RiojagnocchiFrom the moment its doors opened in 2004, handsome Rioja has been on the short list of candidates for Denver’s best restaurant not only among locals but in the national press (including GQ and Details).

Though Colorado is always in the background, chef-partner Jennifer Jasinski keeps her focus admirably sharp and tight on the cuisines of Italy and Spain, and the result is a seasonal repertoire as robust and colorful in flavor as it is precise in presentation. Handmade pasta is always a must, as is the signature appetizer of spiced pork belly in fresh chickpea puree—but then, so are the remarkably rich soups and fruit-based desserts. Perhaps the ultimate must is more than one visit.