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Photograph courtesy of Lauren Feder

M.J. Szymanski’s Sweet Life

The pastry chef creates everything from tangy lemon bars to birthday cake panna cotta for Stella's on 16th.

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No matter what drew you to Stella’s on 16th—the 120-seat patio, the generous happy hour menu, or simply a caffeine run for a latte from the marketplace—don’t leave without tasting pastry chef M.J. Szymanski’s classic-with-a-pinch-of-flair desserts. (Her tantalizing wares are so prominently displayed next to each cash register that it would take too much willpower to ignore them anyway.) Szymanski creates everything bread, pastry, and dessert for the six-month-old LoDo restaurant, from vibrantly colored French macarons (in flavors such as cookies and cream) to gelati, perfectly tangy lemon bars, and towering layer cakes. But our favorites, such as the birthday-cake-flavored panna cotta, show off her sense of lighthearted nostalgia: Dig beneath the chocolate-curl-festooned surface, and you’ll joyfully discover that the wobbly custard is flecked with rainbow sprinkles and tastes just like a slice of old-fashioned vanilla cake. It’s as surprising and irresistible as the Funfetti of your youth—but a whole lot more acceptable to eat as an adult. 1550 Wewatta St., 303-578-5900

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