For nearly four decades Paula Sandoval and her family have offered up exceptional, fresh-made tamales in north Denver, food that reflects what Sandoval calls New Mexican style. She describes her restaurant as "a clean, well-lighted place that speaks of comfort, home and friendship, a place to enjoy a good plate of food and don't forget to take tamales home!" Truth be told, this is the place in Denver for authentic, affordable, house-made tamales--green, red or vegetarian. So highly regarded are the Sandovals, they also have a factory that sells tamales wholesale to other restaurants. Of course, there are tacos, tostados, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, chili rellenos, burritos and smothered sopapillas on the menu, too.
Recommended for Take Out because: Find it all here, tacos, tostados, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, chili rellenos, burritos and smothered sopapillas, that are made quick to order for you on-the-go.
Carri's expert tip: Tamales by La Casita has an outpost at Terminal C in Denver International Airport, so you can also get your tamale fix--and other regional goodies--coming or going from Denver.
Huckleberry Roasters is a place for coffee purists--but not elitists. Huckleberry was started with the idea that good coffee is a vehicle for meaningful conversations and shared experiences, and that's the vibe that persists. The owners source coffee from the world's best producers and then honor it through careful roasting that yields complex and naturally sweet, not bitter, coffee. The owners like to expand their own coffee horizons and those of their customers. To that end, they create new coffee beverages every few months that are seasonally inspired. An example of a recent winter selection is a juniper- infused-milk cappuccino with house-made chocolate sauce--coffee and dessert in one delectable drink.
Recommended for Take Out because: Every few months Huckleberry creates one espresso-based beverage that reflects the season, both in sentiment and flavor.
Carri's expert tip: Grab coffee and a snack to-go and explore the nearby RiNo (River North) neighborhood which is lined with boutique shops.
This artsy coffee shop does all the things that hip patrons love: They exhibit local art, offer free WiFi, let folks linger over their laptops and journals, and showcase area bands and performers. Plus, the owners are widely reputed to be incredibly friendly and neighborhood-focused, which always provokes a good measure of loyalty. As if that's not enough, the locally-roasted coffees are fantastic, and snacks and baked goods are available for nibbling. To top it all off, Hooked on Colfax promotes green living and puts its money where its mouth is by offering cups and straws are made of biodegradable corn!
Recommended for Take Out because: This coffee shop commits to serving local Colorado products, all the way focusing on sustainability and ethically sourced beans.
Carri's expert tip: Check out the pastry case to find options that meet all dietary needs, including vegan options as well as paleo friendly treats.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill isn't just about fresh sushi but also an electric atmosphere. Inside, find a spot reminiscent of a classy club atmosphere but with sake specialties instead of spirits. The sushi includes all types of traditional roles but also catches a lot of customers with speciality nigri rolls like the Cherry Bomb which is served with tuna, Serrano, rice tempura and a spicy sauce. There are also rolls made with gluten free ingredients including nigri, sashimi, maki soups and salads. You will also want to check out the sake menu which includes both warm and hot options. Check out happy hour from for $5 maki and discounted apps and martinis.
Recommended for Take Out because: Sushi-to-go is made easy and you are in on the most energetic spots in Denver to enjoy it along the 16th street mall.
Carri's expert tip: Check out Crunchy Thursday for $4 crunchy rolls for just $5 and Sappora bottles are $2.
Rooster & Moon management defines the place as "more of a public house than a coffee shop," where the conversation is always buzzing. A full-on restaurant with coffee, food, dessert and a bar, Rooster & Moon has something for everyone. This is definitely not a place where you'll be confronted by one of those condescending baristas who feel superior to customers; Rooster & Moon baristas were voted the friendliest in Denver in 2013. Rooster & Moon is also a place where patrons can sit, sip and work; there are electrical outlets all over the place to keep everyone powered up. Pastries here, baked in-house, are both sweet and savory, with offerings such as traditional blueberry scones but also goat-cheese-rosemary scones. Rooster & Moon is known for its salads, so consider going green before satisfying the sweet craving.
Recommended for Take Out because: This is a true locals hang out serving up organic and fairly traded coffee.
Carri's expert tip: Check out the dessert case featuring many Colorado made products to pair with your coffee or tea-to-go.
