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Top of the Town 2019: Dining

Pakistani breakfast burritos, firefly squid, soy in sweets: it’s never been a better (or more interesting) time to be a Front Range diner.

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New Restaurant

Black sesame semifreddo. Photo by Sarah Boyum.

Editors’ Choice
The Wolf’s Tailor
We knew this restaurant was special even before the James Beard Foundation bestowed two 2019 nominations—one to chef-owner Kelly Whitaker for Best Chef: Southwest and one to Jeb Breakell for Outstanding Pastry Chef—on the Sunnyside spot. Whitaker’s menu is experimental, marrying his commitments to live-fire cooking and heritage grains with an East-meets-West influence. The results: a handful of freshly milled pastas, simple yet stunning yakitori-style skewers, and veggie-centric small plates that change with the seasons. Breakell’s sweets serve as a perfect complement. Take, for example, his red miso panna cotta, in which properly jiggly custard receives earthy depth from fermented soy and a bit of crunch and sweetness from the caramelized banana served atop it. Something special, indeed. 4058 Tejon St., 720-456-6705

Readers’ Choice
Whole Sol Blend Bar
1735 Chestnut Place, 720-372-7862; 1420 Pearl St., Boulder, 720-475-1355

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Bakery

Editors’ Choice
Tokyo Premium Bakery
The trio of friends behind this South Pearl Street gem moved from Japan to Denver in 2016 to open a European-inspired bakery. The result includes indulgences that are new to Denver, from matcha-sugar-dusted doughnuts to squishy buns full of Japanese-style beef curry to spicy cod roe baguettes to “shokupan” (fluffy Japanese milk bread). Load up a tray of sweet and savory treats and sip a “hojicha” (roasted green tea) latte at the laptop-friendly cafe, which is filled with light streaming in from a bank of streetside windows, or let the friendly staff box up your goods to take home. Whatever you do, arrive early, lest the hordes of hungry pastry lovers beat you to the goods. 1540 S. Pearl St., 720-531-3784

Readers’ Choice
Grateful Bread Company
425 Violet St., Golden, 303-681-5406

Bottle Shop

Photo courtesy of Mondo Vino

Editors’ Choice
Mondo Vino
Mondo Vino isn’t the type of place that’s content to keep selling you the same ol’ Pinot Noir. The 20-year-old shop and its expert staffers, all of whom have extensive experience either working for restaurants or beverage distributors, actively try to expand your palate and knowledge with their Club Mondo program ($300 a year). Every month, Club Mondo delivers members two bottles of a vintage selected by staffers based on their recently sampled favorites. If you’re looking for a thriftier option, the Highland spot also hosts free tastings every Friday (4 to 7 p.m.) and Saturday (2 to 7 p.m.) that are designed to show off specific varietals or particular regions of the world with which you might not be familiar. While continuing your wine education, don’t forget to broaden your knowledge by perusing Mondo Vino’s selection of 300 beers and 50-plus spirits. 3601 W. 32nd Ave., 303-458-3858

Readers’ Choice
Pearl Wine Company
1886 S. Pearl St., 303-282-5103

Breakfast Burrito

Editors’ Choice
The British Bulldog
In Denver’s bacon-or-sausage breakfast burrito scene, this 13-year-old soccer pub’s version holds a delightful surprise. Along with the standard scrambled eggs and crisp potato chunks, a giant flour tortilla envelopes cilantro chutney and flavorful “chappli”—a meat specialty of Pakistan’s Peshawar region that consists of minced beef seasoned with garlic, peppers, coriander, cumin, and ground mango. For a Colorado touch, the whole thing is smothered in spicy pork green chile. It’s only offered on the weekend brunch menu, when the Bulldog often opens early for international soccer games—such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup final at 9 a.m. on July 7 (hint, hint). 2052 Stout St., 303-295-7974

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Readers’ Choice
Santiago’s
Multiple locations

