Old Blinking Light
9344 Dorchester St., Highlands Ranch, 303-346-9797

While there are a few exceptions, the jalapeño popper has largely devolved into a greasy mainstay of the bar menu. And it’s too bad, because these snacks should be snappy and fiery, not limp or overcrisped to the point of tasting of fryer oil. Enter the Old Blinking Light’s refabbed version. Chef Joseph Wrede—named a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef in 2000—is co-owner of the Highlands Ranch restaurant, and his flair for haute Southwestern cuisine comes through in this starter. Here, large jalapeños are fire-roasted in a brick oven, halved, and stuffed with a rich blend of white cheddar and Southern grits. The kicker is the silky tomato butter that both tempers the heat and dresses up the dish.