100 Favorite Dishes: Belgian Waffles from Waffle Up

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Mark Antonation
Waffle Up gets Belgian street food right.
No. 52: Belgian Waffles at Waffle Up
300 Elati Street
303-744-0174

In the streets of Brussels and many other Belgian cities, waffle vendors perfume the air with the aroma of yeast-risen batter and caramelized sugar. Tom McCarty fell in love with Liege-style waffles and perfected the recipe, bring the treats to Denver streets with the Waffle Up food truck he fired up with co-owner Jasmine Spoonemore. But now you don't need to brave the elements for a bite of Belgian goodness: the two opened their brick-and-mortar Waffle Up cafe in the Baker neighborhood just a couple of months ago. With a menu of sweet and savory selections, it's not hard to find a favorite, but why not go for a little of both? The maple bacon waffle proves to be the perfect morning pick-me-up.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market

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100 Favorite Dishes: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market

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Mark Antonation
Whole shrimp and creamy grits at Blackbelly Market.
No. 53: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market
1606 Conestoga Street, Boulder
303-247-1000

Shrimp and grits has its origins as a breakfast dish in the Low Country cooking traditions of South Carolina. The popularity and variations of the dish have spread in recent years, popping up on brunch and dinner menus all over town. At Boulder's Blackbelly Market, chef and owner Hosea Rosenberg's menu doesn't refer to the dish by its well known name, but his rendition is as soulful and satisfying as the Southern original, owing its layers of flavors to whole, head-on shrimp, butter-soft pork belly and meticulously sourced grits cooked with care.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision

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100 Favorite Dishes: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision

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Mark Antonation
The marrow bone brûlée comes with seasonal touches from Fruition Farms.
No. 54: Marrow Bone Brûlée at Mercantile Dining & Provision
1701 Wynkoop Street Denver
720-460-3733

When a server delivers a plate and the predominant feature is a big, split-open femur, it can be a little intimidating. There's no meat, just a scattering of greens and few dabs of sauce, but the rich aroma of beef lets you know you've made the right decision; the flame-kissed marrow inside the cross-cut of bone glistens with fat, just on the verge of melting entirely. As with the rest of the menu at Mercantile, the dish comes with seasonal touches that brighten the unctuous marrow; the winter incarnation comes with blood orange, shaved fennel and oxtail marmalade.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery

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100 Favorite Dishes: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery

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Chop Shop
Chop Shop's short rib is so tender because it cooks for 48 hours.
No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
4990 East Colfax Avenue
720-550-7665

Chop Shop opened last summer with an upscale menu from chef and co-owner Clint Wangsnes -- but in a casual, counter-service setting in a neighborhood clamoring for more dining options. Rather than following the formula of fast and filling that generally has customers headed for the door with their to-go bags, Wangsnes opted for slow food served quickly, inviting guests to linger over bold and unique flavor combinations without the fuss of full-service dining. To accomplish this, the chef included sous-vide cooking in his kitchen's repertoire to coax out toothsome textures and layered complexity from meats and vegetables. Among the items cooked in vacuum-sealed bags immersed in precisely calibrated hot water baths is Chop Shop's 48-hour short rib, a dish that highlights the best qualities of the cooking method as well as the chef's deft touch with international ingredients.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder

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100 Favorite Dishes: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder

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Mark Antonation
Salt & Grinder's roast beef sandwich.
No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder
3609 West 32nd Avenue
303-945-4200

When Salt & Grinder first opened in the West Highland neighborhood in June, owner Frank Bonanno had this to say about what makes a perfect deli sandwich: "A ton of meat, sliced to order and paper-thin; shredded iceberg lettuce; paper-thin, sliced tomatoes; and a slightly crunchy, soft and toothsome hoagie roll."

The Rare Beast lives up to that vision, with no fancy sauces, trendy greens or over-thought bread -- just the pure flavor of roast beef with enough fresh vegetable crunch and acidity to brighten the palate and just a smear of plain old mayonnaise.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe

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100 Favorite Dishes: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe

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No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe

Food doesn't always have to be fancy or fussed over to be great. Sometimes it just needs to be the right dish at the right time. In cold and blustery weather, when stumbling into a cafe steamy with vapors from coffee and big pots of whatever's simmering in the kitchen, the criteria veers toward hearty and warming first, with only a vague thought of visual appeal. DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe -- the younger sibling of the original DJ's Berkeley Cafe -- dishes up some worthy breakfast dishes in the tradition of diners throughout the city, but the kitchen's chorizo breakfast stew stands out as a cold-weather classic, a brimming bowl of meat and veggies to warm the belly and the soul.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014

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100 Favorite Dishes: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale

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No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale
3484 West 32nd Avenue, 303-302-2451
550 Broadway, 720-508-8828

Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey, owners of Frasca and the original Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, didn't skimp when they decided to open a fast-casual version of their traditional Neapolitan pizza place on Broadway almost two years ago, and then a second in Highland this fall. The ovens at the two Denver outposts are from the same Italian company that shipped the Boulder oven, and the ingredients are as fresh and delicious as anything you'd find at the duo's upscale eateries. You'll even see the same hand-cranked meat slicers shaving tissue-thin ribbons of prosciutto for appetizers and pizza toppings (and if you're lucky, you may get a sample while standing in line).

Most recently, Patterson and Stuckey have added stone grinders to the shops, where heritage wheat is ground daily for the pizza dough.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014

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100 Favorite Dishes: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food

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No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food
1015 South Federal Boulevard
720-379-6038

Suvipa Thai hasn't been open long, but the kitchen is already going strong, serving up some of the brightest and most flavorful Thai dishes we've dug into recently. While the standards -- pungent pad Thai that's not the typical overly sweet mess, and rich, complex curries -- stand out, there are also less familiar dishes, like shrimp paste fried rice, that show off the layers of flavors that make Thai cuisine so enticing.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014

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100 Favorite Dishes: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery

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Sesame balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery.
No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery
2370 West Alameda Avenue
303-922-0999

The Vinh Xuong Bakery in the Alameda Square shopping center sits in sharp contrast to its parent on Federal Boulevard. While the older store is cluttered and close, the newer version is bright and airy. Comfortable chairs and gleaming green tile invite customers to linger over a cup of Novo coffee and a pastry. Vinh Xuong makes all the baked goods for both locations daily, including crusty baguettes for the banh mi, so you can always stock up on Vietnamese delicacies at the Federal shop. But if you want to hang out and enjoy them in a modern environment without the urban bustle, the Alameda bakery is the place to go. Our favorites are the sesame balls, sweet treats to end a lunchtime sandwich excursion or as a complement to a Saturday morning cappuccino.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014

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100 Favorite Dishes: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's

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No. 61: The Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's
955 Lincoln Street, Suite D
720-253-1244

When DiFranco's opened in the Beauvallon Building, we held out hope that the little Italian deli would make it on a block that for a time was one of Denver's biggest restaurant black holes. But after a little over two years, DiFranco's is still turning out some of the best Italian in town, serving customers on the go as well as the few diners who stick around in the tiny eatery, which only seats 27. The menu is small too, featuring a seasonally changing list of hand-made pastas (which you can see being made from the view of the open kitchen), sandwiches and salads. This season, the fall flavors of the butternut squash ravioli is what has captured our attention.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014

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