Best Vegetarian Green Chile 2011 | Sputnik | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Andy Thomas

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.

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'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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Molly Martin

Vine Street Pub serves good bar food alongside its line of tapped craft beers, but its chicken wings fly right up to great. Fat with tender, moist meat, they're crisped in a fryer until crackly, then slathered in lip-stingingly spicy hot sauce or honeyed barbecue sauce. The steamy wings come by the glistening dozen or half-dozen, piled high on a plate with a ramekin of sharp, chunky blue-cheese dressing and a couple stalks of celery. They're so good it's impossible not to lick the bones — or your fingers — completely clean.

Samantha Baker

You'll laugh, you'll cry. But mostly you'll cry. Ask the server at Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids to "weaponize" your order, and she'll bring you two pounds of wings made with ghost peppers — 200 times more fiery than jalapeños, and the hottest chiles in the world. You'll also get carrots, celery, one delicious beer and no napkins. Finish all of it within ten minutes and the wings, the beer and the glory are all free. You also get a free T-shirt and a glass of milk — although neither of those things will be of much help the next day.

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