Best Ice Cream Sandwich 2018 | Sweet Cooie's Ice Cream and Confectionary | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
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.

Mark Antonation

Though this Lakewood pizza joint doesn't have many bells and whistles, what's coming out of the oven makes you want to celebrate. Choose between Pizzeria Lui's red and white pies; offerings range from the kale — a red pie with kale, homemade sausage, red onion, fresh mozzarella, mushroom, garlic and parmesan — to the potato, a white pizza with Colorado-grown Yukon golds, homemade chorizo, roasted red pepper, mozzarella, garlic, green onion and a farm-fresh egg. Each pizza is cooked in a 900-degree wood-burning oven, which does the job quickly and very well. The thin crust emerges with a slight char and bubbling cheese so alluring that you'll want to take a bite even when it's still molten. Avoid the urge: There's plenty to savor here, and you don't want to singe your tastebuds before you have a chance to do so.

Readers' Choice: Blue Pan Pizza

Summer Powell

Owner Charlie Calogero Puma opened Enzo's End back in 1996, when this part of Colfax Avenue was still sketchy. It's been around so long, it's often overshadowed by the new pizza spots that have popped up. And that's a shame, because Enzo's End is really the living end when it comes to thin-crust pies. On top of that crust, you add your choice of homemade red sauce or a garlic-and-olive-oil white sauce, then layer on any of the thirty-plus toppings, ranging from pepperoni, meatballs and prosciutto to Sicilian green olives, green chiles and feta. (You can also pick from one of the many combos suggested on the menu.) Delivery in a select zone is free, though you can always dine in and enjoy the passing parade on Colfax along with your pizza.

Readers' Choice: Pizzeria Locale

Molly Martin

Detroit and Denver may not have much in common, but Blue Pan has built a friendship bridge paved with pepperoni between the two cities. Detroit-style pie, as executed at these two saucy outposts, is rectangular, high-sided and overflowing with sauce and cheese. Tangy Wisconsin brick cheese snuggles against the steel pan as the pizza cooks, creating a crusty, caramelized edge. Classic cupping pepperoni is a wise choice for a topping, but Blue Pan furthers the Michigan-Colorado connection with the Prospector, a bold combo of Italian sausage, green chiles, mushrooms and fresh garlic. One bite will leave you with deep feelings for the Motor City.

Readers' Choice: Blue Pan Pizza

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