Twisters is way too lean on the red and green -- at least in Aurora

J. Wohletz
The green chile cheeseburger at Twisters -- unfortunately mild.
Twisters Burgers and Burritos, a New Mexico-to-Colorado transplant, offers red- and green-chile enthusiasts a chance to get their spicy sauce fixes, with red-draped enchiladas and green-smothered cheeseburgers. But as I dug into a burger and a double-smothered burrito at the Aurora location, it quickly became clear that this Twisters, at least, has turned too far from the original recipes, and is in dire need of red and green rehab -- stat.

See also:
- Best Red Chile - 2012: Twisters Burgers & Burritos
- Twisters Burgers and Burritos will open a fourth Colorado location on East Evans
- Top five qualities of the best green chile stew

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Southern Hospitality BBQ is a meat defeat

Denver is definitely in need of more good barbecue, so I was eager to visit Southern Hospitality BBQ, the upscale barbecue restaurant that opened last October in the very renovated old St. Elmo Hotel building. This joint came with a smoking back-story: The original was opened in Manhattan in 2007 by none other than Justin Timberlake (among others), and One Republic lead singer Ryan Tedder and his father, Gary, bought the rights to franchise the concept through Southern Hospitality Franchisee Holding Corp. in up to thirty locations, including LoDo.

See also:
-Ryan Tedder's father weighs in on beer, barbecue and Southern Hospitality
-One Republic's Ryan Tedder could bring Memphis-style BBQ to Denver and beyond
-Reader: Southern Hospitality looks like a hip Cracker Barrel

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The eel is the real deal at Kokoro

Categories: Fast Food

J. Wohletz
The unagi bowl at Kokoro.
Eel is my favorite protein, in an "if-I-had-a-last-meal-request-on-death-row" kind of way. I was very disappointed in the eel I tried at Tokyo Joe's, but at least my review of that sad meal inspired an insightful Westword reader to steer me toward local mini-chain Kokoro. And as it turns out, the unagi bowl there is the best and least expensive eel I've found in Denver.

Random Cafe Society fan: your next unagi bowl at Kokoro is on me.

See also:
- Colorado-based Tokyo Joe's is a fast-food chain that needs to slow down
- Kokoro closes its spot at Sixth and Broadway
-Kokoro provides tasty, healthy Asian meals for veggie-lovers

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The Original Hamburger Stand is the place to go for food-pocalypse

J. Wohletz
Staring death in the face.
With fast-food burger giants like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Carl's Jr. hogging so much attention, chains like the Original Hamburger Stand are often shrugged off or ignored altogether -- even when paired with Tastee-Freez. I was definitely guilty of driving by -- until I saw a banner outside the location at 3100 South Broadway in Englewood (one of five in Denver) advertising something called a "Junkyard Burger." The giant photo on that banner showed a hamburger oozing chili, cheese, onions and what I thought might be french fries, and that got my full attention. And the Original Hamburger Stand kept it until I realized that eating there more than once might actually kill me.

See also:
- Top five chain-restaurant burgers -- completely naked
- A south Denver neighborhood takes a stand against a Hamburger Stand
- Five fast-food restaurants that should consider delivery service

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Mellow Mushroom's food is rich -- so rich it comes with its own jewelry!

J. Wohletz
Mellow Mushroom pie topped with something extra.
There is something magical about mushrooms -- even the non-hallucinogenic kind -- and so I was pretty stoked about eating at Mellow Mushroom for the first time. The chain got its start in Atlanta in 1974, when three college students cooked up the idea for an artful pizza joint based on philosophical eccentricity and a nod to tasty fungi. The concept got popular fast, and today there are three Mellow Mushroom stores in metro Denver -- including one that just opened Monday at Park Meadows. Each location is locally-owned, and no two are exactly the same.

I ventured into the restaurant on the 16th Street Mall, and found that this Mellow Mushroom had some strange magic: My pie came with an unexpected accessory.

See also:
- Mellow Mushroom opens Park Meadows location
- Mellow Mushroom gives vegan eaters a pizza the action
- Mellow Mushroom opens to crazy crowds at the Tabor Center

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Five fast-food restaurants that should consider delivery service

Burger King, perpetually stuck in the number-two fast-food burger chain slot, has made a surprising and shrewd move into the delivery business. It first tested the service in a few major cities -- New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. -- and recently expanded its delivery service to Colorado, specifically the location at 16850 East Illiff Avenue in Aurora. And more delivery stores are planned for stores in Denver, Arvada, Englewood and Centennial.

