Before we came to Denver, we had gotten into the habit of posting our restaurant reviews in the South American cities we visited. Now that we’re in the USA, we thought we’d do the same. We concentrated on Denver’s ethnic restaurants while we were there and the following is our contribution.
1. Our Favorites
1.1 Beirut Grill, Middle East Cuisine, 203 W. Hampden Ave., Englewood, CO 80110, Telephone: 303-781-0808. It’s open 7 days a week & holidays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. We spent $19.57 plus tip and thought the food was excellent. For starters, we had one Spinach Pie (a mixture of chopped spinach, onions, walnuts, olive oil, pomegranate sauce and spices in bread dough) to start ($1.65), one Managish (a mixture of thyme spice, sesame seeds and olive oil baked on a thin dough crust) ($1.65), one side Pickles (pickled cucumbers, olives and turnips) for $2.95 and one 1 yogurt drink ($2). For our main we shared one lamb shank (one tender lamb shank marinated with special sauce and backed with mixed vegetables), served with rice, tomato, lettuce and cucumber salad, hummus and 2 pita ($11.95). This dish was excellent. We had a very good baklava for dessert ($2) and 2 mint tea (1.45 x 2 = $2.90). The owner was talkative and interesting. He didn’t charge us for the baklava, tea or yogurt drink!
1.2 Han Kang Korean Restaurant, 1910 S. Havana St., Aurora, CO 80014, Telephone: 303-873-6800. We spent $25 + tip and were quite happy. All of the little dishes that were automatically served were very good. We ordered one Bibimbob ($12.99) which we liked—the rice was crunchy at the bottom of the stone bowl. We ordered one Dduk mandu gook (rice cake and beef dumpling soup) ($8.99) that was also very good.
1.3 India's Pearl, 1475 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO 80210, Telephone: 303-777-1533, web: www.indiaspearl.com. Our server was Kellen and was very, very good. The owner is very visible and quite assessable. He recognized us the second time we went; we like that. The dining room is lovely too. We spent $38.83 plus tip the first time we went and had leftovers to take home. We had one salty lassi ($3), one Coors ($3), one Tikki Chaat ($5.95), one Kashmiri Chicken ($14.95), one plain naan ($2.25), we had Chai (had 2 but were charged for 1, $2.95) and one Sevian for dessert that was excellent.
1.4 Jong Ga Korean Restaurant, 2222 S. Havana St., B-2, Aurora, CO 80014, tel. 720-748-7706 We thought this Korean restaurant was quite good. The little plates that are served automatically (and included in the price of the meal) were varied and tasty. We spent $25 plus tip and had 1 twice cooked chicken soup with ginseng ($14.99) and 1 bibimbob $8.99. Both were very good.
1.5 King's Land Seafood Restaurant, 2200 W. Alameda Blvd. #44, Denver, CO 80223, Telephone: 303-975-2399. (They serve Dim Sum with carts 10-3. The best time is 11-2.) We ordered too much and took home what we couldn’t finish. We spent about $30 plus tip. All was delicious and the service was very good too. We had one oysters with black bean sauce ($8.50), one cod with garlic ($9.95), one vegetable dish and two teas.
1.6 New Saigon, 630 S. Federal Boulevard, Denver, CO 80219, Telephone: 303-936-4954, web: www.newsaigon.com $42.59 + tip (Business Hours: Tuesday thru Sunday From 11am. to 9:30pm, Closed on Monday, Telephone: 303 936 4954Email: email@example.com We spent $42.59 plus tip and everything was good (we ordered too much for one meal so took home a lot. This restaurant is quite popular and for good reason. We ordered 2 Goi Cuon $3 (Vietnamese spring roll at $1.50 each), one Canh Chua CA (Nho) (small) $19.95 Fire pot – hot and spicy + sour and one Do Bien T/C $12.95 scallops, squid, shrimp, mussels, tofu, mushrooms in claypot. We also had one Tsing Tao ($3.50) and one tea.
