Nobu Matsuhisa, one of the world’s most sought after sultans of sushi and sashimi, recently opened a Denver outpost of his New York-based flagship. The Cherry Creek show-stopper, tricked out with stone accents, reclaimed teak, Japanese cut-out screens and a 14-seat sushi bar, parades beautifully displayed slivers of fresh fish, coupled with five styles of Wagyu beef preparations, lobster tacos, lamb chops, noodles and more. The voluminous wine list is nothing short of epic. 98 N. Steele St.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Billed as a restaurant that serves “traditional sushi with an American twist,” this swanky temple of raw fish, hued in blue jewel tones, also proffers a lengthy martini roster, weekly lunch specials and twice-a-day happy hours that feature discounts on cocktails, beer, sake, appetizers, rolls, sushi and more. 1616 16th St.
SOKO Sushi & Sake Bar
Wedged into a cluster of restaurants on the 16th Street Mall, this downtown homage to Japanese cuisine (with a few Korean and Japanese dishes stamping the menu for good measure) features a pleasant atmosphere in which to satisfy your seafood specimen cravings. The $10 lunch deal is a steal, and the Monday-through-Saturday happy hour offers discounts on sushi, cocktails and beer. And while plentiful portions of sushi are the primary draw there, the unlikely star is the tonkotsu ramen, which will bowl you over. 1600 Champa St.
Cherry Hills Sushi
Whether you settle in for a hand-held uni roll, a lobster roll or a six-piece order of glistening sashimi, you’ll find pristine quality all the way around at this quick-serve shrine to raw fish that sports sushi bar seating for 20 in a sleek and minimalist environment. 1400 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood
Eschewing trend-setting fads, Domo is an exquisitely adorned Japanese restaurant that specializes in the countrified cuisine of northern Japan. The dining rooms, with their tree-stump seats, rustic woods and farmhouse folk art, are conducive to community-style gatherings, while the beautifully meditative garden is an idyllic respite for canoodling couples, especially during cherry blossom season. 1365 Osage St.
Land of Sushi
This animated Japanese stalwart in the south suburbs remains one of the top spots in metro Denver for remarkably fresh — and strikingly presented — raw fish. But there’s much more to the menu than tuna, salmon and shrimp slid onto rolled rice: halibut collar, soba noodles, miso black cod and Colorado lamb chops also grace the menu, as does a solid selection of sake. Don’t miss the specials board — and, when it’s in season, the glorious monkfish liver, otherwise known as the foie gras of the sea. 2412 E Arapahoe Rd., Centennial
Since the day this jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring shrine to Japanese cuisine opened in 1985, diners have waxed poetic, often waiting for hours to snag a coveted seat in the stunningly appointed space. And it’s easy to see why: Owners and brothers Yasu and Toshi Kizaki source impeccably fresh fish from Japan and then masterfully create painterly mosaics that are as breathtaking to eat as they are to ogle. If you can score stools at the sushi bar, you’ll get dinner and a spectacular knife skills show. 1487 S. Pearl St.
While Sushi Den cemented the reputation of brothers Yasu and Toshi Kizaki, this lively izakaya — located next door to Sushi Den and the second restaurant in their trifecta — only made their stronghold on Denver’s Japanese scene more concrete. Like Sushi Den, the aesthetics reach dazzling heights (especially if you’re seated on the rooftop patio), but unlike Sushi Den, where raw fish takes center stage, Izakaya Den turns out sushi, plus a parade of innovative small plates punctuated with global ingredients. Sake is the preferred beverage here, and the list is impressively comprehensive. 1518 S. Pearl St.
The third restaurant from Yasu and Toshi Kizaki, which resides across the street from Sushi Den, is a bustling robata that delves deep into slow-grilled, skewered meats cooked over binchotan charcoal, a prized Japanese oak that ignites everything from chicken hearts and Wagyu beef to lamb tenderloin. The menu also trumpets a collection of fantastic ramen bowls and a wok-seared, chile-jolted pork dish (Buta Kimchi) that might be the city’s best hangover cure. At the very least, it diminishes the thud of a pounding headache. 1501 S. Pearl St.
