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When you’re too tired to cook and frozen pizza won’t do, put down those take-out menus and grab the keys. Destination? A neighborhood restaurant, the culinary equivalent of your favorite jeans. These eight spots are places where you’ll always feel at home, even if you’re not actually near your home. For each neighborhood, we give a shout out to two places—one you already know and love, and one that flies under the radar but deserves a closer look.
Oldie but Goodie Black Pearl
Nothing epitomizes what’s best about this neighborhood gem more than Sunday brunch, where bottomless mimosas and Jarlsberg-stuffed pancakes encourage those long conversations you never find time for anywhere else. 1529 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0500
Best-Kept Secret Budapest Bistro
On a street lined with inviting bakeries, coffeeshops, and restaurants, Budapest Bistro continues to march to the beat of its own drummer. And thank goodness, because nobody does stick-to-your-ribs comfort better than this Old World Hungarian spot. Chicken paprikash over a bed of pillowy homemade spaetzle? Now that’s what we’re talking about. 1585 S. Pearl St., 303-744-2520
Oldie but Goodie Duo Restaurant
From the citrus-marinated olives that kick off the meal to the chocolate hazelnut torte that ends it, Duo continues to bewitch us week in and week out with its ever-changing, market-driven menu. Flavor combinations are unexpected and delicious, like a leek tart with goat cheese and pancetta, or steak with salsa verde and sweet potatoes. 2413 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-4141
Best-Kept Secret La Loncheria
The only thing smaller than La Loncheria’s dining room is the menu, which lists a handful of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and tortas. But good things come in small packages, and this authentic Mexican spot dishes up some of the freshest, most flavorful food in town. Don’t miss the tacos al pastor, chunks of marinated pork and pineapple on four soft corn tortillas, or the chile rojo con nopales—steak and cactus strips slathered with a lusty red chile. 2642 W. 32nd Ave.
Oldie but Goodie Barolo Grill
A favorite since its opening in 1992, this classy Northern Italian spot still wows with gracious service and a wine list beyond compare. Everyone talks about Barolo Grill’s braised duck with balsamic reduction, but it’s a sweet, the lusciously creamy polenta with huckleberries, that keeps us dreaming. 3030 E. Sixth Ave., 303-393-1040
Best-Kept Secret Tambien
With two happy hours daily, Tambien could be overlooked as just another watering hole. But this kitchen does more than kick out bar snacks. The carnitas dish boasts roasted pork so yummy you’ll sneak it off your friend’s plate, and the tampiqueña’s one-two punch of grilled skirt steak and mole enchilada does more than satisfy. Order a cinnamon sugar-dusted churro and Mexican hot chocolate and go home happy. 250 Steele St., 303-333-1763
Oldie but Goodie Tables
When Tables first opened, Park Hill breathed a collective sigh of relief. Finally, a fine-dining option—albeit one with shabby-chic decor—that the neighborhood could walk to. Four years later, the seasonal menu, attention to ingredients, and exquisite yet simple pairings (think peppered rib-eye with blue cheese and grilled peaches) keep it hopping. 2267 Kearney St., 303-388-0299
Best-Kept Secret Satchel’s Market
After a three-month expansion and renovation, Satchel’s reopened with big flavors and big ambitions. Regulars were glad to see the Perez still on the brunch menu, with enough hand-rolled corn tortillas, fried eggs, and pulled pork to feed everyone at the restaurant’s signature long wooden tables. With a new beer and wine license, Satchel’s added tapas to its repertoire and stays open four nights a week. 5021 E. 28th Ave., 303-355-2137