101 Dining Experiences Every Denverite Must Have

March 2007


"Nouveau junk food" is one of the latest dining trends—and Nine75 revives old favorites by serving swirled cotton candy the size of soccer balls and old-fashioned root beer floats. Take note of who enjoys it most: you or your kids. 975 Lincoln St., 303-975-0975

The seasonal, regional bistro fare at Duo has us smitten, but dessert often steals the show. If it's on the menu, opt for the shortbready apple tart for two or the sticky toffee pudding, and pair it with potent French-press coffee served in mismatched china cups. 2413 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-4141

Barolo Grill garners praise for its braised duckling or delicate gnocchi, but not to be missed is pastry chef Scott Hybbeneth's pepato di zenzero, warm gingerbread with crème inglese topped with English toffee and Medjool dates. 3030 E. Sixth Ave., 303-393-1040

A slice of Sonda Brewster's strawberry cake—two tiers of Barbie-pink cake glued together with equally pink icing—is worth a trip to NoNo's Cafe in itself. Brewster bakes five cakes a day (from a New Orleans recipe passed down by her grandmother), and the Littleton restaurant only sells the treat by the slice. Call to reserve your piece before heading over. 3005 W. County Line Road, Littleton, 303-738-8330

Learn to mambo, salsa, or tango to live licks at Rhumba on Sundays from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Arrive early (about noonish) to claim a spot by the garage-door window right next to the bar—it'll ensure prompt mojito refills, not to mention a place to scope out a tango partner. 950 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-7771

There are few experiences more quintessentially Denver than having brunch on Highland's Garden Cafe's patio. The tucked-away, beautifully landscaped grounds make you feel as if you're in a secret garden. And the morning only gets better after ordering a doughy, raisin-specked cinnamon roll covered in cream cheese icing—the recipe originated with chef/owner Pat Perry's grandmother. 3927 W. 32nd Ave., 303-458-5920

Find a cozy spot in the bar section of Mel's Restaurant & Bar (tables along the back wall are just far enough from the live piano music that you can hear your date) and order the vanilla panna cotta with pomegranate gelée. Up the romance quotient with a glass of orange Moscato from Evergreen's Creekside Cellars. 235 Fillmore St., 303-333-3979

Ask the Cruise Room's old-school bartenders to mix up a madras—then watch as they squeeze an entire orange into the vodka-cranberry mixture in a highball. Few cocktails will ever taste this fresh. 1600 17th St., 303-825-1107

Rheinlander Bakery's cases entice with freshly baked strudels, cookies, cinnamon crisps, breakfast pastries, and cakes—most of them sugar-free or gluten-free. All are delicious. 5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, 303-467-1810

A warm night on Límon's patio calls for the refreshing lucuma ice cream (which tastes like vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice creams all swirled together) and Alfajores cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche. 1618 E. 17th Ave., 303-322-0898

When the server at La Sandía delivers the makings for guacamole, let the kids do the mixing. They'll love smashing the avocado, cilantro, onion, tomato, and serrano chile with a mortar and pestle. 8340 E. 49th Ave., Unit 1690, 303-373-9100

For a twist on the common cocktail, choose Gelazzi's Dreamsicle, an icy treat blended from white gelato, orange gelato, and two shots of amaretto. 1411 Larimer St., 303-534-5056

No one can resist one of Gateaux's beautifully iced, buttery sugar cookies. Buy a box or just one treat for the road. 1160 N. Speer Blvd., 303-376-0070

Crêpes 'n Crêpes comforts on chilly days with a frothy cappuccino and a hot-off-the-griddle crêpe slathered with Nutella. A counter seat is coziest. 2816 E. Third Ave., 303-320-4184

There's something so indulgent about a glass of Champagne in the middle of the afternoon—especially when paired with Emogène's chocolate passion cake. 2415 E. Second Ave., 303-388-7900