First look: A charming new Maria Empanada opens on South Broadway

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All photos by Lori Midson.

It's normal for a restaurant owner to be nervous on opening day -- even if it's not your first rodeo and you've assembled an experienced staff. There's often chaos, flared tempers and a general reaction of palpable fretfulness. But this morning, at the new Maria Empanada, the vibe was pure joy. Five minutes before opening the doors at 11 a.m., owner Lorena Cantarovici gathered her staff in a circle, wiped the tears from her eyes and quietly thanked her staff (more times than most of us get thanked in a week) for "creating a little bit of Argentina on South Broadway."

See also: Maria Empanada relocating to the former Buffalo Doughboy space


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Guess where I'm eating a pork chop and spaetzle?

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Lori Midson

With the flurry of new restaurant openings, it's all too easy to sweep some of the older ones -- like the restaurant where this photo was snapped -- under the rug, but this lively spot, which is celebrating ten years feeding the neighborhood in which it resides, continues to command my attention, turning out truly memorable dishes, including this rhapsodic pork chop sidekicked with spaetzle and Brussels sprouts.

Can you guess where I'm eating?

Special bonus: Anyone who gives the first correct answer to a Guess Where post -- on the Cafe Society blog, not on Facebook -- is entered into the contest pool, and every Monday, we select one lucky winner who'll receive a 2014 EatDenver dining deck, worth up to $520 in discounts at independent restaurants.

Guess where you're eating? At an EatDenver restaurant if you're JGDenver

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Lori Midson

Cafe Society dished up five Guess Where? contests last week, ranging from an Argentinean pizza topped with egg and hearts of palm from Buenos Aires Pizzeria to a sizzling platter of tandoori chicken from India's Castle to a bowl of crab dip with housemade potato chips from a restaurant that just trotted out a new happy hour menu.


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Guess where I'm eating a pizza that makes you want to salsa?

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Lori Midson

Sure, you can get a Hawaiian pizza here, and a pizza with the ever-present prosciutto, too, but most of the pizzas at this charmer zigzag in a different direction, most notably a pizza studded with ham, palm hearts and egg, its surface paved with a Latin American salsa rosada.

Can you guess where I'm eating?

Special bonus: Anyone who gives the first correct answer to a Guess Where post -- on the Cafe Society blog, not on Facebook -- is entered into the contest pool, and every Monday, we select one lucky winner who'll receive a 2014 EatDenver dining deck, worth up to $520 in discounts at independent restaurants. Read all about EatDenver dining decks here.


First look: Michael Bortz's City Bakery Cafe opens today

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All photos by Lori Midson.

Despite the fact that it wasn't even open, zealous bread heads -- 250 of them to be exact -- rose to the occasion yesterday, forming long lines at master baker Michael Bortz's City Bakery Cafe, the restaurant-retail offshoot of City Bakery, Bortz's bread-baking emporium in north Denver, which supplies loaves of lovely bread to numerous local restaurants. The Golden Triangle cafe, located in the former home of Lenny's Sub Shop, spent the past few days doing trial runs -- and turning out sandwiches and baked goods for free to eager neighbors -- and today, at promptly 11 a.m., City Bakery Cafe opens to the public.

See also: Baker Michael Bortz opening City Bakery Cafe in the former Lenny's Sub Shop on Lincoln

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Guess where I'm eating crab dip and housemade potato chips?

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Lori Midson

Denver restaurants are rolling out new happy hour menus to coincide with the warmer weather, and late yesterday afternoon, while the sun was warming my neck, I enjoyed one of the new happy hour dishes -- crab dip and housemade potato chips -- at a joint whose two patios were overflowing with people doing the same.

Can you guess where I'm eating?

Special bonus: Anyone who gives the first correct answer to a Guess Where post -- on the Cafe Society blog, not on Facebook -- is entered into the contest pool, and every Monday, we select one lucky winner who'll receive a 2014 EatDenver dining deck, worth up to $520 in discounts at independent restaurants. Read all about EatDenver dining decks here.


Snarf's owner-chef Jimmy Seidel: "We're bringing more Snarf's to the people"

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Lori Midson

Jimmy "Snarf" Seidel
Snarf's
eatatsnarfs.com
Snarfburger
snarfburger.com

This is part two of my interview with Jimmy Seidel, chef-owner of Snarf's and Snarfburger; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.

Most memorable meal you've ever had:
I've had some very memorable meals in my life, including the one where I asked my wife to marry me, but it's another meal that I'll call the most memorable (sorry, Bunny!). It was at Mark's Place, in North Miami Beach, a restaurant that just did everything right. It's unfortunate that Mark Militello's restaurants closed, because the times I ate there still really stick out in my mind.

See also: Jimmy Seidel, chef-owner of Snarf's: "I'm having a love affair with fried chicken"


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Guess where I'm eating an In-N-Out clone?

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Lori Midson

A friend of mine -- a bona fide burger baron -- turned me on to this burger joint, which, he insisted, flipped a burger that was the closest meat-between-the-bun he'd ever eaten that mimicked a famed burger from In-N-Out. It wasn't quite quite an In-N-Out burger, but I agree that it comes very, very close, and you'll only need to travel about 65 miles to get your mouth on one.

Can you guess where I'm eating?

Special bonus: Anyone who gives the first correct answer to a Guess Where post -- on the Cafe Society blog, not on Facebook -- is entered into the contest pool, and every Monday, we select one lucky winner who'll receive a 2014 EatDenver dining deck, worth up to $520 in discounts at independent restaurants. Read all about EatDenver dining decks here.


Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate crackles

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Whitney Arris

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"Chocolate crackles are one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes, and they're super kid-friendly," says Ariss, who spent the past week baking cookies with her nieces and nephew. "Whenever I get together with the kids, we end up baking, and I like to choose recipes that let them participate and get their hands dirty, and any kind of rolled cookie is perfect for that purpose," she notes.

"I also love these cookies because they taste like brownies, but they're a little more foolproof," she says, adding that the cookies "bake up a little crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy in the center." Hint: Use the Valrhona dark chocolate cocoa powder that Marczyk's stocks for an "ultra-fudgey and bittersweet flavor."

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Chilled nettle soup with pickled fiddleheads

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Jimmy Seidel, chef-owner of Snarf's: "I'm having a love affair with fried chicken"

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Lori Midson

Jimmy "Snarf" Seidel
Snarf's
eatatsnarfs.com
Snarfburger
snarfburger.com

This is part one of my interview with Jimmy Seidel, chef-owner of Snarf's and Snarfburger; part two of our conversation will run tomorrow.

If you've ever wondered why Jimmy Seidel, owner of Snarf's and Snarfburger, named his joints what he did, all you have to do is consult a dictionary: The definition of "snarf," depending upon which dictionary app you have, is to eat or drink quickly, voraciously or greedily. But the dictionaries of the world could just replace that terminology with two words: Jimmy Seidel. "[Snarf] was my college nickname, because I grubbed my food, my cocktails, my life. I snarfed down everything I could," recalls Seidel, who just turned fifty and plans to enter his "silver decade" by snarfing every day for the next year. "It's going to be one year-long party of snarfing," he quips.

See also: Snarf's Sub Shop opens its new DU location with a bar, breakfast and Infinite Monkey Theorem wines

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