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.
At Bistro on the Peak, chefs blend Mediterranean dishes with American sensibilities. They season Colorado Black Angus steaks with pancetta and gorgonzola, for instance, and top olive-oil-glazed pizza with barbecued bison and pineapple. Diners can enjoy these and other meals inside, or head outside and eat beneath the trees and bright blue umbrellas that grow on the secluded side-street patio. In the evenings, a full bar and live music invite patrons to venture downstairs to the underground sports bar and nightclub.
Wingman has been serving the best wings in Denver (according to Westword) since 1981, focusing its menu on Buffalo-style wings brought over by the Mineo family from upstate New York's majestic chicken-capped mountains. Order anywhere from 10 ($7.99) to 500 ($349.99) of the tasty meat morsels and be sure to slacken your belt accordingly. The laid-back eatery lets you pick your poultry-poison with a selection of mild, medium, hot, extra hot, honey barbecue, or teriyaki sauce before picking your poison-poison from an array of draught beer that includes Coors Light, Fat Tire, and New Belgium seasonal brew. You can also munch on baskets of popcorn chicken ($5.99), mozzarella sticks ($4.99), fries ($1.89), or your own fingernails as you anxiously wait for the universe to make up its mind as to whether or not you exist. For something heartier, try an Angus beef burger ($5.99–$6.39) or one of Wingman’s sandwiches and salads. If you're not feeling as stuffed as a mounted turducken head, close with a dessert plate of funnel cake ($1.99).
Clavin's Bar and Grill fills its menu with hearty, homemade American entrees. The restaurant kicks off breakfast with combos of potatoes, cheese, and eggs and proceeds to lunch and dinner with a heartier set of savory ingredients. Options include pulled-pork sandwiches with tangy barbecue sauce, build-your-own burgers with onion rings and avocado cream cheese, and crispy fried chicken.
If the menu channels American tastes, the dining room channels the country's mountainous landscape. Stretched across the right-side wall is a mural of golden aspen trees, which depict an autumnal scene complete with mountains and a ski bum panning for gold. This mural adjoins a crimson wall that backs up a small stage for live-music acts.
Traditional and contemporary recipes reign at India's Kitchen, where chefs sheath chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegan entrees in a flurry of freshly ground exotic spices. They sizzle naan and kebabs in a tandoor clay oven and flood kormas and masalas with housemade yogurt, cream sauces, and coconut milk. Chefs can customize spiciness levels or swap in gluten-free ingredients for the handful of dishes that aren't already gluten-free, adeptly maintaining each dish's intricate flavors and inspirational coming-of-age story. An extensive daily lunch buffet lines up some of the kitchen's greatest hits for guests to sample, and the restaurant also extends its culinary services to the catering realm.
Cylindrical light fixtures dangle amid the dining room's vibrant red-orange walls, which contrast charcoal-hued floors and furnishings. A trickling faux rock fountain beckons patrons to venture to the full bar, where staffers sling Indian beers that harmonize with the aromas and flavors of the cuisine.
Cold Stone's ice cream inhabits a quantum flux between soft-serve and traditional ice cream, with a rich, creamy texture that whispers tales of its super-premium quality as it glides over taste buds. The ice cream generously welcomes dozens of toppings, as traditional as crumbled cookies and chopped nuts or as quirky as granola and black licorice. Choose your favorite ice cream from among dozens of silky flavors, such as Irish cream and butter pecan. Then make certain no one will try and steal a taste by topping it protectively with brownies, gumballs, and cherry pie filling. Whatever Frankencream you create, it'll be scooped cold off the grill into a freshly made waffle cone or bowl. Cold Stone's ice cream and toppings vary between seasons and location, and they also offer sorbet and an array of lighter toppings such as fruit and honey. Ice-cream creations run between $4 and $6, depending on size.