Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
Danielle Lirette

Boulder is one of the best cities in the country for vegetarians, and Leaf Vegetarian is a major factor in that equation. The restaurant boasts a cozy atmosphere along with its meat-free menu; a majority of the dishes can easily be made vegan. A sophisticated avocado tartare, spicy buffalo tacos and calamari-style oyster mushrooms kick off the lineup. The vegan crab cake sandwich, mushroom burger and beet hummus with grilled flatbread make excellent lunch choices. For dinner, mushroom Bolognese, Jamaican jerk tempeh, and udon noodles with crispy tofu are just a few of the eclectic options. On the weekend, Leaf packs in diners for brunch, with offerings like huevos rancheros, vegan French toast, and biscuits and gravy.

Readers' Choice: City, O' City

City, O' City
Hunter Stevens

In this era of meat-impersonating burgers, the City, O' City team opted to stick with a traditional veggie burger made of actual vegetables. The City, O' Burger gets an extra protein-packed boost from walnuts and sunflower seeds, and is served on a kaiser bun with melted dairy-free cheese and a special sauce alongside onion rings, fries, mixed greens or another side. The kitchen does a variation on the basic burger, such as the Chophouse topped with grilled onions, crispy shallots and housemade steak sauce. The popular restaurant also offers other meat-free comfort foods, including seitan pastrami, a crispy to'fish sandwich, and "chicken" and waffles.

Readers' Choice: Bad Daddy's Burger Bar

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company
Brandon Marshall

Between the new grocery-store rule, which attracted top breweries from around the country, and a pair of festivals that imported some of the best beer in the world, Denver got a lot of outside attention in 2018. What locals sometimes forget, though, is that this city holds its liquor on every level. Our Mutual Friend Brewing is a perfect, if very quiet, example. A mod RiNo hotspot with a killer patio, it's turning out beers in multiple styles that deserve to be served and paired with creative dishes at the city's top restaurants — or just enjoyed on their own. From straightforward styles like a table saison and a hazy pale ale to some of the most experimental liquids you'll see anywhere in the world, like a foeder-fermented Brett saison and a brightly colored, nearly transparent peach sour, OMF has dialed in a vibe and a tap list that stand as high as the Rocky Mountains.

Readers' Choice: Great Divide Barrel Bar

Odell Brewing Co.
Jonathan Shikes

It's almost not fair when the class president shows up late to the party with a six-pack of beer for everyone. How do you even compete? But that's what happened when the thirty-year-old Odell Brewing opened its new taproom and pilot brewhouse on upper Larimer. Built in a two-story restored brick building next to Shake Shack and boasting a second-floor patio, vibrant murals inside and out, and a lineup of its own modern, experimental beers (alongside Odell's classics), the Fort Collins brewery knew exactly what it was doing, and it did it right. At least this class president is pretty cool.

Readers' Choice: Dos Luces Brewery

Cerveceria Colorado
Courtesy Cerveceria Colorado Facebook

Chins were scratched and eyebrows raised last May when Denver Beer Co. closed the barrel room next door to its always-packed LoHi location and replaced it with a separately run taphouse pouring only beers with Mexican-inspired ingredients and collaborations with Mexican breweries. Even more curious was the overt political message that Cerveceria Colorado brought with it: Build bridges, not walls. But the spot has worked well on both levels. Not only is it doing its best to foster inclusion, bilingualism and multiculturalism with special events and charity nights, but DBC is supplying the brightly colored beer hall with some refreshingly different and delicious cervezas, including an horchata blonde, a cactus wheat and a churro stout. What's next? Look for more bridges — and canned beers coming soon.

Best New Brewery With Old-School Traditions

Dos Luces Brewery

Dos Luces Brewery
Mark Antonation

When it comes to corn, the past year has been the best of times and the worst of times for beer. The worst came with Bud Light's disastrous Super Bowl commercial blasting corn syrup in its competitors' brands...and the #corntroversey that followed. The best came with the elevation of chicha — a pre-Columbian blue-corn-based fermented beverage — into the national spotlight, thanks in part to Dos Luces Brewery and the corny focus of owner Judd Belstock. The brewery itself — and, yes, it is a brewery, because chicha and its cousin, the maguey sap-based pulque, are indeed beers — is one of the most beautiful and interesting spaces in Denver. And the liquid? Let's just say you need to try it to understand it, and once you do, it's hard not to be a fan. The chicha varieties are light and fruity, as they are brewed with everything from passion fruit, strawberry, lime and pumpkin to chile, cacao nibs, cloves and cinnamon.

Liberati Osteria defies classification. It shrugs off convention and laughs at categorization. Is this an Italian restaurant in a brewery or the other way around? Are the beers themselves also wines? Is this traditional Italian cuisine or a modern twist? Oh, and who makes savory cannolis filled with fish rather than ricotta, anyway? Luckily, the answers don't matter — only the experience does. Liberati not only turns out its own housemade fresh mozzarella, bread, salumi, sausage and gelato, but it's also turning brewing on its head with beer/wine hybrids that owner Alex Liberati calls oenobeers. And they will trick and delight all of your senses as you smell and taste these creations, all of which are brewed with both grapes and grains. But don't let it bother you: By the end of the evening, you won't care about the difference anymore.

Novel Strand Brewing Company
Novel Strand Brewing Company

With its big windows, potted plants and laptop-toting customers, Novel Strand feels more like a community center/coffee shop than a brewery. And it actually is a coffee shop for most of the day: Queen City Collective Coffee turns out steaming mugs from this adorable corner location in the Baker neighborhood all morning and afternoon. But in the back, the beating heart of the new brewery pumps out beer — really good beer. Balanced and elegant, with an easy likability, Novel Strand's brews are mostly hoppy (though there are some other styles) but very approachable. In the evening, the brewery turns into a cozy neighborhood spot, complete with food trucks.

The Grateful Gnome Sandwich Shoppe & Brewery
Jonathan Shikes

Beer is America's workhorse beverage, and sandwiches are its workhorse meal. Both have been taken apart, deconstructed, reconstructed, improved on, and sometimes over-thought and overwrought. But not at the Grateful Gnome. At this casual brewery/deli/sports bar, you'll find solid, straightforward beers like a blonde, a brown, a weiss and an IPA, along with a few simple variations like the session stout, the petite barleywine and the hibiscus saison. You'll also find a massive list of classic sandwiches — chicken parm, Taylor ham, turkey club, capicola and ham — done so perfectly that they'll end up in your sexy food dreams. The Gnome is Gno joke.

Baere Brewing Company

You can find breweries in just about any kind of building in Colorado — big and small, a century old or just a few weeks new. There are former hotels, auto shops and churches, an airplane hangar and a Buddhist temple. There are farmhouses, firehouses and schoolhouses, business parks, and, yes, strip malls. Probably no brewery has embraced that strip-mall ethos quite like Baere Brewing, however. Squarely in the middle of what is, sorry, a pretty ugly retail strip along Broadway, Baere tongue-in-cheekily brews a beer called Strip Mall Pale Ale and describes its location thus: "Next to Dunkin Donuts; across from 7-11. A great place to hang out while: doing laundry at Cycles; getting your car washed at Waterworks; preening at Paris Nails; having coffee at Sugar Bakeshop." Baere's beer, though, is anything but nondescript. While you can order traditional styles, like a brown, a saison, a dunkel and an IPA, give some of the more exotic beers a try, like the mixed-culture saison, the wild ales and the Berliner weisse.

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