Best Sugar High 2012 | Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Forget Proust's madeleine. For many of us, a search for things past is a quest for a candy-soaked childhood, and Rocket Fizz has all those elusive treats, from Zagnut bars to giant wax lips to those fake cigarette packs of gum that set you on the road to hell. The impressive chain opened a spacious store in Writer's Square earlier this year, and independent operator Patrick Evans has the place well-stocked with vintage signs, rare sweets, exotic sodas, taffies and suckers, and an astonishing array of Japanese strangeness. Bacon soda, anyone?

Home renovation materials, large appliances and furniture aren't cheap, but Habitat for Humanity's metro Denver thrift store lets customers pick and pull everything from lumber to light fixtures at huge discounts. Since 1979, store profits have made it possible for all donations to fund Habitat's homeownership program for low-income families. Donations of cash, materials or appliances to the store are tax-deductible, and there's even a deconstruction team that will travel to homes or businesses to take salvage items at no charge. The store itself is a treasure trove of inexpensive building materials, home improvement and decor items, tools, vintage and newer washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers and the occasional convection oven. Inventory changes every day, and the staff is always willing to help load or unload the heavy stuff.

Readers' Choice: ARC

This fresh Cherry Creek North storefront is all about going green: A forward-thinking lost-and-found of furniture and other items crafted from reclaimed materials of all kinds, the project of owners Daniel Louis and Keir Myers opened last spring, and it'll make you rethink everything you ever thought you knew about home decor and design. The pair has found uses for just about anything under the sun: marble countertop remnants, tin ceiling tiles, compressed wood scraps, old window frames, barn wood, wine barrels and fence pickets — you name it, they've used it well. And that's just the furniture. On a smaller scale, you'll also find handbags fashioned from vintage car upholstery, coasters cut from vinyl records and chairs hammered out of old street signs; they also offer patio furniture made from construction-site scraps. In the 21st century, what's old is new.

In case you haven't noticed, wallpaper is making a comeback, and that truth wasn't lost on wallpaper aficionados Ashley Allen and Carrie Dailey, who were blogging about the home-design tool long before they opened Covered. They also discovered that the kinds of modern wall coverings they preferred — clean, easy, natural prints and updated retro looks — weren't easy to find in Denver showrooms. Much like the fabrics carried at stores like Fancy Tiger, the artful new-look wallpaper designs come more often than not from independent sources. Obviously, the two saw a niche, and Covered was designed to fill it. Which it does, beautifully and with a nod to folks willing to do their own work in order to produce a fresh new look. The small shop's walls, lined with a mixture of vintage and contemporary patterns, are guaranteed to get ideas flowing, and catalogues are provided to help DIYers in their searches; Allen and Dailey are there primarily to give and take as folks dream, and they hope you'll drop in and stay a while. For now, Covered is open only on weekends or by appointment.

Want to know if your kid's school is top-notch or bottom-rung but don't speak the lingo required to sift through weighty reports? takes that data and translates it into easy-to-read snapshots that rank schools on a scale of A to F. Started by a coalition of education advocacy groups, the website is clean and simple. A-plus.

When it comes to marijuana radio in Denver, the team at iCannabis has the market covered. Current shows include The Marijuana Report with Vincent Palazzotto; Sex Pot Radio with Jenny Kush and Hemptress December; and Thunderdome Radio with Scott Greene, for you Occupiers. With shows ranging from two stoners talking issues to attorneys giving legal advice, iCannabis Radio is a valuable resource for Colorado patients...if you can remember to tune in, that is.

Courtesy Mondo Vino Facebook page

Shopping for wine can be unbelievably intimidating. Do points matter? And exactly how the hell are you supposed to decipher dozens of bottles whose labels are in French? (No, we can't remember our eighth-grade conjugation, either.) Mondo Vino removes all the fear from the process by delivering a user-friendly experience that'll make you feel as comfortable as if you were browsing for books or scouring record crates in search of your favorite beats. Practically everyone we know has a Mondo story, and heaps praise upon the store's crazy-good selection and near-fanatical dedication to customer service. In search of a special sparkler to present to the host of Saturday night's dinner party? Mondo has a bottle for that. Thirsty for something cheap and uncomplicated to pound after a tough day at work? Mondo has a bottle for that, too. The staff is full of wine wizards who routinely reel off as many (or as few, if you're just not into it that day) obscure facts as you can absorb about practically every product in the store. Mondo delivers, it offers free tastings and, oh, yeah — it's about to launch a series of wine tours, crisscrossing wine regions from the Western Slope to Europe.

Readers' Choice: Mondo Vino

Courtesy Marczyk Fine Foods

You know the term "small but mighty"? That might as well be the slogan for this Uptown shrine to wines that are both excellent and represent excellent value. Tucked into a tiny spot behind the original Marczyk Fine Foods, Marczyk Fine Wines manages to sling some seriously sexy juice, with a major focus on indie producers (Chile's Oveja Negra and Oregon pinot maker Rascal) and indigenous varieties (Italy's cortese, Spain's txakolina). And you don't need to worry about dropping major coin on an obscure offering; with price points that routinely ring up under $15, you can afford to gamble on having your mind blown by something unknown. Never mind that slogan we just suggested; owner Pete Marczyk, who possesses a stellar palate and also has a way with words, has already come up with the perfect one: "the best wines you've never heard of."

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