Best Breakfast Burrito — Eat In 2012 | Los Trompitos | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

The biggest difference between these breakfast burritos and all the others has everything to do with ratio: Priced at a bargain-basement $1.95 each, the pudgy, foil-wrapped marvels are stuffed with equal amounts of soft-scrambled eggs, melty cheese, crisp-edged potatoes, salty meat — bacon, sausage or chorizo — and searing green chile, which means that whether you're on your first bite or your last, you'll get a combustion of flavors with every chew. It's a terrific breakfast burrito, superseded only by the irresistible salsas, which pack a rigorous amount of heat.

Readers' Choice: Santiago's

Seven days a week, this campy chuckwagon pit stop and drive-thru crowned with a cherry-red roof turns out hefty gut grenades to satiate your morning lust or lingering hangover. Two bucks and tax rewards the hunger pangs (or thumping headache) with a hefty potato, egg and chile-blasted burrito, while the daily specials, all of which include cheese, sausage, shredded beef, bacon, ham or chorizo, ring in at a mere $3. They're large enough to get you through to lunch, and no one gives a damn if you dribble grease down your chin while sharing a picnic table with other like-minded gluttons.

Readers' Choice: Santiago's

Rise and shine! Araujo's, a colorful storefront spot in the Federal Boulevard breakfast-burrito triangle that also includes a Santiago's and Jack-n-Grill, opens at 6 a.m. weekdays (7 a.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. Sunday) and starts handing out the city's best cheap breakfast just minutes later. Every day of the week, Araujo's offers a special breakfast burrito from opening until 11 a.m. for just $1.50, the tortilla packed with scrambled eggs, cubes of potato, bits of green chiles and the chef's choice of meat (bacon one day, sausage the next), with cheese and green chile filling all the cracks. It's a hefty package that you can enjoy in the restaurant or take to go, and if you need help waking up, be sure to order that green chile hot.

Readers' Choice: Santiago's

You won't find a brewery with a more dedicated clientele than the Copper Kettle, and you won't find a brewery that caters more to its regulars than this spot owned by Jeremy Gobien and Kristen Kozik. Stuck in a hidden business park between Denver and Aurora, the Copper Kettle has had to expand three times in less than a year of operation, in part because of regulars grateful for a craft-beer outpost on their side of town (a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival didn't hurt, either). This core group also makes up the brewery's fifty-member Brew Club, a beer-loving bunch of folks who were the first to buy the equivalent of fifty beers after Copper Kettle opened. Every member gets their own stein, along with special beer rates and opportunities to hang with the owners. "A lot of them, we see three or four times a week, and we know them intimately," Kozik says. "They have promoted us more than anyone else."

It's hard to imagine a brewpub with an ethos that better fits its community than that of Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. From the amiable and eclectic staff members to the trippy decor, from the big, chewy beers, brewed right on site, to the menu specializing in fresh ingredients and new takes on old classics, Mountain Sun has a vibe that defines Boulder. Show up at 4:20 p.m. (yeah, that 4:20) and you're likely to find a new beer being tapped, but don't bring your credit card: Mountain Sun and its sister pubs, Southern Sun and Denver's Vine Street Pub, don't take them, although they'll let you mail your money in later if need be. And this year, Mountain Sun will get even more experimental when the company shifts most of its brewing operations to Denver, allowing the Boulder brewers to free their minds — and their suds.

Readers' Choice: Wynkoop Brewing Company

We've never found a better reason to lift our head off the pillow than brunch at Encore. Start the day off right with a plate of ethereal ricotta-filled beignets and a bloody Mary to soothe the debauchery from the night before, then move on to one of the other marvels created by chef Paul Reilly. Our favorite is his magnificent lamb posole, sidekicked with all the necessary accoutrements — sliced radishes, onions, cilantro and lime wedges — and capped by creamy scrambled eggs.

Readers' Choice: Snooze

Juicy Burger

Juicy Burger & Dogs, a buzzy joint in the 'burbs, makes the best burger around — and it's easy to see why. That's because the burger isn't all gussied up with elaborate toppings or brioche bread. Instead, a hand-molded, properly salt-and-peppered patty — made of freshly ground beef, lamb or chicken — is char-grilled until it gushes fatty juices and oozes the scent of an outdoor barbecue, then slipped onto griddled pumpernickel or a white bun baked by Udi's, blanketed with a thick slice of melted Tillamook cheese or smeared with spreadable cheddar. You don't need anything more for a great burger, but the standard condiments — tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, grilled and raw onions, ketchup and mustard — are available as free add-ons. And while you have to pay for them, the fries are perfection, too.

Readers' Choice: Cherry Cricket

Mark Manger

Like a glistening oasis in a seemingly endless stretch of desert, twelve reaches out to thirsty foodies with what is consistently one of the town's best wine lists — and definitely Denver's best by-the-glass list. Each version is more swoon-worthy than the last, and chef/owner Jeff Osaka and his talented right hand (and wine guru) Tristan Toney recently rolled out a brand-spankin'-new set of fifteen supremely quaffable sips. A great by-the-glass list must be able to multi-task like a mofo, simultaneously appealing to pre-dinner (or hell, sometimes no-dinner) guests who're eager to drink around a bit; satisfy a tableful of diners enjoying disparate dishes; and tantalize curious wine lovers with intriguing new labels. The list at twelve does all this and more — for less, because when you're dining at the bar, all wines by the glass are half-price. No wonder twelve hits it out of the Ballpark neighborhood, every single time.

Readers' Choice: Lala's Wine Bar & Pizzeria

Best Central/South American Restaurant

Maria Empanada

Three years ago, Buenos Aires native Lorena Cantarovici decided to open a catering business using her mother's recipes for empanadas and other Argentine specialties. The business went so well that by last fall, she needed a bigger kitchen. She found it in a strip-mall storefront that looks oddly like a log cabin. Inside, she has just enough room for two tables and a counter, where she keeps a glass case stocked with a dozen or so different types of empanadas plus dulce de leche-based desserts, tartas (savory pies) and eggy Spanish tortillas. But that's all she needs to keep diners happy. Cantarovici's empanadas are the real deal. The flaky crusts — shiny from a finishing brush of oil or butter and crispy on the edges — give way to a mouthful of fillings that range from corn to ham and stretchy mozzarella or braised beef with just a little kiss of heat. These empanadas offer the true taste of Argentina — and it's delicious.

Readers' Choice: Cafe Brazil

One hit restaurant won't be enough for Lon Symensma, whose prominence in Denver's culinary scene has risen like the perfect soufflé. But until the culinary luminary unleashes a spinoff to ChoLon, his Asian-influenced restaurant downtown, we'll continue to curtsy and bow at his feet for gracing our city with a remarkably refined restaurant and a menu that displays his pivotal role in influencing how we eat. Focused, provocative and ambitious, Symensma's beautifully presented dishes run wild — as does his imagination — and the results are nothing short of stunning. Open your mouth and you'll understand why there's a continued clamor for his food...and more of his restaurants.

Readers' Choice: Justin Brunson

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