Joel Klatt gets schooled in the Denver dining scene over dinner at Squeaky Bean

Categories: Fast Food

Caluiflowercouscous.jpg
Lori Midson
Cauliflower couscous.
So were we successful in convincing a well-traveled ex-jock that Denver cuisine deserves a spot next to the legendary barbecue of Kansas City, the gumbo of New Orleans, and the Pacific salmon of Seattle? Maybe not, but I think we opened his eyes to a depth in the Denver dining scene where he'd only barely scratched the surface. While the Arvada native still believes that the majority of Denverites would probably pick a chain restaurant when asked to name a favorite, he also admits that a restaurant that maintains its own farm to supply vegetables, and in some cases even meats and cheeses, just seems like a Denver thing to do.

When looking for an explanation of why that might be the case, Reilly puts it well: "Very few ideas are reinventing the book these days. But all new concepts that sprout in Denver have a unique and pioneering overall theme to them. They embody the spirit of the West."

Many of Denver's top restaurants may be young and still developing character, but so much of what's happening now embraces that attitude. Chefs and restaurateurs can be innovative while embracing a sense of community. They can also, as Reilly says, "empower our guests with the knowledge of where great food comes from and how it is produced."

SBclam.jpg
Lori Midson
Clam tortellini pooled in a sea urchin broth.
Maybe farm-to-table seems like it's already a played-out trend to some -- but they're likely people who chase trends. Those restaurants that take their food seriously -- but not themselves seriously, as the Squeaky Bean's Johnny Ballen put it -- can bring enjoyment and creativity to the guest without seeming strident about what's important to them. That's when trends become more than just passing fads, and instead soak into the city and become part of its culture.

Maybe Denver has a ways to go, but at least the building blocks appear to be here -- and nobody is skating by on reputation alone.

Some final words with Klatt revealed that he's more than just a steakhouse aficionado. While he doesn't go out much in Denver because of the constraints of balancing travel with family time, he became almost reverent when discussing a favorite food discovered in his many travels: a California-style burrito stuffed with carne asada, French fries and guacamole from a vendor in Phoenix. He apparently once drove non-stop from Denver to Phoenix just to get one of those icons of American-Mex ingenuity. He also confessed to learning a simple but mouth-watering trick from an offensive lineman: a thick layer of butter on top of an Oreo cookie.

Anyone with that kind of insight into quality eating must be capable of redemption. So our next goal is to help Klatt find the best California burrito in Denver. Suggestions?



Location Info

Squeaky Bean

1500 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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14 comments
a94buff
a94buff

Klatt. Ugh. Nice of you to take on the task Mark and well done by all appearances but who cares if Klatt can't be bothered to find out something about the food scene in his city of choice. Plus think of poor Texas Roadhouse, down one customer for this week.

Stilton
Stilton

Mantonat is also married to Lori Midson?

Klatt - so nice that he is STILL slamming Denver.  Guess what, Klatt; go to ANY city that has a publication (or multiple) that does a best of and a lot of the readers' choices end up being chains. It is the nature of the beast.  A good reason for all these publications having the editors' choices as well.

I don't understand why he is so willing to shed that attitude in other cities, but clings to it so desperately in regards to Denver.  He is quickly moving up the chain for worst Buff representative.  Still outdone by Ray Carruth and the douche bag Orange County Housewives  offspring, but moving up fast.

jonathan.shikes
jonathan.shikes moderator editor

Although I love Santiago's and Chubby's, I do miss the California-style burritos that seem to be sold on every other street corner in Southern California -- but not in Denver. The closest I have found locally is Viva Burrito, which has two locations I think. I've heard that Tacos Rapidos is good as well.

milleralexjames
milleralexjames

@a94buffJoel Klatt can think what he thinks. I assume his line of thinking was more along the "KC is known for BBQ, NO for creole, and Denver isn't really known for anything specific". I can't disagree with him if that was his thinking, but he statement that Denver is not a good food town is very incorrect.


That being said, Klatt can stick to being a never-was pro football player from the suburbs who blabs on the radio, and I'll enjoy Denver's finest food in his place.

Fletcherneedsajob
Fletcherneedsajob topcommenter

@a94buff Agreed. I would prefer that the unadventurous diners stay away from these local gems and continue to fill up their local Applebee's and let Guy Fieri drive 'em wild with cravings. Keeps the my waits at the real spots a little more manageable. 

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Stilton Also - did you just seriously include Joel in the same category as Ray Carruth? Because he has an opinion that's not the same as yours, that makes him second in line to a murderer? I think we may need to add a new corollary to Godwin's Law.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Stilton "My wife and Cafe Society editor Lori Midson joined us for dinner" I guess that could be a little confusing! There were 4 people at dinner  - Lori, Joel, my wife, and me.

LoriMidsonCafeSociety
LoriMidsonCafeSociety moderator editor

@jonathan.shikes Shikes -- Joel wanted to know the same thing, and I'll give you the same suggestion that I gave to him while we were at dinner: Raliberto's! It's quite to similar to Roberto's, in San Diego, a joint that I used to go to two or three times a week when I lived there. 

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@jonathan.shikes Tacos Rapidos seems to fit the mold of the San Diego style (although I've never been to San Diego, so I can't claim any expertise). Rolled tacos, California burrito stuffed with fries, carne asada fries, etc. Tamale Kitchen also does burritos stuffed with fries, but I haven't tried them.

Stilton
Stilton

@Mantonat @Stilton You see so many references to Ray Carruth that you think it needs to become an adage?  ok. Not as clever as you seem to think, though, and talk about exaggerating.  You would prefer that I just state Klatt is the worst representative Buff? And anythe OCHW knows I am correct about the the OC douchebag.  And wearing a CU t-shirt in every freaking scene.  blech!


It is not just an opinion he is expressing.  Like it or not, he is representing this state and CU every time he opens his trap.  His opinions go everywhere.  But what really chaps my hide is that those "opinions" were made more as statements of fact.  And since he is from here, outsiders are going to assume he knows what he is talking about, when clearly he doesn't.  And even after all this (I am glad to see him go to dinner with you), he still is taking potshots at Denver's food scene.  So now he has been a little educated, and yet still doesn't know what he is talking about.


If he is heard talking about Shiner Bock being the best beer going, he needs to be thrown out of the state.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

@Mantonat @jonathan.shikes 

I'm from San Diego, and Tacos Rapidos is nothing like the Mexican style there.  Mexican style in San Diego is very traditional and simple.  Nothing fancy.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

@Stilton @Mantonat 

Just for the record, Mr. Carruth spells his first name "Rae".

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Stilton @Mantonat So tell us what you love about the Denver food scene and what makes it unique! By the way, you're screen name is making me hungry. I may need to stop at the Truffle or St. Killian's on my way home.

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