Our 20th annual list of the best places to eat, drink, listen to music, get pampered, and more!
—Illustrations by Halftone Def Studios
The only dining recommendations you’ll need in 2016.
The burger at Meadowlark Kitchen is anything but ordinary.
Editors’ Choice: Hop Alley
Don’t get seven-month-old Hop Alley confused with a brewery: The name refers to Denver’s erstwhile Chinatown in what is now LoDo. This newfangled Chinese restaurant from Tommy Lee of popular ramen spot Uncle may not be located within the old neighborhood’s boundaries, but it serves bold family-style dishes rooted in the same traditions (see our review on page 60). Here, you’re served flavor-packed plates of fried-egg-topped chewy rice cakes tossed with ground pork, carrots, and oyster sauce and exquisitely balanced chilled tofu with bang bang sauce (a blend of sesame paste, chile oil, vinegar, and soy sauce) and smashed cucumbers. The latter will cool your mouth after bites of the fiery la zi ji fried chicken. No wonder a table at Hop Alley is the most sought-out destination in town. We expect it to stay that way. 3500 Larimer St., 720-379-8340
Readers’ Choice: Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club 1330 27th St., 303-295-3333
Editors’ Choice: Black Eye Coffee CapHill
It feels like a new artisan coffeeshop is opening every week and on every corner. With so many choices, picking a favorite is no easy task. At least, it wasn’t until Black Eye Coffee opened its second location in Capitol Hill and made us regulars with its trifecta of offerings: java hot spot in the morning, restaurant at lunch and dinnertime, and bar all day. The sultry, art-deco-inspired corner hangout serves everything from perfect cortados and scratch-baked pastries (try the gluten-free chocolate cake if it’s available) to craft cocktails and an ambitious dinner menu. With large windows, eclectic tunes, and seating that somehow works for both laptop work sessions and date-night dinners, we’d stay here all day if they’d let us. 800 Sherman St., 303-955-1205
Readers’ Choice: Black Eye Coffee
Editors’ Choice: Meadowlark Kitchen
At RiNo’s Meadowlark Kitchen, bigger is better—at least, when it comes to the lone burger on the menu. The over-the-top dish starts with the basics: a buttery, house-made brioche bun and 5.5 ounces of juicy local Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe beef. Then things get decadent. Owner and executive chef Joshua Bitz adds a strip and a half of sweet-spicy candied bacon, a crispy onion ring, a wobbly poached egg, jalapeño-and-bacon confit, and a warm aged cheddar sauce. The only way to tackle this unwieldy, taste-bud-exploding monster is to squish down the bun to pop the egg yolk, lean over your plate, and dive in. A word of advice: Ask for a second napkin. 2705 Larimer St., 303-953-1815
Readers’ Choice: Park Burger multiple locations
Editors’ Choice: Dos Santos
No taco has seeped into our consciousness quite like Dos Santos’ cochinita pibil. For their version of the classic Mexican dish, the Wallenta brothers (who also run two restaurants in Cozumel, Mexico) slow-roast pork belly, dry-rubbed with achiote and other Yucatán spices, for almost nine hours and serve it atop corn tortillas with pickled jalapeño and red onion. The dish is only available as a special at this year-old City Park West joint Wednesday through Saturday. If you’re visiting any other day, opt for the O.M.F.G. and chicken tinga versions, and wash ’em down with a tequila old fashioned. 1475 E. 17th Ave., 303-386-3509
Readers’ Choice: Tacos Tequila Whiskey (Pinche Tacos) multiple locations
The only thing that could improve Yak & Yeti’s menu of traditional Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan dishes is a beer of equally superb quality to go with them. Oh wait, the 14-year-old Arvada spot (there are two other locations in the metro area) has that too: Its Himalayan IPA, brewed on-site, took home gold in the strong pale ale category at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. The beverage pairs perfectly with an order of savory garlic naan—leavened bread garnished with fresh garlic and cilantro—and the silky chicken tikka masala, both expertly executed by chef-owner Dol Bhattarai, an eastern Nepal native who worked for years in high-end restaurants in New Delhi. Nab a seat outside the 1864 Victorian mansion that holds Yak & Yeti and indulge in the sunshine and a well-rounded introduction to South Asian fusion cuisine. 7803 Ralston Road, Arvada, 303-431-9000
