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’re looking to dress up your wardrobe or your home, we’ve got a spot to suit your style. 

Local Jewelry Designer

Editors’ Choice: Abby Sparks Jewelry

Too often, when jewelers use the phrase “customizable,” they’re referring to resizing a band or swapping out one gemstone for another. Denver jewelry designer Abby Sparks, of three-year-old Abby Sparks Jewelry, believes in a different definition: She selects fair-trade gems and recycled metals for every handmade, custom order, from engagement rings to cuff links. (The whole design process takes about five weeks from the initial consultation.) The University of Denver graduate works solely with recycled metals and precious and semiprecious stones and provides lifetime warranties to cover any defects in craftsmanship. Clients can also visit her LoHi showroom by appointment to view unique, already designed pieces, like a $150 sterling silver bangle featuring two flowers made of blue lapis or a showstopping quartz and red garnet cocktail ring ($2,700). 3216 Tejon St., Suite 200, 303-957-6502

Readers’ Choice: Megan Kaltenbach 

Home Accessories

Editors’ Choice: Lulu’s Furniture & Decor

Owned by mother-and-daughter design aficionados, this LoHi spot is a sure bet for furniture, accessories, and gifts you won’t see all over town. Score furnishings you can’t buy at the big-box stores by high-quality manufacturers such as Rowe and Norwalk. The shop always has a few sofas and chairs (including ultrahip, supercomfy Rothko Swivel Chairs) available to buy off the floor, but if you can tame the urge for immediate gratification, you can order a custom piece upholstered in any of the thousands of fabrics from Lulu’s library. Can’t decide? Lulu’s in-house designers can help with everything from selecting a few cool accessories (we love the brass hand sculptures) to creating a look for your whole house. 2050 W. 30th Ave., 303-756-2222

Readers’ Choice: Design Repeats 8200 S. Colorado Blvd., Centennial, 303-670-2900


Editors’ Choice: Wish Boutique and W Boutique

Located just a few doors apart, these Washington Park sister shops complement one another like cuffed jeans and ankle boots. Denver native Lisa Figlino opened Wish in 2014; W followed this past August and showcases Figlino’s great taste at lower prices (most items cost less than $100). The women’s boutiques stock nearly every style of jeans, from flare to boyfriend to skinny, and carry about 10 brands between them (our favorite is Just Black, which has, we swear, magical slimming powers). Plus, Figlino and her team provide in-store hemming and alterations, and they host post-closing VIP shopping experiences for those times when you need your girlfriends’ advice—and no one else’s. 1099 S. Gaylord St., 303-733-4848; 1071 S. Gaylord St., 303-997-8719

Readers’ Choice: Hailee Grace 1423 Larimer Square, Unit 090, 303-698-2323


Editors’ Choice: Black Tulip Antiques

Typically, comparing a place to your great aunt’s attic isn’t a compliment—unless you’re talking about antique shops. And that’s the best way to describe the experience of shimmying between aisles of stacked furnishings and decor at Black Tulip. Planted in the middle of South Broadway’s Antique Row, the store specializes in 18th- and 19th-century European antiques. So you’ll find handsome French bergères and carved Italian tables aplenty, plus an impressive array of light fixtures: Gothic iron chandeliers, Arts and Crafts sconces and hanging pendant lights, etched glass shades, and sculptural ginger jar lamps. Don’t see just the thing your home needs? Ask the staff if it could be hiding in one of the store’s two off-site storage spots. 1370 S. Broadway, 303-777-1370

Readers’ Choice: Brass Armadillo Antique Mall 11301 W. I-70 Frontage Road, Wheat Ridge, 303-403-1677

Baby/Kids’ Boutique

Editors’ Choice: Honeybee Baby Boutique

When you’re expecting, it seems like everyone—relatives, hair stylists, well-meaning moms at the park—has an opinion about what you’ll need. The knowledgeable staff at Honeybee has advice you should actually listen to. They’ll help you wade through all the devices and doodads and direct you to the stuff you truly must have, like Boppy nursing pillows (a Colorado company!) and supersoft Woombie swaddlers; they’ll lend a hand setting up your registry, too. The store also stocks plenty of options for your growing tot. Best of all, Honeybee doesn’t take itself too seriously (see: adorable “Nursing is my cardio” tank tops). And if there’s one thing every parent-to-be needs, it’s a sense of humor. 6200 S. Main St., Suite J-110, Aurora, 303-627-5464

Readers’ Choice: Nest 2940 E. Sixth Ave., 720-287-1372; 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Unit H-12, Boulder, 720-524-7676

