Best Vegan Food Truck 2013 | Vegan Van | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

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

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.

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.

Danielle Lirette

In some cities, naming a restaurant the best vegetarian eatery is faint praise, but in Denver — which is blessed with vegetarian and vegan options at almost every turn, plus a handful of all-herbivore restaurants — it's an honor. And WaterCourse Foods is deserving of that honor once again, partially because of its consistently delicious regular menu and partially because of the imaginative offerings that chef Rachel Kesley whips up throughout the year in seasonal multi-course blowouts paired with wine. The interior is accommodating and welcoming for both couples on anniversary dates and families out for a bite to eat; there's a coffee bar with decadent baked goods (not to mention a decent tea selection); and the wine and beer selections are lovingly chosen. WaterCourse is a venue that pays attention to all aspects of dining, above and beyond what's sent out of the kitchen on a plate — and plant-based eaters of all stripes can appreciate that.

Park Burger makes the (veggie) burger to beat in this city. All four locations stock the same patty, which uses egg to bind together rice, barley and other grains that give it a meaty texture without trying to imitate beef (always a mistake). The result is smashed on a grill and served up toasted golden-brown on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and special sauce. It's tasty enough to work with no more than that, but you can also get creative with your burger, adding a slice of cheese, a fried egg, guacamole, jalapeños or anything else from the add-on menu. (Don't forget Park Burger's crispy, made-to-order fries, too.) The result is a messy delight that falls apart as you eat it — no meat required.

Fresh, pungent herbs, pronounced spices, big plates and lovely service are the hallmarks of Vietnam Grill, a busy strip-mall scene-stealer on Federal Boulevard that, like its neighboring competition, is all bright lights and no-frills decor. But this isn't a see-and-be-seen joint: You come here for the dazzling, adventurous food — and you keep returning because the menu is larded with dozens and dozens of dishes that you didn't get to try the first time, or the second...or the third. Yes, there's pho — plenty of it — and the broths are refreshingly subtle. But the board extends far beyond the traditional Vietnamese soup: buttered quail with caramelized garlic; rice-flour custard cups crowned with shrimp festooned with coconut flakes and spring onions; frog legs prepared every which way; and a remarkable lamb curry garnished with cilantro and peanuts. In a word: Un-pho-gettable.

Denver is notorious for sucking down and spitting out wine bars, so it's something of an accomplishment for an independently owned enoteca to last more than a hot minute. Cellar Wine Bar is now verging on three, and during that time, it's uncorked a perfect pairing of ambience, service and quality juice that continues to surprise and delight downtown dwellers. While the past year was not without ups and downs for this tiny LoHi spot (opening sommelier/manager Evan William and chef Joe Freemond both moved on), there's one thing about CWB that has remained consistent: an always-delicious list full of great wine. Whether you're part of a smitten couple on date night, with friends celebrating the end of a long week, or in need of a quiet spot to relax solo over a glass of something soothing, Cellar Wine Bar continues to welcome you with style — and exactly the wine you've been craving.

Best Wine List at a Restaurant Known for Beer

Euclid Hall

Denver's craft beer scene is officially on fire. Which means that wine lovers are liable to end up at more than a few dining destinations whose emphasis on malt-and-hops-based beverages does not portend a pleasurable evening of wine enjoyment. Thank Bacchus for Euclid Hall, that elusive venue that doesn't overlook guests who prefer vino just because beer is the star of its beverage program. In fact, if you didn't know better, Euclid's crazy-good wine list might make you wonder whether beer really is its bag. White wines run the gamut from albariño to Alsatian gewürztraminer (the ideal pour for those hand-cranked sausages); reds include everything from pinot noir to petit syrah. So the next time you find yourself barside at Euclid Hall, don't be surprised if those suds in your neighbor's bevvie are gracing a glass of bubbly.

Grillin' Wings & Things has really taken off since it opened last year; its wings soar above the rest. In one valiant sitting, you can stuff your face with traditional wings, deep-fried and hand-tossed in one of more than a dozen sauce offerings ranging from sweet to painfully hot, or wings that are char-grilled and liberally rubbed with spice mixtures. But we go hog-wild for the mini-, bone-in pork shank "wings," meaty little pig squealers that make us oink all the way home.

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