Top of the Town 2015: Dining

The best places to order pizza, breakfast, juice, Korean food, pie, sandwiches, and more.

June 17 2015, 2:46 PM

—Steuben's; Photo courtesy of Kari Cummings Photography

Dining »


Dessert

Editors’ Choice
Steuben’s (pictured)
Denverites first got a taste of pastry chef Nadine Donovan’s supreme talent at Fuel Cafe and then Old Major (oh how we adored her baked Alaska). When it was announced in February that she was leaving Old Major, foodies anxiously awaited her next move. Within a matter of weeks, she landed at the Vesta Dipping Grill/Ace Eat Serve/Steuben’s family. Fittingly, Donovan’s first menu included an ode to the 1950s: a lemon icebox bar, a not-too-sweet treat that juxtaposes white cake with frozen lemon mousse, toasted meringue, ginger crumble, and blackberry compote. Her new home is a delicious match for a chef inspired by nostalgic desserts. 523 E. 17th Ave., 303-830-1001, 

Readers’ Choice
D Bar 494 E. 19th Ave., 303-861-4710


Burger

Editors’ Choice

The Squeaky Bean
When it comes to this classic dish, we want something that’s familiar but also exciting. Enter the Squeaky Bean’s lunchtime-only All-American double cheeseburger. Two beef patties (a blend of Colorado prime beef) and gooey American cheese are as comforting as a backyard barbecue. But the crunchy house pickles, caramelized onions, and Thousand Island–esque sauce add a burst of flavor your home grill master hasn’t, well, mastered. While the LoDo Combo is a pricey $15, it includes thin-cut fries, a small salad, and a drink—aka the ultimate meal deal. 1500 Wynkoop St., Suite 101, 303-623-2665

Readers’ Choice
Park Burger
 multiple locations


Sandwich

Editors’ Choice

Mercantile Dining & Provision
This 10-month-old eatery’s sandwiches aren’t simple meat, cheese, and bread creations. They’re gourmet meals. After delighting in Mercantile’s banh mi sandwich (pictured) on more occasions than we can count, we had fully intended to write an over-the-top ode to the lemongrass pork pâté, chile-glazed pork belly, pickled vegetables, and chicken liver aïoli resting between two halves of a perfect baguette. But in the name of research, we felt compelled to also try the hot pastrami, chicken confit salad, and braised short rib sandwiches—and we quickly realized it would be unfair not to mention their magnificence as well. In summary: Start working your way through esteemed chef Alex Seidel’s lunchtime sandwich roster immediately. Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop St., 720-460-3733

Readers’ Choice
Snarf’s multiple locations


Breakfast

Editors’ Choice
Onefold
Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, don’t waste it on a tired plate of eggs and potatoes you can get anywhere. Instead, head to Onefold, which Denverites Mark and Terese Nery opened four months ago in Uptown. The petite cafe’s small but thoughtful selection incorporates a wide array of meats and starches that transcends the usual options. Dishes include fried rice rich with Tender Belly bacon and topped with fried eggs; duck confit hash; flavorful breakfast tacos stuffed with grilled mozzarella cheese, crispy hash browns, and perfectly scrambled eggs; and a must-try congee (a savory Asian porridge with ham and sesame oil). Pair it all with Commonwealth Coffee, and your morning—yes, even if it’s a Monday—will start off right. 1420 E. 18th Ave., 303-954-0877

Readers’ Choice
Snooze multiple locations 


Chef

Editors’ Choice
Kelly Whitaker
To Denverites, it might seem as though chef Kelly Whitaker (pictured) just arrived on the scene, but in the five-and-a-half years since he opened Basta in Boulder, the restaurateur has been quietly building his brand. To wit: Cart-Driver, his always-packed pizza and oyster restaurant in RiNo, opened this past July, and the local accolades have been pouring in, most of which rightfully call out Whitaker’s intense dedication to organic and domestic ingredients. Through that commitment he has become, in many ways, an accidental activist. He’s now a local leader of the national powerhouse Chefs Collaborative (which brought its annual big-name conference to Boulder in 2014), and in March, Whitaker penned an impressive opinion piece on sustainable fishing that ran in the Los Angeles Times. We expect it’s only the beginning for this understated and sharp-as-a-knife chef. 2500 Larimer St., 303-292-3553, cart-driver.com; 3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-997-8775

Readers’ Choice 
Troy Guard Tag Restaurant


Coffeeshop

Editors’ Choice
Amethyst Coffee Company
In February, Elle Taylor—a barista whose cortado skills impressed us time and again at Little Owl—opened Amethyst on the ground floor of the Metlo on Broadway. Since then, the cafe has become our go-to for a caffeine spike. The unexpected, tucked-away location makes it feel like our little secret. Walk inside the minimalist spot to talk coffee with the pros (Taylor and other staffers have competed on the national level) and sip a serious pour-over made with Denver-based Commonwealth Coffee. Or order off the ever changing menu of signature drinks. 1111 Broadway, Suite 101

Readers’ Choice
Starbucks multiple locations


Wine Shop

Editors’ Choice
The Proper Pour
You can pick up a decent $20 bottle of wine at just about any liquor store in the city. Sometimes, though, an occasion calls for something special. That’s when we head to the Proper Pour at the Source, where we almost always unearth a rare find, thanks to the refined palates of owner McLain Hedges and wine director Mary Allison Wright. (The wine aficionados also run the bar program for the Source’s central watering hole, RiNo Yacht Club, which Wright owns.) On a recent trip, that meant a couple of bottles of red from Domaine A. & P. de Villaine, the personal vineyard of legendary French winemaker Aubert de Villaine. Even better: If you’ve got a taste for wine but not the space to store it, the Proper Pour will recommend storage solutions for your collection. The Source, 3350 Brighton Blvd., 720-389-7905

Readers’ Choice
Mondo Vino 3601 W. 32nd Ave., 303-458-3858


Pizza

Editors’ Choice
Cart-Driver
Just when you thought the city couldn’t support another pizza joint, along came Cart-Driver, the brainchild of Basta’s Kelly Whitaker (our pick for top chef). Although the 320-square-foot RiNo dining space, which opened a year ago, is decidedly understated, the pies are a revelation. Cooked in a 1,000-degree wood-fired oven, these pizzas are simple; their excellence comes from the exquisitely sourced American ingredients Whitaker and company use, such as tomatoes from California and 00 flour from Utah. Taste the perfection in the eponymous pizza, made with Colorado pork sausage, kale, and chile flakes. You may never view pizza in the same way again. 2500 Larimer St., 303-292-3553

Readers’ Choice
Mici Handcrafted Italian multiple locations


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—Images courtesy of McCall Burau Photography, Carmel Zucker, and Sarah Boyum


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