Readers’ Choice: Little India 330 E. Sixth Ave., 303-871-9777; 2390 S. Downing St., 303-298-1939
Editors’ Choice: Revelry Kitchen
The best thing about Revelry Kitchen’s brunch isn’t the delightfully diverse and fairly priced menu—although we do adore the lobster deviled eggs, roasted vegetable hash, Northside rancheros, chocolate-dolloped churros, and mouth-stretching Cubano sandwich (which executive chef Enrique Socarras borrowed from his time at Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar in the Golden Triangle). Nor is it the 11-month-old venue’s sunny dining room and ample wood bar or the shaded patio that seats 32. And it’s not that Socarras sources many ingredients from local purveyors such as 7X Beef, the Spice Guy, and Morning Fresh Farms. No, the best thing about Revelry’s brunch is that you can enjoy it seven days a week, starting at 7 a.m. Which makes Monday mornings a heck of a lot better. 4140 W. 38th Ave., 303-455-3132
Readers’ Choice: Snooze multiple locations
Editors’ Choice: Laws Whiskey House
When it comes to spirits, Denver is a whiskey town, and the current sheriff is Laws Whiskey House. Whereas many local distilleries craft expansive selections, 4.5-year-old Laws is focused on perfecting a single spirit. And Laws—aided by Jake Norris (the distiller who helped establish Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey)—comes pretty darn close to doing so. A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon is rich and complex; find it behind the bars of respected watering holes such as Williams & Graham and the Cooper Lounge. Last summer, Laws added a second offering: hard-to-find Small Batch Secale Straight Rye, a 100-proof spirit aged for at least three years that manages to be both spicy and smooth. The only way we’d like Laws more is if the distillery could speed up the barrel-aging process so we could taste its new concoctions sooner. 1420 S. Acoma St., 720-570-1420, lawswhiskeyhouse.com
Readers’ Choice: Laws Whiskey House
Editors’ Choice: Brider
We don’t fork over $14 for just any sandwich, but the Cajun-spiced blue shrimp option at seven-month-old Brider is worth it. It starts with a crisp honey-brown-hued baguette from Grateful Bread Company. Chopped avocado and a creamy, house-made purple, white, and green cabbage slaw add color and freshness. Then the headliner: perfectly cooked shrimp, which is flown in daily, dressed with a spicy Creole aïoli. You really can’t go wrong with any of the fast-casual spot’s between-the-bread options (the rotisserie chicken and pesto sandwich is another must-try)—just don’t expect us to share. 1644 Platte St., 303-455-3084
Readers’ Choice: Masterpiece Delicatessen 1575 Central St., 303-561-3354; 1710 Sherman St., 303-832-6732
Editors’ Choice: Max MacKissock, Bar Dough
Max MacKissock’s cooking has always been confident, innovative, and graceful. We first noticed the 37-year-old’s immense talent in 2007 when he was the opening chef at Vita. But it was his precisely executed, often-playful dishes at the Squeaky Bean (both iterations) that stole a little bit of our culinary hearts. And then, after a 2013 nod from Bon Appétit and a James Beard nomination for Best Chef Southwest, he took a hiatus. The local dining scene—and our stomachs—felt the loss. Not anymore. This past October, MacKissock opened Bar Dough in LoHi with partners Juan and Katie Padro, and what a pleasure it is to have him cooking again. His Italian-inspired dishes emerge from the kitchen thoughtfully composed and beautiful, whether it’s a simple crisp-bottomed, smoked-mushroom pizza or a curled octopus tentacle with charred eggplant and toasted pistachio. Welcome back, Max. 2227 W. 32nd Ave., 720-668-8506
Readers’ Choice: Troy Guard, Tag Restaurant
Editors’ Choice: Torchy’s Tacos
