This year's hot restaurant neighborhood news is a northwest-side story. In 2008, three new restaurants sprang up at the corner of 44th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard long held down by Cafe Brazil: Billy's Inn, Tocabe and Shazz. From there, it's a quick trip to Tennyson Street, where you can have breakfast at DJ's Berkeley Cafe, lunch at Brasserie Felix, then drinks at the Berkeley Inn, the recovered dive bar where you can still have a couple of cigarettes with your beer and shot. Then it's down to 32nd Avenue for happy hour at Venue, dinner at Duo, a quick after-dinner glass of wine at Z Cuisine À Côté, and a final nightcap at another newcomer, Root Down. In between, there's Big Hoss Bar-B-Q (fried cheese and whiskey floats), Bang, Taquería Patzcuaro (chicharrones), Masterpiece Deli and about a hundred other spots that range from a few of Denver's worst to some of its very, very best.
Bistro One
A roasted chicken is a benchmark dish for any kitchen. It can be the simplest or cheapest or most popular dish. But at Bistro One, it is none of those things. Instead, it's the soul of the menu — classic, traditional, borderless. The bird comes stuffed with cornbread, its little legs crossed, roasted to a perfect golden brown, surrounded by winter vegetables and sauced with a delicious, deep and complex golden raisin sauce. Of all the plates at Bistro One, this is the best, the most fully formed and skillfully executed — proof of the potential for a great restaurant in the making.
At Thai Lotus, the crew is Thai and the food obviously Thai, unkinked for the American palate, presented the way the best immigrant cuisines are — as recalled from home. The menu is, for the most part, a standard retelling of the country's culinary history: lad na and pad thai, curried this and that, and "hot" meaning hot-hot, like crying gasoline hot. But it takes one small diversion, into a section marked "Rotisserie" that has only one dish listed: a rotisserie chicken that is flat-out amazing. After you order it, you can hear the thunking of the cleaver as the chicken is deconstructed — and when it arrives, accompanied by rice and a bowl of thick red sauce flecked with dried hot pepper, it's steaming like something out of a commercial. Under that steam, the chicken has been roughly hacked into bone-spurred chunks, its golden-brown and fatty skin perfectly roasted and still attached, the meat inside juicy and incredibly tender.
At Masterpiece Delicatessen, partners Justin Brunson and Steve Allee do some pretty amazing things with a little bread, a little meat, a little this-and-that. Their simplest creations — egg sandwiches, grilled cheese, turkey with pears and cranberry honey — show their command of the artistry of restraint (just enough, never too much), while their more complicated plates demonstrate a high-end, Super Frog cookery gone feral in the service of a soup-and-sandwich board. Their kung fu is strong, no doubt. And here in Denver, we're lucky to have them.
Senor Burritos
So you're planning on getting out there and tearing it up on Saturday night? Well, cowboy, you might want to put a little something in your stomach before you start sucking down the shots — and Señor Burrito is just the place to do it. Or maybe you're thinking about catching a movie at the Mayan. Why not grab a snack at Señor Burrito before the show? What? The boss called you in to work on Saturday and you're just getting off at eight? Time for Señor Burrito, pal. We can't think of a single circumstance when a burrito or pork chop plate at Señor Burrito won't make things better.
What does it take to run a great seafood restaurant a mile above sea level and a thousand miles from the nearest ocean? The kind of system that hums behind the scenes at Oceanaire — a business structure that brings in fresh fish daily, six days a week, following supply lines that run back and forth across the globe, all terminating in a kitchen that actually knows what to do with a glut of great product. Under the command of chef Matt Mine, Oceanaire serves up the best sea critters you'll find this far from the ocean. And the kitchen also hands down some nice non-piscine thrills as well, banging out bacon steaks, salads and more for those who (for whatever reason...) decide to go to the best fish restaurant in the city for meat-and-potatoes fare.
Solomon's Grocery and European Deli
It's a long way from Uzbekistan to Aurora, but Bukharan immigrant Solomon Gurzhiev and his family take the miles in stride at their Russian-Jewish deli, where they feature a compact selection of imported Eastern European foods as well as more than eighty kinds of deli meats, smoked fish, sausages, pickles and cheeses. Authentic is the word at Solomon's, where the proprietors are bend-over-backwards friendly, the coolers stuffed with a dozen varieties of kefir and farmer's cheese, and mom Gurzhiev whips up homemade pelmeni on request. But nowhere is that authenticity more evident than in the small but potent selection of fresh-baked breads offered daily at the counter, including a dense, coriander-laced rye loaf that goes nicely with the deli fare.
Brasserie Felix
There's not much in this world that's as comforting as a perfectly done plate of steak frites. And in this town, there's no better plate of steak frites than the one coming from Brasserie Felix's kitchen. Good thing, too, because if a restaurant calling itself a brasserie can't knock this classic of comfort-French gastronomy out of the park, it had better just lock its doors. Instead, you'll want to hurry through those doors for an order, which includes a beautifully done eight-ounce flatiron with a silky béarnaise that mixes wonderfully with the steak juice, as well as a pile of nice frites, blanched and fried. Though it's nothing more than a piece of beef, a dab of sauce and some fried potatoes, this steak frites is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Elway's Cherry Creek
Everyone in this town serves steaks. Most restaurants serve pretty good ones. But no other steakhouse in the city has a menu like that at the original Elway's, which covers all the traditional steakhouse basics (big whacks of beef, lobster tails, shrimp cocktails and creamed spinach), then turns the whole concept on its ear, fooling with the formalized, high-rolling boys' club feel of the traditional beefery by serving shrimp cocktails over smoking dry ice, offering lamb lollipops, excellent steak tacos and tuna tartare, and even serving Ding Dongs for dessert. A meal here is just plain fun. With chef Tyler Wiard in the kitchen, Elway's continues to score.
Cafe Jordano
Maybe you've heard stories about the little Italian place in Lakewood that won't take reservations because if it did, there'd never be an open table for the neighbors, a place where regulars arrive a half-hour before the start of dinner, jockeying for position and counting heads to make sure they'll get a seat. Welcome to Cafe Jordano. The fare here is classic Italian strip mall done phenomenally well, and the crowds proof that one needs nothing more than talent and pride in good work to make a restaurant successful. Well, talent, pride and a single dish (the pollo alla Roberts) that has become legendary over the years as the single, best-tasting thing on any menu in Colorado.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of