The ramen craze had already peaked before renowned chef Jeff Osaka opened his ode to noodles, but this playful slurp shop, located below street level, has swagger and staying power, unleashing a deeply rich tonkotsu with chashu (thin-sliced pork), the best version of Japanese fried chicken in Denver, bacon fried rice studded with vegetables and whimsy bento boxes. 2611 Walnut St.
Don’t expect anything pedestrian from this highbrow head-turner that turns sushi on its skull. Here, against a contemporary backdrop of artistic accents, custom-made furniture and a sultry backlit bar, chef Corey Baker dispenses first-rate fresh fish from the sushi bar (splurge on the seven-course tasting menu), plus miso-marinated black cod, broiled hamachi and shake collars and salted mackerel. 2930 Umatilla St.
Part bar and part restaurant, this pulsating Korean joint, located in a small mall accentuated with international restaurants and markets, is scattered with booths and tables, some with built-in barbecues. A parade of banchan (Korean side dishes), plus plenty of soju to keep conversations animated, kicks off a meal here, and while standards like bulgogi and seafood soup with noodles dot the expansive menu, it’s the Korean twice-fried chicken — crisp-skinned, juicy and paired with a dipping sauce that simultaneously spicy and sweet — that keeps the crowds clamoring for more. 2779 S. Parker Rd., Aurora
Seoul Korean BBQ & Sushi
The appeal of this modest, bright-lit spot that attracts a posse of revelers lies in its repertoire of tried-and-true Korean staples: bowl after bowl of pre-meal side dishes called banchan; bulgogi and bibimbap; and marinated meats and vegetables grilled at the table. Sip soju while you explore the daunting, leather-bound menu, and you’ll likely encounter a lot more treasures, including a spicy soup floating with scallions and shredded brisket, or chilled soymilk noodle soup. There’s sushi, too, but the Korean dishes steal the show. 2080 S. Havana St., Aurora
Korean and Japanese dishes are prepared with equal aplomb at this relaxing neighborhood spot in Capitol Hill, where more than 40 rolls, from California to New York, stamp the menu. Still, while the sushi has it share of loyalists, it’s the Korean-leaning plates, including kimchi soup, dumplings stuffed with cabbage and beef, and bulgogi that cement its reputation. If you’re in the mood for a sugar rush, try the terrific tempura cheesecake. 701 E. 6th Ave.
There are three outposts of this super-popular temple to Korean cuisine, whose name translates to “pig.” And it’s easy to pig out here, thanks to the unlimited barbecue, offered both at lunch and dinner. In addition to the do-it-yourself meats (brisket, pork belly, beef, chicken or pork bulgogi and beef short ribs), which are paired with rice and side dishes, the menu also features a swell of starters, including pan-fried seafood pancakes, chicken dumplings and steamed tofu mingling with sautéed kimchi, pork and garlic. If you want to eschew the all-you-can-eat barbecue, you can also order main dishes from a la carte section of the menu. 827 Colorado Blvd.; 460 Broadway; 7570 Sheridan Blvd., Westminster
Work & Class
Work & Class, whose kitchen is helmed by Dana Rodriguez, a 2016 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest semifinalist, is one of the most popular (and flat-out best) restaurants in Denver, which explains the commanding waits for a table, a ritual that begins at the opening tick of 4 p.m. Inside the cozy quarters, bedecked with a community table, bar area, exhibition kitchen and chef’s counter, those lucky enough to snag a seat fall immediately in love with Rodriguez’s Latin-inspired marvels: blue corn empanadas hugging zucchini, squash and Oaxaca cheese; shrimp and pineapple ceviche with housemade tortilla chips; red-chile braised pork; and roasted goat. The meats are served by the quarter, half and full pound and pair beautifully with the roasted corn and poblano salad, fried sweet plantains and rice and beans. 2500 Larimer St.
