Golden Europe Has More Schnitzel Than the Rest of Denver's Restaurants Combined

Categories: ethniche

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All photos by Mark Antonation
Wedging four people into a tiny booth at Golden Europe was no easy task: accommodating the lefties in the group, making sure I had room to take photos of my food, sitting comfortably without becoming entangled in the lace curtains above the table. It was a tight fit, and made me wonder why people built so big -- the Czech owner and his son were both a good head taller than me -- would put such tiny booths in their restaurant. That is, until one of my dinner companions mentioned that the restaurant had once been a Pizza Hut (or some similar corporate food entity). That made a little more sense, but it didn't make things any easier once the platters of food began to arrive, contending for space with half-liters of beer, bottles of Gewurztraminer, side dishes and gravy boats, while the four of us attempted to pass bites around and grapple enormous portions without spilling anything.

See also: Polished Tavern Serves Grandma's Cooking Under Disco Lights

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Polished Tavern Serves Grandma's Cooking Under Disco Lights

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
Sitting alone at the bar early on a Tuesday evening probably isn't how the management at Polished Tavern envisions guests experiencing the full impact of the place. But I'm not the only one going solo; a few other single drinkers and diners occupy other bar stools, while one or two couples are in the booths behind me. Dance music streams from the sound system, although not too loudly, and the last of the day's light streaming in from the low windows facing 15th Street competes with the blue and purple club lighting. The neon and LED glow will soon win out, but for another half-hour or so, Polished is just a simple tavern serving hearty food to hungry diners.

See also: Old-School Meets Old World at Cafe Prague in Morrison

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Old-School Meets Old World at Cafe Prague in Morrison

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
Cafe Prague is nearby in Morrison, but a world away.
I can drive from my house to Morrison in about the same amount of time that it takes me to drive to downtown Denver, but I rarely go. Once a year to a show at Red Rocks, if I'm lucky, but otherwise I've probably had dinner in the almost-mountain town just a handful of times in my life. But my quest for good schnitzel knows no geographic or geological boundaries, so even if Cafe Prague is on the other side of a psychological border that makes Aurora and Centennial feel closer than the nearby town that just happens to have a hogback between me and it, I'll make the westward journey for the promise of some breaded veal.

See also: Sobo 151 Offers Czech Food and Dive Bar Comfort

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Sobo 151 Offers Czech Food and Dive Bar Comfort

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
October is a month of transition -- change defines the weather, the length of the days, the leaves in the trees. October is the month to dress a little warmer, grab a bigger beer and indulge in some hearty, traditional food. German food and beer seem appropriate even if Oktoberfest in Munich officially begins while the calendar still shows summer.

In Denver, German restaurants are scarce, but certain dishes follow culinary paths that cross international borders. For the next month (plus this last day of September), I'll be looking for schnitzel in its various forms. Many of the Slavic and German restaurants that serve variations on schnitzel populate the periphery of the city, but I'm starting near the center, at Sobo 151 Czech Bar and Grill, where the breaded cutlet also goes by its Czech name rĂ­zek.

See also: You're Actually Welcome at Little India

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You're Actually Welcome at Little India

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
There are nights when I crave the unique and adventurous, the dishes with names I can't pronounce and ingredients I've never heard of, much less shopped for or cooked at home -- tropical fruits with pungent or savory back notes, the odd bits of meat that never even see a grocery-store butcher counter, bitter greens that may be backyard staples in another part of the world. But then I realize those foods are only unique and adventurous because I've never tried them, and that many ethnic specialties are really everyday dishes in their homelands or perhaps perennial favorites eaten only during special occasions or holidays. A Thanksgiving turkey may be a once-a-year treat, but it's hardly exotic or intimidating, unless perhaps you're from a place with no turkeys. Little India (the quiet one in the University of Denver neighborhood) has become my fallback restaurant, my back-up date, for times when I want Indian flavors, only with the guaranteed comfort of a family dinner or a holiday meal. It's a place where the food is consistent, approachable, even mild -- but sometimes that's exactly what I crave.

See also: Tiffin's Dishes Up Bolder Indian Street Food in Boulder

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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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