Ten Best New Fast-Casual Eateries in Metro Denver in 2014

Categories: The List

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Danielle Lirette
Clint Wangsnes of Chop Shop knows that fast and casual doesn't have to mean boring.
Denver has been an incubator for fast-casual restaurants ever since Chipotle made a big splash with its first store in the mid-'90s. But the evolution of the concept has gone far beyond burritos and sandwiches. Fast and casual doesn't have to mean cheap and greasy. Quite a few eateries opened this year with counter service, menu options that can be cooked quickly or served up point-and-order style, and relaxed dining rooms perfect for families with kids, savvy urban residents on the go, or budget-minded diners looking for great food without the added expense that full-service dining entails.

In fact, so many new quick-service joints have sprung up that we've compiled our favorites in one list. Keep reading for the ten best new fast-casual restaurants in metro Denver to open in 2014, in alphabetical order.

See also: The Fifteen Best New Restaurants in Metro Denver in 2014

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The Fifteen Best New Restaurants in Metro Denver in 2014

Categories: The List

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Danielle Lirette
The slow-cooked meats at Work & Class are a labor of love.
This year may have set a record for new restaurant openings in metro Denver. Trendspotting became difficult, as so much volume led to multiple variations of almost anything good, whether it was fast-casual service, tiny dining rooms, fried chicken, wood-fired everything, restaurants with their own attached markets, or simple typographical symbols representing a common conjunction (we're talking about you, ampersand). Still, our favorite new restaurants of 2014 started trends or elevated them to the highest form, rather than merely following the pack. Among them you'll find two fast-casual joints turning out creative and delicious dishes worth of fine-dining establishments, several kitchens relying on wood-burning ovens and grills, some of Denver's smallest bistros, a couple of eateries peddling house-made products from their own mini-markets -- and even a sprinkling of ampersands. Because whatever the trend, it's the chefs, restaurateurs and staff that truly make a restaurant great, not the concept -- or the typography. Keep reading to see (in alphabetical order) the fifteen best new restaurants of 2014.

See also: The Ten Best Hotel Restaurants in Denver

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The Ten Most Instagrammed Restaurants in Denver

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Flickr/Rondo Estrello
If you're a Denver food fan and budding amateur photographer (or someone who just can't put down the smart phone, even while enjoying dinner), you've probably snapped a few shots and shared them on Instagram -- because all of your online friends certainly want to see every meal you've eaten at every restaurant you've been to. MyFab5 is a new restaurant-rating app that helps users track the top restaurants in town without the standard star ratings or user reviews. Instead, users rank up to five restaurants for a given dish or style of food (say, barbecue or green chile); the app is integrated with Instagram, so that MyFab5 users can link Instagram photos of their food to their top five lists. So now you can be both photographer and restaurant critic, sharing lists and photos of your favorite pho parlors, taco vendors and steakhouses.

MyFab5 recently shared its Instagram data with us, offering a view into the most Instagrammed restaurants in town in 2014 (through November 30). The resulting data paints an interesting picture of the intersection of tech-savvy shutterbugs in Denver and where they like to spend their drinking and dining dollars. Keep reading to see the list of the ten most Instagrammed rrestaurants in town.

See also: The Ten Best Hotel Restaurants in Denver

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The Five Coolest Foodie Gizmos of 2014

Categories: The List

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This year has produced some pretty marvelous gadgets for foodies, and culinary technology for 2014 has given us some bizarre finds like a 3-D latte art tool, a wine glass holder that makes you half an inch away from being a drunkard, build-your-own-burger tablets at McDonald's, a remote-controlled beer holder, and some things we surely want to like, but are just not sure about, like a Darth-Vader-head toast maker.

Here are the top five coolest foodie gizmos we've seen in 2014. Keep reading for gizmo goodies like the ultimate in butter-spreading tech, a grill's best friend, a beery breath of cold air, and kitchen utensils from a galaxy far, far away.

