Even if chef-owner Alex Seidel hadn’t won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest this past May, Mercantile Dining & Provision would have earned a spot on this list. That’s in part because Seidel sets a dizzyingly high standard for how to run a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant. Not only does he own Fruition Farms Creamery in Larkspur, where cheesemaker Jimmy Warren crafts exceptional sheep’s milk cheeses—the only such cheeses produced in Colorado—but Seidel also works with area farmers to bring pristine ingredients to Mercantile’s myriad menus. Seidel’s recent accolades haven’t gone to his flowing-locks-topped head, though. By day, Mercantile remains a fast-casual market/restaurant where you can buy charcuterie, house-made pickles and preserves, and Fruition Farms cheeses to take home, as well as some of the city’s best sandwiches and salads. At night, Mercantile’s fine-dining side emerges; sit down to a gorgeous dinner of supple pasta and grilled local lamb loin, paired with flair by wine director Patrick Houghton. Both the restaurant and its leader are akin to Russian nesting dolls, or, perhaps more appropriately, onions: Peel back the layers, and you’ll simply find more to love. $$$$, Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop St., 720-460-3733