naked lady" paintings. There you'll doodle to indie tunes or ambient rock while the models strike five-, ten- and twenty-minute poses. The artists — amateurs, retired art teachers and a few Denver greats — sit on small wooden chairs, rising during the breaks for a cookie, a cup of milk or a quick chat with Farkass, who is as flamboyant as his paintings. The classes run from 7 to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and cost just $8 a pop, plus a tip for the model, which means that even starving artists can afford to attend.

Best Place to Embarrass Yourself While Dressing Up

Casa Bonita

Molly Martin
With the cliff-diving and flame-throwing, the gorilla and the caves, the venerable Mexican restaurant Casa Bonita is all about the experience. So why not get a group of friends together to pose for a souvenir to remember it — like an Old West photo? It sounds like a great idea...until you realize what you've signed up for. If you're a lady, the photographer hands you a skirt and a corset and sends you behind a curtain. With maybe two feet between the curtain and the wall and even less room between you and your friends, you have to change. It's hot, and you're full from that last sopaipilla you shouldn't have eaten, and now you have to squeeze into a corset. For the full effect, you have to take off what you're wearing, which makes you wonder how often they wash this corset you're about to put against your bare skin. And while you're complaining, a crowd of children gathers to be entertained by your plight. "Is this part of the show?" they ask, laughing as you step out from behind the curtain. Luckily, the photographer wants serious faces, because you can no longer muster a smile. Now, say cheese.

Best Place to Fix an After-Hours Toothache

Dental 911

What a bright idea: An ER for dentistry. The brainchild of founding owner Dr. Kate Hakala, who was inspired after a visit with her injured dog to an emergency vet hospital, 911 is a walk-in clinic that's open precisely when other dentists aren't: All day on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and — omigod! — holidays, as well as weeknights from 5 to 9 p.m., right in tune with your inopportune chipped teeth, lost crown or nagging toothache that can't wait for an appointment. Dental 911 will also follow up with your regular dentist to make certain any job started is finished; if you don't have one, the office will schedule an appointment there for any ensuing treatment you might need. And, like any hospital worth its salt, they'll take credit cards, bill your insurance or open a line of credit for you if you qualify. Stop your moaning: Relief is on the way.
Getting a cab in this town is becoming harder by the week. If you want to get home from downtown at let-out on a weekend, you'd better be ready to walk — or wait. While you wait, you might as well walk to a place where taxis congregate. At the Grand Hyatt, cabs line up looking for fares. Even after a few company Christmas parties released hundreds of drunk employees armed with cab vouchers onto the streets on a Saturday night in December, it still took only minutes to claim a cab from the waiting line. A concierge was eagerly matching people who wandered into the hotel with their rides and letting others wait in the warm, plush chairs by the fireplace of the hotel's cozy lobby. Even on a night when hotel staff is not feeling as festive and helpful, you've got a much better shot of catching a ride here than you do fending for yourself as part of the street crowd.
The market was ripe for a non-chain coffee shop along the sprawl-tastic landscape between Denver and Boulder. But only on this stretch of road off Highway 36 in old Broomfield could the traditional cafe concept be married to a tattoo parlor and housed in a former auto shop. Or maybe it's not so unlikely, since Smokey Banana Tattoo and Bananelope Coffee were conjoined by husband-wife team Tom and Deb Cross, who moved into the space last fall after many years tattooing down the street. The atmosphere of psychedelic totem poles, Mexican wrestling art and smoothies makes it a spot that bikers, body modifiers and bored housewives should all find inviting. And when permanent ink is involved, it's better that artists and patrons alike be as caffeinated as possible.
Dogs of all shapes and sizes were present at the Mass Dog Wedding at Aspen Grove last May. In fact, the event — a benefit for the Denver Dumb Friends League — was a real howler. Participating pooches had to be at least six months old (no teen pregnancies here!), current with all vaccinations and on a leash. Prior to the ceremony, dogs without partners had the opportunity to speed-date to find that special furry someone. Comedian Ben Kronberg officiated at the wedding itself, which was followed by the cutting of a massive cake. Vendors and booths with displays on pet adoption and pet care riddled the parking lot, and all brides and grooms received veils and bow ties. It was certainly a sight to see, doggone it.
The Fabric Lab was getting so many requests for modified or custom-made clothing that it just made sense to open Made: A Custom Boutique, where customers can get the designs they want, in the size they want, on the item of clothing of their choice (T-shirt, men's polo or suit jacket? That's the question). The jewelry designers featured at the Lab were getting similar requests for weddings, other special events or just because, so they're in on the boutique, too. The custom clothing and jewelry take about two weeks to create, start to finish, and are available at prices ranging from $20 to $150. Quite reasonable, considering no one but you will have the specific article of clothing or jewelry; it's truly one-of-a-kind.

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