Best TikTok 2023 | Denver Food Scene | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

When Yesenia Chinchilla and her husband, Daniel Perez, moved to Denver in 2016, she started denverfoodscene on Instagram as a way to explore the city. As TikTok grew in popularity, she added that platform in 2020, and now has over 156,000 followers (and counting) as she churns out a constant stream of tempting food videos. Today the account is a full-time job for Chinchilla, one that's sponsored by Metropolitan State University of Denver, a connection that has brought exposure to the campus and its hospitality program: Using the code "Denverfoodscene" even waives the MSU online application fee.

Kip Wilson has a passion for two things: cannabis and food. The Mississippi native with a Southern twang moved to Denver in 2011 and launched a podcast with co-host (and now-Westword contributor) Chris Byard in 2018, highlighting his favorite local bars and restaurants on a show dubbed Stoned Appetit. In 2022, Wilson was able to quit his day job to focus on the show and his ever-growing audience on social media, which follows along as he crisscrosses the Mile High (while high), giving hot takes and tips on all things fun and delicious in town.

Eight years ago, George Brauchler was the high-profile district attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District, handling the James Holmes case and considering a run for statewide office. He shot for governor, went for attorney general (he lost to Phil Weiser), but wound up with a major platform: as the morning host of The George Brauchler Show on KNUS, where he brings a native Coloradan's insight, major legal experience and a lot of good-natured humor to audiences every weekday morning.

A key element of the barber shop experience is shooting the shit, and Techniques Hair Shop is ahead of all the rest. Jeremy, the shop's founder, always has new info about what's been happening in Denver, especially in his neck of the woods, the Art District on Santa Fe. But he and his colleague, Gil, also love to talk about news events around the country and just life in general, sending customers away not just with great-looking hair, but a loaded brain beneath it.

860 Santa Fe Drive

We've all heard the horror stories about home renovation projects: shoddy workmanship, broken promises and no-show subcontractors. Enter hunky Rico León, HGTV's first Latino host, who helps Front Range homeowners salvage their properties when things go wrong.  A contractor himself, he tries to work with both parties, but if that fails he steps in with his team and makes things right. Just renewed for a second season, Rico is building for the future.

When things get ruff at Rose, staffers count on Peppi, the yellow lab, for comfort. Patients are asked if they like dogs, and if they do, in comes Peppi. She lands, almost catlike, beside the patient on the gurney without disturbing a single IV tube or bandage. Peppi succeeds Wynn, a service dog in training who became famous for her viral photo with her tired owner, Dr. Susan Ryan (caretaker of both dogs), during the pandemic.

4567 East 9th Avenue

Founded in 2010 by then-high-schooler Demi Merritt, Demi's Animal Rescue is a no-kill shelter that offers pet retention support, adoptions and spay/neuter events. In order to cover the cost of rehabilitating high-risk cats that might be overlooked by those adopting pets, Merritt created the thrift store. It's a well-organized shop with donated clothing, household and sporting goods, and two rooms full of free-roaming available cats.

5895 East Evans Avenue, #102

Walter, a Great Pyrenees rescue, greets customers in this carefully curated, vintage-vibed store that stocks handmade pet accessories, cocktail kits, soap, retro kitchen goods, baby gifts, animal-themed tarot cards and jewelry. Many items are created locally, including artisan caramels made in Wheat Ridge.

1502 Kearney Street

Does your dog go wherever you go, no matter what? You're in luck: Every Fido and Fifi is admitted inside participating Aspen Grove businesses displaying a decal picture of mascot dog "Croix" in the window. There are rules that dog owners must follow, but the whole shopping center goes out of its way to welcome leashed or carrier-bound canine visitors with water dishes placed by shop doors, complimentary treats and even poop bags neatly stashed in the decorative planters lining the sidewalk. Next stop, dog park?

If you have a particularly rambunctious pup, head for this hill. Barnum Dog Park is somewhat bare-bones, with pebble landscaping rather than grass that tends to wear out your dog sooner, and it's consistently clean. With a gated area for small dogs, you won't have to worry about any larger dogs backing yours into a corner. What we love most about this park, though, is its clear view of the Denver skyline. The nearby gazebos present a chill place to kick back, and if you're looking to get some human exercise, you can walk Fido down to the Barnum Park Lake Reservoir.

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