> Williams & Graham

The latest bar to serve up its spin on speakeasy chic, Williams & Graham lurks behind a nondescript door in the back of a bookstore dedicated to all things booze. Located in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood, it’s a cozy, dimly lit vintage-meets-goth room where owner and head barkeep Sean Kenyon and his genuinely charming bartenders serve up an array of cocktails. Local hooch, including Leopold Bros, Stranahan’s and Spring 44, features prominently in drinks like the South Park and the Vodkatini; additions from orgeat to Bloody Mary mix are made in-house. We’re hooked on the Smoking Frenchman, a mezcal-kissed concoction that quenches the thirst brought on by the spicy, caramel-Marsala popcorn. A solid, compact menu, including an 11 pm to 1 am “third shift” board of three egg-based sandwiches, means you never have to drink on an empty stomach.
—Kendra Anderson

Williams & Graham, 3160 Tejon St.; Denver, 303-997-8886, (reviewed W&S, 04/12)

> Adega

Adega has famously - or notoriously - been called "the restaurant Denver doesn't deserve" by local critics. Across from Union Station, the chic space takes a drastic departure from the typical LoDo pub style, trading in big-screen TVs for a central, glass-enclosed, temperature-controlled wine cellar. Evidently no one minds, judging from the mesmerized diners gawking past Bryan Moscatello's rich food at verticals of Grace Family and bottles of $2,000 Bordeaux. But more exciting are the bottles Master Sommelier and partner Ken Frederickson has tucked in among these - excellent bubbly for $6 per glass, bargain buys from Burgundy's less-fashionable corners, embarrassingly inexpensive aged German and Austrian rieslings. Adega's real strength is that you can spend $10 and leave feeling like a millionaire.
—Tara Q. Thomas

Adega, 1700 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO; 303-534-2222.

> Brix

Brix raises the bar for the burgeoning wine scene in Denver these days. Run by Charles Master, son of Mel and Janie Master, who own the venerable Mel's Restaurant and Bar and who have trained half the great chefs in this city, it's no surprise that the young Master's restaurant would be an instant hit. Not only is the wine list full of affordable gems (everything's under $30), but also Mel's alumni Edgar Martinez and Manuel de Leon Rosales cook up a mean duck shepherd's pie and zinfandel beef stew. Plus it's one of the few places in town that serves until 2 am.
—Tara Q. Thomas

Brix, 3000 E. 3rd., Denver, CO; 303-333-3355

> Olivéa

Olivéa is the restaurant you want around the corner from your home—chef John Broening's food is great, owner Stephanie Bonin's wine list short and sweet, and the prices are eminently reasonable. There's ambitious housemade charcuterie, really good flatbreads and destination dishes like airy gnocchi lifting a sugo packed with flavor. The wine list is stocked with great bottles under $50 (J. L. Chave's Mon Coeur, the Cuvée Silex Vouvray Sec from Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau). Be sure to linger for one of Yasmin Lozada-Hissom's desserts: The fromage blanc ice cream alone is worth a visit.
—Robert Pincus

Olivéa, 719 E. 17th Ave., Denver; 303-861-5050 (reviewed W&S 8/09)

> Osteria Marco

With a menu as Italy-centric as its wine list and chef-owner, Frank Bonanno, Osteria Marco delivers wood-oven pizzas and house-made salumi to go with with juice from Friuli to Sicily. Behind Osteria's basement doors, opened in late fall 2007, Piedmont and Tuscany are well represented, but it's the smaller hits from points south (Moletteri's aglianico from Irpinia; Santadi's Rocca Rubis from Sardinia) that set this list apart. The best thing? No bottle on offer costs more than $70.
—Tucker Shaw

1450 Larimer; 303-534-5855;
(reviewed W&S 4/08)

> Swimclub 32

Swimclub 32 is making waves in Denver's Highlands area. First, there's the space, an old liquor store turned swank and loungy, with sleek, low-slung couches and a dark bar laid on a deep bed of smooth river stones. Then, there's the food, which turns on its head the adage that the cooler the place, the less memorable the cuisine. Instead, the miniscule kitchen produces diminutive dishes packed with flavor, like gingery watermelon soup or a white anchovy salad studded with pinenuts and fennel. To drink, wine guy/part-owner Chris Golub has scanned the globe looking for unusual wines like Heidi Schrock's Muscat from Austria, or deep, muscular Toro reds, not to mention an excellent array of sake. And to live up to the affordability of the food, he's cut the mark-up to less than half. Bottles start at $15; glasses can be had for $5.
—Tara Q. Thomas

Swimclub 32, 3628 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, CO; 720-889-7946

> Table 6

Table 6 puts the buzz back into the space once filled by neighborhood favorite Beehive. Chef Aaron Whitcomb works to strike a balance between bar food and the foamed and fruit-jus'd dishes he made at Adega, the town's most ambitious restaurant, coming up with dishes like a Cobb salad that trades chicken for fried oysters, or a fork-tender beef brisket banked against Maytag blue cheese-infused mash. The wine list is also imaginative, with selections like a New York riesling from Dr. Konstantin Frank and a Sicilian nero d'avola from Morgante. Best of all, selections are priced modestly - bottles generally run $20 to $40, glasses $5 to $7.
—Tara Q. Thomas

Table 6, 609 Corona St., Denver, CO; 303-831-8800