3 Sons Brings Barbecue Back to Whittier

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
So this is becoming a trend: for the second time in four weeks, I've encountered an Ohioan running a barbecue restaurant in Denver. I get it that who wouldn't want to come to Colorado from Cleveland or Cincinnati? -- but the barbecue connection is a little more tenuous. Perhaps it's just that Ohio shares its southern border with northern Kentucky, so all that smoke drifts up, permeating Ohio with the rich smell of a well-seasoned smokehouse. While Ohio isn't exactly in the heart of Dixie, it's certainly a lot closer to the Carolinas and Tennessee than Denver is. So maybe it makes sense that a pit master can learn a trade and then get the itch to head out West, resulting in a place like 3 Sons BBQ, a little joint in the Whittier neighborhood putting out a variety of smoked meats and sides with an inclusive attitude when it comes to regional barbecue boundaries and sauce-styles.

See also: Brew Bayou: Eating Brooks Smokehouse Barbecue at Strange Craft Beer

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Taste of Thailand Turns Twenty With Fresh Spirit and "Beautiful Fish"

Categories: ethniche

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When Taste of Thailand opened, there were a total of five Thai restaurants in Denver. In the intervening twenty years, Thai cuisine has blossomed in town, but Taste of Thailand has stuck close to its time-tested formula of garden-fresh cuisine, traditional Thai recipes (with a few Colorado twists), friendly service -- and "flu shot" soup, a Thai take on curative chicken soup. And owners Noy and Rick Farrell aren't about to change that formula now, as Taste of Thailand marks its twentieth birthday this month.

See also: Thai Monkey Club: This place is hot!

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Brew Bayou: Eating Brooks Smokehouse Barbecue at Strange Craft Beer

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
Brooks Smokehouse -- the mobile version -- at Strange Craft Beer.
When I was a kid, in the fall my dad would load up the Country Squire and we'd head to Louisiana to catch our fill of blue crab. Catching them was as easy as lowering a chicken neck on a string into a roadside canal and pulling it up quickly as soon as the line jiggled. We could fill a 54-quart Coleman cooler in about an hour on the same pier where local families were filling black lawn and leaf bags -- they lived close enough that they didn't need to put the crabs on ice. Before we'd drive home to suburban Dallas, we'd stop for a crawdad boil or bowls of red beans and rice (which I picked around in favor of the spicy Cajun sausage) at some small-town restaurant -- but barbecue was never on the agenda. These days, my quest for slow-smoked flavor in the metro area has my radar dialed in to St. Louis, Memphis, Texas and South Carolina, so a little joint like Brooks Smokehouse and Catering had escaped my notice -- until the aroma of Ronald Brooks's cooking caught my attention at a local brewery.

See also: Aloha Hawaiian Barbecue: Hello and Goodbye to Thornton

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Piggin' Out Bar-B-Que: Smokin' It Up in Lakewood

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
A barbecue joint built for summer.
Sometimes food doesn't take much thought -- most of the time, in fact. Sometimes you just know what you want and you go and get it, and it's good. Barbecue should be that way. There should be no long lines where jockeying with out-of-towners, food bloggers and aficionados is part of the routine of getting lunch or dinner. After all, barbecue is nothing more than meat cooked the way it's been cooked for millennia -- wood coals and a little seasoning and enough time to break down the chewy bits. In some barbecue capitals, though, barbecue has become almost a religion, with strong opinions, right and wrong ideas, and heaven or hell seemingly at stake. But in Denver, barbecue is an import, a nice-to-have treat that folks don't get too crazy about. That's why you can drop in to a country-style shack like Piggin' Out Bar-B-Que at 9987 Morrison Road in almost-rural Lakewood an hour before closing and still get succulent pork and beef by the pound without worry.

See also: Wayne's Smoke Shack Offers Superior Texas-Style Brisket

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Wayne's Smoke Shack Offers Superior Texas-Style Brisket

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
I could tell by the smell in the air that we were getting close, even if I hadn't seen the signs yet. The GPS had given up and was merely directing the car in a circle, around parking lots and identical rows of (mostly vacant) shops, down roads that curve around and take us back to where we started in this ex-urban warren known as the Superior Marketplace. The smell guides us, though: "Hard right!" Amy yells, and we find ourselves finally coasting up to wooden picnic benches and the promise of "true Texas BBQ" displayed above the entrance to Wayne's Smoke Shack.

