All food is better with booze, but It's a universal truth that some dishes were expressly made to be shared over drinks — take Spanish tapas, Venetian cicchetti, Eastern Mediterranean meze and Vietnamese mon nhau as your proof. And since soaking up alcohol is one of our favorite past times, we’re always on the prowl for the best snacks to aid us in our mission. Of course, in the Mile High City, the options are endless and ever-changing. Here are just five beer-, wine- and cocktail-loving winners for starters.
Aguachile is essentially the Mexican answer to ceviche. At this Cherry Creek cantina, however, it's made with grilled diver scallops — a smart choice, because the namesake chile water they're bathed in is so sweat-breakingly spicy, they need the extra burst of sweetness cooking provides to stand out, complemented by sliced avocado and pickled onions. Boy, is it all addictive. Drink with: A house margarita, claro que sí. 2817 E. 3rd Ave.; 303-333-1567
If you’ve ever had a full English breakfast, you’re probably still digesting it. So be thankful for Argyll chef John Broening, who thoughtfully crams the full monty into a few bites of baby sausage, white beans, fried quail egg and a blistered tomato on a single butter-smeared slice of toast. Drink with: A proper cider from across the pond. 1035 E. 17th Ave.; 303-847-0850
These punchy little buns have become our happy hour go-to. Filled with crispy fried mushrooms and shallots, marinated mung-bean sprouts and a touch of sambal, they're packed with flavor yet go down so easily that we’re always shocked when they're gone. Drink with: If there’s J-Pop in the house, you’ve got to try it — the sparkling, grapefruit-flavored malt beverage is a real kick. If not, any of the sprightly highballs with housemade soda would pair especially well. 501 E. 17th Ave.; 303-800-7705
Over a tomato-onion soffritto, this new Uptown bar and grill’s impressively greaseless eggplant-zucchini croquettes burst with mid-summer flavor, heightened by a drizzle of basil aioli. Drink with: A crisp white wine. The list here is fairly simple and straightforward, but there are at least a couple of choices by the glass that will do nicely. 1320 17th Ave.; 303-813-6688
Oh, how we crave Cantonese-style fried seafood, coated in salt and pepper. Too bad we can’t drink as well as we eat at our favorite Chinese restaurants. Problem solved at The Kitchen Upstairs in Boulder, where you can score not only a sizzling plate of shrimp — made even more luscious with the Mediterranean twist of smoked-paprika aioli — but a craft beer worthy of it. Drink with: A bright lager or pilsner. 1039 Pearl St., Boulder; 303-544-5973
Photos by Ruth Tobias