Rule number one of eating out with little ones: Don’t lose control before the food comes. If you swing by the first Colorado location of this Austin-born megahit at family meal times—as in, 5 p.m.—the line moves quickly. The booths in the main area are intimate without being cramped; settle your kid in the interior spot where she can entertain herself coloring the kids menu page and waving at people in line until the guacamole arrives. (You, of course, will be enjoying a margarita.) The 14-taco menu, not including served-all-day breakfast versions, can be overwhelming, so opt for our tried-and-true order: the taco of the month, plus the Baja shrimp (fried camarones with cabbage slaw and queso fresco). With four more locations opening across the Front Range this year, soon you won’t have to drive very far for a break from doing the dishes, wherever you live. 1085 Broadway, 303-436-1704
Readers’ Choice: Mici Handcrafted Italian multiple locations
Editors’ Choice: La Fillette
Sitting in a well-loved armchair with sunlight streaming through the massive front window, a mug of drip coffee and a delightfully flaky croissant in hand, you’ll wonder why you don’t start every morning at La Fillette. The adorable year-old bakery near Rose Medical Center is easy to overlook, but you would be wise not to. Melissa Yanc and Keturah Fleming have crafted something special: a bakery that churns out remarkable breads and sweets. Crispy baguettes and sourdough boules share counter space with custard-y quiche Lorraine and even a concise lineup of breakfast sandwiches. The treats are tempting enough that you’ll want to order something to enjoy later. We won’t tell if you sneak a bite in the car—we’re guilty too. 4416 E. Eighth Ave., 303-355-0022
Readers’ Choice: Nothing Bundt Cakes multiple locations
Editors’ Choice: To The Wind Bistro
Our widespread quest for Denver’s best dessert ended at To The Wind Bistro after we experienced co-owner Leanne Adamson’s made-from-scratch creations and unbeatable customer service. Her commitment to seasonality can mean a dazzling lemon-glazed huckleberry bread pudding in the fall and a bright strawberry rhubarb tart in the spring. It also means her desserts are fleeting—even, sadly, the two-year-old restaurant’s lick-your-plate-good goat cheese cheesecake, which is served with a rich port reduction and sliced dried figs. But give her your phone number and ask nicely, and Adamson might call you when your favorite final course is back on the menu. Now that’s a sweet deal. 3333 E. Colfax Ave., 303-316-3333
Readers’ Choice: D Bar Denver 494 E. 19th Ave., 303-861-4710
Editors’ Choice: The Juicing Tree
Juicing appears to be here to stay; dozens of juiceries have opened across the city over the past couple of years. Even our favorite spot, the Juicing Tree, continues to expand, with plans to open its third location, in south Denver, this summer. Every day, the juicery produces dozens of varieties of cold-pressed, raw juices (i.e., not pasteurized) from organic ingredients. Visit the quick-service spot for subtly sweet veggie blends (try the vitamin-loaded Gaia’s Garden, with kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, apple, lemon, and ginger), zesty citrus and fruit options, velvety house-made nut milks, and products that are so trendy even we haven’t heard of them yet (activated carbon water, anyone?). You can even automate your healthy routine by scheduling regular deliveries of blended juices as often as twice a week. Multiple locations, 720-509-9055
Readers’ Choice: Pressed Juice Daily multiple locations
Get A ’Cue
Rather than choose one top barbecue spot, we built our dream feast from 14 eateries around town.
Ribs: Globe Hall
Big and meaty, these dry-rubbed ribs come off of the smoker so flavorful, there’s no need for sauce.
Brisket: Owlbear Barbecue
The sauceless brisket—with its hearty bark and tender interior—from this Finn’s Manor food truck is truly the best we’ve ever had.
Chicken: Kitchen Table BBQ & Comfort Food
This charming cafe coats its never-frozen chicken thighs in a flavorful dry rub and smokes them for about an hour to keep them juicy.
Pulled Pork: Russell’s Smokehouse
We can’t resist this subterranean smokehouse’s decadent, deeply flavorful, and never dry pulled pork.
Lamb Shoulder: Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que
A long smoke over pecan and oak flavors this dish, which is heavenly when hit with the spicy sauce.
Sausage: GQue Championship BBQ
Order GQue’s juicy jalapeño-cheddar sausage for a dish with a spicy kick; then cut open the smoke-infused casing for a porky, cheesy treat.
