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Denver’s 10 Best Restaurants

Denver’s 10 Best Restaurants


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Nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is known for its 300 days of annual sunshine, abundant outdoor options, young population, and beautiful downtown. It has undergone plenty of changes in recent years, but one of the most exciting is the influx of innovative restaurants, many owned by the chefs themselves, and the result is a dining scene that’s positively booming.

From old-school wild game spots to high-end Italian restaurants, from farm-to-table spots to down-home comfort food restaurants, Denver’s best restaurants are breaking new ground and pushing culinary boundaries. In order to compile our ranking of Denver’s 10 best restaurants, we took into account pre-existing rankings both in print and online, consulted with our Denver City Page editor, and pulled restaurants from our own previous rankings, including America’s 50 Best Mexican Restaurants, Best Italian Food in Denver, and Best Vegetarian and Vegan Dining in Denver. So read on for what, in our estimation, are the 10 best restaurants in Denver.

10) The Buckhorn Exchange


One of America’s oldest restaurants (and the oldest in Denver) as well as the best restaurant for meat eaters in the country, Henry "Shorty Scout" Zietz opened the Buckhorn Exchange in 1893, during a time when cattlemen, miners, railroad workers, silver barons, Indian chiefs, drifters, and businessmen all dined under the same roof. The restaurant was given the first liquor license in the state of Colorado and the food menu remains mostly unchanged to this day. The Buckhorn is a true Wild West holdout, with its circa-1857 antique bar, wooden fixtures, 575-piece taxidermy collection, 125-piece gun collection, and a menu that reflects that good ol’ American desire to eat some red meat. Giant steaks are the most popular offering, but there are plenty of exotic game meats on offer, too: elk, Cornish game hen, quail, and buffalo are available and can be served as samplers (elk and two quails; quail, duck and Cornish game hen; etc.) for those who really want to celebrate being on top of the food chain.


This taco spot’s name doesn’t translate well — just think of what you say when you’re moved to be either exceptionally mad or really happy, and you’ll get the idea. You’re likely to be the latter when you visit chef Kevin Morrison’s taqueria. Originally a taco truck, it puts a modern twist on comida de la calle (Mexican street food), along with small-batch tequilas. You’ll want to start with an order of queso fundido con chorizo and homemade chips, but from there it gets more difficult to choose. Carnitas? Pollo a la crema? Asada, lengua, or rajas con crema y maiz? There are also chipotle-and-beer-battered fish tacos and citrus grilled shrimp.

Click here for all of The Daily Meal's Denver coverage


Denver's ten best macaroni and cheese dishes

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During this snowy spring, it often feels like we have one foot out the door to summer, and one still back by the fire, sticking loyally to our favorite winter comfort foods. As with fans of grilled cheese, lovers of macaroni and cheese divide into two factions: the progressive thinkers and the purists. Some like their macaroni folded into decadent, multiple-cheese sauces riddled with mushrooms, greens or seafood others remain faithful to elbows swimming in the bliss of simple, silky cheese. Here (in no particular order) is our list of Denver's ten best macaroni and cheese dishes there should be something here to please everyone along the spectrum.

10) The Hornet Since the Hornet is a Broadway mainstay known for its comfort-heavy menu, it's no surprise that its rendition of mac and cheese is a crowd favorite. The "shells and cheddar" kicks it up a notch with lobster, applewood bacon, cheddar, and fontina, then is baked under a layer of cheese and toasted bread crumbs. When your fork hits the top, it gives way to a gratifying, creamy center. This mac and cheese is simple and to the point -- with a few tasty surprises along the way. 9) Tom's Home Cookin' This soul-food joint in Five Points puts out a simple, no-nonsense macaroni and cheese for the purists out there. Cheese-packed, creamy and hearty, it's just as delicious on its own as it is served as a side and doused in Tom's barbecue sauce -- that is, if you're willing to compromise the dish's authenticity with a condiment. 8) Steuben's Steuben's blends American, cheddar, camembert, fontina and Swiss cheeses in its traditional rendition, which is baked and topped with a toasted breadcrumb crust. This is unfussy -- if not over-abundant -- cheese perfection at its finest. 7) D Bar Desserts The lunch and dinner offerings at D Bar Desserts are often overlooked in favor of their sweeter counterparts, and understandably so. But the baked mac & cheese alone is worthy of a visit here. Made with four cheeses, a layer of toasty cheese nips and panko crumbs, and served with a simple salad, this is a good mac that almost seems good for you, too.

