Best Magic Store 2014 | Mago's Magic Shoppe | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

There's something magical in the air in the Golden Triangle, ever since Matt Jaramillo, aka magician Max Mago, and artist/collector Kristine Hipps opened Mago's Magic Shoppe. For one thing, locals no longer have to ask themselves, "Where can I find myself a magic wand, trick deck and no-tear toilet paper in this town?" Check, check and check. Mago's also offers one-of-a-kind curiosities, vintage magic posters and comic-book novelties.

Whether your thumb is as green as the Emerald City or you want to learn how to plant your first seed, take a trip to City Floral, Denver's oldest working greenhouse. Other greenhouses smell like Monsanto; when you walk into City Floral, you breathe sweet, fertile air perfumed by a jungle of indoor and outdoor plants nourished by the sun beaming in through the greenhouse roof. Walk over to the seed racks and pick out a few of the hundreds of varieties. Browse the impressive array of potters, indoor and outdoor plants, gardening tools, chicken feed, organic fertilizers, wind chimes, hydroponic supplies and more. Questions? City Floral's knowledgeable and energetic staffers are always happy to chat about your plants.

It's big, it's bold, and for nearly fifty years, this family owned establishment has been both a neighborhood staple and a regional destination for anyone and everyone, from the guys looking for the cheapest fifth available or a 24-pack of party beers, to party planners who need five cases of reasonably priced cabernet, to wine, spirits and beer geeks seeking the latest hot bottle or offering from the newest Colorado craft brewers or distillers. In 2008, Argonaut Wine & Liquor decided to expand dramatically, but it stayed in the same gritty location, helping to revitalize the block around it while adding to its already massive selection. The store also hosts frequent charity drives and off-site tastings that benefit local nonprofits. And that is something to toast.

On your way to a blow-out bash? Dinner soiree? Wedding? Funeral? Tupperware party? There's a liquor store — sometimes dozens — in every neighborhood to fill your box or brown paper bag with spirits, suds or syrah. But for a liquor store that delivers superior service, deep knowledge, fair price points and a wonderfully curated selection, the deceptively small Little's Wine & Spirits knocks it out of the park. If you're on the hunt for an obscure bottle of juice from a boutique vineyard, an impossible-to-find-elsewhere six-pack of terrific beers or a thoughtful recommendation on whiskey, vodka or gin, this shop's ambassadors should have the answer — and if they don't, they'll go the extra mile to find whatever you're in the market for. The beer "cave" is a thing of pure beauty, and the informally educational — and free — beer and wine tastings, which take place every Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and again on Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m., ensure that you won't leave without a bottle or six to add to your home stash.

Courtesy Mondo Vino Facebook page

When you're counting up Denver's liquid assets, Mr. B's should be at the top of the list. Over the past two decades, Ballpark residents have changed from winos to wine connoisseurs, and brothers Scott and Jared Blauweiss's shop has something for every taste and price point. Although Mr. B's has a full liquor license, the wine selection is particularly good — and a good deal — and the super-friendly staff is ready, willing and able to pour out helpful advice. The store hosts regular wine tastings, and, as a bonus, you earn points every time you buy.

Founded nearly twenty years ago, the Denver Bread Company still wows with its array of chewy-crusted European-style loaves. Even if you arrive late and the racks are mostly empty, there's a lingering smell from the ovens to tell you that what's happening here is the real deal. The best remains the boule, a slightly sour, crusty round loaf with petal-like scorings in the flour-dusted top. Made with bread flour, organic whole wheat and organic rye, the loaf is just as good toasted with butter and jam as plain, which is how you'll eat it standing in the storefront, nibbling on a wedge while you decide what else to order. Will it be the tangy kalamata sourdough? The Gorgonzola or olive focaccia? Or maybe a bag of shortbread cookies with dark chocolate and tarragon. You might be tempted to go home with one of everything, but loaves aren't cheap — so be prepared to hand over some dough for your dough: The Denver Bread Company doesn't take credit cards.

Denver Bread Company 3200 Irving Street
Juliet Wittman

Unlike many of the markets that have sprouted up across the metro area, the Boulder Farmers' Market is truly a farmers' market, a place set up so that local farmers can sell their goods and customers can meet the people who produce their food. You can stop by a stall and ask the farmer why your raspberries at home are dying, how he cooks chard or how his crops were affected by last year's flood. You can discover new and interesting vegetables you'd never find in the store, like small creamy-white eggplants or the huge, delicious, pale-lilac variety called Violette di Firenze; the market also features amazing plants to put in your own garden. Not a vegetarian, but don't want to feel guilty about eating meat? The ranchers and chicken farmers will describe in careful detail the lives of the creatures they raised — none of which suffered the way commodity animals do. Buy duck or duck eggs. Try goat. The market also boasts, among many other things, baked goods and toffee, great coffee, salmon, bread, honey and jams, soaps and flowers. And as the summer unfolds, you'll find — more or less in this order — strawberries, apricots, plums, peaches, raspberries, crisp apples and succulent pears.

Juliet Wittman

Every year, Matt Aboussie goes to Alaska's Bristol Bay — the world's largest sockeye-salmon run — to fish for salmon, and then sells the delicious, omega-3 laden fish at the Boulder Farmers' Market: flash-frozen, hand-cut, boneless, skin-on fillets; smoked salmon flavored with peppercorns or dill; a fine silky lox. Aboussie is almost always manning the stall, and if you stop to buy and chat you'll find out he's passionate about a couple of things besides fishing. He's evangelical about the movement to protect Bristol Bay from mining for copper and gold — "These fish are the ecological heartbeat of one of the most pristine and valuable regions on the planet," says his vivid, beautifully designed website — and he also loves to cook. Not only will he share any culinary discoveries he's made, fishy or otherwise, but he's also interested in how you'll cook your salmon (very briefly, we'd suggest, and without smothering the clean taste under a lot of other ingredients).

At Broken Shovels, there's no hiding where artisanal cheeses ultimately come from. Andrea Martin's working goat farm is the backdrop for her weekly Sunday on-farm markets, where tours of the goat pens and sheds go hoof-to-hoof with the merchandise — creamy, beautifully crafted kheer-flavored yogurt, Ethiopian spiced logs, Camembert rounds and cognac Banons wrapped in grape leaves, that Martin makes and packages herself — throughout the summer, and again for fall holidays. While you taste the cheeses and sample goods from a couple of other vendors, Martin will even grill up tasty cheese-and-jam sandwiches over a wood fire. But right now is the time to meet the babies at Broken Shovels, where spring has sprung and the adorable kids and fancy chickens are hopping all over the place. It's a joyous rural experience for grownups and kids — human kids — alike, and it's only fifteen minutes from downtown Denver.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of