Best of Denver 2010 was released April 1, but Cafe Society is still counting down, in no particular order, our 100 favorite dishes. Send your own nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Number 4: Dungeness crab salad from Rioja
Just about everything on Jennifer Jasinski's scrupulous menu at Rioja makes us want to lick her toes in unrequited appreciation. Asparagus soup scented with spring garlic and tickled with a smoked halibut brandade fritter? Pork belly straddling a fresh garbanzo bean purée punctuated with Indian spices? Housemade raviolis, ballooned with whipped potatoes and Pecorino, stoned with fava beans and floating in a vinaigrette splashed with preserved lemon? All of Jasinski's dishes are magnificent, but some, like the Dungeness crab salad, actually transcend superlatives, rendering your otherwise yappy tongue utterly speechless. It's a trippy hybrid of ambition, intrigue and whimsy, in which Jasinksi tucks delicate crab meat into the passageway of shaved, nearly translucent sheets of perfectly coiled jicama, crowns the roll with thin slices of avocado, and pools the work of precision in a cumin-kissed vinaigrette. And the garnish of bright-tinted ribbons of roasted rainbow carrots give the maligned, often underused root vegetable, their own stage on which to shine.
Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below:
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No. 100 Chicken-fried steak from Lola No. 99 Alaskan reindeer sausage from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 98 Mac-and-cheese fries from Jonesy's EatBar No. 97 Soft egg ravioli from Prima No. 96 Pho - any pho -- from Pho 95 No. 95 Assiette de charcuterie maison from Z Cuisine No. 94: Cheeseburger from Larkburger No. 93: BBQ Masher from Cabin Creek Smokehouse No. 92: Apple pancake from the Original Pancake House No. 91: Burrata from Osteria Marco No. 90: Eggs Benedict from Devil's Food Bakery No. 89: Chile Relleno from La Fiesta No. 88: Deviled eggs from Steuben's No. 87: Corn-in-a-cup from Jack-n- Grill No. 86: Enchiladas from Taco House No. 85: Pupusas from Pupusas Sabor Hispano No. 84: Baklava from Ali Baba Grill No. 83: Masa-fried oyster shooters from Deluxe No. 82: Tacos al pastor from Los Carboncitos No. 81: Salsa bar from Tacos Y Salsas No. 80: Dim Sum from Star Kitchen No. 79: Green chile cheeseburger from Cherry Cricket No. 78: Fries from Encore No. 77: Shanghai-style dumplings from Chopsticks China Bistro No. 76: Chile relleno burrito from El Taco de Mexico No. 75: Fish fry from GB Fish and Chips No. 74: Posole from Tarasco's No. 73: Sausage, ham and egg biscuit from Table 6 No. 72: Bacon flight from the Berkshire No. 71: Tasty Treats from Gaetano's No. 70: French dip from Udi's No. 69: Panang curry from US Thai Cafe No. 68: Pineapple upside-down pancake from Snooze No. 67: Saag paneer from India's No. 66: Udon noodle bowl from Bones No. 65: Grilled corn soup from Lola No. 64: Sesame pockets from Lee's Garden No. 63: Whiskey-braised beef from Steuben's No. 62: House special from Viet's No. 61: Sultan Combo from Phoenician Kabob No. 60: Cake and a shake from D Bar Desserts No. 59: Caprese salad from Gaia Bistro No. 58: Fried chicken from Tom's Home Cookin' No. 57: Molcajete a la Mexicana from El Paraiso No. 56: Corned beef hash from Argyll Gastropub No. 55: Aye Conyo from Buchi Caf� Cubano No. 54: Fig n' pig flatbread pizza from Encore No. 53: Toro sashimi from Sushi Den No. 52: Spinach pinwheels from Virgilio's No. 51: Chicken-fried steak from the Breakfast King No. 50: Hot dog with hot sauce from from the Old Fashioned Italian Deli No. 49: Adobada gordita from Tacos Y Salsas No. 48: Curried Indian mussels from Argyll Gastropub No. 47. Pasta carbonara from Fruition No. 46: Amarena cherries and chocolate from Sketch No. 45: Aloo gosht salin from the British Bulldog No. 44: Head cheese from Olivea No. 43: Braised pork belly ramen noodle bowl from Den Deli No. 42: Lemon cheesecake from L'Atelier No. 41: Croissant with Asiago and prosciutto from Buffalo Doughboy Bakery No. 40: Prosciutto eggs Benedict from Panzano No. 39: Double cheeseburger from Bud's Bar No. 38: Calabacitas pupusas from Tambien No. 37: Lamb shank from Mecca Grill No. 36: Beignets from Lucile's Creole Cafe No. 35: Jaam-bong from Karma Asian No. 34: Beef cheeks from Squeaky Bean No. 33: C� ri chay from New Saigon No. 32: Torta ahogada from Las Tortas No. 31: Salumi from Il Mondo Vecchio N0. 30: Ricotta ravioli from Colt & Gray No. 29: Seaweed salad from Izakaya Den No. 28: Beef short ribs from the Village Cork No. 27: Breakfast burrito from Pico de Gallo Mexican Grill No. 26: Italian sandwich from Masterpiece Deli No. 25: Baked potato from Rodney's No. 24: Curried potato dosa from Masalaa No. 23: Pate and pork rillettes from Fuel Cafe No. 22: Tacos from Leobardo's Taco Shop No. 21: Suckling pig from Luca D'Italia No. 20: Chicken and poblano crepes from Chili Verde No. 19: Steak chili from Elway's Cherry Creek No. 18: Aguas Frescas from El Taco Veloz No. 17: Spicy edamame beans from Karma Asian No. 16: Samosas from Vesta Dipping Grill No. 15: Greek pizza from Melita's Greek Cafe & Market No. 14: Tortilla soup from the Pioneer No. 13: Double chocolate pudding from LoHi Steakbar No. 12: Spaghetti and meatballs from Steuben's No. 11: Waffles from the Waffle Brothers No. 10: Shrimp cocktail from El Camaron Loco No. 9: Wild striped bass from Black Pearl No. 8: Lap dogs from Interstate Kitchen & Bar No. 7: French dip from Second Home Kitchen & Bar No. 6: Clam chowder from the Oceanaire Seafood Room No. 5: Sausage sub from Carbone's Italian Sausage Market & Deli