1.7 Pho 555 Vietnamese Restaurant, 1098 S. Federal Blvd., Denver, CO 80219, Telephone: 303-936-1000. We had 2 small pho which were delicious. ($4.75 x 2 =$9.50, plus tip).
1.8 Pho 79, 781 S. Federal Blvd., Denver, CO 80219, tel. 303-922-2930, We spent $12.32 + tip. It was very good. We had one small pho with everything ($4.95), 1 order of Vietnamese spring roll ($3.50) and one Vietnamese café ($2.95). Everything was delicious.
1.9 Sinsadong Korean Restaurant, 2353 S. Havana St., Unit D-1, Aurora, CO 80014, tel. 303-745-7087. This restaurant is new and a real “find”. We spent $33 for 3 people and had a delicious and unusual meal. The adventurous among us shared one Marinated whole raw crab ($18.99) that was fabulous. With the small dishes that they offer automatically, it was plenty of food. The un-adventurous among us had a very good Dumpling soup ($8.99). We were sorry that we weren’t staying in Denver longer to try other delectable items from their menu.
1.10 Spicy Basil, 1 Broadway, Unit B-100, Denver, CO 80203, Telephone: 303-871-8828 web: www.spicybasil.com We went more than once to this restaurant. We thought it was a simple but pleasant neighborhood restaurant. The first time we went, we had Red Curry Eggplant with mixed vegetables ($7.95) and the Panang Fish ($10.95) which was served with tuna and was delicious. We had one beer and one tea. None of their desserts were interesting so we didn’t have any.
1.11 Super Star Asian Cuisine, 2200 Alameda Ave., #5A, Denver, CO 80223, tel. 303-727-9889. We had 9 dim sum dishes and the cost was $30 + tip. We had a wonderful time and kept going back for their great dim sum at the best time (around 11 a.m.). On Sundays it is packed and there’s a really fun buzz.
We have been told that there is an offshoot of Super Star called Heaven's Star Restaurant (Broomfield) (I think this is the correct name) which had its "grand opening" on February 14, 2009.
2. Good Restaurants
2.1 Bayou Bob's Seafood & Southern Cookin', 1635 Glenarm, Denver, CO, tel. 303-573-6828, web: www.bayoubobs.com We’re not sure that this qualifies as an ethnic restaurant but it has a distinctive style. It is of a “genre” and it does what it does well. We spent $30 plus tip and we liked the food, The room is nothing to speak of and we didn’t like our server, Albert. We shared 1 popcorn shrimp $3 (half price at happy hour), 1 special daily mahi mahi ($13.95), 1 Coors $1.99 (half price for happy hour), 1 pecan pie ($4.95) which was huge and there was enough left over to take home, and 1 bread pudding ($3.95).
2.2 Big Papa BBQ, 6265 E. Evans Ave., Unit 1, Denver, CO 80222, tel. 303-300-4499, www.bigpapas.com or bbqdenver.com Are baby back ribs ethnic? Maybe so. We spent $36 and really liked this place. Not pretentious; just delicious food. We had 1 baby back rib with 2 sides ($18.99), 2 beers ($7), 1 extra side of slaw ($1.49) and 1 peach cobbler ($2.79). We were happy. The reason we went to this restaurant is because of this review we had read:
Jason Sheehan from Westword.com: “When you get your baby backs here, you pull one bone free, feel the way it separates (not hard, but not meltingly easy, either), raise it up, smell the porky savor, the char from the grill top, the smoke of burnt flesh. Then you bite. The meat is crisp at the surface, tart with a light mop of thin sauce, tender at the bone. And the flavor is exactly what barbecue is supposed to taste like, what you always remember it tasting like even when you’re eating some barbecue that’s not so good. …[Big Papa’s] does everything a proper barbecue joint is supposed to do. But it does baby backs better than it does anything else-and does them better than just about any other barbecue joint in the area. They are fatty, sweet, savory and charred; crispy and soft at the same time, comforting like you wouldn’t believe. The location is comforting too. Big Papa’s doesn’t try to re-create some kind of historic Deep South Disneyland concept….”
