As people walk past the spacious outdoor patio into Hodsons Bar & Grill, they might spy diners devouring sushi rolls, brick-oven pizza, and steaks beneath white canvas umbrellas or sipping brews around the fire pit on gray wicker patio sofas with sleek white cushions. Inside, diners perch on leather chairs and slide into booths beneath an abstract glass chandelier that resembles a flaming sun. The private dining room seats guests beside a floor-to-ceiling wine rack built into the wall, and the glass doors, marked by the face imprints of those who weren’t invited in, can be shut for total privacy.
The upscale, contemporary decor reflects Hodsons’ upscale, contemporary American dishes, such as portobello-and-fig pizza, baked dungeness-crab dip, and Asian nachos with mango, avocado, and chilled chicken. Burgers hoist Colorado Angus beef and buffalo, handcut fillets of Scottish salmon await the grill’s flame licks, and three-cheese macaroni teems with chunks of Maine lobster and applewood bacon.
Signature drinks—including blueberry basil-tinis with Little Black Dress vodka and muddled basil and blueberries—and the food pair better than Elvis and sequins. Servers also pour glasses of wine and tap brews such as Left Hand Sawtooth ale and Angry Orchard cider.
Voted the Best Burger of 2012 by Westword, Juicy Burgers & Dogs doesn’t skimp on quality, using never-frozen meat, fresh veggies, and artisanal buns in its delectable offerings. Baked with organic rye flour, white and pumpernickel buns surround preservative- and filler-free patties with the perfect amount of open-flame char and mouthwatering juiciness. Guests can pick 100% fresh ground beef, Colorado ground lamb, or Red Bird Farms chicken breasts to fill the buns, adorned with spreadable sharp cheddar cheese or slices of Tillamook cheddar, as well as slabs of fresh veggies. Guests can also sink teeth into a juicy dog, choosing from a classic Vienna all-beef hot dog, char-grilled Kobe jumbo dog, or Sheboygan-style wisconsin beer brat. Main courses are accompanied by french fries, cut throughout the day from kennebec potatoes and fried in pure canola oil, and Häagen Dazs milk shakes, made solely from the milk of Danish-speaking cows.
In the midst of bright oranges and purple and a mural of the Denver skyline, an insignia of five stars hangs displayed on Five Star Burgers' walls. Though the eatery's recipes have spread to Missouri and Colorado, they each draw from the southwestern flavors of the restaurant's hometown of Taos, New Mexico. At the Denver locations, chefs build burgers and sandwiches using local Durham Ranch bison, local chickens, and natural steroid- and antibiotic-free beef from Harris Ranch when possible. They offset meaty offerings with vegetarian salads, veggie burgers, and portobello sandwiches. At a full bar, bartenders stir specialty cocktails or pour pint glasses of local craft beer. The restaurant staff's commitment to sustainable practices also extends to packaging and utensils: the carryout packages are made from recycled biodegradable paper, and the drinking cups are fashioned from recycled plastic by elves recycled from Christmas.
Bombay Bowl's owner, Amar, says he "grew up in an East Indian kitchen," where he attentively learned his family's generations-old knowledge of the region's aromatic and salutary spices. Although his menu features the familiar combinations of turmeric, ginger, and coriander, he set out to infuse his Indian cuisine with a home-style casual, health-conscious environment. The cooks eschew trans fats and artificial flavorings, seeking out all-natural beef and chicken, chopping vibrant vegetables, and baking fresh naan in their kitchen instead. With these ingredients, diners can choose a bowl of long-grain basmati rice topped with meaty or vegetarian proteins, sauces, and chutneys. The chefs also whip up gluten-free and vegan options, accommodating virtually any diet.
The menu is stuffed with a wide variety of mini-burgers made with all-natural ingredients. Beyond basic beef, the mini-mounds also feature chicken, pork, buffalo, shrimp, salmon, and vegetarian-friendly black beans. Stuffed with exotic flavors, tempting textures, and void of any fillers, the burgers are modestly mouth-sized, unlike embarrassingly mammoth munches that don't seem appropriate to eat in public or alone in the corner of a garage. Try the Kansas City ($2.50), mesquite ground pork with caramelized barbecue sauce, or the Bangkok ($3.25), a slightly more spicy burger made with Thai peanut shrimp and fresh veggies. Non–burger fans will appreciate the creative selection of salads (the Incan Quinoa is gluten free, vegetarian, and tossed in a cilantro lime vinaigrette, $5.25 entree portion) and breakfast tastes. Until 10:30 a.m. every day, you can pair the café's hand-infused drip coffee (up to $1.85) with organic egg sandwiches (like the vegan Zephyr, compiled with spinach, feta, and artichokes on an English muffin, $3.50) and arepas, South American corn cakes with cheese, red peppers, and green chilis ($2.25).
The circular-comestibles chefs at Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers master a cheer-inducing combination of stone-baked pizza and craft beer, providing diners with innovative menus. Both Denver and Centennial menus feature a house special pie ($13.95–$27.95) that arranges bites of mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, smoked backon, and a variety of vegetables across a doughy bed cushioned with fresh red sauce, and a gourmet kosmic karma pizza ($13–$25.95), which stars often-understudying ingredients including feta, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes with a dash of pesto. The restaurant's repertoire of grilled hoagies includes Denver’s pesto-and-basil-loaded capri ($6 half; $9.75 whole), and Centennial’s Irv’s ($6.40 half; $9.95 whole), which boasts an edible collage of grilled sausage, caramelized onions, and green peppers. A fully stocked bar features at least 36 draft beers, including Odell's Cutthroat Porter and Rogue Dead Guy Ale, all of which are more tasty palate cleansers than standard options such as ice-cube platters or ginger lollipops.