Senor Bear
Danielle Lirette

We discovered the best French fries in Denver when we ordered the brocoli saltado at Señor Bear, the LoHi paean to Central and South American food. These are not traditional French fries: The crispy potato strands top a dish that's a vegetarian play on a traditional Peruvian stir-fried steak-and-fries dish. While the fries are fabulous on their own (and, in fact, you can order the spuds as a side), we'd be loath to give up the deeply umami-rich, stir-fried oyster mushrooms and broccoli that anchor this plate, nor would we want to part with the chile-sesame glaze finisher. So instead, we savor a few of these fries naked, then drag a few more through the pooled sauce on the cast-iron skillet in which the dish is served, and finally polish off the rest in bites combined with the vegetables.

Readers' Choice: BurgerFi

The Pig & the Sprout
Danielle Lirette

When a French fry is cooked properly, you almost don't need to eat it to know how good it will be; appearance alone gives away a kitchen's expertise. At the Pig & the Sprout, fries come out a golden hue that conveys crunchy from the get-go — and they stay that way to the final bite. You could eat them plain, but why not make the best better? Go hog-wild with Cheddah Pig Fries — a savory combo of Old Bay seasoning, bacon and cheesy fondue, or pig out on a gravy-soaked poutine loaded with the house-smoked brisket.

Best Fried Potatoes That Aren't French Fries

There...

there...
Mark Antonation

In Spain, potatoes are cut into cubes, not strips, for a dish called patatas bravas. There..., a LoHi bar and eatery where international small plates are served with a sense of whimsy and a set of chopsticks, patatas bravas stand in for French fries when something starchy is in order. These potatoes maintain their crunch under a robe of mouth-watering, slightly spicy sauce akin to another Spanish classic, romesco. Up the messiness factor with a sunnyside-up egg for the equivalent of a late-night breakfast, especially when sided with a jam cocktail.

DMZ Pub
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

Masterpiece Delicatessen
Summer Powell

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
Mark Manger

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.

Sweet Cooie's Ice Cream and Confectionary
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

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.

Frozen Matter
Danielle Lirette

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

The Ginger Pig
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

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