luca d'italia vs osteria vs mizuna
i was a food writer at the denver post for 5 years before moving to austin. here are my faves (interestingly enough, the chef at rioja was formerly the chef at panzano! so if you have bucks, it's hard to beat mizuna. luca d'italia, mizuna's sister restaurant (they're both owned by the same person) is literally right around the corner. resist the temptation to not order the meatball appetizer because it seems too much like a cliche -- they are extraordinary. with the money you save if you don't go to mizuna, try to get to lola, which serves remarkable coastal mexican food (if nothing else, go for happy hour; the margaritas won't disappoint). whenever i travel i like to eat where locals eat. so if you like fresh seafood, go to jax in lodo; sushi den is pricey but worth every penny; le central offers affordable french food (and serves lunch). india house has a perfectly respectable lunch buffet, and a fabulous dinenr menu. bon appetit.
Well, Osteria's the easiest: of the 3, it's cheapest and the comfiest (and w/in walking distance of your hotel), and every bit as good as the other two, though the food's more rustic. If you want to go a little fancier, I'd choose Luca over Mizuna, but that's my Italophilia speaking. They're all Bonanno's places, so they all partake of the same trustworthy goodness.
BTW, it's Panzano. :) You'll enjoy it; it's great! Be sure to try the mushroom crepe and the zeppole with duck mousse. Rioja's a can't-lose too.
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