Brunch

Editors’ Choice
Annette
Some brunch spots rely on bottomless mimosas to distract from their lackluster food. Not so at Aurora’s Annette, where every single item on the short menu is stellar. Twice James Beard Award–nominated chef (and Food & Wine Best New Chef 2019) Caroline Glover’s featherlight yeasted waffles, topped with rotating seasonal fruit, are quite simply the best we’ve ever had. We’d eat her pork hash—which combines crispy fried potatoes with tender brined pork, caramelized onions, and pickled mustard seeds—at every meal. Even the breakfast sandwich goes beyond standard thanks to the house-baked English muffin and tangy romesco sauce. In short, the fare is so creative you won’t miss the cheap booze—or the inevitable afternoon headache. Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-710-9975

Readers’ Choice
Whole Sol Blend Bar
1735 Chestnut Place, 720-372-7862; 1420 Pearl St., Boulder, 720-475-1355

Burger

Editors’ Choice
Officers Club
Some situations call for moderation. Ordering a burger is not one of them. So when it came time for Sterling Robinson (North County, Billy’s Inn) to conjure up an iteration for this year-old Lowry venture, he wanted to “enjoy the fruits of being a fat kid.” That meant recreating a favorite of his youth, from Big Boy Restaurant (the chain made popular by its statues of a little boy in red checkered overalls). Officers Club’s Big Boy Bacon Burger, then, contains a higher fat content than the burgers Robinson serves at his other establishments. It has two patties topped with thick, messy cheddar cheese and smoky bacon. A steak knife, stabbed through the heart of the Big Boy, is needed to keep this monster from toppling over. Still, there’s enough sharpness from the zesty secret sauce (Robinson admits pilfering from In-N-Out Burger) and crunch from the generous layer of lettuce for it not to be overwhelmed by meaty goodness. 84 Rampart Way, 303-284-0714

Readers’ Choice
Dog Haus
8316 E. Northfield Blvd., 303-353-4385; 12023 E. Arapahoe Road, Centennial, 720-330-0823

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Chef

Chef Elise Wiggins. Photo by Matt Nager

Editors’ Choice
Elise Wiggins
If you’ve dined at Cattivella, Elise Wiggins’ Stapleton ode to wood-fired Italian cuisine, then you may think you know the chef. After all, she can almost always be spotted in her restaurant’s open kitchen, smiling through each busy service. But there’s a lot more to Wiggins than her work as a chef and restaurateur: She’s also a teacher, hosting Italian cooking classes at Cattivella (learn to make her jam-filled crostata on July 6) and leading intrepid guests on culinary tours of Italy. Soon, she’ll add TV star to her CV: Wiggins’ new show, Roots to Ranches, premieres in January (the network it will appear on was TBA at press time). The series follows Wiggins as she hunts, forages, and farms in Colorado and beyond, displaying skills learned during her childhood in rural Louisiana. In short: Stop by Cattivella now, so you’ll be able to say you knew her when. 10195 E. 29th Drive, Suite 110, 303-645-3779

Readers’ Choice
Greg Weadick
Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, 1330 27th St., 303-295-3333

Chinese

Editors’ Choice
Q House
Q House may not be Denver’s first modern Chinese eatery, but the City Park West newbie has carved out its own niche during the past year. Executive chef Christopher Lin draws inspiration from his family’s native Taiwan and his stint at Momofuku in New York City to conjure a menu that includes everything from traditional duck lo mein and pork belly buns to adventurous plates like beef tongue and tripe with chile oil and fried monkfish with lotus root. Pair the fantastic eats with inventive cocktails, like the refreshing aloe spritz, and you’ll understand why Q House earned a nomination for the best new restaurant in the country this year from the James Beard Foundation. 3421 E. Colfax Ave., 720-729-8887

Readers’ Choice
Hop Alley
3500 Larimer St., 720-379-8340

Coffee Roaster

Editors’ Choice
Allegro Coffee
Allegro has been sustainably sourcing coffee longer than most of its customers have been alive. Founded in Boulder in the 1970s (and bought by Whole Foods in 1997), Allegro, which has grown to six locations across the country, searches the globe to find its beans, recently partnering with women farmers in Rwanda and Latin America. That’s not the only way it remains fresh: In March, Allegro’s Tennyson cafe—a 4,000-square-foot former hardware store that has hosted its main roasting operation since 2015—unveiled a new waffle toast menu with grilled treats made from sweet potato batter (we still don’t believe the lemon-zested, mascarpone-topped version has only 330 calories). Savor your breakfast in a space that features tiered benches along the walls, communal tables, and ample outdoor seating for sunny days. Multiple locations

