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Top 10 new tastes after one year in Denver

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Here are my ten favorite new tastes of my first year in Denver. I am interested in learning others favorite tastes around denver for next year's research.

1. Tuna tartar/sashimi AND braised pork belly- Rioja

2. Burger- Smashburger and Cherry Cricket

3. Philly cheese steak- Bourbon Grill (on Colfax)

4. Sushi- Sushi Sasa/ Sushi Den

5. Ethiopian- "Ethiopian Restaurant" (on Colfax)

6. Brunch/Omlette- Devils Food

7. Lunch- Parisi

8. Pizza- Protos/ Benny blancos

9. Greek/Mediterranean- My big fat Greek restaurant/Domascus

10. Take-Out- Thai Basil

11. Stiff drinks- Don's mixed drinks

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  1. Best sandwiches: Dish Gourmet
    Best sandwiches built by college students who look like they spent their formative years sleeping in a VW van while following Phish around on tour: Snarf’s
    Best sandwiches consumed after being accosted by a mascot wearing a giant pickle suit in the parking lot: Jimmy & Drew’s
    Best sandwich to irritate a Rockies fan with: The Fenway from Marczyk’s
    Best pizza in the northern ‘burbs: Proto’s
    Best pizza with a “tamale chaser”: Parisi followed by La Casita
    Best pizza with Marczyk’s Italian sausage: The Oven
    Best Margherita with garlic knots:Virgilio’s
    Best drink: Loca Hot @ Rioja, bloody mary @ the St. Regis (Aspen)
    Best burrata: Osteria Marco
    Best bartender’s response to a GM playing Muzak: “If you’re not gonna play Sinatra, turn this off!” (Alto)
    Best multi-course tasting menu: Black Cat Bistro, dish (Edwards), Monday nights at Frasca for $35
    Best hot dogs with the friendliest staffers: Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs
    Best truffle burgers: Larkburger (Edwards)
    Best upscale bar food-n-suds: The Kitchen Upstairs
    Best low-brow bar food-n-suds: CityPub South
    Best cassoulet: Z Cuisine
    Best carnitas tacos: Tacos y Salsas
    Best carnitas tacos next to a laundromat: Tacos Jalisco
    Best carnitas tacos next to a Salvation Army: Pupusas Sabor Hispano
    Best new restaurant where everyone complains about the table placement until they put the first morsel of food in their mouths and quickly forget about anything except how amazing everything tastes: Fruition
    Best dish featuring corn fungus: Sopa de Elote at Tamayo
    Best fried fish which makes you wish you could wash it down with a better selection of imported beers in actual glasses rather than plastic: GB Fish & Chips
    Best way to prep for your mother-in-law’s visit: Shots of savory infused vodkas (horseradish! black pepper! dill! garlic!) with pickles as palate cleansers from Red Square
    Best dim sum which won’t make you forget Koi Palace but is still pretty good even though your Bay Area friends will gloat about how 20 places within 5 minutes of their house are better: Super Star Asian
    Best crepes made by guys with sexy French accents: Crepes-n-Crepes (Larimer)
    Best place to get a drink and subsequently “evacuate” it after dancing under a disco ball in the bathroom: Corner Office
    Best breakfast where you can conceivably get anything smothered with Champagne hollandaise: Panzano
    Best weekend brunch: Rioja, Bistro Vendome, The Kitchen
    Best way to almost forget where you parked your car the previous night: Omakase with sake and bubbly at Sushi Sasa
    Best everything: Frasca Food & Wine

