Sushi Den
Sushi Den
Oceanaire may be the modern embodiment of a system that facilitates swift and stunning deliveries of fish from all corners of the globe to little ol' Denver, but Sushi Den blazed the trail that others would follow. For two decades, Sushi Den has labored toward perfecting a supply line whereby fish that were swimming yesterday could tonight land on the plates of picky eaters in this town. Through contacts in the fish markets of Japan and lots of big FedEx bills, Sushi Den manages to get not only some of the best, freshest fish in Denver, but in the whole of the United States. And while for most people the difference between a piece of baby bluefin that's been out of the water 36 hours and one that's been dead three days might not seem like a big deal, for real sashimi fans, it's huge. And Sushi Den is the place they go for the freshest, most delicately handled fish in the city.
Sushi Katsu
Hunter Stevens
The sushi at Sushi Katsuya is excellent, the service friendly and precise. The restaurant is relatively inexpensive, not too kitsch, not too spare, and fairly quiet on most nights, a place of solace for those whose consolations come more from the East than the West. But you'll never feel alone, because Sushi Katsuya quickly makes you a regular. The employees welcome you in unison, and if you take a seat at the sushi bar, you might not get up for another fifty years or so.
Sushi Sasa
Linnea Covington
At Sushi Sasa, the attention to detail makes all the difference. There's no need here for plastic grass garnishes, lumps of fake wasabi, bias-cut plating or two dozen stupidly named rolls that are all tuna, avocado, cucumber and tobiko. At Sushi Sasa, even the simplest tekka maki is a work of art, lavished with the kind of attention that other places don't even give to expensive rolls. Everything about the space is clean and white and spare, and everything about the kitchen is geared toward maximizing the impact of the fish itself — the tiny moves that could elevate a simple piece of skipjack, shrimp or bonito into something you might remember for the rest of your life.
Tacos DF
Mark Antonation
Sometimes the simplest spots are best, and it doesn't get much simpler than Tacos D.F. Basically a taco truck parked indoors, Tacos D. F. hands you the best tacos in the city, hands-down, through a hole in the back wall. It cooks up plenty of other things (soups and stews, tortas and burritos), but tacos are the kitchen's true pride — filled with meats hot off the grill that need nothing more than a squeeze of lime or maybe a touch of handmade salsa to be perfect. The asada and the carnitas are our favorites, but depending on the day, the hour and the mood of the crew in the back, upwards of a dozen varieties might be available — every one of them fantastic, none with the least bit of pretension.
How sweet it is! Lime, the homegrown chain that started in Larimer Square and now stretches from Greenwood Village to Winter Park, is known for its Tuesday-night tacos, its fresh (flour) chips, its strong margaritas. But our favorite item here is the tamales, offered both as an app and an entree. The tamales are vegetarian and all about corn, corn and more corn. Inside each corn-husk package you'll find a steaming layer of masa surrounding a succulent, sweet corn filling. Smothered in Lime's red (also vegetarian) or green (chicken, not pork) chile, this is one hot tamale!
US Thai Cafe
Mark Antonation
Step into US Thai on a busy afternoon, when both of the small dining rooms are full and the rail of the open kitchen is crowded with dupes, and you can watch the blur of the cooks at work. With the grates popped on the ancient, fire-breathing hot-top and water cascading down the backsplash to keep the whole place from burning down, they never stop moving, never stop tinkering, never stop adding to a plate, a bowl, an oil-seasoned wok, until an entree hits the rail. A dozen combative spices, countless vegetables (done rough-chopped, julienned, slivered, batonnet-cut or shaved, each in their proper way), curry as a paste, curry as a powder, nine proteins, broths and bases held aside, rice in the steamers, noodles in the lowboys, fryers always in use, flames always leaping. It's an incredible dance, with results that are almost infallibly delicious, every flavor true. US Thai isn't just the best Thai restaurant in Denver; it serves some of the best Thai food we've ever tasted anywhere.
You don't get more traditional than the Brown Palace, and the Sunday brunch at Ellyngton's is a completely over-the-top version of the classic, high-society Sunday brunch. Here you'll find everything from egg and waffle stations to carving stations with white-toqued chefs slaving over hot steamship rounds, to salad, sushi, and pastry boards from the in-house bakery. If you want to up the ante, you can go for the Dom Perignon version, which is definitely a nice way to start the day but will set you back nearly two hundred bucks. If you've got that kind of green to blow, though, what better way to do it than by pulling up a chair in front of mountains of jumbo shrimp, wrapping those suckers in rare slabs of prime rib, and then washing it all down with Dom drunk straight from the bottle? Top hat and monocle optional...
DJ's Berkeley Cafe
The guys in the galley at DJ's Berkeley Cafe really care about their Bennies. They only make them until eleven each morning (mostly because if they offered them all day, they'd never stop), and they make every single hollandaise sauce to order (no small trick on a busy line). They also recognize the difference between a classic Benny (with eggs, Canadian bacon, English muffin and hollandaise) and all the mutant forms that the Benedict has been twisted into over the years. Sure, they'll make you a crab Benny, a vegetarian Benny or one with smoked salmon, but their classic, traditional presentation is the very best in town.

Best Traditional Japanese Restaurant

Domo

Domo
Not just Japanese, but country Japanese. And not just country Japanese, but country Japanese focusing specifically on the peasant food eaten in the mountains of Japan, with decor to match. Strange as it may sometimes seem (scallion omelets and giant clam sashimi and wonderful, cold buckwheat noodles), each plate that comes from the kitchen at Domo arrives freighted with both history and tradition. Settling down on one of the polished tree stumps that pass for seats and melting into the slow languor of the dining room and Zen garden beyond, you'll find yourself as close to ancient Japan as you can get without flying to the country from which Domo has taken its deep inspiration.
Masalaa
The best vegetarian food is just food that happens to have no meat in it — a dinner served without the sides of guilt, bullying or whining, Be Nice to Animals socio-political rhetoric. And that's exactly what you'll get at Masalaa, a good restaurant that happens to not serve meat. The big draw here are the dosa — enormous Indian pastry roll-ups stuffed with all manner of unusual things — but the rest of the dishes are equally good, offering a full palette of flavors and textures without ever having to resort to wrapping things in bacon.

Best Of Denver®

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