Your move, BK competitors. There are some obvious bennies for both the chains and the customers if other fast-food restaurants decide to venture out into the urban jungle with delivery drivers -- hopefully armed with GPSs and able to properly count back change. Here's my list of the top five fast-food restaurants that should consider delivery service. We got the money, honey, if these restaurants have the time.

See also:
- Denver's five best homegrown, fast-casual chains -- from Noodles to Chipotle
- Taco Bell's "Cantina Bell" menu may make Chipotle a little nervous
- Panera Bread's cafe menu needs to rise to the level of its bread

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Noodles & Company cooks up summer seasonals, including a gluten-free pastalad

J. Wohletz
The new, gluten-free Garden Pesto Saute at Noodles & Company.
The spring asparagus is off the menu at Noodles & Company, but as a consolation prize, I was invited to watch chefs Tessa Stamper and Tina Massey cook up some of the homegrown chain's new summer offerings, while marketing veep Dan Fogarty served up a side of stats. In the process, I ate a bellyful of Noodles' new summer dishes, tried a seriously good soup that I didn't even know was on the menu, and even got a taste of something that is about as close to fork-free, mushroom stroganoff to-go as it gets.

See also:
- New summer salads at Noodles & Company: Two outta three ain't bad
- Noodles & Company opening two more locations in Colorado
- Denver's five best homegrown, fast-casual chains -- from Noodles to Chipotle

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McDonald's new premium quarter pounders are decent -- but the bacon seems familiar

J. Wohletz
The new Deluxe Quarter Pounder from McDonald's.
The golden arches have nixed their Angus third pounders and replaced them with three new specialty quarter pounders, one spicy, one with bacon (allegedly a new, thicker, Applewood-smoked bacon), and one with....lettuce and tomato.

The new burgers are marked for the permanent-items list gracing the McMenu of ever-revolving fast food creations (usually made with a revolving list of on-hand ingredients with the occasional new sauce or bun upgrade). But are the new burgers worth ditching the old ones? *Hint* The answer is gonna be yes, because the Angus burgers weren't that good, so anything would be a vast improvement.

See also:
- McFish Bites: McDonald's sure knows how to bait a hook
- My top five McDonald's horror stories
- The McDonald's map of America -- and Denver's place in it (VIDEO)

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Old Chicago adds new words to its name and dishes to its menu: Try its five-foot pie today!

Categories: Fast Food

J. Wohletz
The "Meat Me" pizza at Old Chicago.
What is the future of pizza? Will it be rehydrated from tiny pucks, as in Back to the Future? Made available in pill form, like little pepperoni-flavored aspirin capsules, or delivered via pizza drone? These post-space-age pie ponderings are certainly amusing to consider, because here in the present there are more dine-in, carryout and delivery choices than you could take advantage of in ten lifetimes. With so many options, what really makes one pizzeria stand out from the pie pack?

How about creating a pizza that is five feet in diameter and offering free dig-ins to customers just for showing up? That's what Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom , the new name for a 37-year-old Colorado institution, is offering this morning.

See also:
- Old Chicago's latest Mini Tour is a canny beer move
- Mexican-style brewer Del Norte kicks off a handsome new beer at Old Chicago
- AC Golden Brewing serves a style-busting India pale lager only at Old Chicago

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Five meaty ideas for Smashburger's new TV campaign

Categories: Fast Food, Lists

Smashburger, our locally born and quickly proliferating burger chain, is taking its wares to the small screen with its first-ever television ads. One thirty-second spot, created by Denver-based Definite Productions, is a burger-fan dream sequence, reportedly complete with actual beef patty-smashing action meant to demonstrate the differences between Smashburger's hand-smashed burgers and other burger joints' NOT hand-smashed anythings. Sounds good, but we think Smashburger could do even better.

Here's our list of five awesome, completely viable television ad ideas for Smashburger. (*Warning*: There may be people/animals/other things harmed during the production of these commercials.)

See also:
- Smashburger offers many opportunities for delicious deviation
- First look: Smashburger unveils new design concept
- Smashburger hauls its buns all the way to Costa Rica

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