Local Women’s Boutique 

Editors’ Choice: Fab’rik

The last time we visited this Aspen Grove store, it was because one of the shop’s stylists texted us a photo of new spring wardrobe essentials and we wanted to try on the dark-wash, ultraskinny denim capris before someone else grabbed them. That’s the kind of VIP experience you’ll get at Fab’rik, an Atlanta franchise Georgia native Leslie Clay introduced to Colorado in late 2014. The sleek suburban boutique—check out the metal chandelier lighting the space—is stocked with on-trend, sub-$100 blouses that easily transition from day to night; designer jeans by DL and Hudson; pieces from Fab’rik’s private label, Asher; and a small selection of jewelry from local companies like Harper Made. New shipments include only six of each item, so being on a first-name—or texting—basis with Clay and her team means you’ll have first pick of the season’s hottest trends. 7301 S. Santa Fe Drive, Suite 518, Littleton, 303-862-8364

Readers’ Choice: Goldyn 2040 W. 30th Ave., 720-489-0580

Local Fashion Designer 

Editors’ Choice: Salwa Owens

This 33-year-old designer is making a play to become the next big thing in fashion to come out of Denver. In November 2014, Owens’ Fierce in the City show at Space Gallery received much acclaim, and over the next year, she got ready for her biggest move yet: shifting to mass production for her ready-to-wear line, which launched in the spring as a complement to her custom couture items. The direct-to-consumer—as in, buy the Los Angeles–made items on her website—resort collection (prices range from $48 to $120) features statement-making staples, such as a classic black blazer and strapless asymmetrical dress, as well as lively jumpsuits and rompers. But she’s not stopping there. Owens also wants to be an expert source for her customers. Her blog, the SO Edit, showcases on-trend items from her line as well as from other designers (all available for purchase) and explains how to wear them. Look out for this up-and-comer’s new evening wear line in October. 

Readers’ Choice: Stephanie Ohnmacht

Mobile Store

Editors’ ChoiceDenver Fashion Truck

If you’ve been to any farmers’ market or artisan event (hello, Denver Flea) around town, you’ve seen the Denver Fashion Truck. Since launching as a purveyor of mostly vintage clothing in 2013, when fashion trucks were a nascent trend, the company has transformed into a mobile local market featuring everything from Coloradical T-shirts to Jennifer Lane Designs’ necklaces to Denver’s own Craft Boner barware. (Plus, the “store” sports some sweet wood paneling and its own air conditioning and space heater, so it’s always comfortable inside.) Last year, owners Adrian and Desiree Gallegos-Barragan added a second truck to the fleet, making it easier than ever to up your closet’s—and home’s—cool factor. 

Readers’ Choice: Meraki Moon 

Local Men’s Boutique

Editors’ Choice: Spruce 

If style and technology fell in love and had a retail baby, it would be Spruce. Co-owner Becca Romero studied fashion retail management at the Art Institute of Colorado and keeps her year-old Berkeley shop stocked with versatile threads (many of which are made domestically), from 7 Diamonds short-sleeve button-downs to Alternative’s Eco True T-shirts. Her husband, Taylor, designed an online style profile that allows Spruce staffers to get a feel for a customer’s taste before he arrives at the store. Men can log on, classify their look—goth? preppy?—and pick a goal (e.g., “I want to up my romance game,” or “I want a confidence boost”). Then you simply show up for your free appointment with a clothing consultant who will have pulled a selection of trousers, shirts, and accessories to match the look you’re going for. Since you’re there already, carve out a little extra time for a haircut and shave, especially if you have a date: Spruce operates a barbershop in the other half of the store. 4347 Tennyson St., 303-242-8689

Readers’ Choice: Armitage & McMillan 1550 Platte St., Suite D, 303-284-6222

Wedding Gowns

Editors’ Choice: Little White Dress Bridal Shop

From the moment you step into nine-year-old Little White Dress’ new Curtis Park boutique (it relocated from Highlands Square in January), you feel the way a bride should: special. There’s the sincere and effusive welcome from the staff. There’s the luxurious space itself, which offers plenty of natural light and plush viewing couches (with Kleenex within reach). And then there are the diverse dress options. Owner Cate Malone curates an impressive selection of renowned designers’ gowns, including J. Mendel’s architectural beauties (new this year) and Naeem Khan’s heavily embroidered and elegant silhouettes as well as an array of veils, headpieces, handbags, shoes, and jewelry so you can find the perfect wedding-day look all in one place. Heads up: A 3,400-square-foot expansion set to open this month will house special occasion outfits and even more dresses. Prices range from $1,500 to $15,000—but keep an eye out for regular sample sales and trunk shows—and an on-site seamstress will make sure you walk out feeling like Cinderella. 1130 31st St., 303-814-8972