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Readers’ Choice
Ink! Coffee
Multiple locations

Deli

Editors’ Choice
Rye Society Delicatessen & Picklery
There’s a mural on a wall inside Rye Society that traces the lineage of owner Jerrod Rosen’s family from its arrival in the United States in the late 19th century through the clan’s infiltration of the Denver grocery scene. (His uncle, for one, owned Phil’s Grocery & Deli on West Colfax Avenue.) It’s a stirring tribute, though to be honest, we’re just as impressed with the journey of Rosen’s pastrami. Rosen pressure-cooks and then steams the meat, shipped in from New York City, for at least three hours to ensure it’s tender enough for a sandwich—the 18+1, with Russian dressing, baby Swiss, and slaw on rye, is the best on the menu—and flavorful enough to make patrons wish they had an extra stomach. You’ll find that level of attention to elite sourcing up and down the year-old RiNo deli’s menu, whether it’s in the bagels from Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen, bread from City Bakery, or lox from Brooklyn’s Acme Smoked Fish. 3090 Larimer St., 303-593-2713

Readers’ Choice
The Bagel Deli & Restaurant
6439 E. Hampden Ave., 303-756-6667

Dessert

Editors’ Choice
LeRoux
Most everything about this seven-month-old, European-inspired restaurant in LoDo feels romantic, from the sparkling crystal chandeliers to the deep, dark booths to the exquisite desserts. Led by chef-owner Lon Symensma, there’s a beautiful sensibility to the sweets menu, which transforms classics such as baked Alaska and Paris-Brest into modern marvels by tweaking their elements until the dishes feel altogether new. The Paris-Brest in particular will linger in your thoughts for weeks thanks to its craveable union of a traditional crisp choux pastry ring, a delicate pistachio crème mousseline (a riff on the typical praline cream), and a wholly au courant salty caramel sauce. While you might be tempted to clink forks with your date over one of these luxurious confections, trust us: You’re going to want your own. 1510 16th St., 720-845-1673

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

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Distillery

Editors’ Choice
Mythology Distillery
In the States, drinking vodka straight is practically a fable—so the name of this spirit maker, new to Highland this past August, makes a lot of sense. Scott Coburn, a former distiller at Utah’s legendary High West Distillery, eschews traditional potato mash for his vodka in favor of Loveland-grown rye, which gives it a creamy texture that finishes effortlessly with hints of butterscotch and vanilla. (That said, it’s also pretty tasty in Mythology’s savory Bella Rosa, a Bloody Mary–reminiscent cocktail with red bell pepper juice, agave, and lime.) Mythology also churns out a complex rye whiskey, pineapple- and mango-forward rums, and a dry gin with lasting citrus notes. Combine all those spirits with a divine cheese tray—anchored by Brie-like Alpenbert from Moon Hill Dairy in Steamboat Springs—and it’s no wonder we’re starting to believe in fairy tales again. 3622 Tejon St., 720-458-0501

Readers’ Choice
Mythology Distillery

Doughnut

Editors’ Choice
The Donut House
The display cases at this local father-and-son-owned chain (nine locations between Denver and Castle Rock) teem with choices, from Cro Holes to cinnamon-and-sugar twists. The handmade yeast dough that serves as the base for the raised doughnuts bakes up so fluffy that any selection is gratifying. Something special you’ll rarely find in the cases are the Legend Donuts—which are big, extravagant, and most easily procured by ordering online. One version, the Fruity Spread, is topped with strawberries, blueberries, and a signature cream. Or, if you’d prefer something even sweeter, go for the crème brûlée version—a vanilla-custard beauty with caramelized sugar, packed with one of nine filling flavors. Multiple locations

