Best Chicken Wings 2018 | DMZ Pub | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Mark Antonation

Even in Aurora, where Korean restaurants are more common than a Fourteener in Colorado, DMZ is a well-kept secret, offering a menu of drinking food in the "hof" (or beer hall) tradition. After you've had a chance to order a round of beers, peruse the menu for something fun like tteok-bokki (fat rice cakes in a slick chili sauce) or cheesy corn; just be sure to start with an order of Korean fried chicken wings and an extra stack of napkins. Somehow simultaneously sticky and crunchy, DMZ's wings come in multiple heat levels; the hottest could kick off a nuclear reaction. Stay one step ahead of Trump by hitting Aurora's DMZ before the president visits Kim Jong Un and triggers a meltdown of his own.

Readers' Choice: Fire on the Mountain

A decade in and the master still reigns supreme as the king of Denver sandwich shops. At Masterpiece Deli, you can't go wrong with properly made classics like the Reuben, Cubano or Italian, but you can also step it up with originals like the braised beef brisket with Taleggio fondue (a better Philly cheesesteak), or the seared ahi tuna wedged into, of all things, an English muffin (which somehow works). Founder Justin Brunson does fancier things at Old Major just a few blocks away, but Masterpiece still lives up to its tagline: "Fine dining between bread." And not just for lunch and dinner; breakfast sandwiches here are equally stellar, especially if you include house-cured bacon in your stack.

Readers' Choice: Stack's Subs

Best Sandwich in a Non-Sandwich Shop

Hops & Pie

Hops & Pie

When a sandwich is as perfect as The Italian at Berkeley hot spot Hops & Pie, you pray it will never leave the menu. Given that this particular goodie has been on the roster since the restaurant opened, though, fans are probably safe. The sandwich comes layered with thinly sliced salami, mortadella, prosciutto, provolone, crisp lettuce, a pile of housemade pickles, crunchy banana peppers, tomato and a red wine vinegar aioli. The combination creates a mouthful of meaty wonder and a richness that's cut by the bright pickles and crunchy vegetables. The bread is a marvel, too, a fresh hoagie that Hops & Pie makes with IPA beer. The result is a pliable little loaf that easily holds the contents while giving way when you bite in.

Mark Antonation

Improving on the ice cream sandwich is a daunting proposition. How much better can it get than ice cream smashed between two cookies? Sweet Cooie's tackles the problem with aplomb, using a fresh doughnut made in-house to engulf a scoop of your choice of ice cream flavors. This Congress Park shop comes from the same team that brought Little Man Ice Cream to LoHi, so you know the frozen stuff is going to be good; we recommend the salted Oreo cookie ice cream. The doughnut is briefly warmed in a sandwich press before being drizzled in doughnut glaze and handed to you in a paper sleeve. A sweeter, messier, more wonderful sandwich will never be found in Denver. And it's hard to imagine a sweeter place to enjoy it than Sweet Cooie's, named after owner Paul Tamburello's mother.

Best Ice Cream Sandwich With a Name You Can't Pronounce

High Point Creamery

High Point Creamery, which got its start in Hilltop, finally opened a second location last year, inside the Denver Central Market in RiNo. Being neighborly, owners Erika Thomas and Chad Stutz decided to collaborate with Izzio Artisan Bakery just across the market hall. The result of the teamwork is the Ice Kouign Sandwich, named for the French pastry, a kouign-amann, that it's built on. Say "queen" and you're close enough, and say it close enough to the counter so that an ice cream clerk will hear you and make one for you. The pastry itself is like a salty-sweet version of a croissant in circular form; it's cut in half and layered with your choice of ice cream. Good fences make good neighbors, but in this case, good neighbors make great desserts.

You've never seen an ice cream parlor like this one, and not just because a freezer door in the back leads to a bar. Unlike most ice cream shops, which buy and customize a pre-made base, Frozen Matter makes its own custard at its micro-dairy plant, so the owners/scoop-meisters can tailor each batch of rich, creamy custard to the ingredients lavished within. And what ingredients! Coffee picks up the fruitiness and nuttiness of cold-brew Huckleberry Roasters; butter pecan teems with salty, buttery pecans; chocolate is rich and deep, thanks to imported Valrhona chocolate. And the combos are pure genius: There's Good Time Campfire, with bourbon custard, chocolate-covered graham crackers, bacon and marshmallows, and Stollen, a wintertime favorite with nuggets of dried-fruit-studded bread, made in-house from an authentic German recipe. If you don't have time to pop in at the bar, you can still enjoy your dessert with a spirit, either in boozy shakes or ready-made ice cream flavors such as Nutella stout. Cheers!

Readers' Choice: Little Man Ice Cream

Mark Antonation

Natascha Hess, who runs the Ginger Pig food truck with her husband, Steve, lived in China for a year while in college; her "Chinese mom" taught her the ins and outs of traditional cooking during that time. The result of her immersion is obvious in the food at the Ginger Pig, especially Hess's Chinese fried chicken, a take on a dish called la zi ji that's perfumed with five-spice and given a hint of heat with ringlets of pickled Fresno chiles. The menu offers a tour of other Asian countries, too, with deep-fried spheres of rice called Bangkok Balls topped with Thai red curry, a banh mi bowl that takes the best of the Vietnamese sandwich and serves it over rice, and pork char siu that's spicy-sweet and respectful of the dish's Chinese origins. Catch that pig at Boulder's Rayback Collective or this summer at the Boulder County Farmers' Market.

Readers' Choice: King of Wings

GQue Championship BBQ

"Championship" is just the right word to describe pit master Jason Ganahl's Westminster smokehouse, where you can chow down on pleasing pig in pulled pork or rib form, salivate over slices of brisket or try out the tempting turkey. Fans of Kansas City-style 'cue will find lots to love here, though this is really competition-class cooking, which means Ganahl takes every opportunity to amp up the flavor. Even-keeled smoking, a powerful rub and tangy sauces that don't overpower the meats are the hallmarks of this true Front Range BBQ champ.

Readers' Choice: Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que

Cruise along Littleton Boulevard until you see the Pyramid Liquors sign, then pull into the parking lot for a smoky surprise. TRU owner and pit master James Diaz fires up the mesquite and hits ribs, chicken thighs, pork loin, brisket and beef tri-tip with a powerful dose of smoke, as is appropriate for his Tex-Mex style of barbecue. The menu changes daily, but there's always something good. If you can keep from gorging on too much meat, save room for homemade flour tortillas, charro beans and smoked baked potatoes.

Danielle Lirette

Every bite of barbecue at Roaming Buffalo is a blissful experience, whether you choose Colorado-themed meats like smoked bison ribs or pulled lamb shoulder, or wallow in smokehouse classics like brisket, ribs and spicy sausage. On top of the regular roster, owners Coy and Rachael Webb cook up something special each weekday, from barbecue tacos to smoked and loaded baked potatoes. And come Friday, a treat emerges from the smoker that you've likely never tried before: burnt ends made with pork belly instead of beef brisket. Burnt ends are usually sliced from the fattiest section of the brisket, so using equally fatty pork belly proves an appropriate stroke of genius. Juicy, smoky and just barely sweet, these piggy nuggets make every Friday just a little bit better.

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