Colorado Mountain Brewery
600 S. 21st St., 466-8240, cmbrew.com
Showing up for a pint at the bar feels too casual in this gleaming eatery, situated in the former Van Briggle Pottery building. But with seasonal beers like their 5.6-percent ABV Oktoberfest lager ($5), the temptation persists. It pours clear and cuts a strong caramel malt character with clean lager yeast and a respectable hop bitterness.
I supped on a Colorado pizza ($7.95/7-inch, $10.95/12-inch), added to the menu in late August after the arrival of new corporate executive chef Eric Brenner from St. Louis. Ground bison, chorizo, onions and cheese with a bottled sweet barbecue sauce implied taco more than pizza. While my server was attentive on a jam-packed Friday night, this place loses points for charging me the 12-inch price for my 7-inch pizza. The biggest shame of the night: my $4.50 cup of CMB's signature beer cheese soup came out a touch grainy, if still delicious. — Griffin Swartzell
975 N. Academy Blvd., 597-2422, eatattomo.com
My waitress is awesome. I ask for a recommendation off the lunch list, and she points me to the Chirashi Bowl ($13.95), saying it's a killer deal as compared to the nine-piece Sashimi Combo A plate for $21.95 on the sushi menu. Why? Because this one delivers almost twice as much action, with a trio each of yellowtail, albacore, salmon and tuna, plus a prawn tail and pairs of krab and tamagoyaki (grilled egg) — all over a heap of rice garnished with tangled daikon shreds and shiso leaves. Included miso precedes the fish frenzy.
You can certainly pick and dip individual protein pieces in soy sauce and eat the rice last, but it's better to mix up the dish a little, under extra sauces. Said awesome waitress delivers a ramekin of ponzu and mini pitcher of bright red spicy sauce, and I construct a lively affair. Nothing as interesting as some of the wacky house rolls, but a lot of fresh food at a great price. — Matthew Schniper
2036 Broadway St., Denver, 303/502-9226, wurstkuche.com
While at GABF last month, my tastes erred particularly beer-hall. I snagged a half-liter of Stiegl-Radler Grapefruit ($7) from Wurstküche's selection of German, Belgian and Austrian brews — a refreshing pre-blended mix of Stiegl's Goldbräu lager and grapefruit juice. Wurstküche serves nothing but sausages and fries, like a Louisiana hot link ($7), which cuts through moist fat with spice and a hint of vinegar — think Frank's Red Hot. Sweet peppers and onions complete a great beer-bite.
I devoured a rattlesnake and rabbit sausage with jalapeño, ($8) which provides a buttery flavor with subtle jalapeño notes — obliterated by cashier-suggested spicy peppers on top. Belgian fries ($3.50/small, $5.50/large) stand crunchy under a rainbow of sauces, though the sesame-heavy Thai peanut sauce tastes exactly like a bottled variety. Go for curry ketchup or chipotle ketchup, both balanced and delicious. All this place needs is a rousing chorus of "Schnitzelbank." — Griffin Swartzell