Churchill Bar

A classic cocktail deserves a classy, classic setting. The Brown Palace's Churchill Bar is like an exclusive club, complete with comfy leather chairs and obsequious service — but the only membership requirement here is that you cover the cost of your drink. And what a drink: The Churchill features an extensive roster of premium spirits, including an impressive array of Scotch, and creates each cocktail with painstaking care, using heavy silver shakers and expensive crystal. Get really decadent and puff on a cigar while you sip your drink: This is one of the few spots in town with a cigar-bar exemption, and it sells more than sixty stogies on site. In a town full of great saloons, the Churchill is a true classic.

Stockyard Saloon
Sarah McGill

FBI agents make the best drinking companions because they never steal the limelight. They couldn't if they tried: After a rigorous background check, each is hand-selected by Uncle Sam specifically for his or her lack of blackmailable individuality. Then the agents are all meticulously trained to keep their yappers shut and to listen long and hard. There's no need to conduct an investigation to find these ideal drinking companions: You can always find one on a bar stool at the Stockyard Saloon. That's the legendary bar and restaurant adjacent to the historic Livestock Exchange Building in the National Western Complex, which happens to be home to the FBI's penthouse offices for violent crime, Indian country crime, violent fugitive, major theft, transportation crime and violent gang units. You'll know these agents when you see them: They're the ones who cling to your every word.

In Season Local Market

In Season is a tiny green shop with big ideas. Its motto — "If it's not from here, it's not in here" — means that the market only stocks products produced within a 250-mile radius of its location in Highland. So while you'll still have to swing by King Soopers for Tide and toilet paper, In Season's shelves are stocked with all manner of yummy and surprising foodstuffs, including bread from the Denver Bread Company, cheese from the Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy in Longmont, and pork chops from Socolofsky Farms in Larkspur. Eating pint after pint of Red Trolley ice cream might expand your waistline, but it will shrink your carbon footprint.

Tom's Home Cookin' is a stick-to-your-ribs dispatch for soul-food seekers and Southerners, blue-collar workers and chefs, chatterers, chewers and chicken chasers — the latter a devoted force of purists who know the difference between a great cluck and a forgettable one. There's nothing at Tom's we wouldn't kill for, but the fried chicken, profoundly moist with skin crusted the color of copper, flies right every single time. It's a sign of more goodness to come: peach cobbler, banana pudding, macaroni and cheese (it's the Velveeta, people), cornbread stuffing, candied yams and whatever else owners Steve Jankousky and Tom Unterwagner have on the day's chalkboard. But that chicken? That chicken would make even a hardened vegan fly the coop.

Luca
Scott Lentz

By this point, we all pretty much know that just about everything coming out of Frank Bonanno's four kitchens — Osteria Marco, Mizuna, Bones and Luca D'Italia — makes our heads whirl like a spinning top. But just when you think Bonanno and his enormously talented kitchen crew couldn't possibly have any more culinary stunts up their sleeves, they add suckling pig — which is nothing like any suckling pig you've ever had — to Luca D'Italia's menu, which was already an extraordinary document that causes big, burly men to weep. The pig, stuffed with squishy, beautifully spiced, rich forcemeat and crowned with a salad of arugula and sliced apples sprayed with a sherry vinaigrette, straddles a puddle of deep-flavored pork stock and a superb chestnut polenta. Right now, at this moment, there may be no better dish in Denver. There's certainly no better Italian restaurant.

Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine
Mark Manger

Tarasco's awesome posole, the traditional Mexican stew that even gringos slurp for breakfast after a night of corruption and immorality, is ladled into a big white bowl with tender pork and pork bones and hominy. It's accompanied, as it should be, by steaming corn tortillas, plenty of quartered lime wedges, a heap of diced white onions and shredded raw cabbage. If you want to dust the posole with Mexican oregano or give it fire with diced jalapeños, the server will bring those, too, although the fiery tableside salsa — it's more like a chile paste — is more addictive than heroin. Once you've doctored it with all your garnishes, it's like eating Christmas in a bowl.

Lou's Food Bar
Brian Defoe

Steamed suckling pig and pork belly buns, roasted bone marrow, escargot pot stickers, tempura-fried cod, dumplings, shishito peppers, soba noodles and soft-serve ice cream: These all play starring roles on the board at Bones, Frank Bonanno's Capitol Hill noodle bar and the fourth soldier in his army of restaurants. Celebrated since Bonanno opened the doors at the end of 2008, Bones has amassed serious worshipers, a conglomerate of cultists who gather at the counter, where the heat and steam from the burners has them breaking out in beads of sweat — a badge of honor. But that's a small price to pay for getting to watch Bonanno's crew as they perfectly poach the yolk-y egg that wiggles and jiggles in a fantastically porky broth floating with faultless udon, ribbons of scallions and shards of roasted pig. It's a justifiably lauded vessel of fine swine that makes us squeal with joy.

India's Restaurant
Courtesy India's Restaurant Facebook

When Krishan Kappor relocated India's, his terrific curry house, from its longtime home on the perimeter of Tamarac Square to Tiffany Plaza, he definitely traded up in space. And the food is better than ever. The Punjabi-tempered menu may feature many of the same dishes that litter the boards of just about every other Indian restaurant in town, but Kappor and his kitchen crew continue to do these dishes right, serving up sizzling cast-iron platters of tandoori meats and seafood, turning out scintillating curries shocked with beautifully balanced spices that perfume the new, cavernous dining room.

Fruition
Mark Manger

The year was 2007; the space the tiny former home of Sean Kelly's Somethin' Else. In this unlikely spot, partners Alex Seidel and Paul Attardi — chef and maître d', respectively — created Fruition, a restaurant that's become a culinary deity. From the start, Seidel has used the seasons as a canvas for his menu, a near-perfect board of flawlessly sourced (particularly since he now has his own farm in Larkspur), beautifully choreographed and infallibly flavored dishes crafted with confidence, intelligence and principles. But while he tweaks the menu with frequency, there are a few mainstays — including the pasta carbonara, which defies everything you think you know about that dish and would incite a violent revolt if Seidel ever yanked it from the board. For this version, the kitchen takes a generous slab of house-cured pork belly and crowns it with a jiggly egg that oozes yolk into a pool of Parmesan broth bobbing with fresh peas and handmade cavatelli. Talk about food that feeds the soul.

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