Feedback to Jason Sheehan Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org
2.3 Le Central, Corner of 8th & Lincoln, Denver, Telephone: 303-863-8094, e-mail: email@example.com, web: www.lecentral.com. (French is ethnic, isn’t it?!) We spent about $50. One of us had the Lobster Menu Dinner ($26) which started with Bisque de Homard, le plat principal was steamed ½ lobster and dessert was cobbler du Central. The other of us ordered a main of Sardines Grillées ($15) and we each had a glass of white wine (one ’05 Vourary Loire from Pierre Chainier $5 and the other a ‘04 Riesling from Alace Domaine Ehrhart $.5.75. This was a very good meal at a reasonable price. We went back two more times and had two more very good meals.
2.4 Chopsticks China Bistro, 2990 W. Mississippi Ave., Denver, CO 80219, Telephone: 303-936-1506. The food was excellent. We went with a group of “Meet Up” Chinese speakers and we had a great time and ate very, very well.
2.5 Lucile's Creole Cafe, 275 S. Logan St., Denver, CO, tel. 303-282-6258, http://www.luciles.com/flash/index.html Is Creole ethnic? We guess so. We spent $21.52 at lunch for 2 cups of delicious Gumbo ($8.70), one order of very good Beignets ($3.95), one Coffee ($2.25) and we bought some yummy chili jam ($5).
2.6 My Big Fat Greek Cafe, 560 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209, Telephone: 303-777-2391, web: www.mybigfatgreekcafe.com. We only had Greek sweets there but it seemed like the food would be very good. The Greek owner, who is delightful, is in the kitchen and the sweets were excellent. We had 1 egg meg ($4.25) and 1 pistachio baklava ($5.25). The orders were very large and Dimitri, the discerning Greek foodie, labeled them delicious.
2.7 Patzcuaro's, 2616 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, CO 80211, Telephone: 303-455-4389 We wanted Mexican in an authentic place. This was good. We spent $32 and had Carnitas Michoacan $9 (slow simmered pork, marinated in special spices, served with pico de gallo (a salad), guacamole, beans and tortillas). We also ordered one Chile Relleno ($3), one order of Tortillas ($1), one Burritos Carnitas ($6), 2 Negra Modelo beers ($3.50 x 2 = $7) and one order of very good Sopapillas ($1.50).
3. Okay Restaurants
3.1 Arada Ethiopian Restaurant, 750 Santa Fe Dr., Denver, CO, Telephone: 303-329-3344, web: http://www.aradarestaurant.com. It is a very simple restaurant with a counter. We spent $35 plus tip and thought it was more expensive than it should have been. We had a Yebeg Siga Alitcha, a lamb stew ($11.95) and a vegetarian combo plate ($15.95). We had one beer $4.50. The Yebeg Siga Alitcha is a mild lamb stew spiced with garlic, ginger and other spices. It was good. All entrees were supposed to include Injera, Tomato Fit-Fit and tomato salad. Nothing to rave about.
3.2 Chef Zorba's Authentic Greek Cuisine, 2626 East 12th Ave., Denver, CO 80206, Telephone: 303-321-0091, web: www.chefzorbas.com. It is a plain place, with no pretentions. We shared one starter, one main and one dessert and spent approximately $35. The starter, taramasalata (a Greek Caviar of carp roe whipped and blended) was huge and good ($4.95). The main was Spanakopita (spinach pie with feta) Plate $10.95 (spinach and imported feta baked between layers of filo pastry) served with gyro, pita, rice and vegetables of the day). The spanakopita wasn’t good; the gyro was quite tasty. We each had a glass of wine at $6 each. Our dessert was a rice pudding that was good ($2.25).
