NasyaCV 
Member since Sep 30, 2009

Favorite Places

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    Best Of 2015: Barbecue

    It takes a little something extra to stand out from the pack in the world of ribs and brisket, and Front Range Barbeque has proven it has what it takes. A smoky, rich flavor permeates the generously portioned offerings on the menu, from the tender racks of ribs and slow-simmered baked beans to the hearty Bloody Mary, a concoction made with habanero vodka and a hint of sweet barbecue sauce, then adorned with house-made pickles. Add some of the best weekly live music in the city, and you've got yourself a down-home party. — Bridgett Harris

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    Best Of 2015: Bar Crowd

    To call the Zodiac "eclectic" would be an absurd understatement. The bar, tucked just to the southeast of the main downtown scene, won't be forced into any sort of label — and neither will its diverse clientele. From art shows to punk rock, fetish balls to world dance showcases, the Zodiac provides a clever mix of whimsy, culture, badass and sass. Diametric opposites mingle amiably on the dance floor, and you'll never have to wonder if you'll fit in. In this crowd, everyone does. — Bridgett Harris

    Best Of 2015: Bartender

    Ask Zodiac owner Gentle Fritz why Dave Baumgartner (who works Tuesday through Saturday evenings at her bar) is awesome, and she'll mention that he's a professional who's been in the industry for many, many years, and that he always remembers names and drinks. She'll add that he's a loyal friend and confidant — and that he's also a handsome man who's "just dreamy." In fact the only thing not awesome about Baumgartner, she says, is that "he can't work every shift." — Kirsten Akens

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    Bites 2012

    For five years, Song Brinck has steadily built clientele at her beautiful, modern space. She recently added Teppanyaki service to the Japanese entrées and sushi. Happy hours are a good time to visit, for buy-one-get-one drinks and $1 to $1.50 off popular items like the Research Roll.

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    Best Of 2014 • Writer's Pick: Agitation of Heifer

    I have a food friend who travels quite a bit, often hitting Vietnamese establishments around the world — hey, everybody's gotta have some obsession — and often ordering a personal favorite, Bo Luc Lac, translated as "shaken beef." It's not seen on many local menus, and it's not a super-flashy dish, but more like a deeply satisfying stir-fry that allows simple ingredients to shine. At least that's how Dung My Tram's version at Vietnamese Garden hits the mouth. Unsalted butter plays a key role, as do rice wine, vinegar and gluten-free soy in a sauce that's otherwise spiked with lots of minced garlic and the bite of white peppercorns playing off slivers of sliced and pan-flipped beef. Simply put, this is not your average wok fodder — it's much better. — Matthew Schniper

    Bites 2013: Potato Fritters

    It's like Hanukkah's golden latkes went to Vietnam for a makeover. Rough-grated carrots and yams are battered in Vietnamese beer and gluten-free rice flour, then deep-fried crisp. Great, right? But it's what comes next that pushes it off the charts: fresh mint, basil and cilantro served with crisp lettuce leaves for wrapping, then dunking into a sweet house sauce. Epic. ($7.45)

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    Best Of 2015: Place to Work Out in Winter

    The oldest formations in Garden of the Gods, such as Kissing Camels, started as sand dunes some 300 million years ago. It's a magical place. So we're beyond fortunate that the Perkins family gave 480 acres of the park to the city in 1909 — with the stipulation that it always remain free to enter and open to the public. Since then, the city has expanded the park to more than 1,300 acres. In addition to the famous rocks, the Garden is also home to a nonprofit-owned visitor and nature center, which recently was expanded and remodeled. It now features state-of-the-art exhibit halls where you can explore the area's geology, flora and fauna; learn about early explorers; and even look at photos of the Garden from each of the past 365 days. — J. Adrian Stanley

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    Best Of 2015: Middle Eastern

    If you've never sampled authentic Middle Eastern cooking, Heart of Jerusalem is the place to do it. Family-owned and -operated, HOJ fills plates to the brim with delicious and distinctly spiced favorites like refreshing dolma; crisp, heart-shaped falafel; juicy lamb kabobs; and fragrant saffron rice. Treat yourself to a hot cup of sage tea, or if you're a little adventurous, an order of Turkish coffee, presented in a lovely cezve and packing a powerful caffeine kick. — Bridgett Harris

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    Best Of 2014: Caterer

    As it explains on its "Ordering FAQ" page, Garden of the Gods Gourmet Catering will use your family recipes if you ask: "We try our best to duplicate your treasured memories." Which is nice. But if your memories don't include many servings of House Citrus Smoked Salmon or Grilled Pork Loin with Apples and Caraway, you may just want to let the pros do their thing. While you're at it, you can let them handle your whole function, whatever it is, from equipment rental to liquor delivery to cake-cutting (at no charge) to breakdown. — Kirk Woundy

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    Best Of 2015: Thai

    If Yelp is any indication, NaRai is delighting guests from all over the country. And sure enough, owner Jasmine Andrew says she sees a lot of folks from out of town — sometimes they eat at her restaurant two or three times during their visit. Many reviews mention the Garlic Chicken noodles, a simple dish that Andrew says she created because she liked the combination of vegetables (red bell pepper, carrot and sugar snap peas). The rest of her menu gets plenty of love, too. Every year when Andrew updates her menu, she deletes items that don't sell well. "But this year I [couldn't] find anything," she says, "so we kept everything." — Amanda Lundgren

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    Behind the Pikes Peak Center, in a funky brick industrial building, deal-lovers will find shelf after shelf of bargains. All used hardcover books here are $4; most paperbacks are $2. The exception is a huge bin of $1 books, primarily mass-market paperbacks.

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    Bites 2012

    "Hot means hot," promises the website. You'll also find no MSG, plenty of gluten-free options, and great renditions of Thai standards. The tom yum goong is exemplary, and Lanna's curries are among the best around, abundant with flavor and floral herb notes.

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    Bites 2012

    It racked up a handful of second-place finishes in the 2011 Indy Best Of, and 30-plus-year-old José's is always a strong contender as the Tex-Mex heart of the local Concept Restaurants dynasty. Great happy hours and margaritas and hearty fare from mahi mahi to buffalo plates.

    Best Of 2010: Patio Dining

    So this is supposed to be a paean to the much-loved patio at José's downtown, the fire-pit-and-bar-accented enclave that some of you can't resist even when the snow flies. But we'd be remiss not to take this opportunity to tell you that, yes, there will be a distinctive patio at José's new location, 5710 S. Carefree Circle. When it opens (hopefully in November), says general manager Cindy Biondo, a few dozen people can sit in "sort of an indoor-outdoor" area — a space adjacent to huge garage doors that will open on nice days. Down the road, you can look for a truly outdoor patio over there as well. Winter forecast: "I have to say that I'm the worst at predicting that stuff. I'm going to say it's going to be a mild winter, so it'll probably be the opposite."— Kirk Woundy


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