Top of the Town 2016

Our 20th annual list of the best places to eat, drink, listen to music, get pampered, and more!

July 2016

—Illustrations by Halftone Def Studios


Whether you need the perfect flower arrangement, a reliable hair stylist, or an all-star interior designer, you’ll find your answer here.  


Editors’ Choice: Base Coat Nail Salon  

Base Coat’s toxin-free salon—you won’t find shellac or acrylics here—pampers customers with three levels of manicures and pedicures ($30 to $60) in a comfortable, clean environment. The three-year-old establishment—it relocated to its current Highland location in May 2015—uses Denver-based Fig & Yarrow lotions and scrubs and only stocks polishes sans the “big five” bad-for-you chemicals (formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin, and camphor). Founder Tran Wills, who also owns the gallery-shop Svper Ordinary in the Source, is so committed to the eco-friendly ethos that she recently launched Base Coat’s own nontoxic polish line with an array of eye-catching colors. 3244 Navajo St., 303-477-6245

Readers’ Choice: Fingers & Toes: A Nail Retreat 743 S. University Blvd., 303-955-1920

New Hotel

Editors’ Choice: The ART, A Hotel

Arriving at the Golden Triangle’s the Art, A Hotel, which made headlines when it opened near some of the city’s best museums last June, feels like an event. A 22,000-LED-light art installation welcomes you in the portico. You walk off the elevator onto the fourth floor—where reception is located—to find even more meticulously curated art and behold the alluring Fire restaurant’s open-air terrace. And then, of course, there’s your room: Huge windows with views of bustling Broadway or the mountains. Contemporary paintings on the walls. Plush white linens. Cheery colors everywhere. You sigh with happiness, set down your suitcase, and make a beeline for that terrace and an artfully crafted martini. 1201 Broadway, 303-572-8000

Readers’ Choice: The ART, A Hotel 

Pet Services 

Editors’ Choice: Mouthfuls Pet Supply

When our puppy chewed through (yet another) harness, we called Mouthfuls. The sales associate immediately offered to order a new one and have it delivered to the store in less than a week. (They’ll deliver straight to you if you live within a two-mile radius of the Berkeley store.) It’s this level of customer service that sets the longtime business apart, along with the vast selection of high-quality products, including Smart Cookie Bakery treats from Denver, the Honest Kitchen food, and Ruffwear toys, that fill the pleasantly crowded shop. More important, the employees are experts in everything from how to choose the right food to teeth cleaning (the shop offers anesthesia-free cleanings by certified techs every six weeks). And if you—or Fido—aren’t satisfied, no-receipt-needed returns are easy. 4224 Tennyson St., 720-855-7505

Readers’ Choice: U Lucky Dog 4040 Fox St., 720-328-8179

Landscape Design

Editors’ Choice: Luxescapes

Husband-and-wife team Stephen and Meghan Himschoot aren’t your typical landscape designers. Their free on-site consultation and generally complimentary initial design service will help you figure out what’s possible for your yard, whatever its size, without busting your budget. As natives of the West (Stephen grew up in Idaho Springs, and Meghan is from Wyoming), the Himschoots are also pros at outwitting finicky plants or just giving you low-maintenance options that are (nearly) impossible to kill. Bonus: The firm has its own full-time team that can handle everything from planting to masonry, so instead of waiting on subcontractors, you can spend time deciding whether to fess up to your friends or let them believe you really do have a green thumb. 303-288-5893

Readers’ Choice: B. Gardening Landscape Design 1450 S. Washington St., 720-320-3949

Bike Shop

Editors’ Choice: Elevation Cycles

You pick your go-to bike shop for one of two reasons: They sell the brand you like, or they have awesome customer service. At Elevation Cycles, you’ll likely find both. The knowledgeable crew eschews the snob factor in favor of genuine interest in helping customers get exactly what they need—whether it’s a tune-up (starting at $75), gear (they sell POC helmets and Shimano components and can order just about anything else), or even a brand-new road or mountain bike. Take note: Elevation’s downtown location is just a block off the Cherry Creek Trail, so there will be a friendly face waiting if you’re on a ride and find yourself with a flat tire. 1500 Wynkoop St., Suite 102, 303-835-3438; 2030 E. County Line Road, Highlands Ranch, 303-730-8038

Readers’ Choice: (TIE) Campus Cycles 2102 S. Washington St., 303-698-2811; 7310 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood, 303-237-1115; Wheat Ridge Cyclery 7085 W. 38th Ave., Wheat Ridge, 303-424-3221

Hair Salon 

Editors’ Choice: Let Em Have It Salon 

When it comes to being eco-friendly, beauty businesses often land on the wrong end of the spectrum. Fallene Wells, a 14-year veteran of the hair and fashion industry, knew she could do better. In November 2013, she and her husband, Kyle, opened the environmentally focused—and socially conscious—Let Em Have It Salon in Uptown. In addition to using only sustainable products, Wells’ parlor was one of the first two in Colorado to partner with Green Circle Salons, a Canadian company that helps salons recycle all of their noxious waste, such as discarded color. Let Em Have It also runs a gratitude program that gives clients in occupations that are “making the world a better place” (teaching, nursing, and firefighting among them) a 10 percent discount on all services, all the time. 490 E. 20th Ave., 720-638-4619