Continue reading for more favorites.


1. Graves Good Burger at Zeppelin Station

This just-opened Zeppelin Station vendor has raced straight out of the gate to become a front-runner in the “best new burger” category. With a résumé that includes stints at Husk in Nashville and Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, chef Nick Graves (who also operates Lea Jane’s Hot Chicken at Avanti Food & Beverage) has just about perfected the classic double cheeseburger, using an 80/20 grind sourced from Lombardi Brothers Meats, Blue Point buns, and a mustardy special sauce. But he also makes three other versions — including a vegetarian umami bomb with mushrooms, Swiss, and roasted-garlic aioli — as well as crunchy-fluffy wedge fries accompanied by mushroom ketchup.

The mushroom-Swiss burger at Graves Good Burger is a vegetarian tower with mushroom ketchup and roasted-garlic mayo. Ruth Tobias/Eater


Best Mediterranean Food In Denver

(credit: pkabob.com)

If your exposure to hummus is just what you purchase at the local grocery store, then it is time to expand your culinary point of view. Mediterranean food is all about fresh ingredients, something you just can’t get from store-bought hummus. Try one or two of these delicious Mediterranean restaurants for a true education in what the food is really all about. You&rsquoll fall in love with falafel, baba ghanoush and dolmas just like everyone else.

Jerusalem Restaurant
1890 E. Evans Ave.
Denver, CO 80210
(303) 777-8828
www.jerusalemrestaurant.com

Since 1978, if you have a craving for falafel, shawarma or baba ghanoush at 3 a.m., there is just one place to visit. Jerusalem Restaurant is the go-to place for late-night Mediterranean munchies. This iconic neighborhood restaurant is a popular spot for students at the University of Denver but it is also on the list of foodie fans from all over the Denver area. You&rsquoll find all of the important menu items here, with delicious meats, shish kabobs and some of the best baklava in town. Plus, it is the only restaurant of its kind open until 5 a.m. on weekends, perfect for those after-bar food cravings.

Ali Baba Grill
2060 S. University Blvd.
Denver, CO 80210
(303) 282-5008
www.alibabagrill.com

If you like hummus, then you simply must try Ali Baba Grill. The hummus here is some of the best in town and that is just a small indication of the rest of the amazing food at this popular Denver eatery. The lunch special is a great deal, you can get a falafel sandwich with fries and a drink for less than $10. The bonus? The falafel is never greasy and always delicious. The décor of the restaurant is a lot of fun too with a great water fountain and picturesque paintings setting the backdrop for your dining experience. It’s another hot spot for DU students but it’s well worth the crowds.

Marrakech Grill
2290 S. Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80222
(303) 759-3611
www.marrakechgrilldenver.com

Moving away from the DU scene, you’ll find another popular Mediterranean restaurant on south Colorado Boulevard. The Marrakech Grill offers all the must-have items. The hummus is fantastic, the lamb and chicken is always moist and tender and the kafta is a must-try. Vegetarians will love the selection here with a lot of delicious veggie-friendly options while meat lovers will drool over all of the great meat platters. While there is no bar here, you are allowed to bring in your own wine, just grab your favorite on the way. Be sure to save room for baklava, it’s another must at this fantastic Denver restaurant.

Phoenician Kabob
5709 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80220
(303) 355-7213
www.pkabob.com

Don&rsquot let the exterior of this restaurant fool you. This unassuming strip-mall location hides one of the best Mediterranean spots in town. Phoenician Kabob is famous for its service but you&rsquoll stay for the incredible food. All of the important items are here &ndash kabob, hummus, dolmas, shawarma, fatayer and more. Try the Lebanese martini, a delightful combination of Cointreau, Chambord and Brun Arak. It is a tasty treat that is unlike any other martini you&rsquove ever had. Plus, depending on what night you dine at Phoenician Kabob, you may even catch the belly dancers.

