Feature

101 Dining Experiences Every Denverite Must Have

By
March 2007

Love Loathe

We loathe cold butter and cold bread.
We love restaurants that are bottling and selling their products so we can enjoy them at home. Pantry must-haves: Vesta Dipping Grill's dried berry chutney, Frasca's red pepper jelly, and Cafe Bisque's lavender honey.
We loathe that Colorado wines still get a bad rap. While our state's vines are still very young, there are a number of wineries turning out excellent vino (such as the award-winning Two Rivers and Plum Creek wineries).

MEALS

A perfect Sunday morning: a secluded corner booth at Zaidy's Deli downtown, The New York Times, and an order of the desayuno fuerte—sautéed spinach, onions, tomatoes, and garlic on a potato latke topped with two poached eggs and Parmesan cheese. 1512 Lawrence St., 303-893-3600

Have a light lunch on Sunday and save your appetite for Lola's family-style paella—a fitting dish for the live Latin music the restaurant brings in from 2 to 5 p.m. 1575 Boulder St., 720-570-8686

Nearly every restaurant has calamari on the menu, but Solera's Thai-style version with spiced peanuts and mint is a standout. Sit at the bar and order wine by the glass—or, better yet, stay for dinner. We never let an opportunity pass to dine on chef/owner Goose Sorensen's seasonal duck dish. 5410 E. Colfax Ave., 303-388-8429

The Cherry Cricket has built its reputation on the reliable Little Cricket burger and a basket of frings, but we swear by the Alice Springs chicken sandwich. The grilled chicken breast comes topped with mushrooms, bacon, honey dijon sauce, and melted Cheddar. 2641 E. Second Ave., 303-322-7666

Every Friday from 4 p.m. until it's gone, Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana dishes up its white clam pizza with garlic-infused olive oil, mozzarella, and oregano. Bring the kids, who'll love watching the pizza chefs juggle dough (order kiddos a margherita pie with homemade mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, and fresh basil). 2401 15th St., 720-855-9400

In cozy Cafe Bisque, watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen or simply observe the neighborhood comings and goings over lemon poppy-seed pancakes with maple syrup and homemade churn-style butter. 224 Union Blvd., Lakewood, 303-985-4151

The piquillo pepper is the hot Spanish ingredient of the moment, and sexy 9th Door knows just what to do with it. Choose either the fire-roasted version stuffed with creamy goat cheese and Serrano ham or the tapa baked in olive oil and garlic and topped with a crusty baguette. Friday after work is the best time to grab a table—but 9 p.m. is when the bar scene starts to match the food's spice. 1808 Blake St., 303-292-2229

Order the carpaccio at Strings and the paper-thin rare beef arrives on a chilled glass tile with capers, onions, shaved Parmesan, and toast points. Refined, elegant, and delicious. 1700 Humboldt St., 303-831-7310

For a very special occasion we dine at Opus and choose the ever-changing, nine-course premium feature menu. Dinner, which is up to chef Michael Long's discretion, promises the ultimate in luxury (think butter-poached lobster, silky foie gras) and costs accordingly ($195 per person, including wine). 2575 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-703-6787

Devil's Food dishes up more than heavenly pastries. We avoid the busy weekend rush at this Old South Gaylord hotspot in favor of a weekday visit and a cozy table toward the back, where we lunch on the apple, Brie, and caramelized onion sandwich on nutty ciabatta. 1024 S. Gaylord St., 303-733-7448

Sunday afternoon dinners at M&D's Barbeque Café range from Cajun fried chicken with red beans and rice to pan-fried catfish with black-eyed pea jambalaya and crawfish sauce. Keep an eye out for Denver politicos; this is prime hangout territory. 2000 E. 28th Ave., 303-296-1760

Let master sushi chef Toshi Kizaki introduce you to "omakase" at Denchu, Sushi Den's private dining room. Only open Saturday nights, the room has 10 seats and requires diners to give up control as Kizaki crafts each eight to 10-course meal from the day's freshest ingredients. 1487 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0826

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