Tiffin's Dishes Up Bolder Indian Street Food in Boulder

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
When Tiffin's opened on Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder three years ago, the fast-casual restaurant was completely vegetarian. Over time, the menu has grown from a focus on the street food of southern India, adding more familiar -- at least to Front Range palates -- curries, kabobs and biryanis. Still, much of the menu is occupied by snacks and stewed vegetables and legumes not common at Denver's many other Indian restaurants.

See also: Khazana Focuses on Tamil Cuisine

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Trekking to Lakewood for a Touch of the Exotic at India Nepal Oven

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
Saturday lunch is the best time for an all-you-can-eat buffet. You don't have to worry about returning semi-comatose to work and you've probably already done yard work or something else outdoorsy to justify the added caloric load. Indian restaurants, especially, tend toward low-risk, high-reward buffets, with plenty of potential for filling, if not dazzling, fare. Still, I'm more of a fan of ordering from the full menu, especially at places like India Nepal Oven that hide less common specialties on the print menu while proffering an array of popular steam-table favorites on the buffet. Ordering from the menu, I can still leave uncomfortably full -- only with food that I selected myself and was fresh-cooked just for me.

See also: Khazana Indian Restaurant Focus on Tamil Cuisine

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Khazana Indian Restaurant Focuses on Tamil Cuisine

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
The purple glow of Khazana on a summer evening.
A drive into the southern suburbs on a weekend can feel like you're entering a deserted city. Traffic after rush hour is light, and once the sun begins to set, people seem to clear out like they're expecting the vampires to come out. Places that normally do a brisk lunch business -- like Khazana, with its buffet full of pans of familiar-looking food -- are all but empty, despite being surrounded by housing developments and apartment complexes in various shades of tan. Tuesday night may be industry night downtown, keeping the flow of tip money in circulation among cooks and waitstaff heading out on their nights off, but in Lone Tree, I had Khazana almost to myself for my first selection for a month of Indian cuisine, except for a small table of Indian businessmen and one or two takeout customers.

See also: Namaste India Gets Mild Applause for Its Solid but Stolid Fare

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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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