Yaffa&rsquos Savory
2200 S. Monaco Parkway
Denver, CO 80222
(303) 758-0083
www.yaffassavory.com

Chef Yaffa of Yaffa&rsquos Savory was born and raised in Israel, meaning she has a complex mix of Moroccan, Mediterranean and Jewish cuisine in her background. In addition to the delicious food in the restaurant, there is also a Boutique Café/Food market where you can pick up homemade herb blends, sauces, salads and incredible desserts to go. But the food at Yaffa’s Savory deserves to be enjoyed fresh from the kitchen. The menu is small but you&rsquoll find all of the crucial items for a successful Mediterranean dining experience. Add to it by asking to chat with Yaffa, she’s always there and always ready to meet her guests and explain her culinary techniques.


I've Eaten At Nearly Every Single Chain Restaurant&mdashThese Are The 10 Best Desserts

Two years later and over 20 restaurants down, I've found the best desserts at the most popular chain restaurants. These are worth saving space for&mdashsome are so good, I recommend skipping the entrée altogether.

This towering dessert is a mix of a flaky croissant and doughy donut. The salty caramel and hot fudge dip send it over the edge.

If you're obsessed with a salty-sweet dessert, this one is for you. The toffee chunks and the warm buttery cookie go perfectly with the salted caramel drizzled ice cream.

Of course Olive Garden would have a dessert lasagna. The eight-layered brownie tower has thick cream cheese to break up the chocolatey-sweetness of the brownie. P.S. We have a copycat recipe of this one because y'all love it that much.

Looking for a crispy dessert? P.F. Chang's has just the thing for you. Bananas are sliced, rolled in spring rolls, fried, and then drizzled with a caramel-vanilla concoction. My favorite part is dipping the rolls in the coconut-pineapple ice cream.

Look, we could've put the molten chocolate cake in here for Chili's, but I think we all know about it, and to be honest. it's overrated. Switch it up and get the paradise pie next time. It's full of butter, coconut, walnuts, and chocolate. This baby's got layers.

I've never dreamed about a dessert more than this moist, soft, fudge cake. If I could have this for my birthday every single year I'd be content.

Not a chocolate fan? I hear you. The tart and sweet key lime pie at Bonefish Grill is light enough for you to eat the entire slice yourself. The graham cracker crust is addictive.

Out of all of the cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory, I've got my eyes set on this peanut butter dream. It's dense, chocolatey, and the peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth. You'll need a glass of milk with this one.

Remember how I fell in love with Cracker Barrel's chocolate cake just a few seconds ago? Well, meet the denser, sexier version. The Great Wall of Chocolate is sensual. I highly recommend you buy this to-go and eat it alone in your bed.

In English, this means "chocolate dream" and honestly, Carrabba's nailed it. It is the perfect balance between dense and light the brownie is thick while the chocolate mousse layers are fluffy. This picture should go next to the word "decadence" in the dictionary.


Cherry Cricket

It’s pretty much Mile High law that you can’t write a best burger list and not include the Cherry Cricket. It’s one rule we’re happy to follow: The 75-year-old Cherry Creek joint still does it right, with large, thin, charred patties topped with choose-your-own ingredients spanning everything from fried onions to peanut butter, sandwiched inside massive sesame seed-flecked buns. We recommend the 303 Green Chile Burger, a two-hander layered with a half-pound beef patty, white cheddar, a house-made chile relleno, and chef Ronaldo Munoz’s zesty pork green chile. One messy bite will reveal why the creation earned top honors at the 2019 Denver Burger Battle. 2641 E. Second Ave., 303-322-7666 2220 Blake St., 303-297-3644


La Fiesta


Calling La Fiesta's green chile old-school is like calling the sun "kind of hot." Since 1964, the Herrera family has been ladling up gravy-thick green chile to top burritos, Mexican hamburgers, chiles rellenos and other heaping plates of Den-Mex goodness. Close enough to downtown that it has often been a lunchtime choice for business deals and meetings of city officials, the restaurant &mdash once a full-blown supper club and dance hall &mdash still feels like a neighborhood joint in tree-lined Curtis Park.


My Brother's Bar


Yes, My Brother&rsquos Bar has a fascinating history that stretches back to the 1870s and encompasses Neal Cassady and the Beat Generation. But Denver denizens come for burgers and beers &mdash and good conversation from the bartenders and servers. Natives will argue about which is better, the JCB (that's jalapeño cream cheese to you noobs), the cheesier Johnny Burger or the original, unadulterated Steerburger. Whichever you choose, don't expect a classy presentation (not even a plate!), but be sure to include a mixed basket of fries and onion rings.