Readers’ Choice
Glazed and Confused
Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 303-524-9637

Ethiopian

Editors’ Choice
Axum Restaurant
This South Park Hill joint will have you feeling transported to its namesake burg, an ancient city in Ethiopia. You’ll see it in the lively atmosphere as you watch fellow diners hand-feed one another bites of injera-wrapped stew, an act of love commonly practiced there. You’ll smell it in the ever-present aromas of turmeric and berbere, a classic Ethiopian spice blend. You can drink it in a glass of luscious honey wine. Best of all, you’ll taste it in Axum’s ample selection of traditional recipes, which the owner, an emigrant of northern Ethiopia, brought with her. The vegetarian combo offers a choice of six divinely stewed vegetables, like carrots and yellow peas, heaped atop spongy injera bread. By the end of your meal, that flatbread base will have soaked up all the sublimely rich flavors that make this restaurant a must-try. 5501 E. Colfax Ave., 303-329-6139

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Readers’ Choice
Queen of Sheba
7225 E. Colfax Ave., 303-399-9442

Ice Cream

High Point Creamery. Photo by Sarah Boyum

Editors’ Choice
High Point Creamery
Not all superheroes wear capes—and one of them definitely makes ice cream. Gifted with a superhuman sense of smell after giving birth to her first child, Erika Thomas says she used her newly robust snout to create unique concoctions for her husband, Chad Stutz, at home. In particular, her basil with blackberry swirl flavor (bolstered by knowledge gained from attending the famed ice cream school at Penn State University) was so divine it convinced Thomas and Stutz to open the first High Point Creamery in Hilltop five years ago. Now known for creative twists on classics—think: Cookies (3 ways) & Cream, made with chocolate wafers, chocolate chip cookies, and sugar cookies—the couple owns three Front Range parlors as well as a food truck called Big Pinky that travels around Denver and can be reserved for special events. Even if you can’t make it to a High Point shop, chances are you’re within range of one of its pints, considering the ice cream is sold everywhere from Denver International Airport to Whole Foods. Multiple locations

Readers’ Choice
Bonnie Brae Ice Cream
799 S. University Blvd., 303-777-0808

Indian

Editors’ Choice
Spice Room
The traditional Thanksgiving plate used to rank as our favorite meal—until we tasted Spice Room’s lunchtime buffet of tikka masala, vegetable korma, paneer, rice pudding…we could go on. It’s no surprise this Berkeley spot nails traditional Indian flavors, using spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fenugreek: It was opened by four former employees—all Nepalese—of another well-known local Indian eatery in February 2018 (they prefer to keep the name of the establishment secret). Although any time is a good time to visit the cozy space, its midday buffet, which includes complimentary chai tea and naan, is a bargain at $10.99. Bonus: Nearly any dish can be ordered vegan. 3157 W. 38th Ave., 303-455-3127

Readers’ Choice
Little India
Multiple locations

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Italian

Editors’ Choice
Jovanina’s Broken Italian
Eight-month-old Jovanina’s Broken Italian has quickly become a must-visit island in Denver’s sea of red-sauce joints, pizzerias, and upscale Italian restaurants. Husband-and-wife team Jake and Jennifer Linzinmeir (he’s a chef with Michelin-star restaurant experience, she’s the restaurateur and muse) poured all of their love for hospitality, eclectic design, and creative cooking into the charming LoDo spot. A custom Mugnaini wood oven anchors the place, turning out clever iterations of breads, pizzas, slow-roasted meats, and seafood. Consider the flaky, mozzarella-stuffed garlic knot, which lounges in a pool of roasted garlic oil and balsamic vinegar, or the freshly milled rye flour bucatini with roasted mushrooms and dill crème fraîche. The service team is led by pros imported from New Orleans’ venerable Commanders Palace; the wine list (and subterranean wine cellar/speakeasy, Sotto Voce) is approachable; and deconstructed desserts by pastry chef Ashley Morrison are playful without being precious. 1520 Blake St., 720-541-7721

