Death & Co.
Danielle Lirette

The mixologists at Death & Co. perfected their craft in the crucible of New York City's bar scene for ten years before forging something new in Denver. Their trend-setting establishment isn't just the Ramble Hotel's bar, it's the entire lobby. If you're a hotel guest, you might be tempted to check in first — but you should have no reservations about making a beeline for a barstool and grabbing a cocktail. The drinks roster is categorized by mood, so you can choose Light & Playful if it's your first day of spring vacation, or Boozy & Honest if you're ready to get down to some serious drinking. There's no need to make dining decisions; Death & Co. handles the food here, too, so every dish is sure to have a cocktail that will bring out its best. Denver didn't need an outsider to breathe life into its cocktail game, but a little fresh blood always helps up the competition.

Readers' Choice: Death & Co.

Beckon
Danielle Lirette

Chef Duncan Holmes doesn't have to worry about dividing his attention between a chef's counter and a dining room: His restaurant is one big chef's counter. At Beckon, seventeen guests a seating are grouped around a U-shaped bar and treated to round after round of exquisite small plates, along with explanations and other tasty talk from Holmes and his team. The dim lights, intimate space and low-key decor bring to mind a dinner party in a friend's home, without the hushed reverence you find at stuffy temples of haute cuisine. For example, as casually as though he were delivering a bowl of party mix, the chef may hand you a perfectly plated quail with tiny claws still intact. Each new dish builds on a theme, and the themes change with the seasons. This is one dinner party you won't want to miss.

The Wolf's Tailor
Rob Christensen

At this unusual Sunnyside eatery, chef Kelly Whitaker and his team are busy grinding grains, rolling pasta, simmering stocks, saving scraps and fermenting almost everything in order to build complex layers of flavor and marry the culinary traditions of two ancient cultures: Japan and Italy. The best way to experience it all is with the "Entrust" option, where a set price will land you and your table a tasting menu of the best things that the Wolf's Tailor has to offer on any given night. While it would be easy to use the word "fusion," Whitaker doesn't force disparate things together, but rather finds common ground in cooking techniques that have evolved half a world apart. A little faith will be rewarded with a tailor-made and unforgettable banquet.

Restaurant maestro Lon Symensma filled a block of Blake Street that ends at the 16th Street Mall with his new love letter to French cuisine, LeRoux, and a reincarnation of his Southeast Asian street-food eatery, Cho77. While the menus at the two restaurants are completely different, they share a kitchen, so whether you're tucking into a lunch of pretty, pleated dumplings at Cho77 or staring down a sumptuous platter of French onion short ribs at LeRoux, you'll find the same attention to bold flavors built from meticulous preparation and well-sourced ingredients. Or you can reverse course and do duck confit salad for your mid-day meal at LeRoux and Thai coconut curry at Cho77 for dinner. Either way, you'll find the best food on the 16th Street Mall between here and, oh, the other side of the wall...which is where Symensma has his flagship eatery, ChoLon Modern Asian.

Super Mega Bien
Danielle Lirette

Like its predecessor across the street, Work & Class, Super Mega Bien is noisy, bright and fun. And like chef Dana Rodriguez and co-owner Tony Maciag's first hit, this one throws away the standard menu playbook for something altogether more subversive and entertaining. The owners pull it off, too, since Rodriguez fills her kitchen with top talent and Maciag, along with third partner Tabatha Knop, keeps the front of the house rolling smoothly — just like the dim sum carts that peddle Latin American bites table to table in the dining room. The delivery is just part of what makes Super Mega Bien so special, though: Every plate and bowl brimming with creative takes on specialties from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba and points beyond comes packed with layers of flavor achievable only through hard work, passion and skill. The restaurant mirrors its owners' personalities and commitment to excellence, letting guests bask in that radiant warmth and good cheer.

Readers' Choice: Safta

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