Readers’ Choice: Little White Dress Bridal Shop

Consignment Store

Editors’ Choice: Greenwood Wildlife Consignment Gallery and Thrift

Owned by Lyons’ Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, this Boulder shop is brimming with must-haves you won’t find at other consignment venues in town (perhaps we can thank the People’s Republic’s distinctive populace for that). Our visits have uncovered dozens of wall-ready prints and paintings, eye-catching antique world globes, and pre-loved furniture from Crate and Barrel at snatch-them-up-now prices. Head downstairs for less high-end items, including a nicely curated book collection and the small but snappy men’s section. Whatever you buy, you’ll feel great knowing your purchase helps benefit Greenwood’s efforts to rehabilitate injured and orphaned animals before releasing them back into the wild. 3600 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-245-0800

Readers’ Choice: Design Repeats


Editors’ Choice: Wish Gifts

The best presents are often the spontaneous ones, proffered simply because the gifter was thinking of you. And the best place to discover these kinds of presents is five-year-old Wish Gifts (it moved to its current location a year ago). Drenched in pink, this cousin of two Old South Gaylord Street shops (fellow Top of the Town winners W Boutique and Wish Boutique, page 106) has the perfect find for your best friend, your sister, or your mom, from a B.U. necklace that reads “Rebel” to a $250 on-trend Hobo bag. Plus, Wish has some of the best greeting cards in town. Whether your friend has had a bad breakup or a stressful day at work, sarcastic, silly missives—think: “I’m sorry your boss is psycho”—from the likes of McBitterson’s and Farewell Paperie are guaranteed to give her the one thing she needs most: a smile. 750 S. University Blvd., 303-722-2900

Readers’ Choice: Hope Tank 64 Broadway, 720-837-1565

Fine Jewelry

Editors’ Choice: Sarah O. Jewelry

Sarah Ortega opened her eponymous storefront on Tennyson Street in April 2015, but she’s no newbie to the industry. The New Mexico native started polishing jewelry in her mom’s Albuquerque store at 13. By the time she started at Regis University, Ortega was selling her own creations to friends, and in 2013, she launched Sarah O. Jewelry. The showroom’s chic white interior is a fitting display case for her vintage-inspired rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Those with special occasions (ahem, popping the question) in mind should check out Ortega’s custom work, which accounts for half her business. 4301 Tennyson St., 720-502-3229

Readers’ Choice: Hyde Park Jewelers Cherry Creek Shopping Center, 3000 E. First Ave., 303-333-4446

Place To Buy Suits

Editors’ Choice: Beckett & Robb

You look good, you feel good. At least, that’s how the saying goes. But it’s hard to feel good when you just dropped an entire paycheck on a suit—regardless of how dashing the result. At this four-month-old downtown men’s boutique, owners Jason Yeats and Derek Bleazard keep their prices (mostly) in check—think $1,000 to $3,000—by cutting out some of the middlemen from their supply chain. B&R will outfit you (or, perhaps, your wedding party) in custom suits in luxury fabrics from designers such as Zegna and Loro Piana; you can also find everything you need for under that suit. We suggest letting the expert staff give you a hand via an in-store style consultation—walk-in or by appointment. You’ll step out the door feeling like a sharp-dressed man with enough left in your budget to take your new look out on the town. 707 17th St., Suite 100, 303-339-0914

Readers’ Choice: SuitSupply 299 Detroit St., 303-876-9900


Editors’ Choice: Frinje 

What’s better than jewelry that garners regular compliments? Pieces that also give back. At Frinje, owner Julia Stavnitski focuses on stocking American-made and pay-it-forward brands whenever possible. The five-year-old Larimer Square shop, a satellite of the original Frinje boutique in Vail—there’s also one in Beaver Creek—sells TOMS sunglasses (buy a pair and a person in need receives an eye exam and necessary treatment) and the Giving Keys jewelry (the company employs women in Los Angeles transitioning out of homelessness) in addition to a small selection of trendy clothing. We love the crystal rings, earrings, and necklaces from Passion for Vintage, a hard-to-find line created by a Coloradan turned Costa Rican. With mid-range prices—around $22 to $100 for accessories—Frinje’s spacious shop is practically bursting with quality products you can feel good about buying and wearing. 1408 Larimer St., Suite 101, 303-623-7774

Readers’ Choice: Hailee Grace 

—Photo credit: courtesy of Enrique Parrilla