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.
9 Fuel Café (last year 20)
When Bob Blair opened Fuel Café in the heart of the undiscovered TAXI development in late 2007, he did so with a “build it and they will come” mantra. As the restaurant nears its sixth birthday, Fuel has legions of fans who often have to wait for tables. Blair and his kitchen team, executive chef Nate Hamel and pastry chef Justin Hofmann, have turned this once best-kept secret of a restaurant into a dining staple. Dishes such as labor-intensive octopus salami show the crew’s reach, while Fuel’s sweet spot is firmly rooted in the fresh flavors of the season: A butter leaf salad with paper-thin radishes and crispy shallots sounds basic, but nubs of goat cheese—rolled in charred leek ash the color of midnight and plated on sweet pea purée—make the dish artful, exciting, and balanced. Likewise, the chicken frites lighten the traditional French staple (steak and fries) to fit the warm weather. A year ago, Fuel faltered, and dishes were inconsistent from one to the next. Today, however, the restaurant is turning out one exquisite dish after another. 3455 Ringsby Court, #105, 303-296-4642, fuelcafedenver.com