Teleras
Lori Midson

The chalkboard menu at this sparsely decorated strip-mall temple to tortas lists nearly two-dozen manifestations of the celebrated Mexican sandwich, including la mamalona, a hedonistic beast heaped with breaded steak, hot dogs, pork chops, ham, chorizo, chicken, Oaxacan cheese, pineapple, frijoles refritos, avocado, onions, tomatoes, a smear of chipotle mayonnaise (whew!) and whatever else you want lobbed between two slices of dense, house-baked bread. But it's the much smaller la poblana torta, studded with nubs of whisper-tender chicken slicked with a terrifically smoky mole, that really separates this joint from the competition. That, and the fact that nothing except the refried beans and the pickled jalapeños comes from a can. "The way we make our tortas is authentic. We don't make the Americanized versions. We cook them like they do in Mexico City," insists owner JuanCarlos Wong. Authentic or not, we like the way they roll.

Best Vegetarian Dish in a Non-Vegetarian Restaurant

Pho 95

Pho 95

Although on the surface it might seem easy to procure a vegetarian version of this popular Vietnamese soup, the deep, flavorful broth is traditionally made with beef. The ever-popular Pho 95 has the solution: pho that can be ordered either with beef broth (for culinary purists) or made-to-order vegetable broth (for dietary purists). Loaded with still-crunchy broccoli florets, carrot slices, sugar snap peas and a heaping helping of rice noodles, the vegan-friendly pho chay comes with crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside fried tofu and a giant pile of fresh add-ons — from Thai basil to crunchy bean sprouts to thick-sliced jalapeños and dandelion leaves — to further flavor your pho. This soup is so tasty that even tried-and-true carnivores might find themselves ordering the veggie version — just this once. We won't tell.

Sputnik
Trevor Liebler

Sputnik's fire-roasted, homemade green chile comes in both pork and vegan varieties, and although the pork version is tasty, the vegan green chile is spectacular. Served with corn tortillas on the side, it's everything a green chile should be: thick, filling and mouth-watering, redolent with smoky green chiles and a mild heat that lingers on the lips. You can order it in a bowl, as a side dish or topping Sputnik's infamous Hangover Breakfast (also vegan-optional), with no fear of chicken or beef broth lurking in the mixture. This is one green chile guaranteed to fill your belly and earn you karma points.

City, O' City
Hunter Stevens

There are some fantastic vegetarian restaurants in this town, but City, O' City rises above them all, boosted by several things. The first? The atmosphere is that of a slightly divey neighborhood bar — albeit one with excellent food, a vast wine and beer list, free Wi-Fi and couches in the corner that make visitors feel free to spend hours tapping away on laptops while snacking on appetizers and sipping on beverages. The second: It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering dozens of vegetarian and vegan options at all hours of the day. The third: The thin-crust pizza is oven-baked until black bubbles form on the crust — and with so many meat replacements and topping options (including vegan cheese), you can build your own dream pizza in ten- or eighteen-inch sizes. (There are also a half-dozen specialties.) And fourth: The WaterCourse bakery is attached, so there are always tasty baked goods at the front counter, where you can also take advantage of City, O' City's espresso machine. With new head chef Brendan Doyle on staff and an expansion into the former hair salon space next door, we see an endless stretch of reasons to love City, O' City.

Park Burger
Cassandra Stiltner

Park Burger's housemade veggie patty is a mash-up of grains that's smashed on the grill — giving it the juicy, messy characteristics of a smashburger, but without the beef. The burgers are served in wire baskets lined with paper and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and a special burger sauce (which tastes a lot like Thousand Island dressing), and from there it's up to you. Other vegetarian topping options include several kinds of cheese, a fried egg, guacamole, mushrooms, onions and jalapeños — and those watching their carb intakes can even order the burger on a whole-wheat bun for an additional charge. (Fair warning: It's not vegan.) Served with Park Burger's shoestring sweet-potato or regular fries (crispy and sprinkled with coarse salt), this is one veggie burger that doesn't taste like a compromise.

New Saigon
Mark Manger

After more than two decades, New Saigon is still the indisputable champion of Vietnamese cuisine on the Front Range. And not only is it the best, but it's the biggest — at least in terms of its offerings. The menu here is a veritable tome: page after page of Vietnamese dishes offered by Thai Nguyen and his wife (and chef) Ha Pham. The roster includes such specialties as head-on shrimp stir-fried in spicy sauce; goat cooked with lotus root; whole fish, deep-fried; whole crabs, lobster tails, frog's legs, even jellyfish. And then there are all the usual suspects: spring rolls, egg rolls and a variety of bun — bowls filled with broth, springy vermicelli noodles and grilled meats and fish. No matter what you order, it's bound to be good — and proof that the Vietnamese canon can go far from pho.

Flagstaff House Restaurant
Mark Antonation

Braving the twists and turns of Flagstaff Road for dinner at the Flagstaff House is worth every thrill and chill once you're seated at a table in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows or, in the summer months, on the patio. Nestled in the woods on a cliff high above Boulder, this forty-year-old restaurant features expansive views of the valley below, cityscapes stretching to Denver, all framed by the picturesque Flatirons. During daylight hours, it's the perfect spot for admiring the Colorado wilderness. And at night, when the town glitters peacefully below the restaurant, the breathtaking scenery is the background for a perfect, intimate dinner.

Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids
Samantha Baker

Why, you might ask, does Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids, a bustling Longmont restaurant owned by one of Colorado's most well-known craft breweries, offer Coors Light amid a draft lineup that not only includes its own stellar beers, but dozens of other craft-beer treats? Simple. It's an intervention. If you order a Coors, the bartender will bring you a taster of Mama's Little Yella Pils so that you can compare the two. The goal, of course, is to convince you to switch. It's the first step to better beer drinking.

Del Norte Brewing Company

Not all Mexican-style beers are created equal. And according to the owners of the Del Norte Brewing Company, they don't need no stinkin' limes, neither! To prove it, head to the Del Norte tasting room (call ahead first for hours), where the owners will pop the top on a mass-market Mexican cerveza like Corona so that you can compare it with one of the brewery's own lagers: Mañana, Órale, Cinco or Luminaria. The difference will be claro.

Cellar Wine Bar

Denver is overflowing with wine bars — but when Cellar Wine Bar opened last year, it proved that there's always room for one more. If it's as good as this place, at least. Cellar Wine Bar, tucked into a cool, minimalist space in a triangle-shaped building at the edge of LoHi, has the feel of a favorite New York City enoteca. But you'll soon remember that you're in Denver, thanks to CWB's relaxed, welcoming vibe. Sommelier Evan Williams greets you with near-giddy excitement; he's quick to offer both a generous tasting pour and thoughtful recommendations. The bar serves up a mouth-watering 52 wines by the glass, along with particularly intriguing flights; oenophiles will swoon for sips from lesser-known producers. And in keeping it real with true wine bar credo, CWB's menu is minimal — designed with the perfect assortment of meats, tapas and artisan cheeses to keep you just sober enough to drink more wine.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of