    11 Replies
    1. re: rlm

      For the sake of contrasts…what about ’07 “low-lights?” (Please do not inquire as to how I ended up at these dubious establishments.)
      1. Purple Martini: A menu description heralds the inclusion of "in-house grated parmesan cheese" in one app, as if it were some exotic practice to pick up a block of Kraft Parmigiano-Grocerystoreano and grate it into a bland version of the ubiquitous spinach artichoke dip. I am sure frat guys love ordering drinks with names such as Pink Panties, even if they are all overly-sweet concoctions which would ordinarily make Joe Six Pack run for the hills and scream for a PBR.
      2. NGL Burgers: Formerly known as Gus Burgers according to my co-workers who are enraptured with the place (where the Gus Plus is still available with something like a pound of beef and a ½ pound of pastrami), this place has the audacity to dish up slap-dash Greek and Mexican food too (reminding me of Arapahoe Junction in downtown Denver, which you probably haven’t heard of either unless you work in the vicinity and must occasionally suffer through group work lunches).
      3. The Islands: God help us. Just what Boulder needed—a tropical-themed burger chain. They brought the basket of “Island Fries” my better half had ordered with a burger out by themselves, so we inquired if the burger was going to follow soon after. The food runner said, "We like to bring them out as soon as they're done so they stay hot." Okay, but won’t that mean they will go cold by the time the companion burger comes out? Wouldn't it be better to try to time them closer together (particularly since we were one of the only occupied tables at the time)? My fish tacos had no discernible flavor (of fish or anything else). Even at Long John Silver's, you can at least taste the batter and grease.

      1. re: rlm

        Great lists -- esp RLM's, which really made me smile. Only correction is that the Salvation Army office has moved out of the building next to Pupusa's. It's for rent. Want to lease it for a business so that you can eat lunch at Pupusa's every day? And no, I'm not in the real estate business.

        1. re: ClaireWalter

          Thanks, Claire. I had not noticed the Salvation Army exodus. I blame being in a rajas con queso trance after my visits.

          1. re: rlm

            rlm - I noticed the absence of the Salvation Army office while driving, not after eating at Pupusa's. :-)

        2. re: rlm

          Funny!! I started my new blog with a Top 5 and so far I could only really commit to 3...:)

          ...Clearly we attack omakase at Sasa with the same vengeance. Good call.

          But let me ask you, rlm--to give a best burrata award, how much burrata are you eating around town?! Now *that's* a dream crawl...:)

          1. re: tatamagouche

            Not enough burrata in this town. I'm truthfully comparing it to burrata in other locales such as A16 in SF.

            1. re: rlm

              Best burrata I ever had: in a soup with cherry blossoms at Boston's Clio. Damn, that was good.
              What about best classic cocktails, folks? Which bars really know their stuff?

              1. re: tatamagouche

                It is quite the Cougar hangout, but I love both the martinis and the atmosphere at The Cruise Room. And Lola is great for any sort of latin drinks. They do a wonderful caipirinha.

          2. re: rlm

            lol....my meals in Denver have been pretty much limited to fast food consumed as I was driving through on my way to some mountain somewhere and what is available in the airport...but I have to tell you I LOVED your post and it made me want to go and eat there!

            1. re: rlm

              I'm going to nominate this as the Best post for making me realize I need to broaden my dining horizons.

              1. re: Megiac

                I feel like I have to occasionally give my money to someone with a last name other than "Stuckey" or "Patterson," although lately I feel like I need to clone my stomach in order to be able to visit all the places I like now around town.

            2. yuck to Thai Basil... No offense to you, but for anyone seeking "real" thai food, this is the worst place to go. Veggies out of a can, everything with sugar and cornstarch in it... tastes like generic takeout chinese, and expensive!

              5 Replies
              1. re: oryza

                Can you suggest an alternative?

                1. re: RobynS

                  Chada Thai

                2. re: oryza

                  Which Thai Basil location? I seem to remember Sheehan saying he thought it was a decent (though Americanized) local chain until he tried the one at Park Meadows Mall this summer (which sounded close to inedible). And bensop listed it as a good take-out option, not in the category of the "best, most authentic Thai food on the planet." :-) I still miss Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai.

                  1. re: rlm

                    not the park meadows one... didn't know there was a different one there... as for good thai? I'm at a total loss on that one. I searched for years and gave up.

                    1. re: oryza

                      U.S. Thai, in Edgewater. In my opinion, this is the top Thai house in Denver.