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Denver Foodie Trip!

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I'm going to Denver in a few weeks for the Jeff Mangum show. I haven't been to CO in about 5 years. That makes me sad. What are some good places to eat? My lady friend and I are very adventurous eaters and cook a lot. Does Denver have anything really strange and unusual? We're not really into "fancy places." I'd rather eat a lengua taco on the street from a grandma in Mexico than eat at Charlie Trotters. Plus we have a broke grad student budget...

I've just started looking, but so far on my list is Caribbean Bakery, Los Cabos II, Lao Wang Noodle House, and possibly Domo. I'm aware of Buckhorn. Just as a reference, I grew up butchering, hunting, fishing, ranching, and with a huge garden. My dad worked at a packing plant. Around the holiday season, my mom would trade ham and turkey for pupusas, tamales, Laotion, and Egyptian food. My first mountain oyster was cooked over a burner heating branding irons. I grew up eating "strange" things, so it has to be pretty weird to turn me off. My girlfriend was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in LA only eating authentic Chinese food. She likes the reviewws for lao wang. Any ideas on things to do would be great too. She's never been to the rocky mountains at all, so I'm pumped to show her. Depending on what the weather is doing and how the passes are, we'll camp at least one night somewhere. I'll figure that out when we go there. My top choice is Black Canyon of the Gunnison, or I'll show her some hot springs I know of in a secret spot in the Routt. I used to go to CO all the time in college, but any suggestions are welcome. The Casa Bonita south park came out when I was in college. The same night it came out, my roommates and I said screw our classes and drove 8 hours all night to go there. I might have to go there again too....

Sorry this got long. I'm pretty excited for this trip. Can you tell?

Also, is there any place to buy a raw cuy? I've been on a mission to find one for a few years, but have been unsuccessful.

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  1. The only ones on your list I've ever been to are Domo and Casa Bonita. Of course, no one goes to CB for the food (except maybe the sopaipillas), but Domo is a marvelous and unique experience, and this would be a great season to go there. (Just don't expect a chair with a back.)

    1. For the budget. Lao wang. if not open, Two doors to the right, Pho Dui, Bun Bo Hue.... Then one block south on the other side of Federal, Ban mi Ba Li, 3 bucks, outstanding........ Dynamite iced coffee and
      a jillion weird Asian drinks...... good luck
      Pablito el gordito

      1 Reply
      1. re: paul balbin

        Don't forget J's Noodles right next to Lao Wang for awesome Thai.

      2. Give The Cherry Tomato a try if you and your lady like Italian. They have some really great wines, and a distinct menu - not your typical vanilla Italian restaurant. This is great food and quite reasonable.

        1. Domo is superb.

          Lao Wang is Taiwanese.

          Two dongbei places are He Xing Garden and East Asia Garden.

          A couple decent Sichuan dishes can be found at China Jade in Aurora.

          South Indian at Masalaa.

          Denver food at Biker Jim's.

          1. I'd recommend you try Q Table, it's in North Glenn which is just the north area of Denver. It's a buffet, BUT it's the best and not the same old. It's a Korean BBQ cook on your table buffet ($20 a person for dinner), you choose your meats and seafood and get to grill it on your table on your liking. It also has excellent sushi (best buffet sushi ever), Korean side dishes, some typical Chinese buffet dishes, and a chocolate fountain. Talk about bang for your buck. I went with 3 friends and we ate for two and half hours.

            I agree with others that Pho Duy is awesome and Domo is good. I'm going to try Lao Wang now.

            1. I would also recommend Star Kitchen. Totally incredible dim sum and regular dinner for a good price point. Dim sum till 2 everyday!

              1. The Fort in Morrison is an alternative to Buckhorn. Both are great. Thai Basil has a wide variety of dishes, the Red Coral has the best value in real chinese.

                1. Add another vote in favor of Domo.

                  The Buckhorn is worth going for a drink at the bar, but it's HIGHLY over rated and over priced for the food. The Fort is a much better choice for a high priced meal.

                  The Blue Bonnet on Broadway is good for not-your-typical Mexican food. Jack-n-Grill and Little Anita's are good New Mexico style places.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: baker5555

                    Blue Bonnet and Jack n Grill both fall into the same category as Casa Bonita in my opinion. Terrible and overated. There are sooo many better options if you're looking for good cheap mexican or Den-mex food e.g. Taco Veloz, Los Carboncitos, Chubby's etc.