3.3 Dà-Lat Vietnamese Cuisine, 940 S. Federal St., Denver, CO 80219, Telephone: 303-935-4141, web: www.dalatvietnamesecuisine.com We spent $42 + tip. The food was good but not memorable.
3.4 Leeneh’s (old name: Melita's) Greek Cafe & Market, 1035 Lincoln Street, Denver, CO 80203, Telephone 303-629-1624. We had one falafel plate that was good, one avegolemo soup that wasn’t good, and sweets, some of which were good, some not.
3.5 Mariscos El Rey (Estilo Sinaloa), 820 N. Dayton St., Aurora, CO 80010, tel. 720-858-1479. For another authentic Mexican meal we tried this restaurant. It’s a little too “down and dirty” for us (although it wasn’t actually dirty). We spent $28 and had 1 Ceviche Campechano Chico ($4.49). It wasn’t as good as Peruvian. We had one whole snapper Huachinango al mojo de ajo ($16) which was really, really good. The main came with salad, frijoles and rice. We also had 2 negra modelo ($3 x 2 = $6).
3.6 Peter's Chinese Cafe (Peter Chan), 2609 E. 12th Ave. (12th & Elizabeth), Denver, CO 80206, Telephone 303-377-3218 We spent $21.13 + tip. It’s more of a take away place than a restaurant. It was good enough that we ordered take away from them again. The first time we ordered, we had a good Hot & Sour Soup ($3.75), one Moo Shu Pork ($7.95 with 2 extra pancakes $.60), one spicy bean curd with steamed rice ($7.25).
3.7 Taki's Healthy Japanese, 341 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80203, Telephone: 303-832-8440. We went more than once. The first time we spent $21 and had 2 Ginger Chicken Udon $7.48 x 2 = $14.96 and one sesame tofu 5.98. It’s good for lunch; not so interesting for dinner.
3.8 Thai Green Chile, 1156 So. Broadway, Denver, CO 80210, tel 303-722-9968. This restaurant had been recommended to us. We were the only ones there and the food was okay. We spent $20.50 and had 1 Thai green curry with meat ($8.50) and one Spicy garlic Shrimp ($9.95).
3.9 Wan's Mandarin House Chinese Restaurant, 3710 E. Quincy Ave. at Parker (Harbor Plaza), Aurora CO 80015, tel. 303-693-0825, web: www.ufeedme.com/wansmandarinhouse We spent $6.25 plus tip. We had 2 hot & sour soups which were served with crispy noodles. It’s a very traditional Cantonese menu with some Szechuan and Hunan dishes. The family running it is nice.
4. Restaurants We Would Not Recommend
4.1 Imperial, 431 So. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209, tel. 303-698-2800 We spent $60 for three people and it wasn’t good or tasty. The service was good though.
5. Other Food Sources
5.1 Aladdin Market, 10315 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, CO 80247, Telephone: 303-337-3121. The selection of spices is large and reasonably priced. They also have a good selection of boxes of Middle Eastern sweets you can make at home.
5.2 Marczyk Fine Foods, 770 E. 17th Ave. (at Clarkson) Denver, CO 80203, Telephone: 303-894-9499, http://www.marcqykfinefoods.com/ We were impressed with the selection and the quality. They also can get fresh live lobster.
5.3 Omonoia Greek Bakery, 2813 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80206, Telephone: 303-394-9333 (owned by Dino Karas). Dimitri, the Greek expert, wasn’t impressed.
5.4 Pacific Ocean Marketplace, 2200 W. Alameda Ave., #2B, Denver, CO Telephone: 303-936-4845. It’s large and it’s got a lot of stuff if you can just figure out the organization. The selection of fresh fish is quite good, usually.
We used many sources for restaurant information and one from Chow was particularly useful. After we had met Ruth Tobias in person we were even more impressed! See: “Destination: Denver DNC on the Cheap, Kingpin food on a volunteer budget at the Democratic National Convention, By Ruth Tobias. It’s at: http://www.chow.com/stories/11259
See also: Good Asian in Denver thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/350378