Walls of weathered brick, wood floors, funky light fixtures, giant mirrors and a large bar provide a hipster backdrop for stylish Latin-American cuisine and cocktails at this bi-level space in the heart of the trendy Baker neighborhood. Go straight for the octopus ceviche united with avocado, red onions, jalapenos and housemade plantain chips — or try a selection of the empanadas and soft corn tacos, all of which are filled with fresh ingredients and vibrant flavors. 24 Broadway
Been-here-forever Café Brazil is easily one of The Mile High City’s most beloved food temples. Part rum bar, part restaurant, the sexy quarters evoke a sultry vibe that’s conducive to the equally lustful plates that emerge from affable chef-owner Tony Zarlenga’s kitchen. He’s a master of seafood preparations, unleashing dishes like the beguiling seafood Copacabana that involves beautifully prepared shrimp and sea scallops in a rich coconut milk sauce fragrant with garlic and shallots and ringed with vegetables. 4408 Lowell Blvd.
This tribute to Venezuelan street food, located on the bottom level of Avanti Food & Beverage, a multilevel food hall that houses three bars, seven restaurants and a rooftop deck with views to a thrill, dispenses delicious arepas, handheld, corn-based flatbread that’s grilled, split open and swelled with meats, vegetables, black beans, salty white cheese and sauces. The menu, which focuses on locally sourced ingredients, changes frequently, but the pabellón arepa, sandwiched with black beans, plantains, shredded beef and cheese, is typically a mainstay and obscenely good. 3200 Pecos St.
Dreams are made of the housemade, gold-tinged empanadas at this cheerful Argentine bakery, coffeehouse and café that turns out sweet and savory versions of the hand-crimped pastries, plus gorgeous rounds of tortilla espanola (a Spanish-style omelet), salads, tartas, dulce de leche roll cake and alfajor, splendid little Latin American cookies. The roster of coffee drinks, poured from a towering espresso machine blessed by Pope Benedict XVI, includes a don’t-miss Nutella latte and the Argentinian-style cortado, made with steamed milk and a double shot of espresso. 1298 S. Broadway
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse
The whopping salad bar — a gigantic spread of greens in every guise, plus cheeses, asparagus, heart of palm and vegetable-focused sides — is, on its own, spectacular. But while this behemoth, all-you-can-stomach Brazilian churrascaria in LoDo fulfills the needs of vegetarians, make no mistake: meat — loads of it — is at the heart of the matter. Gauchos bounce from table to table with well-seasoned chicken, various cuts of beef, lamb, sausages and ribs, all on skewers, and your only job is to eat until your belt buckle spontaneously combusts. 1513 Wynkoop St.
Aloy Modern Thai
Cloth red napkins, dressed up art dotting the exposed brick walls and elegant plate artistry give this bright and airy dining room in the Ballpark area an air of contemporary flair and formality. The cooking, billed as a “farm-to-table experience,” pays homage to quality-sourced ingredients, which come to light in dishes like the carrot-ginger dressed house salad with heirloom tomatoes; smoked salmon with Asian pears and yucca chips; and rack of lamb matched with beets and sweet potatoes. 2134 Larimer St.
Aung’s Bangkok Café
Traditional Thai dishes that make an indelible mark on your palate are what this serene restaurant does best — creamy panang curry with pork, citrus-jolted laab, lemongrass-scented seafood soup and aromatic stir-fries. The flavors are wonderfully balanced, and all of the curry pastes are made from scratch, but beware: if you order it “Thai hot,” you’ll need more than a bowl of rice, a beer or a Thai iced tea to quell the fire. The chef-owner doesn’t mess around when it comes to igniting the flame. 1225 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood
US Thai Café
A magnet for in-the-know locals, US Thai Café seduces regulars with its tongue-numbing curries intoxicated with chiles. The snug dining quarters are bereft of any superfluous embellishments, but no one comes here for the scenery: They come for the menu’s ability to take adventurous taste buds on a thrill ride through the different regions of Thailand. There’s no liquor license, but the Thai iced tea does its best to counteract the burn. 5228 W. 25th Ave., Edgewater
J’s Noodles Star Thai
If you go during the dinner rush, be prepared to wait for a table in the tiny, no-frills room decked out with pink tables. Arrive during non-peak hours and you’ll have more time to enjoy the appropriately named tom yum flush with lime leaves, lemongrass, onions, mushrooms and chicken, beef, pork, tofu or shrimp. Thai standards such as chicken satay, papaya salad, pad thai and drunken noodles are pretty much textbook perfect. If you feel like being punished, feel free to heap on the chiles from the condiment caddy. 945 S. Federal Blvd.
