Audrey Jane's Pizza Garage
Molly Martin

It was her mom's sesame-crusted pies that sparked Audrey Sherman's longtime love of pizza, which led to a mentorship under thirteen-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani before she opened her own place. Since October 2015, Sherman has been slinging pies from a small spot tucked away on the back side of a shopping center. While whole pies — including the sesame version — are on the menu, those in the know wouldn't dare make a trek through Boulder without a pit stop at the Garage for the gigantic (seriously, they're huge) slices, which come out hot and fast.

Pizza isn't food that often inspires a road trip; usually, the best pizza is the one closest to you when the craving strikes. But Rosalee's is worth a trip. It specializes in what it calls "old world East Coast style" pies, which are based on American immigrants' earliest takes on what's now one of the most popular foods in the U.S. With a slight char and topped with hand-grated cheeses, sauce made with the highest quality tomatoes and additions like house-ground pork sausage, Rosalee's pies are available in both round and thicker square-cut versions. Bonus tip: Don't skip the sausage knots.

Ritual Social House
Ken Holloway

You may have tried pickle shots or pickle beer — but have you tried pickle pizza? The Real Dill pizza at Ritual Social House is an innovation that speaks to carb lovers and pickle enthusiasts alike. This mountain lodge-themed spot takes a standard dough, then creates a white-sauce base and adds bacon and dill pickles. At $17 for a 12-inch pie and $24 for 16 inches, it's great for sharing — or you can take the leftovers home and keep the pickle party going.

Benny Blanco's Slice of the Bronx
Mark Antonation

Denver has plenty of delicious pizza joints, but Benny Blanco's takes things to a whole new level with its Ghetto Jesus pizza boxes. The artwork depicts Jesus with a black bandanna across his forehead and a tattoo underneath one of his eyes, with "Benny Blanco's" written in an urban street art font. Ghetto Jesus is also holding a slice of pepperoni, while a delicious full pepperoni pizza halo frames his face. All that's needed to complete the Bronx Jesus look would be a puffy North Face, but Jesus would probably get hot in that with all the pizza ovens around.

Full Afterburner Calzones
Molly Martin

Ben Todd has a passion for fighter jets that began with a toy given to him by his grandfather, who was a fighter jet instructor in the '40s. He also picked up a penchant for making a unique calzone dough during his days as a student at Purdue. In 2018, he combined the two and launched the Danger Zone Calzones food truck; the concept led to a brick-and-mortar shop in 2021. Copyright trouble led to a name change, but the magic dough remains the same. Far more than just a pizza folded in half, these 'zones are a sleek, handheld version of the pizzeria afterthought, ideal for late-night, after-bar sustenance or even a quick on-the-go breakfast.

Baba & Pop's Pierogi
Courtesy of Baba & Pop's

Polish cooking smacks of home kitchens and generations of family members working together all day to create a celebratory feast. That's what you'll find at Baba & Pop's, which opened just days before the restaurant shutdown in March 2020. Fortunately, frozen bags of pierogi kept the business afloat until the dining room could reopen, and now guests can enjoy a full menu that includes such Slavic staples as cabbage rolls, kielbasa, sauerkraut soup and tangy cucumber salad. But a little Colorado has rubbed off on Polish-Canadian owner Jeremy Yurek and his wife, Katherine, so don't be surprised to find some zingy green chile hiding inside your pierogi.

House of Bread
Mark Antonation

Armenian cuisine doesn't get much attention in Denver — at least it didn't until House of Bread opened in late 2020. Now those in the know flock to the east-side bakery for ajaruli khachapuri, canoe-shaped bread filled with bubbly cheese and sunny-side-up eggs — and one of three styles of khachapuri sold at the bakery. There's much more to explore, though, whether you're craving dumplings (ask for the beef-filled sini manti), grilled meats (choose from several styles of kebab) or specialty breads (just pick something warm and fresh from the rack). House of Bread also serves a full range of coffee drinks and fancy pastries, so there's always something tempting, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. A visit is a delicious way to get to know Armenia a little better.

Stoic & Genuine
Danielle Lirette

Union Station has been swimming in seafood since Stoic & Genuine opened in 2014. Chef/co-owner Jennifer Jasinski and her crew have turned out beautiful seafood dishes from the start; the staff is still sourcing super-fresh, sustainable seafood from multiple coasts, and has one of the top oyster programs in the city. Start with a plate of salmon sashimi tossed in chili oil and yuzu-soaked orange peel, then follow it with a bowl of seafood bisque and a few choice items from the raw bar, such as Maine lobster and snow crab legs. While known for its innovative and delicious seafood entrees, Stoic & Genuine also claims the rights to a really great burger.

Best Oysters
Molly Martin

Despite the city's distance from either coast, fresh oysters make their way to the Mile High via Denver International Airport — often arriving faster here than they reach coastal cities by truck. But while there are a lot of places to slurp these briny bivalves in Denver, one Maine native is stepping up the oyster game. You may have spotted Ben Wolven, the man behind Oyster Wulff, shucking at Forget Me Not in Cherry Creek, or caught his oysters on the menu at A5. He has the goods shipped to him directly from Maine, and is not only an actual championship shucker, but also a pro at talking oysters and sustainability, spreading the word about the positive impact that oysters have on the environment — which makes eating them even sweeter.

oysterwulff.com
Best Use of Small Silverware
Molly Martin

Of course we love Cart-Driver for its wood-fired pizzas, but the dining experience is elevated when you order a tray of whatever oysters are on offer on a given day, served raw with a tiny fork for the bivalves and a tiny spoon for the mignonette. But to reach true Cart-Driver pro status, you need to dig into the restaurant's selection of tinned fish. At the newer, larger LoHi location, that means sardines, but the RiNo original also has a selection, including smoked trout, codfish and stuffed baby squid. Whatever you choose will arrive on a tray with charred, fluffy piada bread, black olive butter, sambal pepper relish...and even more tiny silverware.

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