See also: The Eternal Flame of Saganaki Burns on at Pete's Greek Town Cafe

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The eternal flame of saganaki burns on at Pete's Greek Town Cafe

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
So far in a month of eating Greek, I've come across some filling and wolfable short-order sandwiches at Yianni's, a fresher and lighter version of similar food at Melita's, and an old favorite in a newish location -- Yanni's in Greenwood Village -- that's putting out plates of what's as close to coastal Greek cuisine as you'll find on the Front Range. I've had a few dishes that just weren't very good and some sides that were all but inedible, like a bowl of stewed green beans at Chef Zorba's. And because July has an extra week this year, I made one last stop where I found almost all of the above in a single location on Colfax: Pete's Greek Town Cafe.

See also: Melita's leaves the pressures of city life outside the door

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Melita's leaves the pressures of city life outside the door

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
For more than a year, Mark Antonation ate his way up Federal Boulevard. With that journey done, he's now exploring different cuisines from around the globe right here in metro Denver, one month at a time, in Ethniche.

Last week I drove to the outlands of Lakewood for a taste of short-order Greek cooking. This week, I walked -- hitting Melita's Greek Cafe and Market, located about as close as it gets to the dead center of Denver. It was more of an amble than an odyssey, but the truncated trip yielded a pleasant lunch without having to sacrifice any of my men to mythical perils.

See also: Flavor and generosity await the curious at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant

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Yianni's Gyros Place: a Greek island on the far end of Colfax

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
Getting Greek food on Colfax Avenue is as natural to Denverites as leaving the snow on the sidewalks for the sun to melt or pushing the stroller into a bar to enjoy a pint or two of IPA with the baby. A stretch of the road near East High School was even designated Greek Town in the late 1990s, thanks to Takis Dadiotis, then the owner of Pete's Greek Town Cafe. Greek Town hasn't quite blossomed into the ethnic neighborhood that Dadiotis envisioned, but Colfax, at least along the trendy stretches in Capitol Hill and near Congress Park, has cleaned up its act a little and now presents modern storefronts and hip restaurants along with the usual host of cart pushers, bus-stop lingerers and scowling punks. West Colfax, though, is a different story. Revitalization efforts have added fast-casual joints and modern strip-mall facades, but much of it, especially west of Denver city limits, still has the feel of drive-through territory. This is where you'll find Yianni's Gyros Place (10450 West Colfax in Lakewood ), a simple short-order joint opened in 2010 to serve Greek favorites to locals weary of the cross-town drive.

See also: The ouzo still flows at Yanni's Greek Restaurant

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The ouzo still flows at Yanni's Greek Restaurant

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
For more than a year, Mark Antonation ate his way up Federal Boulevard. With that journey done, he'll now explore different cuisines from around the globe right here in metro Denver, one month at a time, in Ethniche.

Yanni's Greek Restaurant styles itself as a taverna in the traditional sense: a place for family and friends to gather over coffee, drinks, food and conversation. Yanni's moved to the Landmark development in 2009 from its longtime home on Monaco to take advantage of the new high-rise residents in the complex and office workers from the surrounding Tech Center. Even if the exterior feels a little sterile -- this is a retail-and- restaurant enclave surrounded by hulking glass, stone and steel corporate offices -- walking into the dining room somehow vanquishes any nearby emanations of commerce and corporate-speak.

See also: Chef Zorba's offers diner spirit and Greek comfort




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Chef Zorba's offers diner spirit and Greek comfort

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
A real neighborhood diner with actual neighbors.
For more than a year, Mark Antonation ate his way up Federal Boulevard. With that journey done, he's now exploring different cuisines from around the globe right here in metro Denver, one month at a time, in Ethniche.

Denver doesn't have a reputation for great Greek restaurants. Whether that's because of demographics or eating habits, few of us would get in a shouting match to defend the Greek food scene here compared with that in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland or even Tarpon Springs, Florida, which boasts the highest percentage of Greek-Americans anywhere in the country (due to an influx of sponge divers in the early part of the twentieth century, not because of snowbirds seeking better weather). While there are no sponge colonies in the immediate vicinity of Denver, the Greeks who settled here certainly left their mark, most notably in the form of the golden dome of the Assumption of Theokotos Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which hovers over a wedge of land between Alameda and Leetsdale in Glendale. And Greek restaurants pepper the metro area, with a heavy concentration on or near East Colfax -- which is where you'll find Chef Zorba's, just off Denver's favorite street on a calm and tree-shaded block of Congress Park.

See also: Flavor and generosity await the curious at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant

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