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2008
Jack-n-Grill
2524 Federal Boulevard
303-964-9544

Until everyone gets it through their heads that real green chile means roasted, chopped green chiles, a little liquid and nothing else, Jack-n-Grill is going to keep winning this award, because it remains the only place in Denver where you can get authentic New Mexican-style green chile &mdash along with killer vaquero tacos, giant breakfast burritos and cups full of roasted, cheesy corn. What's more, during chile season, owner Jack Martinez (who began his career as a green-chile importer) and members of his family are standing right out there in the parking lot, tending to the jet-fuel tumblers, roasting bushel after bushel of the good stuff for anyone wise enough to stop by and pick up a bag.

2009
Santiago's
571 Santa Fe Drive (and multiple other locations)
303-534-5004

It took us a year to make this decision. Seriously, a year. We spooned our way through bowl after bowl around the city, through green chiles thick and thin, sweet and sour, dull and devilishly hot. And we kept coming back to Santiago's. Fortunately, it was easy to do, because this homegrown chain keeps opening up more stores all around the city, and all of them serve the same great green. With its moderated heat and perfect balance of the chile's vegetable sweetness to the savor of pork fat, this elixir goes with everything from eggs to tacos to midnight snacks &mdash and is also just splendid on its own. In our hearts, we knew Santiago's green chile was the winner from the start. All that testing and experimentation? Just an excuse to eat the leftovers, really.

2010
El Taco de Mexico
714 Santa Fe Drive
303-623-3926

The clean-kitchen-obsessed women with permanent frowns on their faces who bust their asses at El Taco de México? They understand a lot more English than you think, and if you're stupid enough to malign their green chile &mdash which we've heard a hell of a lot of bullying gringos do &mdash then you deserve whatever bad karma creeps into your tortilla. El Taco's green chile is in a class by itself, an incredible food high that's full of invigorating spices, deposits of pork and a slew of hot chiles for maximum twang. It embodies everything that you expect from a killer green chile, and a whole lot more.

2011
Los Farolitos (closed)
1593 Peoria Street, Aurora

This is a city that loves its green chile in all forms, but the verde at Los Farolitos, a sincere Mexican joint shoehorned into a featureless Aurora mini-mall, is the most lovable of all. Tart with tomatillos, specked with oregano and unleashing an unrepentant hot flash of blistering heat, it's the perfect cloak for everything it drapes, including the equally unassailable barbacoa burrito, filled with robust, long-stewed lamb. Everything here, including the Mexican buffet, is worthy of praise, but the green chile consistently delivers. The only bummer is the absence of alcohol to subdue the five-alarm fire, but you can waste away in Margaritaville elsewhere.

2012
Tia Maria Mexican Restaurant
7260 Pecos Street
303-427-2572

If you were born and raised in Denver, you are, by rights, a green-chile geek. And if you popped out elsewhere (New Mexico notwithstanding) and simply don't get why we're so besotted with suffocating our burritos, enchiladas, rellenos and French fries with verde, we can only assume that you have yet to try the green stuff at Tia Maria. The affable owner treats his customers like royalty, which is reason enough to plop your butt down in a cushy booth and spend the afternoon slumped over shots, which he doles out in frequent doses. The tequila syllabus is impressive &mdash and so are the tasting notes that accompany it &mdash and the shots pair perfectly with the restaurant's green chile. It's a stinging, savory swamp of garlic, tomatoes, cubed pork and ambrosial chiles that weep with heat. This verde puddles plates heaped with all the usual suspects, and it also swaths a rotund, pink-fleshed ham hock that may be the best dish on the menu.

2013
Boone's Tavern (now the Rosedale)
1135 East Evans Avenue
720-961-0320

Boone's Tavern &mdash a member of the Pour Kids bar group &mdash claims that its green chile is "famous," which may be a stretch, but, whoa, is it destined to become that way! The joint's verde, which is actually green &mdash not red, not orange, not neon, but green &mdash is prepared mild, medium or hot, and the latter is purgatory on steroids, a medium-thick, invigorating blast of blistering jalapeños, cumin and garlic that's peppered and salted and swamped with tender cubes of pork. And Boone's isn't even a Mexican joint: It's an all-over-the-map catch-all of this, that and everything else that just happens to devote a portion of its menu to Mexican staples, including a Pueblo slopper, which is the optimal canvas for that tasty green chile.