Curry puffs. Curry puffs. Curry puffs. Those alone are worth the price of admission to this humble Thai joint located midway in a strip mall with a chaotic parking lot. Still, fight for a spot, and once you’re squarely between the lines (good luck with that), make a beeline for a table, order the croissant-like pastry puffs bulged with curried potatoes and then move on to the properly acidic papaya salad, smooth green curry and pad thai, which is exceedingly good compared to the sugar-slicked noodles most Thai restaurants try to pass off. 1015 S. Federal Blvd.
No matter where you’re from, the Vietnamese food from this Federal Boulevard stalwart will likely transport you to nirvana. The menu, a voluminous read, goes on for pages, making it difficult to make a decision. And because it’s nearly always full, servers might rush you through the process, so we’ll make it easy for you: Go for the Saigon Special, a mammoth plate of egg rolls, grilled pork, soft-shell crab, a forest of greens and herbs and rice paper; dip the rice papers into the container of hot water, shake off the excess, wrap everything inside the rolls and dunk them in the nuoc cham, a spicy Vietnamese dipping sauce. 630 S. Federal Blvd.
New Saigon Bakery & Deli
Just adjacent to New Saigon is this worthy sibling, a bustling sandwich shop and bakery that lures a legion of fans with its bánh mì, a Vietnamese sandwich made with a chewy baguette stacked with cucumbers, crisp pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeños, cilantro and meats, including grilled beef, chicken or pork. Along with the two-fisted sandwiches, you can sip on a boba smoothie and appease your sweet spot with a delicious pastry, coconut Jell-O or mixed fruit tart. 640 S. Federal Blvd.
When there’s a chill in the air — and even when there’s not — devotees descend upon this pho-nominal soup parlor, where the steaming bowls of broth provide restorative sustenance. The sheer number of options is mind-blowing, but independent of whether you opt for chicken, seafood, meatballs, tendon, brisket, tripe, rare steak, or a combination that involves just about every protein, the result is a bowl of bliss accompanied by the requisite mound of fresh herbs, lime wedges and chiles to stir and splash into the broth. 1401 S. Federal Blvd.
Vinh Xuong Bakery
This duo of family-owned Vietnamese confectionaries and sandwich spots are very different when it comes to décor (the Federal Boulevard bakery is modest, while the Alameda outpost is modern, hip and spruced up with lounge furniture), but the food at both places is first-rate Vietnamese. House-baked baguettes, soft inside with a crunchy exterior, support the requisite ingredients comprising a bánh mì, while the baked goods trumpet moon cakes and a solid mix of house-baked sweets, including sublime sesame balls. The smoothies are uniformly excellent, too, and the sweetened Vietnamese coffee at the Alameda location can’t be oversold; it’s liquid gold. 2370 W. Alameda Ave.; 375 S. Federal Blvd.
Exemplary pho is the calling card of this lively Vietnamese slurp shop that turns out flavor-intensive, anise-scented broths matched with meats, slippery noodles, a mountain of fresh accompaniments (bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro and holy basil) and bottles of sriracha. If don’t have animal instincts, the meatless pho is deftly seasoned and brimming with bright vegetables. The convivial space is perpetually packed during the noon hour, but service is quick and there are plenty of community tables to accommodate large groups. 925 S. Federal Blvd.
Residing in the Far East Center, where there’s a high concentration of Asian restaurants, Saigon Bowl stands out for its voluptuous menu touting a whirlwind tour of Vietnamese favorites. You can’t go wrong with the profoundly good pho, paired with fresh herbs, but you won’t make a mistake if you eschew the Vietnamese soup for the deep-fried soft-shell crab, seafood fire pot or combination noodle bowl festooned with shrimp, chicken, pork and a greaseless egg roll. Service can be a bit abrupt (and slow), but the food more than makes up for it. 333 S. Federal Blvd.