                  2. I realize you have nostalgic reasons for going to Casa Bonita but you and your girlfriend may want to simply have a margarita at Casa Bonita and then wait to actually eat at more home cooked foodie worthy place! I have to agree with strange wine in emphasizing that there are much more fabulous spots that meet your self described tastes. Try some of these gems for your Mexican eats in Denver:

                    Los Carboncitos
                    722 Sheridan Blvd
                    Denver, CO 80214
                    (303) 573-1617
                    http://www.loscarboncitos.com/

                    Las Tortas
                    5307 Leetsdale Dr
                    Denver, CO 80246
                    Neighborhood: Southeast
                    (720) 379-7269
                    http://www.lastortasonline.com

                    Patzcuaro's
                    2616 W 32nd Ave
                    Denver, CO 80211
                    Neighborhoods: Highland, Northwest
                    (303) 455-4389
                    http://www.patzcuaros.com

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mommy3esq

                      Unfortunately, I don't think you can just get a margarita at CB - I noticed that last year when I visited for the 1st time in 20+ years with some out-of-town family. The menu states, "Every person over 2 MUST purchase a meal!" I didn't ask if I could bypass this rule but just wanted to provide the warning. . .

                      For the OP:
                      - I like your list. However, I'd remove Los Cabos II from the list (unfortunately). I like the food but I've had horrible luck with service there the past 3 times I've gone and my wife & I refuse to go now. It always seems like they're short-handed and the wait time for everything is crazy. I'd chalk it up to an off night but, as I've mentioned, we've experienced this at least 3 times in the past 2 years.
                      - I don't know where you're coming from so maybe you'll find better where you live. Trying to avoid fancy & pricey, my additions to the list of suggestions: Tacos y Salsas, Jaya Grill for SE Asian food, Cuba Cuba, Nile Ethopian, Pinche Tacos (for tacos in a more "yuppified" environ), and the Cherry Cricket.
                      - Warn your GF that, given her background/history, Lao Wang isn't "blow you away" but it's pretty good Taiwanese food for a growing city.
                      - I'm avoiding Da Lat after the below posting on Westword. I'm not usually very squirmish about bugs & other creepy crawlies but the posting did it for me. http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety...
                      - Raw Cuy? I don't know of any in Denver. Maybe some pet store in the burbs? LOL.

                      Hope we get to hear about your trip!

                    2. yea, the cuy is sort of a south american thing. and while we have tons of options for buying mexican ingredients, the south american is a little lacking. but as far as eating good mexican and asian, just go all up and down south federal and take ur pick. there are more chinese, vietnamese and mexican joints than u can shake a stick at, as they say ( actually, who said that?) like some others said, avoid casa bonita like the plague unless u have a 4 year old that needs to be entertained while u eat. the food is pretty meh. ive found that most of the hole in the wall mexican joints and taco trucks have lengua. if u like tortas, try las tortas on w. alameda near tejon. tacos junior on so. fed is great, as are lao wang, pho 95, and my favorite dim sum is star kitchen. really good chinese at hong kong bbq (same strip mall as pho 95) and they have the best roast pork with the crunchy skin as well as roast duck, hanging in the glass case when u come in. the house fried rice is the bomb with char sui pork and a touch of coconut milk in there. i really like their dry style chow fun as well. good luck on that cuy but i would really be suprised if u found one in denver. let us know if u do!

                      1. oh yea, and if u are looking for good indian or ethiopian, i would suggest indias castle on east arapahoe or little india on downing. my favorite ethiopian is abyssinia on east colfax. as far as stuff to do, are u guys into the outdoors? hiking, camping, fly fishing, etc? (im a fly fishing guide so...) i mean we have the rockies!! i dont do much in the city since im really into the mountains so i would suggest that. but i know there is the art museum and they just opened up a colorado history museum. and theres the botanical gardens. have fun!

                        1. ok i just skimmed ur post and i see u do like the mountains. so camping in eleven mile canyon is cool and not as far as black canyon. of course theirs deckers for a day trip not far from denver. there are some great 4x4 roads north of the idaho springs area that go up to nice hikes to mountain lakes. cottonwood pass over to the taylor river/almont area and kebler pass/mclure to crested butte are great too. and i really love the glenwood springs/basalt/aspen area too. yes black canyon is amazing but its a long ways so there are some suggestions if u dont want to drive as far.