The Kitchen

Thanks to extensive relationships with farmers and ranchers, The Kitchen Denver is always in sync with the seasons. So it might seem impossible to single out one dish that best captures a moment in time — tantamount to asking a parent which child he or she loves best. But late summer's burrata-and-peach bruschetta tells you otherwise, with crusty bread, creamy burrata and fat peach slices so juicy and sweet, you taste a string of warm days spent splashing in the pool and cool nights sipping mojitos and barbecuing with friends in every bite.

Patsy's

A river of red sauce once ran through northwest Denver, then known as the North Side and an enclave for Italian families that had emigrated to this country decades before. Many opened their own restaurants, specializing in the dishes of their home country — but those are disappearing fast these days. Pagliacci's closed last summer; Longo's Subway Tavern is gone; Carbone's doors are locked. But Patsy's is still going strong. In fact, this red-sauce joint that opened back in 1921 has returned to a member of the family that founded it, and you can taste that lineage in the city's best plate of spaghetti and meatball. (Yes, meatball.) The perfectly cooked pasta (gluten-free on request) is made in-house, the thick red sauce that blankets it is pungent with garlic and herbs, and that giant meatball? Fat, meaty and juicy. You're on a roll, Patsy's.

Silvi's Kitchen

Ballsy, brash, bold and flavor-bombed pizzas that rely on ultra-fresh ingredients are the specialties at this duo of Udi's locations, both of which toss superb pies that render us speechless — at least while our mouths are occupied. The deeply golden, wood-fired crusts, slightly blackened on the edges, are at once springy and crisp, their surfaces smeared with everything from béchamel to balsamic. Classics like pepperoni are folded into the mix, but the real scene-stealers are the pies topped with such ingredients as kale, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and charred cauliflower. Prosciutto, house-made sausage, fresh herbs and wild mushrooms also make appearances, as do several cheeses, including fresh mozzarella, chèvre and Gouda. These are heavenly pizzas that turn diners into disciples.

Trillium

With plates of aquavit-cured salmon, poached shrimp on brioche, and the deliciously caramelized Norwegian cheese known as ekte gjetost, Trillium is the place to get your Scandinavian groove on. But unless you visit with a fish-shy friend, you might miss the real star of Ryan Leinonen's stylish restaurant: the "Never, ever" New York strip. Named because yucky stuff like antibiotics and hormones never, ever touch the meat, the steak is thick, tender and beefy. And with pickled mushrooms, arugula, leeks, blue-cheese cream and apple-horseradish potato salad accenting the plate, you'll never, ever miss a steakhouse's tired creamed spinach and spuds.

Shanahan's Steakhouse
Lori Midson

Steakhouses are all about unabashed high-roller gluttony, and when you're paying a head and a hoof for their beef, the cow better damn well be worth the price of its hide. Luckily, the steaks at swanky Shanahan's, while ludicrously expensive, make the cut. Mineraly, chewy, dribbling with crimson droplets of blood and beautifully crusted, these are the steaks of cow-craving hedonists, who plunge their knives into the prime-aged flesh, shimmering on stark white plates, and then happily pull out the credit card. The side dishes — the usual suspects, including creamed corn, creamed spinach and potatoes au gratin — are excellent too, although as with everything else here, you'll pay through the barn for the indulgence. But as we all know, luxury has its price.

Sushi Sasa
Linnea Covington

Sushi Sasa is located as close as you get in Denver to a beach: Confluence Park, at the intersection of Cherry Creek and the South Platte. And that's appropriate, because even in this landlocked city, eight-year-old Sushi Sasa is swimming in incredible sushi. Even the simplest tekka maki is a work of art, lavished with the kind of attention that other places don't even give to expensive rolls; the emphasis is on maximizing the impact of the fish itself — the tiny moves that could elevate a simple piece of skipjack, shrimp or bonito into something you might remember for the rest of your life. But don't dive so far into sushi that you forget to occasionally order one of chef-owner Wayne Conwell's imaginative omakase menus, which offer the best in modern and traditional Japanese cuisine.

TRVE Brewing
Danielle Lirette

TRVE Brewing is one of Denver's newest — and smallest — beer-makers, but the long, slender space that was once an art gallery is now home to one of the city's biggest communal tables: a forty-foot, solid-wood masterpiece lined with benches on either side. The thing is so big that traffic had to be stopped on Broadway when it was installed, and, as brewery owner Nick Nunns says, "If you really squeeze a cheek, you can probably fit forty to fifty people." The perfect beer to set on it? Try Hellion, TRVE's low-alcohol "table beer."

Best Takeout When You Feel a Cold Coming On

New York Deli News

When you feel that ominous tickle in your throat, you need chicken soup — and you need it fast. But Grandma's too busy watching your sister's kids to make it for you, and this is hardly the time to pull out the stockpot. So before you crawl under the covers, make a stop at New York Deli News for a box (yes, a cardboard box) full of comfort: chicken in the pot. The meal includes a quart of chicken soup, loaded with curly noodles, shredded chicken and carrots (and salt, but this isn't the time for quibbling); half a chicken; a few slices of rye; and a matzo ball big enough to fling over home plate. Salad is included, too, but save that for when you're feeling better. Even without it, chicken in the pot is big enough to cover your next few meals.

La Calle Taqueria y Carnitas
Mark Antonation

If you're in search of the city's most transcendent taqueria — the one that makes you raise your fist to the heavens, having just discovered enlightenment on a plate — then the entrance to La Calle Taqueria y Carnitas is our pearly gate. Taquerias are an omnipresent fixture on Denver's food landscape, and a religious experience for many of us. Especially this one, where the tacos — more than twenty versions are offered — come in both common and unexpected forms. You can wrap your jaws around tacos al pastor pelted with charred pineapple; steamed tacos stuffed with tongue; tacos de cazuela slapped with slow-roasted pork; and fried tacos filled with cheek meat and thrust in a cazo pan. A smashing salsa bar is the ultimate benediction.

The halal cart parked at the gas station on the corner of Colfax and Josephine is like a bite of the Big Apple spit out in Denver. The cart offers burgers, fries, gyros and corn on the cob, but the big rice plates are the real deal. Try chicken and lamb piled high on a bed of salty rice and bag salad that's then liberally topped with addictive if nondescript red and white sauces. Most full meals (soda included) cost less than six bucks. Food trucks might be all the rage, but this cart is street-smart.

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