Although the neighborhood where India’s resides is rather bland, the cooking is anything but. Diners congregate in roomy booths or at large tables covered with white linens to feast on delectably spiced North Indian specialties: chicken tikka masala, mattar paneer, lamb vindaloo and creamy chicken korma flecked with almonds, raisins and cashews. The wine list is surprisingly deep for a curry house, and the beer selection even more so, branching out well beyond the typical bottles of Taj Mahal and Kingfisher. 8921 E. Hampden Ave.
Bawarchi Biryani Point
This chain, imported from Hyderabad, India, specializes in biryani, a South Asian, slow-cooked basmati rice dish that’s intensely fragrant with spices and stocked with chicken, goat, cubes of Indian cheese or vegetables. Speaking of vegetables, the meatless section of the menu channels South India, famed for its dosas, thin lentil flour crepes, roughly the size of a Semi wheel, filled with savory onions and smashed potatoes seasoned with curry spices. Here, as is customary, they’re served with sambar (a lentil-based vegetarian stew) and an array of chile-fueled chutneys. 11001 E. Arapahoe Pl., Centennial
Biju’s Little Curry Shop
The kaleidoscopic, graffiti-chalked walls, jars of exotic spices and canary-yellow chairs are as bold as the flavor-packed curry bowls at this pair of fast-casual Indian food temples recently featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The spots, perfect for power lunches or casual dinners paired with beer or wine, are also worth seeking out for the five different chutneys, including the Adacheri, a tamarind-based number pelted with birds-eye chiles. Not enough heat to induce tears? Ask for the ghost pepper salt and prepare to wilt. 1441 26th St.; 4276 Tennyson St.
True to its name, this nicely decorated restaurant seduces patrons with its wonderfully spiced kabobs, available with grilled, black-etched chicken, beef or vegetables. Cushions of house-baked pita accompany just about every meal, some of which are elevated with the addition of a garlic dip that’s potent enough to drain the blood of vampires. The kabobs share space on the menu with a selection of fatayers, savory, Arabic-style pastries that are stuffed with feta cheese, spinach, cremini mushrooms or ground beef and baked in the oven. An uncommonly notable wine, beer and cocktail list bridges the gap between casual pit stop and dinner date destination. 5709 E. Colfax Ave.
When it comes to longevity, you may as well just call Jerusalem “Pita the Great.” It’s a legend, plying nearby neighborhood residents and University of Denver students and faculty with around-the-clock plates of lightly fried, well-crisped falafel; lemon-rich hummus; meaty kabobs; beef and chicken gyros; huge combination plates; and sheesh ta’ouk, a stew of grilled chicken, onions, peppers, tomatoes and a shower of Mid-East spices. Everything, naturally, is served with warm disks of pita bread. The joint does a brisk takeout business, prices are super-cheap and the atmosphere, while simple, pulsates with energy. 890 E. Evans Ave.
Channeling the Mediterranean with its bright walls brushed the color of sunflowers and the Indigo Aegean Sea, Café Byblos is sexy, fashionable and ideal for a quiet night out. The lack of a liquor license doesn’t deter from the food, a delightful canon of familiar Middle Eastern dips like hummus and baba ghanoush; refreshing salads such as tabbouleh and fettoush; and main dishes that float from lamb kabobs and kafta kabobs to marinated lamb shank and chicken shawarma. 400 Corona St.
Shish Kabob Grill
The atmosphere at this venerated Mid-East storefront is a bit like a well-worn living room, which is to say that it’s comfortable, endearingly tattered and cozy. It’s also full of regulars that go grabby for what may be the best hummus in the city: smooth, nutty, splashed with lemon, pooled with olive oil and showered with ground sumac, a tangy spice the color of a desert sunset. As expected, the kabobs shine, too, as do the falafel sandwich and gyro plate. 1503 Grant St.
If you can deftly weave your way through the caravan of haphazardly parked cars in the tight lot, your perseverance is rewarded handsomely at this unassuming, down-to-earth Middle Eastern dining room that offers top-notch (and enormous) vegetarian platters, kabobs and kabob sandwiches, hearty moussaka, marinated and skewered mushrooms blackened with char and oven-roasted lamb. There’s no alcohol, but the banana shake, a Syrian specialty that involves milk, ripe bananas, cinnamon and sugar, is more than satisfying. 2276 S. Colorado Blvd.