101 Dining Experiences Every Denverite Must Have

March 2007

Restaurant Guide 2007

101 Dining Experiences Every Denverite Must Have!
There’s got to be more to a restaurant than just food on a plate. Otherwise, why bother? Dining out is an occasion, even on a Tuesday night; it should indulge all of your senses, not just taste. There’s the feeling you get when you walk into the room, the scent of flowers on your table, snippets of conversation from the next booth. It all adds up to an experience, and it’s why we don’t just settle for takeout every night of the week. With that in mind this year, we created the 5280 master list—our go-to restaurant guide packed with everything from tried-and-true favorites to the Mile-High’s newest hotspots. No doubt some of your picks didn’t make our final cut, but that’s all the more reason to compare notes and compile a list of your own. Allow us to get you started.

Bonnie Brae Tavern
If the teal walls and historical photos don't designate the Bonnie Brae Tavern a Denver institution, the No. 5 pizza piled high with sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, and onions will convince you of the shop's staying power. Favorite place to sit: in "Grandma's" (the late owner Sue Dire's) booth in the middle of the room. Word is that when Dire passed away in 2002, diners loyal to the 72-year-old eatery showered the table in flowers and cards. 740 S. University Blvd., 303-777-2262.

Bump & Grind Café
The funky Bump & Grind Café is all about good food and tongue-and-cheek references. We love the “kissed” or “dissed” peanut-butter cookies, topped with or without a Hershey’s Kiss, the raspberry jammies cookies, and the over-the-top fluffernutter sandwiches with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. 439 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-4841

The chic space and Indian menu are your first introduction to Chutney's. But what you'll remember are the honey gobi (cauliflower tossed in garlic-honey sauce and green onions) and the lamb chop curry. Sit at table No. 23 and ask if proprietor Kannan Alagappan can stop by your table to chat about the cuisine. 880 Happy Canyon Road, Castle Rock, 303-660-0202

Hit the Capital Grille on a Friday night, but skip the dining room in favor of the bar. Toast the weekend with a Stoli Doley (pineapple-infused vodka shaken over ice). 1450 Larimer St., 303-539-2500

If you only dine at Domo Restaurant once a year, make it during cherry blossom season. Request a table outside in the serene Japanese garden, and order the savory iridofu donburi (scrambled tofu, seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, soybeans, and carrots over brown rice). If the sun gets too hot, pull on one of the lightweight straw hats set out by staff. 1365 Osage St., 303-595-3666

Go early on a Tuesday or Wednesday and know that Café Brazil welcomes your little one. While you dine on the pernambuco (scallops with garlic, shallots, coconut milk, orange essence, veggies, and kafir lime leaf over herbed rice) your child will love the South American music, the lights, and the friendly staff. Sit by the window or at the two-top by the partition for the most space. 4408 Lowell Blvd., 303-480-1877

Spend an afternoon on some of the Front Range's best trails (that'd be Boulder), then duck in for dinner on Chautauqua Dining Hall's front porch. Kids will beg for the green eggs and ham, while adults will swoon over their cider-glazed pork loin with caramelized apples. 900 Baseline Road, Boulder, 303-440-3776

Belly dancers smile provocatively as they whirl around Mataam Fez Moroccan Restaurant's exotic dining room. Waiters breeze by the dancers, bringing steaming Moroccan delicacies to customers seated on the floor. Vegetarians will enjoy butter-bathed Moroccan spiced artichokes with green olives and preserved lemon. 4609 E. Colfax Ave., 303-399-9282

For Rioja's best seat, head straight to the south end of the tiny back bar. Watch the garde-manger in action as she builds your Rioja "picnic": a selection of Spanish chorizo, duck breast, bresaola, warm and cold cheeses, olives, nuts, and orange confit. 1431 Larimer St., 303-820-2282

Sit in Café Star's semicircular bar area rimmed by the Chagall-like stained-glass wall. Sip on a hearty Bloody Mary (the secret ingredient is Guinness), and for sustenance order a pizzetta with Black Mission fig jam, Spanish blue cheese, and crispy pancetta. 3201 E. Colfax Ave., 303-320-8635