Readers’ Choice: Matthew Morris Salon and Skincare 13 S. Broadway; 2644 Walnut St.; 303-715-4673 

Interior Designer

Editors’ Choice: Erin Iba, Iba Design Associates

If your Houzz searches keep turning up predictable decor, get some fresh ideas by taking a spin through interior designer Erin Iba’s portfolio. In 2012, the New York City transplant brought her wicked sense of style and just the right amount of risk-taking to Denver. While her own taste is subdued and classic, Iba’s work showcases a broad range of styles and a killer ability to combine big-ticket items like silk moiré wallpaper with wallet-saving pieces to make sure your home looks less like a stuffy showroom and more like, you know, a place you want to live. 1421 Oneida St., Suite 11, 212-729-1043

Readers’ Choice: Studio Thomas 7355 E. Orchard Road, Suite 375, Greenwood Village, 720-467-0131


Editors’ Choice: The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver

We’re happy to report that the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver’s $1.1 million upgrade (a new fitness center, a spacious salon, and a reimagined spa reception area), completed in early 2016, didn’t alter what was already great about this eight-year-old mecca of relaxation. That is, locker rooms decked out with a hot tub and steam room; cozy robes and quiet rooms; and more than 20 deftly executed treatments, like the deep-tissue Rocky Mountain massage ($125 for 50 minutes), which is the perfect way to wind down after a hectic day—or, really, any day. 1881 Curtis St., 303-312-3830

Readers’ Choice: Spavia Day Spa multiple locations


Editors’ Choice: The Woodhouse Day Spa–LIttleton

Simply walking into this spa franchise’s Littleton location (the sixth in the state), which opened in November, is soothing thanks to the wafting scents of sunflowers, lavender, apricot, and sage. The 7,600-square-foot space looks more like a luxurious backcountry destination than a suburban retreat with its elegant wood decor, French doors, and high ceilings. We suggest treating yourself to the 80-minute seaweed facial ($150) or the head-to-toe Woodhouse Escape, which commences with a full-body scrub and volcanic stone massage and ends with a reflexology foot massage (110 minutes, $220). Arrive early for some extra me time in the relaxation room: a 500-square-foot covered porch where enormous windows look out on a thick forest and nearby McLellen Reservoir. 8351 Southpark Lane, Littleton, 720-390-7808

Readers’ Choice: Spavia Day Spa multiple locations


Editors’ Choice: Bella Calla

Nothing epitomizes the spirit of the West quite like succulents—and this tiny Five Points shop will send imaginative arrangements of the resilient plants to your special someone. We’re partial to the versions that feature tiny air plants inside hanging globes or even light bulbs. If you want to deliver a bouquet yourself, enjoy browsing shelves packed with local goodies (handmade soaps, Real Dill Pickles, Coda Coffee) while you wait for it to come together, or use the time to sign up for a build-your-own-terrarium group class ($55, including wine and snacks; events are held at the Golden Triangle location). We regularly pop in for the dollar-a-stem sales announced on Facebook—and are keeping our fingers crossed that the brand-new Broadway shop offers the same deal. 3100 Downing St., Suite A, 303-593-0716; 1111 Broadway, Suite 102, 303-284-5580

Readers’ Choice: The Perfect Petal 3600 W. 32nd Ave., Suite B, 303-480-0966


Editors’ Choice: Ollie’s Barber Shop

This Wash Park West barbershop is about cutting hair and, really, nothing else. Want a massage? Call a masseuse. Need a shampoo? Take a shower. By dialing back on the amenities, the cash-only outfit has become the best at doing what a barbershop should do: provide a top-notch cut at a fair price ($25). And fast, too, as you’ll typically be in and out in less than 30 minutes. Denver gents will also be pleased to know that basic beard trims are $5 with a haircut at Ollie’s (they’re $10 otherwise). 616 E. Kentucky Ave., 720-324-6608

Readers’ Choice: Steel & Lather Barber Co. 1750 15th St., Suite 100; 616 E. 13th Ave.; 303-573-0304

Ski/Snowboard Tune 

Editors’ Choice: Alpine Base & Edge

When it comes to keeping your skis and snowboards in carving shape, you want an obsessive ski racer in your corner. Owner Peter Boyer, who started hand-tuning planks as a teenager in Vermont in the ’70s, and his team of fellow ex-racers and coaches pay meticulous attention to base structures and edge geometry. A basic tune starts at $50, and you’ll have your gear back in 24 hours; we opt for the expert option ($90) to fill core shots and remove extra damage. But we’re not Alpine’s only fans: Atomic, Nordica, and Rossignol have certified the 11-year-old Boulder shop—which pulls double-duty as a boot and hard goods retailer—as an official ski supplier and tuning center. 2709 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-443-0814

Readers’ Choice: Eskimo Ski & Board Shop 8265 S. Holly St., Centennial, 303-761-1101

—Photo credits (from top): courtesy of Kathryn Bacalis/Our Love is Loud, Whoodhouse Day Spa