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.

Thai Street Food Restaurant

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.

Makan Malaysian Cafe

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.

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
Summer Powell

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.

Vegan Van

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.

Best Vegetarian Dish in a Non-Vegetarian Restaurant

Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine

Tarasco's New Latino Cuisine
Mark Manger

The menu at Tarasco's has a dizzying number of award-worthy dishes; in the past, it's won accolades for its mole and posole. This year, though, what caught our attention was a small item under soups: a traditional Michoacán bean soup called sopa Tarasca that has fresh tortilla strips stirred in and (if you like) queso fresca and crema adorning the top for extra flavor. Without the cheese and crema, it's a fully vegan dish — and, frankly, you don't need those toppings. Order the soup as a side to accompany the grilled cactus, or even one of the meat-laden dishes on the menu (and there are plenty of those). But if you want to make a meal of it, a single bowl of this should fill you up nicely — and we guarantee you'll crave it year-round, soup season or not.

Sam's No. 3
Danielle Lirette

Let's face it: There isn't much for non-meat-eaters on the menu at Sam's No. 3. Not at the oldest one in Aurora, not at the downtown one, which opened a decade ago right where the first Sam's stood in the '20s, and not at the new spot in Glendale. And perhaps that's as it should be, considering that no matter what its location, Sam's has been catering to meat-lovers for close to a century, and certainly long before "vegetarian" or "vegan" were common words in the restaurant lexicon. But Sam's does appreciate herbivores, and proves it with a thick, spicy veggie green chile — a green so tasty that a bowl makes a satisfying meal. But it also works well in a supporting role: smothering huevos rancheros or topping a breakfast burrito. However you enjoy it — and you will — Sam's shows that you don't need pork in the mix to make a great green chile.

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