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.
No season goes without celebration at Ivy at the Glenn. With each solstice and equinox, the chefs debut a revamped menu that takes full advantage of the newly available produce and ingredients. Italian, Mediterranean, and Thai flavors lend an international flair to regional, contemporary American dishes, which often incorporate locally sourced, certified Angus beef and Colorado lamb. The sprawling wine list extends its reach quite a bit past Colorado's borders, filling the pages with New and Old World bottles from France, South America, and beyond.
Surrounded by modern touches such as concrete floors and pendant lamps suspended in whisk-like cages, the most striking feature in Ivy at the Glenn's dining room is distinctly naturalistic. Crosscuts of tree trunks?ranging from saplings to full-grown trees?fill an entire wall, creating an eclectic patchwork of splitting stumps that complements the rustic wooden tables and exposed ceiling beams. During warm months, the restaurant opens its outdoor patio for guests who enjoy their meals while lounging in the sunlight.
La Polleria—a bright, quick-service eatery modeled after traditional Peruvian pollerias—serves up pollo a la brasa, rotisserie chicken marinated in a guarded blend of spices and fired over mesquite charcoal. Named Best New Restaurant in the Centennial Citizen's 2012 Best of the Best, La Polleria slow-roasts plump and seasoned chickens sourced from local purveyor Red Bird Farms in its six-spit rotisserie brick oven. The chefs plate white- and dark-meat chicken—featured in Denver Westword—with traditional sides, such as fried sweet plantains and freshly cut Yukon Gold potato fries. They serve each plate with a mild or spicy aji dipping sauce, simmered up from local chilies and imported peppers. Out in the dining room, diners wash back sizzling rotisserie chicken dinners and tangy barbeque wraps with glasses of cool Inka Kola—a sugary soft drink that flows from enchanted Peruvian mountain streams.