Best Of 2013: • Indy Pick: Chicken pot pie
I didn't pick this just because of the heart-shaped cracker that comes on top of each pie. It helps, but this heaping dish hardly needs much décor — the crispy, flaky top covering creamy vegetables and healthy chunks of chicken are more than enough. According to the general manager, this house specialty is by far one of the restaurant's most popular items, and starts out as nothing more than a chicken dumpling soup blanketed with a puff pastry crust. And since it's a mere $8.95, you have cash left over to indulge in the joint's more adult namesake offerings. — Edie Adelstein
Bites 2013: Carrot Cake
Though it comes in the shape of a slice, this huge monolith of dessert has more layers than Shrek, feeds up to four people, and fits just fine in a completely empty, jumbo-sized freezer (because you're not eating this whole thing at once). It's a symphony of creamy frosting, soft layers of cake and all the caloric guilt you can muster. ($9.95)
Best Of 2015: Appetizers/Tapas
At this week's Passport to Rioja wine dinner, chef Jay Gust will plate the outfit's outstanding paella, as well as dishes like Serrano-topped scallops on the half shell with green-chile-lime aioli. I cite this alluring loveliness as just a small example of the type of craft that earns TAPAteria this accolade. Beyond the specials and rich charcuterie boards, regular menu goodies like grilled Padrón peppers, anchovy-stuffed olives, wild salmon tartare and everyone's favorite chorizo and figs highlight the menu — which is half vegetarian, a quarter vegan and fully gluten-free. Of course, with sangrias, amaros and stellar wines, half the experience can easily be the drinking. Bonus love for all the sustainability efforts between here and sister-store Pizzeria Rustica. — Matthew Schniper
A renowned Sunday brunch and unbeatable city skyline view. No lunch service, but a special three-course Sunset Dinner menu available from 4:30 to 6 ($17.95 to $19.95). The prime rib and filet mignon are best-sellers, but nobody will steer you away from the Australian lobster tail.
Happy hour: Monday-Friday, 4-8 p.m.
The goods: $2 off wells and house margaritas, $2.50 domestics, $3.50 imports, $3.95 house wine
Happy hour: Daily, 3-6 p.m.
The goods: $3 wells, $2 Coors Light drafts, $4 house wines, $1 off any call drink, and half price appetizers
Bites 2013: The Inferno Burger
Lily-livered eaters with low heat tolerances need not apply. (Welcome to the jungle, baby!) The beer-batter-fried jalapeños will hit hardest, amplifying the spicy pepper jack's modest burn, followed up with a little chipotle character to the mayo. Yes on the lettuce and tomato, maybe on the bacon addition. The better-than brioche bun will handle it all, including the half-pound beef patty. Burn, baby, burn. ($9.99)
Best Of 2015: Bar for a Creative Cocktail (tie)
The Principal's Office at Ivywild redesigns its cocktail menu about four times a year, which keeps creative juices of all types flowing — and, according to manager Tyler Hill, ingredients as fresh as possible. Expect a new fall menu sometime in October (if it's not already on tap), which will include some "good, savory, keep-you-warm kind of drinks," darker rums and whiskeys, fun house-made infusions and a Negroni that's been barrel-aging for the last couple of months. Meanwhile, Shuga's introduced its fall menu less than a month ago with additions like Harvey Wrote Some Lyrics. A wash of absinthe, Mahon gin, a house-made pistachio cream, simple syrup and a nutmeg garnish bring out everything special about pistachio. "We do have a lot of things on the menu that have that counterintuitive mix of ingredients," says bartender Lisa Schoenstein, "things that are fresh and surprising, and things people will try and say, 'Only Shuga's would have this.'" — Kirsten Akens and Griffin Swartzell
Source: Purple Mountain Coffee
Get the: Spicy sipping chocolate
Rico's features a rotating selection of 20 wines by the glass. Look for an assortment of varietals including organic, vegan and sustainably harvested wines.
Rico's serves Purple Mountain Coffee products brewed in fancy Chemex carafes. You can also order sipping chocolates, alcohol and eats from Poor Richard's next door.
