Best Rooftop Patio 2018 | El Five | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Danielle Lirette

When a new building usurped the view from Linger's rooftop patio, owner Justin Cucci made a logical move: He signed a lease for the fifth floor of that building, regaining his overlook for all time, since Denver zoning codes won't allow construction to rise any higher. We support the move, for it brought us El Five, a sultry homage to European and Middle Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. As at all of Cucci's restaurants, the dining room is a glamorous place to be. But when the weather's nice, that space doesn't hold a candle to the patio, which looks down on Denver's skyline and backs into the bar. Not surprisingly, that outdoor space is so popular, you'll need to get there early to score real estate, or be prepared for a long wait.

Readers' Choice: Avanti Food & Beverage

Courtesy Romero's K9 Club & Tap House Facebook page

Romero's is serious about pleasing your pooch while providing a safe and clean atmosphere for humans. Some restaurants allow dogs on the patio, but this Lafayette beer bar takes the time to register dogs before they're allowed in the leash-free outdoor beer garden. It really is a club, with passes that can be purchased for a day, month or year, and there's also a temperature-controlled pavilion for on-leash furry friends. Even better, you'll find a stellar craft-beer list and bar snacks for both you and your faithful companion. Don't leave your labradoodle behind next time you're in the mood for a sudsy excursion.

Readers' Choice: Denver Beer Co.

Denver's best hamburger isn't a hamburger; it's a patty melt. We know that's just splitting hairs: The difference is really only in the bread. Because otherwise, the Jalapeño Mojo Melt at the Royal checks all the right boxes for a delicious burger — juicy, gooey, spicy, beefy and messy — while adding crunch and flavor with grilled marble rye bread. Mojo sauce, cream cheese aioli and grilled peppers and onions are piled on with abandon, but the just-pink patty is still the star. You can find other melts at this Berkeley burger bar, too, or stick with a plain-Jane bun for something a little more standard.

Readers' Choice: Park Burger

Mark Antonation
Hopdoddy's Impossible burger

We wouldn't steer you the wrong way when it comes to veggie burgers, but do beef-loving Texans really know how to pull off a great meatless meal? Austin-based Hopdoddy does. In fact, the burger bar — located alongside Union Station — offers two distinctly different plant-based patties. The first is La Bandita, made with black beans and corn and topped with avocado, arugula pesto and lots of other wholesome stuff. But for a mind-blowing experience, try the Impossible, which boasts an uncanny appearance and texture — pink, juicy and tender. You're not being served the wrong burger, though; Impossible is a California company dedicated to changing to the way modern food is produced, starting with plant-based proteins. No matter which veggie burger you pick, though, you won't have a beef with Hopdoddy.

Readers' Choice: BurgerFi

Danielle Lirette

The Mexican hamburger is a Denver original — not a regular hamburger with Mexican toppings, but a burrito stuffed with a burger patty, refried beans and cheese. A blanket of green chile is also a must, and La Fiesta gets it right on all counts. A char-grilled beef patty lends the unmistakable essence of a hamburger, while the house green chile — a neighborhood favorite since the early 1960s — adds warmth without the three-alarm fire. Everything about this Curtis Park eatery feels frozen in time, but the Mexican hamburger is a timeless classic that still holds up.

A chicken thigh is a wise choice when building a better fried-chicken sandwich; the dark meat has more fat and flavor than the breast, so it cooks up juicy and rich, not dry and boring. The thigh is the sturdy foundation of Old Major's craveable and crunchy sandwiches, served as part of chef/owner Justin Brunson's Royal Rooster lunch. Keep it simple with a squishy potato bun, pickles, lettuce and mayo, or go bold with the Korean Rooster, amped up with spicy kimchi and Kewpie mayo. Then there's the French Rooster with ham, Swiss and thyme, if you're in a Cordon Bleu mood. Old Major may be hog heaven for some, but we're calling fowl at this LoHi eatery — at least when it comes to lunch.

Mark Antonation

A hot dog in its purest form is little more than tube steak and bun, but you can handle that at home with nothing more than a microwave. For something more inspiring, a frankfurter can also come dressed to kill — and that's when you head to Los Mangos on South Federal Boulevard. The Sonoran hot dog here is as intimidating as it is delicious, with a bacon-wrapped wiener, a mountain of Mexican toppings and a side of salsa verde hot enough to melt your molars. Don't even try to pick this one up with your hands, or you'll be wearing dinner home on your shirt.

Readers' Choice: Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

Molly Martin

Chef Dana Rodriguez is known for a lot of delicious things, but the fried chicken she makes every Sunday flies to the top of the list. Inside a crust boasting classic spices (garlic, thyme and smoked paprika), the bird is impossibly tender and tasty; you get three pieces for $10. Rodriguez started the Sunday night fried chicken extravaganza as a way to counteract football and bring in more traffic; it proved so popular, Rodriguez continued the special long after the last kick. Those in the know head to Work & Class early to get a table and make sure they can score at least one plate of chicken, which often sells out by 7 p.m.

Readers' Choice: Low Country Kitchen

Sure, basic macaroni and cheese is delicious on its own. But PS 303 proves you can mess with success...and improve on it. The downtown spot's chorizo mac and cheese is laden with spicy Mexican sausage, Emmentaler and cheddar cheeses, fresh kale and a pleasing pile of vinegar potato chips. The dish is rich, gooey, a little tart and so full of cheesy goodness, you won't be able to stop eating it.

Readers' Choice: Low Country Kitchen

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

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