2014
El Taco de Mexico
714 Santa Fe Drive
303-623-3926

"For truly amazing flavors, El Taco de Mexico is a must," wrote Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmern, shortly after he and his film crew touched down in the Mile High City. El Taco de Mexico is "Denver's quintessential taqueria," he said, pronouncing that it serves the "best menudo and tacos in the city." And after decades of plopping our butts on the canary-yellow stools overlooking the kitchen, we're not going to disagree. But he missed our favorite dish here: The superlative &mdash and spicy &mdash green chile continues to outshine all the competition. The stoic women who spoon it over everything from burritos to eggs never crack a smile &mdash but we do after taking just one bite of the incredibly flavorful, peppery brew. No matter where you're coming from, you'll find a home at El Taco de México.

2015
Señor Burritos
12 East First Avenue
303-733-0747

Picking a favorite joint for green chile can often come down to what camp you&rsquore in: Are you a New Mexico Hatch-head, a Den-Mex devotee, or a newcomer caught in the crossfire who&rsquos just looking for a spicy bowl? Since most of the New Mexico versions around town tend to be watered-down shades of verde, Colorado-style is the way to go here. And while better-known chile kitchens attract much of the attention, Señor Burritos quietly turns out top-caliber blue-collar sauce right around the corner from one of the city&rsquos most buzzed-about culinary zones along Broadway. The green chile here has a warm, orange hue magnified by a slick of glistening fat on top &ndash all the better to soak up with a steaming tortilla. The chile is thickened just enough to make it rib-sticking (or burrito-sticking, if you opt for a smothered breakfast bomb) without becoming gravy-like glop. Bits of green chiles and tomato bob in the broth, and chunks of pork too big to fit on the spoon lay mostly submerged like meaty icebergs. The pork is so tender that all you&rsquoll need is that spoon to break the pieces apart into more manageable bites. It&rsquos a spicy stew but not painfully so, which means that by the spoonful or atop a fat breakfast burrito, you&rsquoll be able to taste the deep flavor from the first to the last bite.

2016
El Tejado
2651 South Broadway
303-722-3987

New owners took over El Tejado last year, giving the space a facelift that makes it look like something out of The Flintstones. And that's appropriate, because El Tejado's green chile remains rock solid. This is a classic Colorado green chile, gravy-like and studded with pork, sometimes tinged a little more orange than green. While it's good smothering just about anything that comes out of the El Tejado kitchen, it's just as good on its own with a side of tortillas. And if you're feeling particularly brave, order the hot green chile. To create this fiendish concoction, the kitchen doesn't just drop some hot sauce in the kettle. Instead, it concocts a deeply layered, flavorful brew that's downright addictive &mdash that is, if you don't singe your mouth on the first slurp.

2017
North County
94 North Rampart Way
720-532-0106

While the debate rages on between which is better &mdash New Mexico green chile made with pepper pods from Hatch or the Colorado equivalent cooked with Pueblo's finest &mdash North County quietly stirs up batches of flawless verde in its Lowry kitchen. Thick, pea-green and threaded through with long-simmered pork, the stew packs a slow burn and an avalanche of green-chile flavor. Eat it plain or order it as a side for your carne asada fries, which. just order the carne asada fries! Chef/proprietor Sterling Robinson serves a similarly spicy green chile at north Denver's Billy's Inn if you can't make it out to Lowry, but then you'd be missing out on a house-bottled cocktail to cool your tongue. The results are in: North County, representing Southern California and Baja, Mexico, takes the prize over both New Mexico and Colorado.

EXPAND

2018
D'Corazon
1530 Blake Street
720-904-8226

There are two sure bets at this downtown Mexican eatery: The joint will always be packed, and the green chile will always be rich, hearty and satisfying. D&rsquoCorazon makes its chile the way God intended, at least here in Colorado: brownish-orange, thick like gravy, and hot enough to grab your attention. Newcomers to Denver are likely to be confused and New Mexicans will be outraged, but after a spoonful or two, all will be converted. The pork-laden original gets top billing, but vegetarians won&rsquot be disappointed by the meatless version. Not only do ravenous lunch-goers queue up daily for a taste of this green chile, but burritos and rellenos await the privilege of being anointed in the delicious sauce, as well.