See also: Five food gadgets and gimmicks that are impossible to resist


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The Ten Best Eggs Benedict Dishes in Denver

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As major fans of savory breakfasts, we love a good plate of eggs Benedict. There's something about the combination of a soft poached egg, a crunchy English muffin and a lake of creamy sauce kissed with lemon that makes for the perfect kick-start to a morning or a cure for the night before. But why stop with the basics? While there are a few standouts among the traditional Benedict adherents, with so many inventive chefs in Denver, there are plenty of playful and creative takes on the classic recipe, adding some serious flair and flavor to the Mile High breakfast and brunch scene. Here's a list of the ten best eggs Benedict in town -- both classic and re-invented -- to get you revved up for a weekend of egg-ceptional eating.

See also: The Ten Best Hotel Restaurants in Denver

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The Ten Best Hotel Restaurants in Denver

Categories: The List

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Jake Shane
Stoic & Genuine in Union Station.
Whether you're traveling for work or vacation, there's nothing more depressing than the standard hotel restaurant. Kept in business by expense accounts and timid tourists, most offer little more than tired bar fare designed to appeal to the masses. Hotels can get away with 3 a.m. room-service club sandwiches, but sitting down at a normal dinner hour to something bland or poorly cooked can ruin a trip. Here in Denver, we were already lucky to have a good range of hotel restaurants that are destinations on their own -- but with the opening of Union Station and a few other high-profile spots this year, we're about ready to check in for our own staycation.

If you have friends or family visiting over the holidays and don't have the space (or patience) to put them up at home, send them to a hotel and then meet them for dinner at one of the ten best hotel restaurants in Denver. Here's our list, in no particular order -- and without reservation!

See also: Ten Best Tiny Restaurants in Denver

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A Trio of Spots Where You Can Pick Up Sweet Treats for the Holidays

Categories: The List

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Mark Manger
An army of sugar-cookie snowmen at So Perfect Eats.
Why deck the halls with boughs of holly when you can deck the tables with treats instead? If you're pressed for time -- and who isn't this time of year? -- stop by any of these three eateries to pick up delicious, holiday-inspired goodies.

See also: A Closer Look at So Perfect Eats


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The Five Worst Foodie Holiday Gifts for 2014

Categories: The List

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Every holiday shopping season gives friends and families of hardcore foodies chances to really hit, or severely miss, with gifts. You could be a right-good 'ol pal and buy whole Wagyu beef ribeye roasts for all your foodsy chums (that'll only set you back $1,200 per pal!) but let's be normal here; you only buy that sort of holiday treat for yourself, so save your meat money and consider something a little less extravagant for the annoying food fanatic you want to piss off clear into 2015. Give the gifts that keep on giving with a sexist floor mat, some bad apples, glitter pills and wearable plastic dinner.

See also: The Five Best Foodie Christmas Gifts for 2014


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Ten Best Pre-Theater Restaurants in Denver

Categories: The List

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Javid Rezvani
So you landed those tickets to A Christmas Carol, Jersey Boys or the Australian Bee Gees Show, you've got your outfit picked out and you're ready to go. Except for one thing: You haven't been downtown in ages and you have no idea what's happening in the dining scene, especially around the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The show starts at 7 p.m., giving you scant time to find a parking spot and wolf down something tasty before the performance; you certainly don't have time for an extravagant multi-course meal.

Our restaurant critic, Gretchen Kurtz, advises picking something light to keep you comfortable for the next couple of hours, someplace close so you only have to park once, and somewhere that's accustomed to efficiently dealing with hordes of fellow ticket holders. With that in mind, here are ten of our favorite places to grab a bite before a show.

See also: Review: The Nickel Is a Fast Change Up for Hotel Teatro

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The Five Best Foodie Christmas Gifts for 2014

Categories: The List

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This year's holiday season has gifts for every type of foodie, from culinary noobs to sophisticated connoisseurs -- and even a few shiny tidbits for the bougie hipsters on your Xmas lists, like Sriracha candy canes, a home bacon-making kit, a clever "spin the shot" way of getting drunk on artisan booze faster, and some precious, precious macaron trinket boxes. But there are a handful of stand-out gifts this year sure to tickle the turnips of foodie friends and family, and at least a couple of these won't set your wallet on fire.

Here's a list of the top five badass foodie Christmas gifts for 2014. Have a merry gastronomic Christmas with expensive jewels from Starbucks, cooking with condoms, blowing smoke, and the coolest unofficial Sriracha gadget ever made.

See also: Egg turds and forky dumbells: Top five dumbest foodie X-mas gifts this year


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