Denver spots I'll miss the most

Categories: Lists

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Only at Colt & Gray.
Three and a half years ago, I moved to Denver because I wanted to work in restaurants. This city's restaurant scene, I reasoned, was growing. It would afford opportunities to dig in and help build something, and when the city inevitably rose to culinary greatness, I could proudly say I was a part of it.

I couldn't be happier with the way things turned out: I've had unbelievable dining experiences here in Denver, and I'm definitely sad to be leaving this incomparable scene behind. For sappy nostalgia's sake, here, in no particular order, is a list of what I'll miss most in the Mile High City.

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The bar at Colt & Gray
Before I started reviewing restaurants for Westword, I'd drive from Boulder to Colt & Gray once a week, using one of my two nights off to post up at the bar whether I could get someone to join me or not. Colt & Gray is where I've met many of my best friends in Denver, celebrated countless occasions and learned more about alcoholic beverages than I ever dreamed possible, all while drinking and eating very, very well. It was a rare night when I went there and didn't stay until the bartenders shut the lights off and locked the doors, and it felt more like home to me than my apartment did.

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Until a few weeks ago, I'd never been to Chubby's in the daylight, which is somewhat remarkable given the fact that I've probably been here more than any other restaurant in Denver. Denverites are judged by their green chile loyalties, and my stake is firmly planted in the gravy-like version at Chubby's. The stuff has enough salt and heft to stave off an impending hangover and the precise amount of tongue-tickling heat to encourage binge-eating. I'm going to miss 2 a.m. cab-ride detours to this spot, where I downed smothered fries and grilled cheese sandwiches injected with that green.

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Federal Boulevard Vietnamese joints
If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone complain about the lack of good non-Mexican ethnic options in this town, I could probably live off my acquired riches, getting fat and happy on Indian samosas, Ethiopian wot and Korean barbecue. But while Denver has a few good options in most of those categories, the city is positively teeming with excellent Vietnamese, and every time I'm craving that cuisine, I am racked with indecision about where to go. For pho, I alternate between Pho 95 and Pho Duy. Cravings for less soupy fare sends me to New Saigon or Saigon Bowl. And Ba Le had a lockdown on my heart for banh mi sandwiches and other baked goods until New Saigon Bakery unlocked its doors. I'm certain there's plenty I'm leaving undiscovered, too, and that makes me sad.

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