Did you enjoy this taste of the Best of Denver 2018? We'll reveal all of this year's winners on westword.com/best-of on March 28, the same day that the print edition starts hitting the streets. (And fair warning: In some early copies, the copy for page 64 was duplicated on page 84, where this award was supposed to appear. The mistake was corrected, but if you think you're seeing double. you very well might be.)

What do you think of D'Corazon? Our previous Best Green Chile winners? Post a comment or email us at [email protected]

Keep Westword Free. Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.


1 Café Hon

This Baltimore, MD restaurant, featured in season 5 and marked by the giant pink flamingo outside its doors, faced backlash in the community when the owner, who was deemed a bully by staff, trademarked the word “Hon.” With soggy fish and greasy fish and chips, it was in need of a major menu and food quality overhaul.

The owner has since given up the trademark and earned some goodwill with the community. The restaurant also got a second renovation and redecoration in 2013. However, reviews are lacklustre, with customers either praising the food but not the service or calling the food just average.


The 25 Most-Over-the-Top Bloody Marys in America

The streamlined initial recipe of vodka and tomato juice now serves as a mere jumping-off point for everything under the sun in these 25 totally off-the-wall Bloody Marys.

Related To:

Photo By: Rockit Ranch Productions

The Barn Yard Bloody Mary at Farmer's Table, La Mesa, California

While largely an ode to refined, farm-to-table cuisine, this Cali eatery has tongue-in-cheek fun with its theme during brunch, when five wacky Bloody Marys are on offer. The Peter Rabbit (cheese-stuffed mushroom caps and assorted veggies) and the Butcher's Block (sage-fennel sausage and braised short ribs) set the stage in a comparatively sedate way, but the showstopper is the $45 Barn Yard, a cornucopia of bacon-wrapped shrimp, fresh mozzarella, seasonal vegetables and a whole roasted chicken, meant to satisfy four thirsty (and famished) farmhands.

The Sumo Mary at Sunda, Chicago

You'll need a pretty strong constitution to wrestle with the 32-ouncer at Chicago's Southeast Asia-referencing Sunda. It tips the scales with half a grilled cheese sandwich, braised pork belly, Chinese broccoli, pickled daikon, shishito peppers and roasted potatoes, a crab sushi roll, the Filipino spring roll known as lumpia and a saucy duck bao. Talk about a knockout.

Mama Betty's Bloody Mary at The Bellwether, Studio City, California

Sharing is encouraged during The Bellwether's convivial brunch hours &mdash except, that is, when it comes to cocktails. That means you're fully within your rights if you bogart your Bloody Mary, appetizingly assembled from house-infused habanero vodka, house mix, bacon salt, pepperoncini, cornichons and an adorable mini BLT.

The Brunch for Two at Party Fowl, Nashville, Tennessee

This Nashville funhouse certainly isn't guilty of false advertising when it comes to its infamous Brunch for Two. There's no reason to bother with anything else on the menu, considering this goblet-proportioned offering provides patrons with more calories than they can possibly need in a day, presented on sticks precariously stacked with fried okra, a halved avocado, Scotch eggs, olives and two split hot Cornish game hens.

The Big Fix at Flipside, Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville strikes again, thanks to Flipside, which makes a play for Party Fowl's Bloody Mary crown with The Big Fix. A dill pickle and bacon share real estate in a frosted mug with a skewer brandishing fried chicken cutlet wedges and Tater Tots, and a massive snow-crab claw is draped dramatically over the side.

The BBQ Bloody Mary at That Boy Good BBQ, Oceanside, California

That Boy Good treats its Bloodys in much the same way it approaches its low-and-slow-smoked meats. The chef whips up his own Mary mix (flavored with a dash of BBQ sauce, of course) and uses his all-purpose rub to rim the glass. Jalapeno-infused vodka joins the party, as do celery, olives, limes, pickled veggies and the coup de grâce, a hulking smoked rib.

