Survey says: Denver's ethnic food scene sucks, according to Travel + Leisure poll

Pho 95.jpg
Lori Midson


Travel + Leisure, the glossy travel title that encourages readers to anchor down in Amsterdam, escape to the Cape and luxuriate in Italy -- Santorini-style, has just released its America's Favorite Cities issue -- and the results, based on 60,000 votes, from residents and visitors alike, are in.

While Denver cleaned up in the public park, environmentally friendly, cleanest city, family vacation, airport design and active/athletic residents categories, apparently our ethnic food scene well and truly sucks, because of the thirty cities that are ranked in that category, guess where we landed? We got stuck with the number 27 spot, which means there are exactly three cities -- St. Louis, Dallas and Nashville -- that did worse than us.

Seriously? Are you kidding me? No, really? Are you kidding me? If you're not seething right about now, you should be, because if that's not bullshit, I don't know what the hell is.

Arape 2.jpg
Lori Midson
Arape from Empanada Grill
It's pretty clear that not one person who's a writer/editor/researcher or living, breathing adult working for Travel + Leisure set a single toe in Denver, because if they did, they would have slurped some of the best pho, like anywhere, at Pho 95, Pho Duy or Saigon Bowl; begged for just one more day in our fine citadel after soft corn tacos at El Taco de Mexico, Tacos y Salsas or Los Carboncitos; washed their face in the jaam bong, the ludicrously delicious Korean soup at Karma; bowed in thanks for the countrified Japanese food at Domo, or the sensational sushi at Sushi Den and Sushi Sasa; swam for their seafood at Cafe Brazil; breathed fire at US Thai; sopped up doro wot, kifto or minchet with injera at more than a dozen Ethiopian joints; pigged out on Latin at Tarasco's New Latin Cuisine (470 South Federal Boulevard); had their hearts stolen during dim sum runs to Super Star Asian, Star Kitchen or King's Land;  refused to share their arapes at Empanada Grill 2600 East Street, Golden); busted their guts with flaming pigs' intestines at JJ Chinese (2500 West Alameda), China Jade or Chopsticks; or came out smelling like curry at India's or Masalaa.

Chopsticks China Bistro.jpg
Lori Midson
Chopstick's China Bistro
And that, people, is just the short list. I've been to most of the cities that ranked above Denver -- metropolises like Seattle, for example, which came in at a respectable seventeen, and tiny Santa Fe, that placed ninth (no, really, ninth) -- and Denver's ethnic food climate is far better than both. Hell, I couldn't find a decent bowl of pho anywhere in Seattle and their Mexican street food is at least a hundred tacos short of what it is here. And while I love the New Mexican food in Santa Fe, its overall ethnic food scene is lame.

It's nearly lunchtime, and I'm heading to Federal Boulevard, arguably one of the best stretches of asphalt in the country for ethnic food.

If you're interested in seeing how Denver prospered (or failed) in other restaurant categories, go to www.travelandleisure.com/afc/2009/city/denver/.  And when you're done dropping your jaw, weigh in below with your comments.


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