Devil's Food Cookery
Cassandra Kotnik

Nothing beats a hot crepe slathered in Nutella — unless it's a crepe slathered in Nutella at Devil's Food, the Washington Park eatery that feels like a home away from home. But with graters on the wall and '60s-style appliances in the dining room, the home it feels like is your great-grandmother's, not yours — though your great-grandma never made crepes like these. Chef de cuisine Brian Crow uses the pancake-like shells as symbols of the season. In summer, he fills them with brandied peaches, marcona almonds and white-chocolate sauce. In winter he showcases citrus, bringing a pop of brightness to cold, snowy mornings with blood-orange segments, mascarpone and semi-sweet-chocolate sauce. With only one variety on the breakfast menu, you don't have the choice you'll find at more traditional creperies — but choice is overrated when the crepes are this good.

Chef Jorel Pierce is a guy who thinks -- and cooks -- way outside the box, so the dan-dan noodles at Euclid Hall are predictably unpredictable. This version focuses on largesse from a suckling Yorkshire pig, which Pierce breaks down in the basement kitchen of his culinary domain. The result is crumbles of pork, char siu edged with an arch of seasoned fat, and pork loin, all floating in a salty, musky, pork-intensive broth swamped with udon noodles and fragrant with the scent of Szechuan peppers and housemade oyster sauce. To this Pierce adds a fistful of scallions and peanuts, pairing the dish with a little bowl of housemade hot sauce that gives it a shock of heat. The swine shines.
Patxi's Pizza

No matter how you toss it, smear it, top it, slice it or spin it, pizza is like religion: The arguments about which style is the most blessed are a world without end. But when it comes to deep-dish pizza, the gospel of Patxi's rings loud and clear. The San Francisco-rooted piehole palace, which came to Denver in late 2012 and now has three metro locations — in Englewood, Cherry Creek and Uptown — cooks up real deep-dish, Chicago-inspired "stuffed" pizzas topped with everything from spinach to Denver's own Polidori sausage, as well as a generous mantle of whole-milk mozzarella and a second sheet of dough paved with an herb-studded sauce. The hefty, hunky pizzas require a knife, a fork and a pile of napkins, but you'll be singing their praises until your next "I'm a bona fide glutton" confession.

Spuntino
Danielle Lirette

Spuntino has metamorphosed more times than a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. But one aspect of this neighborhood Italian spot, now owned by powerhouse food couple Yasmin Lozada-Hissom and John Broening, has always had its wings: dessert. Lozada-Hissom, a five-time James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist, guarantees a spectacular end to your meal with sweets inspired as much by Italian classics as by childhood favorites. Gelato, made in-house daily, remains a standby, whether by itself or paired with a "melted" cookie made from Valhrona chocolate. But the more crafted plates really shine, showcasing flavors only someone with her vision could put together in such a harmonious, never ostentatious, way: orange olive-oil torta with fennel, fig and pistachio; chocolate, sea salt and caramel tart with brown butter-bay leaf gelato. And while her desserts are sweet — they are dessert, after all — they're not over the top, so sugar isn't the first and last thing you taste.

Pizzeria Locale
Mark Antonation

Two bucks doesn't buy much these days — maybe half a cupcake or a Hershey bar. But at Denver's Pizzeria Locale, a fast-casual version of the Boulder pizza temple, all it takes is two George Washingtons to end your meal of pizza mais, pork meatballs and arugula salad on a sweet note. The pudding-like budino comes in a plastic cup slightly larger than a shot glass, with a rich butterscotch flavor that's deep, never burnt, and without any trendy bacon bits to sully the pleasure of caramelized sugar. Whipped cream, caramel and chocolate ganache provide the proverbial cherry on top. With pizza prices nearly as low as that of the dessert, you can order budino for everybody. Heck, you could even pay it forward and buy one for everybody in the house and still go home with money to spare.

Star Kitchen
Lauren Monitz

It doesn't matter what time you show up at Star Kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday, because the clock is always stuck on "full and frenetic." Above the rising decibel of deliberating diners, you're marshaled — and sometimes jostled — to your table by a hurried host or hostess. And then the fun really begins, with effusive cart-pushers pimping baskets of pork shumai, chicken feet, dainty dumplings bursting with shrimp and chives, sweet barbecued pork buns, salt-and-pepper squid and egg-custard tarts. Just when you've stretched your belly to the point of no return, another trolley rolls by, tempting you with one more basket of rice-noodle wraps, a platter of Chinese broccoli, sesame balls. It would be easy to stay here all day — but that would be depriving another party in the impatient crowd of its chance to enjoy this moveable feast.

Gallo di Nero

The building that today houses Gallo di Nero has swallowed up plenty of restaurants, including Fired Up, which suffered an electrical fire last year. But Gallo di Nero rose from the ashes, and at happy hour, this comfortable yet classy restaurant offers a smoking deal: small-plate versions of many of the entrees on its evening menu, most under $10, and many big enough to serve as a meal in themselves. If you want to stuff your face with cheap nachos, this is not the place for you. But we guarantee that after a bargain taste of chef Darren Pusateri's ambitious, inventive Italian offerings, you'll be back for more.

Lakeview Lounge
Scott Lentz

At the break of dawn on the last day of Daylight Savings Time, a hearty crew of regulars gather at the Lakeview Lounge — it opens at 7 a.m. — and toast as the sun rises over Sheridan Boulevard, Sloan's Lake and the Denver skyline. It's a time-honored tradition at a weathered dive that time otherwise forgot. While construction gets under way on the old St. Anthony's project, the Lakeview continues with bar business as usual, serving stiff Bloody Marys early in the morning and mystery shots in brown paper bags late into the night. The bar stools have each worn their own set of holes deep into the linoleum; the water closet is a real hellhole. But no matter how dim the lighting, this is a classic dive where the outlook is always sunny.

Chai & Chai

A proper dosa — the wafer-thin, honey-hued, crackly crepe made from finely ground rice and black lentils that's a staple in Southern India — overhangs the plate by several inches. At Chai & Chai, an off-the-beaten-path sleeper in Aurora that doles out both Indian and Arabic dishes, the dosa spans two feet, possibly three, for a sight that's almost as impressive as the taste. Roll up the dosa and load it from a bowl of mildly spiced curried potatoes and a trio of chutneys: a red-chile version that breathes fire; a pale, mellow coconut sauce; and a mint chutney that pops with acidity. One dosa easily feeds two — but you may be too selfish to share, particularly since these epic delights are only available Thursday through Sunday.

Donut Maker

Good things come in all colors of boxes — not just pink ones with hissing snakes and skeletons — and for proof, look no further than Donut Maker, a family-owned shop in Greenwood Village, where doughnuts are still a breakfast food, not a midnight snack. Owner Maureen Ship keeps up with the competition, offering doughnuts topped with Cocoa Pebbles, Oreos, Nutella and even maple bacon. But the classics are what you crave here: tender, hand-cut raised doughnuts; cake doughnuts dusted while hot with cinnamon and sugar; and the old-fashioned, which relies on very cold water and a longer dunk in slightly cooler oil for its irresistibly crackly nubs. Chocoholics should note that chocolate-cake doughnuts are only made on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the shop's busiest days. But even on busy days, you won't have to queue in the cold; when she's not in the shop, Ship has calls routed to her so that she can text your order to the person at the counter, who will have your doughnuts boxed and ready when you arrive.

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