Best of Denver

Denver's five best restaurants that are hidden in other businesses

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5. The Retro Room There are a few bar-meets-salon concepts in town, and the Retro Room has long offered beer and cocktails alongside haircuts. But the place recently upped the ante, adding a full-blown menu of appetizers, salads and sandwiches, which it serves up from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily. So now you can get stuffed spuds with your new style, or a French dip with your highlights. And that kind of gives new meaning to a power lunch. 4. Pho Bowl Hanh Nguyen already owned the South Denver Conoco near Broadway and Hampden, but when she opened a Subway that went bust, she decided to offer a taste of her home country instead of trying to do another fast-food outlet. So she built a forty seat homage to pho in a corner of the convenience store, where she dishes out Vietnamese soup alongside noodle and rice dishes. 3. Atomic Tamale Vegetarians and vegans looking for Mexican food should head immediately to Atomic Tamale. There, you'll encounter a kitchen that makes meat-and-cheese free tamales and taquitos on a daily basis and vegan menudo (which, yes, seems improbable) every Sunday. But you'll have to find it first, and that's no easy feat, because Atomic Tamale is tucked inside La Muerte Apparel, a Day of the Dead-themed clothing boutique on Santa Fe.
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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk