After spending years working for Dominos Pizza, Vince Schmuhl decided that he could do a better job of preparing and delivering quality pies to people's homes. He challenged the nationwide chain's dominance in the region by founding the first Blackjack Pizza on June 29, 1983.
Although delivering oven-fresh pies within 30 minutes was still a major goal for Schmuhl, he emphasized the importance of quality ingredients using sauce made from freshly packed tomatoes as well as hand-tossed dough that never sees the inside of a freezer or cryogenic chamber. This dedication to quality and speedy service allowed Blackjack Pizza to not only survive, but also thrive over the decades. The chain now includes more than 40 stores operating in four different states.
In addition to offering seven signature pies, Blackjack Pizza also allows customers to build their own order from crust to toppings. A choice of up to four savory, tangy, and piquant sauces form the base, topped with any of the 3 available cheeses, 7 meats, and 10 freshly diced vegetables. Regardless of the toppings, Blackjack Pizza respects the potential danger of food allergies by ensuring that none of its pies ever contain traces of MSG, peanuts, or peanut oil.
Planted on the corner of Grand View and Olde Wadsworth, The Archive Room—with its illuminated sign shining out from the building’s brick façade—practically beckons passersby inside. Within the eatery's comfortable confines, platefuls of home-cooked comfort fare, such as baked chicken and dumplings, and classic Irish pub favorites, such as bangers and mash, populate tables in an atmosphere that tips its hat to yesteryear with its collection of old Life magazine covers. Amidst the flicker of a dozen big-screen TVs and a homey fireplace, barkeeps pour drafts of Batch 19 and Guinness, overfill chalices with whites and reds, and concoct cocktails from a slew of top-shelf liquors. The pub also entices crowds and animate lampposts to wander in from the outdoor patio with rousing weekly events such as poker night, live Irish music, trivia contests, and weekend brunch.
Though Mexican cuisine is known for its fiery flavors, a different connotation arises during meals at Cielo Mexican Restaurant?soothing water. That's because the eatery is perched right beside Hidden Lake, so named for the thousands of years it spent hiding inside a glacier. Gorgeous lakefront views give way to an equally charming interior of dazzling pendant lamps and the occasional flat-screen TV, which can entertain patrons until their food arrives. The menu mostly sticks to Mexican favorites, from breakfast burritos chock full of eggs, beans, and potatoes to house-made tamales with your choice of shredded beef or green chile and cheese. Cielo's chefs also showcase their culinary creative with less orthodox dishes, such as platters of jumbo shrimp stuffed with melted cheese and wrapped in bacon.
Chef Niko spreads a thin layer of crepe batter over a hot griddle, then stuffs the thin pancakes with sweet and savory ingredients to serve alongside spit-roasted gyro wraps. He loads up plates with saganaki, pan-fried kasseri cheese, and paninis stuffed with brie, fig jam, and prosciutto, which are soon delivered to diners listening to live entertainment.
Each Sunday, chef Niko stocks the brunch buffet with appetizers such as grilled pita bread and hummus, as well as entrees such as made-to-order crepes filled with Nutella and topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream. While sipping steaming mugs of Illy coffee, patrons can gather around the fire pit on the outdoor patio to tell eerie stories of long-removed menu items appearing on the chef?s nightstand at midnight.
1950s ephemera decorate Gunther Toody's eight Colorado locations, lending an extra boost of Americana to plates of classic diner food such as burgers and meatloaf. The menu even draws its inspiration from American pop culture of yore, with Elvis fries, burgers named for Howdy Doody, and Big Bopper breakfasts served on platters of chantilly lace. Classic ice-cream treats including shakes, malteds, and black cows help lead each meal to a suitably sweet conclusion.
John Pinelli had lived across the country, but he always returned to one place: Philadelphia. Each year, no matter where he was, he would come back to that city like a boomerang. A very hungry boomerang. During his visits, he devoured cheese steaks, Italian hoagies, water ice, and Tastykakes snack pies. He just wished he could bring one of those restaurants back to his home in Denver. Instead, he opened South Philly Cheese Steaks in 2004.
Pinelli's decision to leave his corporate job perplexed his family, but he knew he was on to something. After all, he knew how to make italian hoagies and hot roast beef. He knew how to bake Philly-style pizza, and of course, he knew how to assemble an authentic Philadelphia cheese steak. It all proved successful, and South Philly Cheese Steaks now has several locations across Denver and its surrounding areas?with more likely to come.
At each restaurant, a simple dining room greets patrons with casual tables and a custom mural of Philadelphia's skyline. In the kitchen, cooks work with many ingredients sourced right from Philly. In addition to the classic cheese steak, they assemble special varieties, such as a pizza cheese steak with provolone and marinara.