Second Helpings

Second Helping

While I'm not crazy about what the folks from the "Wynkoop Family of Restaurants" have done with Gaetano's (see page 52), they've done just fine by the Cherry Cricket. Maybe that's because rather than having a downright cinematic past like Gaetano's -- where dinner was served to gangsters and gun-runners, and highballs were poured for some of Denver's historic high-rollers -- the Cricket was known as a favorite hangout of the city's garbagemen.

Yeah, that's right: garbagemen. In its original incarnation (and under the stewardship of owner Mary Zimmerman), the dive bar catered mostly to the sanitation engineers working the old city dump that once occupied the plot of land where the Cherry Creek Shopping Center now sits. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with garbagemen, mind you. But come on. Best movie ever made about gangsters? Godfather II. Best movie ever made about garbagemen? Men at Work, starring Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. When you're looking for a past to exploit, Gaetano's wins the contest hands down.

But a great past doesn't translate to great present-day ambience or food. And for both of those, the Cricket will always be high on my list of favorite Denver joints. The old bar is smoky, friendly and shot through with just the right amount of chrome. These days, it caters not just to garbagemen, but to chefs and barflies, softball teams, musicians, physicians, night creatures and neighbors, all while maintaining its rep as Cherry Creek's best anti-Creeker address. When the Wynkoop group bought the Cherry Cricket a few years ago, it didn't let the place rest on its history, either. It fired up the grills and concentrated on turning out some of the town's best burgers, in what remains the town's indisputably best burger bar.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan