Best Steakhouse 2013 | Shanahan's | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
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/Instagram

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.

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.

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.

The hours — or lack of them — are maddening at Thai Street Food, which, despite whatever the posted schedule may read, is sometimes open when it's meant to be and sometimes not. In other words, dial the digits first. But once you've pushed your way through the front door slapped with signs, glowing reviews, notices of holiday and vacation closures and other paper paraphernalia, a brilliant culinary odyssey through Thailand is your reward. Euphoric curries, lashed with chiles and pungent spices, are mind-altering, while the green-papaya salad, tart with citrus and salty with dried shrimp, is among the best salads in the city. Tom yum, its broth a pitch-perfect balance of hot and sour, swishes with seafood, and the noodle dishes, particularly the noodle jelly salad studded with pork, bright with fresh herbs and flamed with red chiles that make your stomach quake like a coin-operated waterbed, are magical. If only there was a liquor license.

We love sweet, fruit-thickened jams, and we especially love what they do to a buttered baguette at breakfast. But raspberries, apricots and figs don't have anything on kaya, the coconut jam served at Makan Malaysian Cafe. Made with eggs, coconut milk, sugar and floral pandan essence, the jam is cooked for more than an hour over a double-boiler until it is thick enough to spread. And spread it you will, in a thick, custardy layer over pieces of white toast, giving just the right accent to your soft-boiled egg in the traditional Malaysian breakfast of kaya toast, sold here on weekends only. Hint: It's probably not very good with peanut butter.

Molly Martin

Biker Jim's seems like the last place you should be able to get a vegan meal — let alone a damn good vegan meal. The spot is best known for its array of sausages crafted with exotic meat, ranging from rattlesnake to reindeer. Don't let its reputation fool you, though, because Biker Jim's serves a spicy vegan dog, a plant-based dog doppelgänger with a perfect balance of herbs and spices and a rich, meaty texture. The fixings bar has plenty of vegan options, too, and there are several dairy-free sides at Biker Jim's that you can order to supplement your dog.

The offerings at Vegan Van keep getting better as the all-plant-based food truck keeps rolling. Owner and operator Amie Arias has been incorporating local products in her shifting seasonal menu, and she's meticulous about updating the van's online calendar and Twitter feed, so fans always know what's on the roster — and where to get the goodies. You'll usually find Vegan Van parked outside a microbrewery, Nooch Vegan Market or Sweet Action Ice Cream at dinnertime, making it easy for vegans on the go to grab some guilt-free grub.

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