Vegan Dish: City, O’ City
Vegan mac and cheese, coleslaw, house-made pickles, and crispy shallots combine with spice-rubbed and barbecue-sauce-soaked tofu in the seriously satisfying BBQ Mac Wrap.
Potato Salad: Brook’s Smokehouse Catering BBQ & Cajun Cuisine
Any visit (Friday through Sunday) to this restaurant, inside owner Ronald Brooks’ Aurora home, must include the deviled-egg-like potato salad. 720-297-0017
Baked Beans: Crazy Mountain Taproom & BBQ
Crazy Mountain’s homey baked beans incorporate brown sugar, molasses, and smoked and diced sausage link bits.
Sconut: Jabo’s Bar-Be-Q
Every combo plate at this spot comes with two of the Utah-born treats: palm-size pieces of leavened fry bread topped with melty honey butter.
Hash-Brown Casserole: Yazoo BBQ Company
This gooey side (available only at the downtown location) reminds us of mac and cheese, except it stars shredded potatoes instead of noodles.
Pickles: Wayne’s Smoke Shack
The meat at Wayne’s arrives sans sauce—per Texas tradition—but you won’t miss it thanks to the zesty house-made pickled cucumber and jalapeño slices.
Coleslaw: Georgia Boys BBQ
Georgia Boys’ cilantro lime coleslaw is light, herbaceous, and delightfully acidic.
Collard Greens: Ragin’ Hog BBQ
We could make a meal of Ragin’ Hog’s porky collard greens.
Editors’ Choice: Americatus
With only a handful of entrées available each night, you’d think we’d have tried everything at four-year-old Americatus (formerly Amerigo Delicatus Restaurant & Market). But no matter what else is on the menu—squid-ink capellini with mussels, perhaps, or classic carbonara—we can’t pass up the sweet Italian sausage and egg noodles, both made in-house, often by chef-owner Iain Chisholm. We pair the comforting dish with a couple of shared appetizers, like the creamy Burrata and crispy polenta, and a tumbler of $7 Chianti or the aptly named F’n Good cocktail (gin, Byrrh, hibiscus liqueur, and lemon Pellegrino). Plus, Americatus’ authentically Italian charm extends beyond the menu: The energetic, wood-clad space on the edge of RiNo features warm but casual service that makes us feel at home every time we visit, just like Nonna does. 2449 Larimer St., 303-862-9850
Readers’ Choice: Mici Handcrafted Italian
Editors’ Choice: Butcher’s Bistro
Denver’s always been a steak town, and at Butcher’s Bistro, owners Scott Bauer and Tyson Holzheimer subscribe to the idea that we should be eating Colorado-grown cuts. We couldn’t agree more. Former regional managers at Snooze, the pair opened this contemporary Ballpark chop shop almost two years ago with a small menu (lunch and dinner) of charcuterie, stacked sandwiches, and meaty entrées. The cuts change daily; if available, order the Denver (shoulder meat). Or you can be more adventurous and try the tongue or bison balls (exactly what you’re thinking), which make regular appearances. Whatever cut is in the rotation, you can count on the quality and flavor of the meat: tender, salted just right, and with a touch of char. 2233 Larimer St., 303-296-2750,
Readers’ Choice: Guard and Grace 1801 California St., 303-293-8500
Editors’ Choice: Pearl Wine Company
When it comes to picking out the perfect bottle of wine to take to your in-laws or your best friend’s housewarming, we’re partial to the more manageable, carefully edited selections at boutique wine shops. Take Pearl Wine Company in Platt Park. The inventory features vino from around the world (we love the moderately priced Old World selections from France and Italy), and the smart, accommodating staff is always eager to help you find the right fit for any occasion—even if it’s not wine you’re after. Pearl also carries spirits and an extensive beer selection, including cans and bottles—such as the Post Brewing Company’s refreshing Howdy Beer Pilsner—from smaller local and national craft breweries. 1886 S. Pearl St., 303-282-5103
Readers’ Choice: Pearl Wine Company
Editors’ Choice: Ototo
