Gordo Loco

The intersection of Federal Boulevard and West 26th Avenue was already ground zero in the breakfast burrito wars, with Jack-n-Grill and an outpost of Santiago's launching their two-buck breakfast burritos from opposite sides of Federal, and Araujo around the corner firing back with a smaller, 99-cent breakfast burrito. But now Gordo Loco, which occupies the historic bungalow that was the original home of La Loma, has rolled out the heavy artillery. The really heavy artillery: a hefty, eight-inch breakfast burrito to go that's packed with scrambled eggs, soft cubes of potato and green-chile cheese (the secret weapon, available either hot or mild) for just 98 cents. This burrito is such a bargain that you can even afford a side of guac, sour cream...or more green-chile cheese. Fire when ready!

Bull & Bush Brewery
Hunter Stevens

Celebrating forty years of independent family ownership this year, the Bull & Bush keeps getting better, whether it's with award-winning beers like Man Beer and the Legend of the Liquid Brain Imperial Stout, its cellar parties that pull together vintage bottles of rare and hard-to-find brews from other breweries, or the layered atmosphere that mixes old-school Glendale regulars, families and downtowners looking for a night away from the madness. There's an extensive menu of comfort food and a burgeoning beer list, so if you can't hang out, you can at least grab a growler to go.

My Brother's Bar
Westword

Accept no substitute: My Brother's Bar is the real thing. An eclectic crowd haunts the tables and bar here, and it's a crowd that represents a cross-section of this city's population. Families and downtown professionals eat burgers and fries on the back patio during the day; Highland neighbors stop in for a tap Tetley's pretty much anytime; and industry folks come in after their restaurants close, mingling with the old-time regulars, crusty waitstaff, quirky bartenders and unlucky kitchen guy charged with grilling burgers on the flat-top until one in the morning. Brother's is signless but famous thanks to its burgers, year-round Girl Scout cookie stock and history that ties the building, if not the Karagas siblings who bought the bar over forty years ago, to Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. But this spot's story goes back much further: It's been a saloon since at least the 1880s. My Brother's is an integral part of our heritage, and it will remain a Denver institution no matter how many other brothers butt in.

JaJa Bistro

There's nothing pompous about this French bistro, where the informal, come-as-you-are ambience makes it all too easy to become a regular. And by the looks of it, especially on Sunday mornings, when Littleton residents sashay in for brunch, there are plenty of regulars who crave JaJa's dazzling crepes, filled with everything from smoked ham and Swiss to scrambled eggs and bacon, to sunny-side-up eggs and sausage, to Nutella and sugar-kissed bananas. The unfussy elegance, coupled with the camaraderie of the ardent habitués who linger over Bloody Marys and bottomless mimosas, makes JaJa's Bistro a must-stop for both wistful Francophiles and card-carrying foodophiles who want a little joie de vivre with their morning pick-me-up.

Tarbell's SouthGlenn
Mark Manger

Tarbell's is certainly not the first restaurant to elevate the burger to lofty, beasty, Herculean status, but while size is in the shoe of the beholder, Tarbell's double-decker burger — all six, maybe even seven inches of it — is, buns down, the best burger in the city. The freshly ground beef, loose and hand-formed into two impossibly thick patties, is judiciously salted and peppered, drooling with juices that blush scarlet, grilled to a perfect mid-rare and shoved between a soft, slightly sweet bun that's slathered with a secret sauce and platformed with lettuce, tomato slices and squares of American cheese that melt into the depths of your fluttering heart.

Lou's Food Bar
Joni Schrantz

If you're certain to save more than a few bucks off your total check by ordering the bottle, then why would you ever choose to order wine by the glass? A few possible reasons: a) You're afflicted with a rare, intense case of Wine Attention Deficit Disorder; b) You're dining alone, and therefore only capable of consuming three glasses of wine in a single sitting (God forbid you waste the fourth); or c) You're at a restaurant with so many tempting by-the-glass selections that you simply can't resist snatching sips from all over the list. If you chose C, there's a good chance you've been drinking (and eating) at Lou's Food Bar, which is exactly where you should go when you're searching for that elusive perfect glass of vino. Wine director Lynn Whittum did more than just pick good juice that goes with the restaurant's eclectic fare; she made sure the pricing was right, too: The average glass runs just $9. Pinkies up!

The Cup Espresso Cafe

There's more to making cappuccino than pulling a shot, steaming a little milk and adding a great big dollop of foam — and the baristas at the Cup recognize that. They start by pulling a perfect shot of espresso topped with caramel-colored crema — and then the real work begins. They know the secret for creating perfect foam at a perfect temperature, they understand why you can't make a cappuccino from skim milk (without milk fat, the foam just falls away), and they're aware of the importance of latte art, which is not only part of the tradition but displays the integrity of the craft. They effortlessly pour perfect cappuccinos, each adorned with a heart, rosette or something more artistic, served on saucers with a spoon and a chocolate-covered espresso bean.

Masterpiece Delicatessen
Summer Powell

Making cassoulet, the bean-and-meat stew that's chock-full of sausage and duck confit, is a days-long undertaking, and that's why it only graces the menu at Masterpiece Delicatessen as a special. Still, the sandwich shop makes a near-perfect version of the stuff: toothsome white beans bathed in a thick, buttery broth, topped with a couple of crisp strips of bacon and overlaid with a crunchy, fat-roasted duck leg, tender meat falling off the bone. The kitchen finishes the dish with a handful of crisp greens to balance the heavy meat binge. It's all so good that we want to eat bowl after bowl of the stuff until we've cleaned out the stockpot. Please, sir, may we have some more?

Shead's BBQ & Fish Hut

Down south, they know how to tame this ugly-ass bottom-feeder. They fillet it, pan-fry it with light seasoning and serve it up with hush puppies, okra and other comfort foods. Shead's keeps the Southern tradition alive in its clean, well-lighted strip-mall location; save some room for a juicy peach cobbler as a chaser. The fried tilapia isn't half bad, either.

Best Central/South American Restaurant

Cafe Brazil

Cafe Brazil
Summer Powell

When the original owner lost Cafe Brazil in the early '90s, Tony and Marla Zarlenga took it over and saved the name because Brazil has a great culture, a great spirit and a great reputation — and they wanted to channel that. But instead of a strictly Brazilian restaurant, they created a novolatino place that offers a contemporary interpretation of the cuisine of South America with influences from the Mediterranean. It's a unique world of the couple's own creation that influences everything from the menu to the artwork (which Marla paints when she's not working in the kitchen). There are a few bona fide Brazilian dishes, like the xim xim and the feijoada, but many of the menu offerings are Colombian with a Brazilian touch. The Peixe de Angola, for example, with Malagueta chiles tossed into the creamy fish stew made with sweet and spicy coconut milk and lime; the crispy, sweet fried bananas gracing many plates; the cazuela Colombiana, a savory stew of tomato and chicken breast and prawns; the dulce de leche ice cream, creamy caramel gelato topped with espresso. Whatever the origin of these dishes, each provides a beautiful window into a rich Latin American world.

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