Jay Vollmar
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the weirdest of times. But after two years, Denver is back...and the Best of Denver 2022 celebrates both the old standbys that survived and the smart newcomers that emerged.

Annie's, which has been serving comfort food since 1981, may have to close or relocate soon — the building it currently occupies (the former home of Goodfriends) was listed for sale in late 2021. In the meantime, we'll be visiting this Colfax classic as often as possible, especially for breakfast. While it's open for lunch and dinner, too, the friendly (to the point that you feel like family) service and crowd-pleasing menu options — ranging from buttermilk pancakes to chicken-fried steak to a green chile-smothered breakfast burrito — make it the perfect place to start your day.

Scott Lentz

Colorado Harvest Company founder Tim Cullen, a former teacher, nearly sold his dispensaries a couple of years ago, but ultimately decided to keep running the show. We're glad he did, because he's solved the equation of good weed at low prices. Open since 2009, Colorado Harvest Company boasts some of the best dispensary menus in the country, selling everything from $100 ounces to some of the state's most popular flower brands, including Cherry, Green Dot Labs, Locol Love and Snaxland. The internal grow is no slouch, either, regularly pumping out new strains to scratch that exclusivity itch so many cannabis collectors get. The concentrate lineup is just as stacked as the nursery, with extractions from 710 Labs, Green Dot, Olio and Soiku Bano priced as affordable payday treats. Show up with a modest budget at any of the chain's three stores in Aurora or Denver, and you can still leave with one bountiful bag.

@livenationco // @alivecoverage

Ah, Levitt Pavilion, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. We love that you put on fifty free concerts a year, and that those shows take place on a lovely green hillside in Ruby Hill Park, where we can sit on our blankets and look out over the city as the sun sets behind us. We love that an amazing roster of local and national artists serenades us from a beautiful stage with a state-of-the-art sound system. It doesn't get much better than this on a warm summer night...and it's all gratis, thanks to the forward-thinking Levitt Foundation.


Best Place to See Vampires on a Night Out

Milk Bar

Aaron Thackeray

Even though Twilight came out nearly fifteen years ago, vampires are still all the rage. If you want to find one in Denver, Milk Bar is the place to go. Inside the cavern-like club, it's easy to trade your sense of direction for a sense of the supernatural. Goth Wednesdays and Techno Thursdays are free, while Fridays and Saturdays see a rotation of musical styles and performers for a $5 cover before 11 p.m. Neither milk nor garlic are on the menu, but costumes, dancing and fantasy can be found in abundance.

I Heart Denver

We heart the I Heart Denver store and its founder, designer/entrepreneur Samuel Schimek. He started this enterprise devoted to local artists, makers and all things Colorado in 2011, and it's become the go-to spot for tourists and locals alike. Where else can you find a scratch-off poster that lets you note all the fourteeners you've climbed, or a shaker full of Colorado wildflower seeds, or shot glasses devoted to the Big Blue Bear? As the long-anticipated (long-dreaded?) renovation of the mall gets underway, I Heart Denver remains a bright spot illuminating all the creativity in Colorado. In fact, the city would be wise to just turn this entire stretch of 16th Street over to Schimek; we'd love to see what he could do with it.

Molly Martin

Open daily for breakfast and lunch only, this Louisiana-inspired favorite got its start in Boulder in 1980 and now has six locations in Colorado. Your experience here comes with a dash of Creole country kitsch, with knickknacks hanging from the walls and silverware wrapped in brightly colored fabric. Start with powdered sugar-covered beignets and your own personal-sized bottle of bubbles with freshly squeezed juice, or a cup of Lucile's chicory coffee. The giant, buttery biscuits with housemade jam are a must, too. And no matter what entree you get, you can (and should) opt for half grits, half potatoes on the side. Douse it all with the housemade hot sauce, and enjoy your trip to the South.

Given how expensive concert tickets are, tourists deserve a good representation of Colorado cannabis when they visit. Solace Meds, a chain of dispensaries founded by former Denver Bronco Rod Bernstine, has all the fixings of a well-stocked store that an experienced shopper seeks, and you don't have to drive to Mordor to get there. Locations on South Broadway and East Colfax Avenue are short trips for anyone who wants to stay in the action while visiting Denver, and the Solace Meds store in Wheat Ridge, right off Interstate 70, is a quick pit stop during a trip to the mountains (as is the Solace Meds store in Fort Collins for all you brewery day trippers). The flower and concentrate lineups, full of names like 14er, Cookies, LoCol Love and Veritas, are trustworthy representations of Colorado cannabis. And unlike most stores with quality smokeables, Solace Meds has a vast treasure chest of edibles and vaporizer cartridges, so getting a sweet deal on an in-house chocolate bar or pre-rolled joints is a very attainable goal. Stock up, and leave the leftovers for us.

Courtesy Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page

If city life has you feeling overwhelmed but with no time for a real getaway, head to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Once the site of a chemical weapons manufacturing center, the former federal facility is now an expansive nature reserve in the heart of metro Denver that's open from sunrise to sunset. There are twenty miles of easy hiking trails, as well as trails for biking; along the way you'll see bison, deer, prairie dogs and incredible birds of prey. For those who'd rather enjoy the great outdoors without getting out of the car, the refuge also has an eleven-mile wildlife drive.

Best Of Denver®