It’d be more accurate to call this spot Ototo 2.0. Four and a half years ago, Toshi Kizaki—the wizard behind Sushi Den and Izakaya Den, along with his brother, Yasu—quietly closed the original Ototo. The new iteration, which opened this past September in the same Platt Park corner spot, is even better. At this intimate and bustling eatery, you can take a culinary tour of the island nation. There’s a raw bar (fresh hamachi carpaccio, please), a selection of silky ramens, traditional Japanese small plates (the honey miso eggplant is one of the best veggie dishes we’ve had), various rice bowls, and—and!—an entire menu page devoted to entrées (the grilled whole squid is a knockout). You won’t be able to taste it all in one visit; instead, delight in having a wholly different gastronomic experience with every visit. 1501 S. Pearl St., 303-733-2503
Readers’ Choice: Sushi Den 1487 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0826
Editors’ Choice: Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant
With new, trendy restaurants opening all the time in Denver’s core, it’s easy to neglect the tiny, out-of-the-way spots you’ve already tried and loved. One place we’ve never forgotten, though, is Aurora’s Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant. How could we, what with tables designed to look like mini tiki huts, bamboo legs and palm-leaf overhangs included? We suggest relying on the recommendations of owner Beneyam Tessma and manager Haddis Ahmed. But if it’s available, opt for the signature kitfo dish and scoop up the spicy minced beef (it arrives rare), buttered greens, and house-made cottage cheese with a chunk of injera, a spongy Ethiopian flatbread. The four-year-old eatery, with an adjacent Ethiopian grocery store, added a gluten-free version this year—because even off-the-path eateries have to adapt in Denver’s flourishing dining scene. 306 S. Ironton St., Aurora, 720-532-0266
Readers’ Choice: Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant 7225 E. Colfax Ave., 303-399-9442
Editors’ Choice: Handy Diner
A visit to this six-month-old, bare-bones vegan diner might just have carnivores reconsidering their dinners. Owner-cook Teri Font and cook Roland Pleasant Dunkerley IV (both formerly of Uptown vegan mainstay WaterCourse Foods) so deftly transform traditional comfort foods that you’ll wonder why they ever included meat or dairy in the first place. We’re big fans of the huevos rancheros plate, which substitutes tofu for eggs; the tender chickpea-fried “steak”; and the vegan carne asada taco—all of which ring in under $10. 2958 Downing St., 619-730-5264
Readers’ Choice: WaterCourse Foods 837 E. 17th Ave., 303-832-7313
Editors’ Choice: Melita’s Greek Café & Market
This order-at-the-counter space has been serving heaping, house-made plates of all the staples—spanakopita, dolma, souvlaki—since the early 1900s, when the restaurant was located downtown and known as Economy Greek Market. When Dennis Georgatos took it over in 2013, he continued the tradition. Sometimes we keep our order simple: the falafel platter, with four crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside chickpea fritters on top of creamy hummus. On other days, we visit the small market area packed with straight-from-Greece products like feta cheese and green olives and grab an herby chicken souvlaki gyro to go. And we never say no to an order of the sweet and flaky baklava. Neither should you. 1035 Lincoln St., 303-629-1624
Readers’ Choice: Axios Estiatorio 3901 Tennyson St., 720-328-2225
Editors’ Choice: Funny Plus
We’re more than willing to drive extra miles for Korean food this good. Aurora’s lively Funny Plus, a “hof,” or Korean bar, comes with pulsing music, cooks chattering in Korean in the kitchen, gigantic mugs of cold Hite beer, and free-flowing soju. While the atmosphere is fun, the real draws are the massive platters of crisp Korean fried chicken, tender grill-at-your-table “galbi” (flanken-cut short ribs), and comforting “budae jjigae” (spicy kimchi stew). Funny Plus’ portions are reliably generous, and the kitchen doesn’t hold back on bold flavors, like the extra-funky kimchi. The proof is in the “buldak,” aka spicy fire chicken—order it if you dare. 2779 S. Parker Road, Aurora, 303-745-3477
Readers’ Choice: Dae Gee multiple locations
Editors’ Choice: Blue Pan