Readers’ Choice
Mici Handcrafted Italian
Multiple locations

Japanese

Editors’ Choice
Uchi Denver
Denver has welcomed a number of big-name chefs to town over the past year—the most exciting of which (at least to lovers of Japanese food) is Tyson Cole. The James Beard Award winner exported his sushi and small plates restaurant Uchi, which has three Texas iterations, to the edge of Curtis Park this past October. There, Cole delivers pristine, albeit diminutive, nigiri using uncommon creatures (yes, unicorn leatherjacket and firefly squid are real) as well as creative maki and myriad hot and cold small plates within a glittering, bustling space. Be sure to make a reservation, especially during the 5 to 6:30 p.m. daily happy hour, when every item on the menu costs less than $10. 2500 Lawrence St., 303-444-1922

Readers’ Choice
Sushi Den
1487 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0826

Kid-Friendly Restaurant

Editors’ Choice
Brightmarten Restaurant & Bar
Opened in April 2018, this cozy neighborhood bar/restaurant in Bonnie Brae offers parents a slice of civilization and kids welcome diversions from dull, stay-in-your-seat dinners out. Slip into a booth or join a community table, then let your children wander (it’s OK, Brightmarten encourages it) as they participate in a scavenger hunt for plastic dinosaurs the staff hides around the dining room. When it comes to the menu, parents tuck into comforting New American fare such as walnut-pesto spaghetti. Your kids, meanwhile, will undoubtedly mow down a simpler plate of Jack cheese nachos—especially if they know a Rice Krispies and sprinkles cast-iron cookie from the dessert menu is the reward for a clean plate. 730 S. University Blvd., 720-541-7696

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Readers’ Choice
Mici Handcrafted Italian
Multiple locations

Korean

Editors’ Choice
Tofu House 1962
This tucked-away outpost is as far from “local” as Denverites can get. The international chain’s first restaurant opened halfway around the globe, in a 460-square-foot space in Seoul, Korea, in 1962. The fact that it’s survived this long (and come this far) is a testament to its specialty: tofu, freshly made so it’s as tender and rich as a warm slab of butter. Replete with that silky soy delicacy, the soft tofu soups shine, especially when filled with pork, oysters, and squid. Wondering what to order as a side? More tofu, of course—fried crisp and full of garlic seasoning. Don’t despair, soy-allergy sufferers: The house banchan includes refreshing cucumber salad and spicy kimchi and absolutely no tofu (though, to be honest, it might be even better if it did). 2406 S. Havana St., Aurora, 303-751-2850

Readers’ Choice
Dae Gee
Multiple locations

Market Hall

Broadway Market. Photo courtesy of From the Hip Photo

Editors’ Choice
Broadway Market
If practice makes perfect, the team behind this five-month-old food and retail emporium should be approaching faultlessness. And after visiting, we won’t argue the point. Eclectic Collective, as the squad behind Broadway Market calls itself, has founded or helped to open the Source, Zeppelin Station, and Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace. All that fine-tuning is on display here. The space is smaller (read: less daunting) than similar venues, and most of the restaurants—Maria Empanada, Royal Rooster, Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Miette et Chocolat—have proven bona fides. There are DJs on some Friday nights and a pour-your-own beer wall with two dozen local taps. You can pay with a credit or debit card at each stall, or you can check out a plastic fob from the host stand to use at any of the stations or the suds dispensers; they’ll charge your card when you’re finished, unless you ask to pay cash. Nab a seat in the center of the sleek black-and-white space to engage in a pastime that dates to the earliest known food courts: people watching. 950 Broadway, 720-390-7132

Readers’ Choice
Stanley Marketplace
2501 N. Dallas St., Aurora, 720-990-6743

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Mexican

Editors’ Choice
Kahlo’s
At this vegan- and vegetarian-friendly Westwood taqueria, which opened in 2017, stern portraits of painter Frida Kahlo adorn every wall. Yet owner Noe Bermudez’s dishes skew playful. Crisp cabbage and complex sauces, like a spicy 30-ingredient mole, complement tender carnitas or grilled zucchini enchiladas—a traditional Michoacán preparation. Dry chiles, another staple from the Mexican state of Bermudez’s childhood, shine in tamales and sopas. Booze isn’t served, but fresh-squeezed juices with ingredients both expected (pineapple and mango) and surprising (ginseng and almond) are sweet enough to make even Frida Kahlo smile. 3735 Morrison Road, 303-936-0758