The Motherlode Mary at Black Iron Kitchen & Bar, Telluride, Colorado

You may want to postpone hitting the slopes after you've gotten a load of the Mary at this apres-ski lounge at the Madeline Hotel. Not only is there a fair amount of vegetation involved (cherry peppers, pickled okra, haricots verts and baby corn), but it packs a protein punch, too, thanks to multiple rashers of crisped bacon and a brawny lamb slider.

The Bloody Best at The Nook, Atlanta

We've got Georgia on our minds, thanks to the awe-inspiring Bloody Best at The Nook. A 32-ounce tumbler barely contains the lava-red drink soused with black pepper vodka, to say nothing of the skewers strung with steak, Tater Tots, pepperoncini, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, beef straws and a slice of buttered toast.

The Chubby Mary at The Cove, Leland, Michigan

Seafood (in the form of oysters, shrimp and lobster) is a pretty standard addition to Bloody Marys. Yet The Cove, situated in Leland's Fishtown neighborhood, serves a Bloody that's, well, a fish out of water in a rather delectable way: A whole smoked chub rises from its brackish, horseradish- and vodka-spiked depths.

The Pizza Bloody Mary at Homeslice, Chicago

While we don't necessarily think of pizza parlors as standard brunch destinations, this quirky Chicago pie slinger is actually a brilliant option for anyone whose go-to fast breaker is a leftover, refrigerated slice. And truly, there's no better hangover cure than a spicy, tomato-rich Bloody, crowned with a chilled triangle of Hawaiian-style 'za &mdash although the accompanying Miller High Life pony might just jump-start a new buzz.

The Bloody Mary Bar at Andiron Steak and Sea, Las Vegas

Not only is Andiron's Bloody Mary bar DIY, but it's bottomless as well, meaning you can spend the better part of the day composing bespoke cocktails from bottles of original, spicy, roasted tomatillo or briny, clam-permeated juice, plus 12 salts, 21 hot sauces, and myriad bowls overflowing with Marcona almond- or blue cheese-stuffed olives, beef jerky, bacon, poached shrimp and Slim Jims. And it's up to you how heavy a hand you use with the vodka or tequila. Hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

The Shellfish Bloody at Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille, Pittsburgh

This seafood haven carries its under-the-sea motif straight through to brunch, gamely loading pint glass-proportioned Bloodys with everything from spice-rubbed prawns to whole, flash-fried soft-shell crabs in season, adorably adorned with two pimento-stuffed olives for eyes.

The F*%# Brunch Bloody Mary at Anvil Pub, Dallas

Anvil Pub may thumb its nose at brunch with its colorfully named cocktail, but it's only served to bolster the weekend crowds at this Deep Ellum haunt. One of four flagrantly insane tipples (the others are a breakfast sandwich-mounted mimosa, a chimichanga-capped sangria and a cinnamon roll-cloistered screwdriver), the Bloody comes reinforced with revolving toppings such as a bacon cheeseburger, beef jerky, Brussels sprouts, shrimp, asparagus, crawfish and a half-pint of PBR.

The Bloody Buck at Buck's Naked BBQ, Maine

Dry-rubbed, hardwood-infused meat finds its way into most everything at this duo of Maine-based BBQ joints. And that very much extends to the drinks menu, where margaritas, dark and stormys and, yes, piquant Bloody Marys come opulently accessorized with slow-smoked baby back ribs.

The Build Your Own Bloody at The Wayfarer, New York

The most-jaw-dropping aspect of The Wayfarer's Bloody Mary is how utterly customizable it is. In fact, it's possible to come up with well over 1,000 variations by mixing and matching ingredients from the stupendously stocked bar. Start with a base of traditional mix, tomato water or kale-enriched green juice, pick your poison from a selection of house-infused cucumber or black pepper vodka, individualize your rim with poppy and sesame seeds, smoked paprika or celery salt, and go nuts with garnishes such as shrimp, roasted tomatoes, cheddar cheese, pepperoncini and pork rinds.

The Hail Mary at Star Bar, Austin

Taking the "everything's bigger in Texas" motto to heart, Star Bar proudly proffers this veritable kitchen sink of a drink &mdash if you can even call it that. You'll need to plow your way through a cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, cheddar smoked cocktail sausages, cubes of cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, pickled okra, dill pickles and gherkins, cherry tomatoes and celery, as well as powdered mini doughnuts and a full-sized honey bun, before you get to anything that can be consumed with a straw.

