According to lore that has been passed down through the Lucio clan, one of the family progenitors was kidnapped from her native Chihuahua after Pancho Villa tasted her food and decided he needed her as his chef. That distant matron’s culinary wizardry trickled down the family tree and currently informs the cooking of her great-great-grandchildren at Armadillo Restaurants. Chefs at the restaurants use those generations-old recipes while gently patting cornhusks into place around meal and shredded pork or simmering red-chili sauce for enchiladas. Since the Lucios converted the first Armadillo Restaurant from a tough-guy bar into a restaurant in 1972, they’ve opened six additional locations in the Front Range.
With a signature pizza size called the Monster, you’d expect Pudge Brothers Pizza to be more focused on quantity than quality. But in fact, the chefs create their signature varieties of hand-tossed pies by blending together the flavors of three sauces, a range of meats, and fresh veggies. From within sizzling ovens, chefs pull out creations such as the Jersey Girl—a pizza featuring italian sausage and green peppers—or the White Delight—a ham, chicken, and garlic-sauce combination. Pies range in size from 10 inches to 18 inches, with a range of garlic bread, wings, and cinnamon bread to fill in a meal. The shop also offers delivery service, ensuring clients can have a hot, hearty meal when time is short or when the paparazzi won’t leave their front yard.
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).
Flavorsome ingredients and fresh, handmade dough marry in gourmet specialty pizzas such as Mr. C's Meat Lover's Stuffed Pizza Pie (pepperoni, salami, sausage, meatballs, beef, ham, and five cheeses, $18.49 for a 12-inch pie), the hot and spicy barbecue chicken ($12.49 for a 12-inch), and the vegetarian Pizza Bianca (Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, romano, fresh basil, black pepper, and black olives, $11.49 for a 12-inch). Indulge in a plate of impeccably prepared pasta such as baked ziti ($10.99), or use this Groupon toward a family-sized portion of meat tortellini ($32.99 for four servings). Italian entree specialties include fettuccini Alfredo with shrimp ($9.99), spaghetti with clams tossed in either a light garlic-butter sauce or classic marinara ($10.99), and eggplant parmesan served with a side of spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad ($9.49). Subs, spicy wings, salads, and desserts round out the menu into a nicely round circle tastier than a traffic circle or rutabaga crop circle.
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.
Verdant flora ensconces Wishbone’s expansive brick-walled eatery, where up to 300 diners can indulge in a menu of home-cooked fare that’s been delighting diners for nearly half a century. Bursting with cream cheese, jalapeño poppers ($6.95) prime taste buds for gravy-smothered cuts of chicken-fried chicken ($9.50) that, like Boutros Boutros-Ghali, allows the redundancy of its name to speak for the integrity of its character. Diners can cycle through 11 different chicken dinners laden with drumsticks, thighs, or chicken gizzards ($7.50+) or plunge golden morsels of fried shrimp into waiting pots of cocktail sauce ($9.25+). Mini bowls of mac ‘n’ cheese ($4.50) tag-team pint-size tongues with chicken nuggets ($5.50), both located on Wishbone’s children’s menu. Slices of oven-fresh pumpkin pie ($3.05) and oreo mousse cake ($3.95) work to conclude nosh fests with more American swagger than Lyndon B. Johnson at a cowboy-hat convention.