Forget about counting calories when you step into this bake shop. Savor a divine pastry, cake, or tart from the double cream vanilla bean custard puffs, white chocolate and grapefruit tarts, and flourless hazelnut chocolate cakes that beckon from the spotless display case. Breakfast, brunch, or lunch (think egg dishes, salads, sandwiches, and pastas) can also be had. Afternoon tea is a cherished tradition, and patrons claim that freshly baked scones (served with cream, jam, and lemon curd) are true to their English counterparts and the best in town. Desserts like the pineapple upside down pineapple cake offer a refreshing dessert option for summer.
Recommended for Take Out because: This bakery seres several perfect picnic menu items to take on-the-go like the cheese board serves with nuts and dried fruit.
Carri's expert tip: Walk around the surrounding S. Gaylord shops while you wait for your order.
This bakery believes in doing things the old-fashioned way by making all menu items from scratch. You won't find anything pre-packaged or processed, just sinfully delicious homemade goodies. Seven-layer tortes, hand-decorated cookies, and traditional layer cakes line the shelves, and German and European recipes are the specialty. (The kitchen has been perfecting them since 1963.) They even offer a full line of sugar-free and low-carb desserts. To splurge, try the streuselkuchen, bienenstich or authentic potica. You will also find one of the largest selections of pastries and cupcakes in Denver. The bakery is located in Historic Olde Town Arvada, an up and coming neighborhood just outside the city.
Recommended for Take Out because: This spot has been a Denver staple for more than 51 years, serving European baked goods, including fresh from the oven cakes, strudels and coffeecakes.
Carri's expert tip: You must order dessert to-go! Rheinlander Bakery also offers gluten and sugar free options.
It's not just about the food here, though Grandma Bea's meatloaf, the liver and onions, chicken-fried steak and slow-baked barbecue brisket do the menu proud. Annie's is a longtime neighborhood restaurant that has always made its patrons feel like part of a family. For customers whose family traditions include southwest cooking, there are dishes such as smothered homemade pork tamales, a grilled fajita quesadilla, black-bean tacos and burritos. Personally, we vote for the return of Annie's chicken pot pie. The robust breakfast menu includes adults-only cocktails and spiked milkshakes, but the old-fashioned floats and "virgin" shakes and malts (chocolate peanut butter and dreamsicle, among them) are just fine on their own, too.
Recommended for Take Out because: There are also 10 burger options and nightly specials that range from fried chicken on Wednesdays to a roasted-turkey dinner on Sundays.
Carri's expert tip: If you're over 21, check out the spiked milkshakes while you wait for your order-to-go.
Acme Burger & Brat Corporation is in a prime location inside Union Station in LoDo--the perfect setting for this food that's also of prime quality yet reasonably priced. The burgers are made with Niman Ranch prime beef, the fries are hand-cut Kennebec potatoes--all the rage on the culinary scene these days--and the buns are fresh-baked locally using Acme's own recipe. Add to that the fact that nowhere in Denver is the people watching better than in Union Station, where Amtrak passengers, locals and tourists mix and mingle in an ever-changing panorama, day and night. After dinner, grab dessert at Milkbox Ice Creamery, housed a couple of doors down in the carefully preserved former barbershop space.
Recommended for Take Out because: This is one of Denver's newest restaurants that offers quality meat for an affordable price.
Carri's expert tip: After you order, check out some surrounding shops at Denver's Union Station. You will spot everything from a bookstore, florist as well as the Terminal Bar to crab a craft cocktail.
This is authentic Mexican cuisine with its roots in Mexico City and dishes featuring ingredients commonly used in Mexico but less so in the United States. Cheek meat, tongue and tripe are mainstays for the famous tacos, which are also offered with beef or fried or marinated pork. Cheek meat, tongue and milanesa, a breaded beef, appear in combo plates, and every kind of burrito is available, too. Although it has been winning awards for years for its tacos, green chile and chile rellenos, it's impossible to go wrong here if you like traditional Mexican food. While some aficionados recommend smothering pretty much everything in the deeply satisfying green chile--perhaps especially breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros, served all day starting at 7 a.m.--that may be an overstatement. Or not! Several kinds of chilaquiles are served, as are enchiladas, gorditas, flautas and quesadillas, among other items.
Recommended for Take Out because: Find authentic Mexican recipes featuring everything from Enchiladas, Chile Rellenos, Tacos, Burritos, Tamales and the not so typical Gorditas, Synchronizadas, Chilaquiles & Sopes.
Carri's expert tip: Grab a seat on the outdoor patio and set aside some time to check out the art displayed from prominent Mexican artists.