After countless lunches and dinners, tens of thousands of calories, and hours of careful deliberation and debate, our fourth annual ranking of the Denver area’s best restaurants is complete. Dig in for a comprehensive, of-the-moment snapshot of the local dining scene.
14 Cafe Aion (last year 8)
Walk inside Boulder’s Cafe Aion, and you want to stay a while. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, request a spot near the bank of windows or pull up a seat at the bar and relax into the rhythms of chef Dakota Soifer’s small plates menu. This is food that’s designed for sharing, and Spanish influences are woven through the dishes and their presentations on earthenware platters. Fried cauliflower daubed with toasted cumin, saffron yogurt, and a squeeze of lemon; grilled sardines with lentils, snap peas, and radishes; braised pork shoulder with wheat berries and orange gremolata—the rustic flavors coax you into a satisfied, tranquil state. Even so, there is such a thing as pacing that’s too relaxed. For a restaurant of this caliber, cocktails should arrive promptly and servers shouldn’t disappear. 1235 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder, 303-993-8131, cafeaion.com