Readers’ Choice
Los Dos Potrillos
Multiple locations

Middle Eastern

Safta’s killer roasted cauliflower. Photo by Sarah Boyum

Editors’ Choice
Safta
Renowned chef and Israel native Alon Shaya must have had a crazy-cool nana, because 11-month-old Safta—which means “grandmother” in Hebrew—is hip and in no way square. Set inside an airy and bright U-shaped space at the Source Hotel & Market Hall, the modern Israeli restaurant is staffed with an army of white-coated cooks in a long open kitchen. Start your meal with yeasty perfection from Shaya’s homeland: Piping hot, fluffy pita bread made with freshly milled flour is sent to tables straight from Safta’s wood-burning oven. Hummus isn’t just a starter; it gets its own section of the menu and deservedly so, with the likes of rich lamb ragu or buttery mushrooms topping the creamy swirls. If you manage not to fill up on flatbread and dip (good luck), larger dishes such as the roasted whole cauliflower are innovative delights, too. Finally, pastry chef Liliana Myers’ exquisite creations—she pays homage to Middle Eastern flavors by incorporating regional ingredients such as pistachios and figs—serve as a fitting end to a meal that satisfies even better than dinner at you-know who’s. The Source Hotel & Market Hall, 3330 Brighton Blvd., 720-408-2444

Readers’ Choice
Safta

Pizza

Editors’ Choice
Hops & Pie
This nine-year-old Berkeley joint can’t be accused of false advertising. In fact, it’s so into hops and pie that Hops & Pie uses a good-sized swig of Modus Hoperandi IPA, from Durango’s Ska Brewing, to make its golden brown pizza crusts. The resulting full, malty flavor is a perfect complement to the restaurant’s range of toppings, from classics like pepperoni, rich kalamata olives, and sweet caramelized onions to unconventional ones, such as tender beer-braised brisket, smoked ham hock, and creamy mashed potatoes. Vegans don’t have to settle for dull, either; Hops & Pie serves housemade meatless Sicilian sausage, vegan Daiya cheese, and smoked tofu. Go ahead and set a standing appointment on your calendar: That way, you’ll never miss pairing a local brew (there are 30 rotating drafts) with the artisan pie of the month. April’s, for example, combined San Marzano tomatoes, crispy pancetta, sautéed wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh basil leaves, provolone, Parmesan, and FlatIron Pepper Co.’s Hatch Valley dried green chiles. 3920 Tennyson St., 303-477-7000

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Readers’ Choice
Mici Handcrafted Italian
Multiple locations

Seafood

Editors’ Choice
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
We debuted this category in 2019 thanks to the spate of amazing new fish joints that have opened in the past few years. Then we went and bestowed the inaugural award on a place that’s been around since 1994. For a quarter century, founder Dave Query and his team have been ordering catch—including fresh oysters turned into Rockefellers so decadent and unctuous, they make John D. seem like a rube—daily from the coasts. Still, even those oysters can’t compare with the branzino we recently ordered on the recommendation of our bartender. The seared fish—gorgeously crisp—was tender, flaky, rich, and paired wonderfully with red rice and herbaceous seaweed chimichurri. It might be a simple combo, but stellar, sustainable ingredients prepared with great expertise are what keep Jax atop the Front Range’s seafood chain. Multiple locations