The Denver Broncos aren’t the only world champions in the Mile High City: Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch, co-founder of Blue Pan in West Highland, is the 2015 World Pizza Champion. At this tiny year-old joint, Smokevitch and his friendly team cook Detroit-style—square deep-dish—pies with perfectly chewy dough. (Beyond the 12 Detroit pies, the vast menu also includes cracker-thin styles and New York City slices.) First-timers should opt for the Brooklyn Bridge, a pepperoni and Italian sausage masterpiece that won the 2014 International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas. 3930 W. 32nd Ave., 720-456-7666
Readers’ Choice: Mici Handcrafted Italian
Editors’ Choice: Zoe Ma Ma—Union Station
The arrival of Zoe Ma Ma next to Union Station in January 2015 seriously reduced our time in the car. Before, we had to get our traditional Chinese food fix by driving to Federal Boulevard or Aurora or Zoe Ma Ma’s original Boulder location. Now when the craving hits, we can easily hoof it over to the fast-casual spot for house-made noodles crafted from organic egg flour by Edwin Zoe and his mom, Ann “Ma Ma” Zoe, who are both from Taiwan. Try the “zha jiang mian” (redolent ground pork sauce and veggies over egg noodles) or—for the ultimate comfort food—the roast duck wonton noodle soup special on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s a home-cooked meal for when you just don’t want to cook it for yourself. 1625 Wynkoop St., 303-545-6262
Readers’ Choice: Hop Alley
Editors’ Choice: Beirut Grill
We don’t typically visit Middle Eastern restaurants for pie—but that’s precisely what Beirut, around the corner from the Gothic Theatre, is known for. Except here, “pie” means warm house-made pitas encasing a variety of fillings. Our favorite is the spinach (chopped veggies, onions, walnuts, and a hint of tart pomegranate sauce). Owner Pedro Bernal, who trained under a Lebanese chef for 10 years, has a special skill for understanding the delicate balance of citrus and spices. Traditionalists will want to try customary Lebanese bites like the stuffed grape leaves and tender chicken kebabs. 203 W. Hampden Ave., Englewood, 303-781-0808
Readers’ Choice: Jerusalem Restaurant 1890 E. Evans Ave., 303-777-8828
Editors’ Choice: OMG Donuts
No matter how many bacon bits, cereal nuggets, or cookie crumbles you top a doughnut with, nothing reveals its quality more than the deep-fried halo itself. Whether you’re a sprinkle person or a chocolate-glaze enthusiast, at OMG Donuts, you can trust that those extras aren’t hiding a bland product. This small Arvada bakery, which opened in 2014, crafts pillowy foundations that are never greasy and always fresh. Order a straightforward glazed loop and customize it with your choice of jellies or creams; the sweet-and-tart raspberry jelly is particularly tasty. 7355 Ralston Road, Arvada, 303-431-3686
Readers’ Choice: Voodoo Doughnut 1520 E. Colfax Ave., 303-597-3666
Editors’ Choice: US Thai Cafe
US Thai embraces the heat. In fact, it’s the fierce spiciness of Thai chef Pichean Wongkamtra’s menu—an order of “mild” here would be “hot” at many other local Thai joints—that makes the no-frills Edgewater restaurant a standout. US Thai has all the classic offerings but also excels at dishes such as Thai-style grilled chicken wings (“pik kai laoding”) and “pra lad prik,” a grilled fish fillet on a bed of pineapple, carrot, and bell pepper—both of which are served swimming in house-made sweet-and-sour sauce. A Thai iced tea should help tame the heat. 5228 W. 25th Ave., Edgewater, 303-233-3345
Readers’ Choice: US Thai Cafe
Editors’ Choice: Pho Saigon Star
Pho Saigon Star, near the University of Denver’s campus, introduced us to a menu with more than 20 (!) varieties of pho. The popular neighborhood spot serves the classic Vietnamese dish in two styles: traditional or central, the latter of which is significantly spicier. Try the traditional shredded chicken version and the fiery iteration with rare beef for a taste of both. And because the eatery delivers, you can enjoy your comforting pho with a side of Netflix and pajamas. 2045 S. University Blvd., 720-633-8133
Readers’ Choice: New Saigon Restaurant 630 S. Federal Blvd., 303-936-4954
What to check out in five of our favorite up-and-coming ’hoods.