The Chicken Fried Bloody Beast at Sobelman's Pub & Grill, Milwaukee

Family-owned Sobelman's rules Milwaukee's Bloody Mary scene and regularly nabs national press for its 40-ounce behemoths. And while that amounts to a pretty stiff pour of Tito's, the alcohol is effectively counteracted by a serious serving of food that's more full-on brunch than mere garnish. Celery stalks and skewered vegetables are overshadowed by bacon-wrapped jalapeno cheese balls, cheeseburger sliders and (this is the "Chicken Fried" part) a whole four-pound bird, procured from Ray's Butcher Shoppe in Greenfield.

The Bloody Homer at Icehouse, Minneapolis

This may be Minneapolis, not Springfield, but we have no doubt that Homer Simpson would make Icehouse his home away from Moe's &mdash especially since his eponymous cocktail comes in a Duff-emblazoned glass, thoroughly swine-ified with both candied bacon strips and a mini, "bacon-bedazzled" doughnut. Mmmm . bacon-bedazzled doughnut .

The Bloody Mary at The French, Naples, Florida

What's in a name? Not a whole lot when it comes to The French's far-from-basic Bloody that brings a taste of France to Florida, by way of fresh-pressed tomato juice embellished with cornichons, pickled onions, salami, spicy boiled shrimp, steak tartare on a toast point and a tiny French flag.

The Bloody Best Bloody Mary at Chef Point, Watauga, Texas

Unsurprisingly, you could easily fill a list of over-the-top Bloody Marys exclusively with entries from Texas. Watauga joins the fray with this leviathan cocktail from Chef Point, based on a double order of spicy Bloody Mary plus 16 ounces of domestic beer. If that sounds like a lot of alcohol, know that it's hardly a match for the sheer amount of booze-absorbing food that umbrellas it: a portion of "Better Than Sex" fried chicken, a cheeseburger, waffle fries, bacon, a blistered jalapeno pepper, asparagus spears, assorted pickled things and a pair of poached shrimp.

The Lobster Bloody Mary at Brant Point Grill, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Bloodys brimming with hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, mac and cheese, brownies and whole fried chickens not your style? Elegant imbibers will appreciate this crustacean concoction courtesy of the Brant Point Grill at the White Elephant Hotel. It features housemade tomato juice mix, locally distilled vodka, a spicy bacon salt rim, and a quarter-pound of lobster.

The Bakon Bloody Mary Masterpiece at Sam's Tavern, Seattle

Since it's off-menu, we're letting you in on one of Seattle's best (but not all that well-kept) secrets: Sam's is home to one of the best darn Bloodys in town. It certainly doesn't hurt that it's spiked with locally made, bacon-infused vodka. But as usual in the world of out-of-bounds Bloody Marys, it's the accoutrements &mdash celery, cheese cubes, tomatoes, olives, onions, cocktail weenies and a cheeseburger slider with the works &mdash that send this drink into the brunchtime-tipple stratosphere.

The Meaty Man at The Attic, Long Beach, California

You may not expect to find something so unapologetically meat-centric in sunny SoCal, yet the folks at The Attic seem wholly unconcerned with beach-physique maintenance &mdash at least when it comes to their Bloody Mary. It's enriched with a triad of indulgent proteins: a short-rib slider perched on a house-baked bun, a rasher of thick-cut fried bacon and a Slim Jim-stuffed olive.

The Southwestern Bloody Mary at Kachina, Denver

So special it's available only on Sundays, Kachina's Southwest-inspired Bloody Mary bar is truly beautiful to behold. Sure, you'll find the usual suspects like celery and bacon, but you can really go for broke with more novel add-ins such as prosciutto, Manchego, chorizo-stuffed olives, pickled cactus, shrimp escabeche and blue corn waffles.

The Checkmate at Score on Davie, Vancouver, British Columbia

Oh, Canada! You may want to consider taking a day trip across the border for brunch, in pursuit of Score on Davie's totally off-the-wall Bloody. Boozy tomato juice is merely the base (and practically beside the point) in this eminently edible cocktail that's chock-full of roasted chicken and chicken wings, a Sriracha-glazed pulled pork slider, a hot dog topped with pulled pork mac and cheese, a full-size burger, a batch of onion rings . and, oh, a brownie for dessert.



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