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Google “Little Chengdu” and you’ll find a website for “Blue Ocean Asian Cafe Restaurant.” It seems like a strange anomaly unless you know that Blue Ocean was the former occupant of the DTC strip-mall space now housing the unassuming, exceptional Chinese restaurant that confusingly goes by both names. But whether you’re familiar with the dishes on Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu’s menu or not (ask for the Chinese menu with English translations), it would be a mistake to let your nescience scare you off. The Sichuan hot pot is legendary, but we order the scratch-made noodles, which owner Jack Ning pulls by hand from a stall in the back. The “Lanzhou authentic handmade pulled noodle” arrives as a rich beef soup with thin, chewy strands. Thicker sautéed noodles, cut into wide lengths, come with slices of beef and chunks of tomato slicked in fiery chile oil. It all tastes so good, you won’t care what it’s called. 8101 E. Belleview Ave., 303-220-0577
You know that cool friend who backpacked across South America after college? Señor Bear, the latest concept from the hit-makers behind Bar Dough and the Tap & Burger franchise, is like the all-grown-up restaurant version of that friend. Rather than reproducing one region’s cuisine, executive chef Blake Edmunds’ menu draws inspiration from Mexico, Argentina, and everywhere in between, offering Puerto Rican mofongo and Peruvian albacore tiradito. The excellent wild salmon crudo with passionfruit-poblano salsa verde, pickled shallot, and crispy seaweed (available at press time) is just one delicious example of Edmunds’ meandering approach. You may not be able to pin the tastes down to one place, but like any freewheeling traveler, you’ll be content getting lost in the exploration. 3301 Tejon St., 720-572-5997
Not every pair of teenage brothers talks about owning a pizzeria when they grow up, but Jason and Kris Wallenta, co-owners of City Park West’s Dos Santos, have shared that vision since they were busboys and food runners back in New Haven, Connecticut. In May, with the opening of White Pie, they realized their dream. Inspired by the crisp-crusted pies at the Nutmeg State’s famous Sally’s Apizza (the Wallentas’ favorite), White Pie is a welcome addition to Denver’s booming pizza scene. Eschewing New Haven’s coal-fired brick-oven tradition, White Pie burns oak in a wood oven, and the pizzas are better for it. Gently charred with sparse yet punchy toppings, they’re dangerously easy to eat. Shared plates and house-made pastas round out the menu; the lasagna, in particular, is a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece. And the tiramisù? It’s our dream come true. 1702 Humboldt St., 303-862-5323
Did you know? There were 50,200 pounds of game (think boar, elk, and bison) consumed—via burgers, brats, and other flavorful dishes—at last year’s A Taste of Colorado. Let’s see if we can hit an even 51K at this year’s festival, from September 1 to 4 in Civic Center Park.