After an unfortunate (and stupid) lower back strain prematurely terminated my ski season this year, we’ve been spending our weekends checking out some new (and not so new, but mostly new to us) restaurants in Denver, Colorado.  We tend to hunker down in wintertime, but with the ready availability, convenience and low cost of UberX, we have been better at getting out of the house and going further than a 15-20 minute walk.

Over the course of the past several Saturdays we’ve tried some great spots and wanted to share them – should you have reason to make it to Denver for dinner.

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Our first weekend out, we hit Tables in Park Hill.  This is a moderately-to-higher priced (entrees in the $30s) husband-wife run bistro located pretty far away from anything but the neighborhood (all of these “new” places are in the same price range).  However, we found it worth the trek.  We left our meal choices in the hands of our waiter and the hostess and were not disappointed from start to finish.  (Warning: there’s not much here for vegetarians, but we are not, so we suffered through).  We started with winter greens and grapefruit salads with fennel and for our entrees, we split the Bavette Steak and the Lamb Shank.  Both were terrific and every bite was gone.  We finished with the coffee ice cream-peanut butter swirl and white chocolate dipped cranberry biscotti which was quite decadent and we would get it again, despite the calories.

Next, we went back to a place we tried a few years ago, just north of City Park called the plimoth.  (No, fellow Bostonians, it is not spelled wrong).  The cauliflower turnip gratinee was tasty and the boeuf a la bourguignonne is as good as any we’ve had anywhere.  Again, not much around this place – so its a destination, although a bit closer to downtown and uptown Denver.  We sat at the counter by the front window which is a great spot to sit, sip, chew and watch the world go by.

The next weekend we stuck closer to home and hit a newer spot in our hood – the Telegraph Bar and Grill in West Wash Park.  The King Trumpet mushroom and beef tartare were both great starters.  The Pork Cheek Ragout was delicious, but the Spanish Octopus was overpriced for what you got.  Trust me, I ate the heck out of Spanish octopus all over Spain so I know a good octopus when I see one and this portion was sparse for the price.

Last weekend, we made it to Ristorante Lo Stella in the Golden Triangle.  We went with friends and, as such, got to try lots of things.  The first thing we noticed was the lack of bartender, which meant service for drinks was slow.  Maybe they were short staffed, but it also took a while to get served at all at our table.  However, we found that good things come to those who wait.  We tried a little bit of everything – from the Antipasto del giorno to the sautéed mussels and clams, to the prosciutto pizza, our starters were a nice way to kick off the meal.  The Antipasto was a little plain and sparing, but the other two were great.  The highlights were the entrees which we split: the tagliatelle della Nonna Laura (Bolognese sauce, amazing) and the frutti de mare on spaghetti (even better and quite different from what we expected).

Four new picks for us, all very good.  Of course our top 12 (ok, 13) dinner spots in Denver still remain (not in any particular order):

  1. Carmine’s On Penn (family style Italian).
  2. Rioja (on Larimer Square, not cheap, but fantastic).
  3. Osteria Marco (also on Larimer Square, Italian).
  4. North (Cherry Creek, also Italian – try the squid ink pasta – its only on the dinner menu, but they’ll make it for you off menu usually).
  5. Little Ollie’s (Cherry Creek, Chinese).
  6. For sushi, we strongly recommend Taki (on Bayaud and Pennsylvania, just behind Logan Liquors).  It is less known than some of the other Denver sushi joints, but just as good or better in our view.  We love the people who work there also.
  7. Z Cuisine (in Highlands is amazing French food – no reservations so be ready to sip away at the bar next door while you wait).  NOTE: this place has subsequently closed – <sniff>.
  8. Lola (also in Highlands, great Mexican).
  9. For more downscale Mexican, we love Benny’s in Governor’s Park.  (Try the fish tacos).
  10. Cuba Cuba (in the Golden Triangle, serves – you guessed it – Cuban food).
  11. Gozo is three blocks from our house on S. Broadway and is one of our new faves (now, this is the place to go for Spanish octopus!).
  12. Proto’s Pizza rocks as well (we get the Low Rider with jalapenos).
  13. The Cherry Tomato (in Park Hill) serves fantastic rustic Italian.

Finally, a shout out to the best neighborhood bar in town – the Spot, next to Carmine’s on Pennsylvania and Bayaud.  And, as a Red Sox fan I would be neglectful to not mention The Elm on Colfax, good on a summer night when you need your NESN fix.