Eat: This oft-overlooked neighborhood is getting some foodie attention. Globe Hall, a barbecue and live music joint, started serving in November (the banoffee pie is a must-try); the Crafty Fox brought pizza and craft beer to the area in February.
Drink: Classic cocktails (Negronis, Manhattans, etc.) are the focus at year-old Fort Greene. Make yourself comfortable on one of the green couches while you wait for an order of fried cheese curds to offset the booze.
Learn: Get a history lesson about this important Denver neighborhood by visiting three of its most cherished sites, founded by the area’s early immigrants: the Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral (built in 1898), St. Joseph Polish Roman Catholic Church, and Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
Get Outside: Argo Park offers respite from the urban bustle with a kid-friendly pool, a recently updated walking path, and a basketball court.
Eat: Justin Brunson (Masterpiece Delicatessen, Old Major) extended his sandwich empire with the launch of Masterpiece Kitchen in March; you can’t miss with anything on the menu, but the pastrami is made in-house. For south-of-the-border cravings, look to the Baja-inspired offerings at North County. And don’t miss Troy Guard’s latest, month-old Lucky Cat.
Drink: Sunny summer days should be spent enjoying the 4,500 square feet of outdoor space at Lowry Beer Garden. Order a local microbrew from the extensive lineup and an elk-jalapeño-cheddar brat.
Get Outside: Even scratch golfers will be challenged by CommonGround Golf Course’s layout; the wind can be a doozy here.
Eat: Last winter, Bacon Social House introduced the bacon flight. Look for a revamped Monkey Barrel and Kindred, from the minds behind Brazen, to start serving in the fall.
Drink: Sunnyside has options to satisfy any kind of thirst. Wine? Check out Bonacquisti Wine Company, Denver’s first urban winery. Beer? Snag a pint at Diebolt Brewing Company. Coffee? Buchi Cafe Cubano pours a killer cafe con leche.
Shop: At Diz’s Daisys Flower Shop, treat yourself to a bouquet of locally grown stems. There’s always a unique item to be found at Sub Rosa Mercantile, where the shelves are stocked with small-batch, handcrafted items.
Get Outside: On September 10, Chaffee Park will host the ninth Sunnyside Music Festival. Check the website for this year’s lineup.
Eat: Weekend brunch at Sloan’s Bar & Grill means all the basics (a small menu of Benedicts, French toast, a breakfast burrito, you get the idea)—plus $1 mimosas and a $3 Bloody Mary bar.
Drink: Two-year-old Joyride Brewing Company is always packed with neighborhood residents clamoring for seats by the open garage doors and pints of Bear Paw oatmeal milk stout. (Fun fact: The 37-foot bar is crafted from century-old reclaimed boxcar floors.) Or pop into Coda Coffee for java that you know was grown sustainably by farmers who treat their workers fairly.
Indulge: At ÜberChic, it’s all about the green: The salon is committed to using all-natural, fragrance-free, nontoxic products—and you won’t spend an entire paycheck on your nails, wax, or facial (manicures start at just $22, facials at $35).
Get Outside: Across Sheridan Boulevard sits Sloan’s Lake Park, with its stellar playground and plenty of shaded areas to park it for the day. Or lace up your running shoes: It’s 2.6 miles around the namesake lake—long enough to earn you a post-run beer.
OLDE TOWN ARVADA
Eat: Steuben’s second location, which opened in March, is a no-brainer. But no visit to this ’hood is complete without a stop at 53-year-old Rheinlander Bakery for German strudel with house-made fruit fillings.
Drink: The Bluegrass Coffee & Bourbon Lounge has your a.m. covered with joe, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries, while its menu of 100 bourbons plus live bluegrass helps you unwind after the sun goes down.
Shop: Update your summer yoga wardrobe with Rolling Sands Yoga Boutique & Fitness Store’s impressive array of eco-friendly products and clothing.
Get Outside: Every Friday in August, Olde Town Square transforms into an outdoor movie theater for Flicks in the Square.
—Photo credits (from top): courtesy of Kari Cummings, by Sarah Boyum, illustrations by Halftone Def Studios