Readers’ Choice
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar

Steak

Photo by Matt Nager

Editors’ Choice
Corrida
The first thing you’ll notice when you step into this year-old Spanish-inspired restaurant is the panoramic view of the Flatirons. Don’t let the vista distract you from Bryan Dayton (co-owner of Oak at Fourteenth and Acorn) and Amos Watts’ (former executive chef at Old Major) true masterpieces: grilled, dry-aged meats finished with olive oil and salt. Pick from the options, including $83-per-pound, Colorado-raised wagyu tomahawk rib-eye (bring friends to devour the two- to three-pound selections); eight-ounce Angus filets aged for 21 days; and marbled Miyazaki Japanese wagyu ($55 per ounce, two ounces minimum). Traditional steak house sides are supplanted by croquetas de jamón, patatas bravas, albondigas, and other tapas. Wash it down with a gin tonic, made tableside from a cart stocked with garnishes. Perfectly sated, now take a gander at those picturesque mountains. Think of them as dessert. 1023 Walnut St., Suite 400, Boulder, 303-444-1333

Readers’ Choice
Guard and Grace
1801 California St., Suite 150, 303-293-8500

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Thai

Editors’ Choice
9Thai
Sometimes short and sweet is superior, especially for restaurateur rookies. 9Thai, which opened in a cheery spot in Hale in April 2017, simplifies its dining experience with a straightforward menu (just one page!) as well as a blackboard in the dining area where daily specials and popular dishes are listed. Simple doesn’t mean dull, though: Thailand natives Kyla Love and Mae Saevang’s pad thai and pad see ew are both balanced and nuanced, the former’s wide rice noodles accompanied by full, earthy umami goodness. Anything more would be a waste. 4122 E. Colfax Ave., 303-658-0751

Readers’ Choice
U.S. Thai Café
5228 W. 25th Ave., 303-233-3345

Vegan/Vegetarian

Editors’ Choice
Watercourse Foods
Founded in 1998, this Uptown restaurant has been owned by Jennifer Byers and Lauren Roberts—who have also added City, O’ City and Make, Believe Bakery to their vegetarian empire—since 2015. More than two decades after its opening, though, Watercourse remains their crown jewel thanks to its made-from-scratch vegan comfort food menu. If “vegan comfort food” sounds like a contradiction, then try the Buffalo cauliflower wings or the étoufée and tell us both aren’t equally as wholesome as the meat versions. Those are only two of the offerings on Watercourse’s extensive menu, which spans breakfast (served all day), salads, burgers, large plates, and cocktails. The mezcal-based Smoky Rose, in particular, is a lovely way to wash down a meal, not that you need a chaser for this kind of healthy fare. 837 E. 17th Ave., 303-832-7313

Readers’ Choice
Whole Sol Blend Bar
1735 Chestnut Place, 720-372-7862; 1420 Pearl St., Boulder, 720-475-1355

Winery

Photo courtesy of Olive & West Photography

Editors’ Choice
Storm Cellar Winery
Jayme Henderson and Steve Steese have everything it takes to bring their winery into the national spotlight. Purchased from award-winning Plum Creek Cellars in 2017, it sits in Delta County at 5,885 feet, making it one of the highest-elevation vineyards in the Northern Hemisphere—an ideal environment for cold-hardy grapes such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Plus, as ex–Mile High City sommeliers, Henderson and Steese have the palates to deliver on their vision of becoming Colorado’s premier sparkling wine producer, a dream their first (nonsparkling) vintages, released in June, have started to realize. The wines’ gorgeous tropical notes and lush aromatics, which speak to their terroir, can be found at liquor stores and restaurants, including Mercantile Dining & Provision. But it’s more fun to sample Storm Cellar vino at the Pearl Street Farmers’ Market or the Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival (July 25 to 28).

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Readers’ Choice
The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-990-6743; 3200 Larimer St., 303-736-8376

Person of Note: Dana Rodriguez

Dana Rodriguez. Photo by Matt Nager

First, Rodriguez doubled down on the joyfully raucous vibe she pioneered at Work & Class with her new restaurant, Super Mega Bien, delivering a Pan-Latin spin on dim sum. Then, in the whiskiest of whiskey towns, she launched a tequila brand called Dígame and Doña Loca, a mezcal label. Rodriguez travels to the Oaxaca region of Mexico to ensure the palenques distill her spirits using both traditional and sustainable methods.

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