A Los Angeleno's Visit to Denver
I was visiting Denver this week on business. Here's a rundown:
Tuesday, I had been planning get an early jump and scope out some breakfast chow, but a rental car snafu scuttled those plans. I did get a chance to ask the shuttle driver where some good Mexican food was. He proceeded to point out some Americanized joints, but when I mentioned that I was looking for tacos al pastor, like a secret codeword, he told me to go to what sounded like Culfas.
I was running late and decided to duck into Old Chicago to endure a bad club sandwich. For dinner, I opted to go to The Fort. I had the Rocky Mountain oysters, the scotch egg and the tongue as apps. I have to say, I was disappointed that they weren't actual testicles, but they were tasty. The scotch egg was overcooked (a common mistake- many British pubs get it wrong) but the tongue was fantastic. For my main I chose the game sampler. The bison filet was decent, and the elk chop had the unfortunate luck of swimming in an overly sweet sauce. I understand it pairs with game, but it's still overused and it masked the flavor of elk almost entirely. The star of the plate, surprisingly, was the quail. I also had a side of chayote squash which gave the dish much needed crunch. For dessert I had bread pudding, which I thought would contain some remnants of the excellent pumpkin walnut muffin served with dinner, but it simply had too much amaretto.
By the way, I prescribe to the Order A Lot, Leave Room For What's Next, And Bring Home Lots of To-Go Boxes philosophy of eating out, especially when trying some place new. Those scotch eggs didn't get any better the next day.
Wednesday I took a customer to lunch at CB Potts. My Wagyu burger was ginormous, but was really flavorless. The slaw in the burger gave an interesting but unneeded texture as the mayo was devoid of any flavor. The garlic fries were fine, and I'm sure the beer would have been nice, too, if I weren't on the clock.
I skipped dinner and headed to Colfax (which was the suggestion that the shuttle driver must have trying to say) and went to Pete's Kitchen. Now this is the type of place that would be packed constantly in Los Angeles. I had the corned beef hash and eggs, and had a bowl of chicken soup, too. I love this place, and recommend any fan of diners to check it out. I'd rank it on par with Pasadena's venerable Pie N Burger or Los Angeles' Original Pantry.
After my late (or early) breakfast, I took a leisurely drive down Colfax and saw lots of dive bars. This is my kind of neighborhood. I mean, I thoroughly enjoy a fine meal, and will be dining at the Broadmoor my next trip out (as per the suggestion of the sous chef at The Fort), but like many Angelenos, I love a good hole-in-the-wall joint.
Hopefully I'll get to come back sometime soon. I need to stop by Mezcal and Taco de Mexico to fulfill my al pastor promise, and I also want to see how Denver's Ethiopian cuisine compares. A local sushi fan suggested Sushi Den and I do want to try Vesta Dipping Grill, too.
You may want to try Mori for sushi. You may be skeptical when you walk in -- the carpet is duct-taped together, but the sushi is every bit as good as Sushi Den (and a whole lot cheaper).
While I love Mezcal and go regularly (I live in the neighborhood), I don't think it's the most authentic Mexican around (although the Mezcalito is killer). You may want to check out El Noa Noa or La Casita.
I think Vesta is good, but getting a little tired (if I had one or two nights to see what Denver has to offer, it wouldn't be on my list). The owners opened a new place recently called Steuben's that serves very good American comfort food in a revamped old auto shop. Other places that you may want to try (based on my personal preference, not an exhaustive list):
Fruition (brand new and awesome)
Steve's Snappin' Dogs (delicious hot dogs)
I totally agree with Megiac on Mori for sushi. No points for atmosphere, but the fish is very good. For a total hole in the wall but authentic Mexican, try La Fogata on Evans, or Mexico City in downtown Denver. No one speaks english, but the tacos are killer.
I have never been to Mori, but I am a regular at Sushi Den. Their fish is the freshest and best I've ever had - I highly recommend it. They can tell you what's fresh, but the toro, uni, and other specialty sashimi is wonderful.
I am also a Mezcal regular. Love the margs, the tacos al pastor (or any tacos), and the heart-attack-in-a-dish queso fundido. It's a place where you feel left out if you don't have any tattoos, and I love it.
I agree with Megiac about Limon - I think their cuisine is very unique. I've only been 3 times, but the food has been delicious.