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.
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.
Tequila Joe's Mexican Kitchen?s friendly staff members lives up to the high standards set by their 2010 Best Mexican Restaurant award from Parker Chronicle, greeting customers with smiles as big as their hearty burritos stuffed with coconut rice and served alongside freely flowing margaritas. Harnessing produce and meats grown and raised in Colorado whenever possible, the chefs craft chimichangas, enchiladas, and tacos brimming with seafood, veggies, and meats?including carnitas and barbacoa beef?as well as southwestern pasta. Bartenders draw from more than 40 tequilas as they pour margaritas for guests, who can watch the big game or their college football team's mascot solve quadratic equations on the big-screen TV. The eatery's orange and adobe walls, rustic accents, and latticed wooden ceiling conjure images of the tropical destinations that inspired Tequila Joe's mouthwatering Mexican eats.
Hickory House Ribs is named for its signature racks of baby-back ribs, a combination of high-grade meat imported from Denmark and specialty sauce made in-house. The ribs have claimed numerous awards and accolades for their succulent flavor, which begins with pork ribs from hogs fed all-natural and lean diets. The ribs then spend hours slow-smoking in a combination of hickory and oak. Once they get to Hickory House Ribs, chefs coat them in thick housemade sauce, made from scratch. The restaurant also serves up other classic barbecue fare, from certified Angus steaks to smoked pork shoulder. Each kind of barbecued meat is seasoned and smoked daily, and served with baked beans and coleslaw each made fresh every day.
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.
Nestled within the Cottonwood Plaza Shopping Center, Tonti's Pizza fashions award-winning New York–style pies within classic pizzeria digs. Cooks slather homemade East Coast tomato sauce on myriad Italian dishes, adding dollops to crowd-pleasing calzones and mozzarella sticks. Tonti's cheese has been extolled in Westword for its astonishing stretchiness, which helps pizzas hold fast even as lunching executives pull from each end to get a bigger share of the last slice.