Best Of 2015: Upscale Bar
It doesn't matter which way you go; you're sure to drink something tasty, especially with a menu like this. Like beer? Besides the few taps — all local beers — The Rabbit Hole stocks a variety, with almost any style available, and most brewed in Colorado. More of a wine drinker? Try reds and whites from across the country and around the world, with a few sparkling and champagne bottles available as well. For cocktails, options range from the Duchess, a champagne-grapefruit cocktail served with an orchid, to the Purple Drank, described as "some drank, some purple, all good." — Griffin Swartzell
Best Of 2015: Bar Patio
Best Of 2015: Place to Shoot Pool
Phantom Canyon closed down earlier this year for main-floor restaurant updates and renovations. But it needed no help with its second-floor offerings. The rooftop patio opened in the summer of 2013 with a spectacular view of the Peak, high tables with cool fire pits, and full food and drink service in the open air. The 10-table pool hall also boasts great views of the mountains and city sports-bar atmosphere, with TVs often turned to the game du jour and specials Sunday through Wednesday — including free pool with any food purchase on Mondays. — Carrie Simison
Best Of 2012: Beer Selection on Tap
Best Of 2012: Sports Bar
Best Of 2013: Cutting Edge Restaurant
Nosh has won this category since 2008, back when it was called "Innovative Menu." Which is kind of amusing, since the menu hasn't actually changed a whole lot since mid-2010, when then-chef Shane Lyons (who recently opened Distilled NY in Tribeca, to positive reviews) created many of what have become known as the "staples," in manager Tyler Schiedel's words. But that's how good they've been — to carry on at the forefront of the collective culinary consciousness, as if exciting introductions were still being made. Well, the good news, according to Schiedel, is that tinkering is about to begin again under consulting chef Andrew Sherrill from the Blue Star; expect new dishes in the next few months. Nosh's bar program, too, deserves a nod, highlighting quality craft beers and creative cocktails. "We couldn't do it without the entire staff," says Schiedel.— Matthew Schniper
Bites 2013: Spicy Bison Sandwich
If ever a better way to eat bison tongue has existed, we know it not. Nosh's chefs braise the meat stupid-tender with tomato paste and red wine over the course of 24-plus hours at 200 degrees. They then cook it with caramelized onions, jalapeños and Anaheims, receiving more kick from cayenne mayo and pepper jack cheese, melted onto Old School Bakery bread. Dunk that in a sweet jus constructed of the braising liquid refortified with extra carrots to draw out natural sugars. Tatonka! ($9.50 includes a side, lunch only)
Dish 2015: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Sauce
"Rich, buttery, truffle cream sage crunchy loveliness." That's how one of our customers describes this dish. That pretty much sums it up.
— Submitted by Head Chef/Co-owner Andy Darrigan
Find the recipe here.
Bites 2013: Lamb Stew
t's snowing outside, quiet little flakes, so you stop at the pub for some bites and a beer. You do a bowl of lamb stew, a mahogany concoction flecked with red chunks of tomato and scallions. You're enveloped in hot steam, you taste rosemary, Guinness and soft potatoes, and you sop with crumbly bites of soda bread. ($7.95 lunch/$12.95 dinner)
Best Of 2010: Weekly Bar Event
Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz
With more than 20 primo Irish whiskeys in addition to a large, international beer list, McCabe's could be considered a drink destination first, especially during European soccer matches, pub quiz nights and Colorado College hockey games. But there's plenty of authentic Irish eats as well, in addition to a rockin' Sunday brunch. Grab the divine Rosemary Guinness Lamb Stew at lunch or a shepherd's pie or bangers & mash for dinner. Stay in Ireland with a rich Guinness chocolate cake with Irish cream sauce for dessert.
Bites 2013: Smoked Salmon Cakes
Precious few items remain fixed on Margarita's ever-changing menu, but this is one that's earned its spot by popular demand. The salmon's rubbed with brown sugar, salt and pepper and hickory smoked on the stove-top. Insert a bed of spinach salad, caper cream cheese and either a horseradish crema or lemon-dill tarter sauce. And son, you're in happytown. ($10 on the lounge menu/$13 at brunch)
Best Of 2014: Power Lunch
It's not that you have to order multiple martinis and cancel your afternoon appointments if you're descending into the warm dimness of MacKenzie's. Assistant general manager Linda Tolfa explains that part of what makes the place so popular for a business lunch is that people can get "in and out": "The service is fast," she says. "Food comes out in less than 10 minutes." But you certainly can stay a while, and since Tolfa says the food is "way better" than it used to be when she started 16 years ago (thanks to executive chef Pete Moreno), you may want to take your time and savor. Asked about the biggest business deal she knows to have gone down there in her time, she chuckles. "We have a lot of them," she says, adding, "Those lawyers who come in here, they don't tell us what they're doing. They really don't." If those walls could talk ... — Kirk Woundy