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Photo by Matt Nager

Best Restaurants 2019: Arcana

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On recent visits to Arcana, a charming Boulder restaurant inspired by and dedicated to American heritage cooking, chef Samuel McCandless and his talented team have offered such tempting snacks and small plates in the “first” and “second” portions of their menu that I’ve happily stuffed myself with shareable bites, rarely making it to the larger dishes in the “third” section. (Dessert is also a must at Arcana, so I tend to save just enough room for that.) The seasonal farmers’ cheese toast is a perfect example of a plate I can’t pass up. It features sous chef Luke Miller’s marvelous anadama bread, creamy house-made farmer’s cheese, and an ever-changing set of toppings: Fresh fava beans and Calabrian chile oil provided a parade of textures and flavors this past spring, and grilled sorghum-and-bourbon-marinated peaches were fantastic in August. I can’t help but order the mini ham sliders with coffee-pickled shallots (again, on a Miller-made bun), any small plate featuring Buckner Family Farm lamb (the tostada with hoja santa salsa verde in particular), and the roasted wild mushroom dish that changes with the seasons. Desserts are simple and stunning, from the decadent sorbet made with local Fortuna chocolate to the rotating roster of sublime pies and cakes. $$$$, 909 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-444-3885

(MORE: Read our 2016 restaurant review of Arcana)

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