When Delores Tronco and Tony Maciag took a chance on a shipping-container development in the Ballpark/RiNo neighborhood for the home of their new restaurant, the area was trending in the right direction — but its success wasn't yet a fait accompli. Work & Class, with its feel-good combination of craveable eats and drinks, sealed the deal, making the neighborhood one of the hottest in town and a seat on the restaurant's patio or at its concrete communal table even hotter. Putting out spectacular Latin and American food that has since nabbed chef-owner Dana Rodriguez a James Beard nomination for Best Chef Southwest, the packed, noisy place is on a perpetual wait, as people can't get enough of the meats such as cochinita pibil, cabrito (roasted goat) and coriander-roasted lamb served by the quarter, half or full pound. Sides and desserts — think custardy chickpea croquettes, Brussels sprout-apple-bacon hash and deeply caramelized butterscotch pudding — reflect Rodriguez's high-end training and unpretentious approach.
Readers' choice: Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery