Its 7:45 in the morning, breakfast time, and I'm not eating Wheaties or sipping on a martini; I'm throwing down on a gorgeous Frito Pie, the true Breakfast of Champions. But something somehow seems strange. It's not eating a Frito Pie for breakfast, for that is perfectly normal. In fact, its Mexican ancestor, Chilaquiles, is a traditional morning meal infamous for its magical hangover cure. Also perfectly normal is that my wife is sitting across from me, happily eating some good-looking tamales, another traditional breakfast delight. Nor is it strange the feeling I have in my stomach from the early morning battle going on between green chile, Fritos and coffee. What is bizarre, is that I am basking in the sterile glow of florescents at the Denver International Airport.
Frito Pie at the Airport?!
I am actually a little suspicious, and crouch over my plate, guarding it with one arm as the other shovels my mouth full; as if some annoying TSA agent is going to sneak up behind me, ask me to take my shoes off and start probing my frito pie. That somehow sounds wrong, but it does feel strange and indeed wrong to be having this much dining pleasure in an airport. But no one comes to frisk me or to snatch my plate away, and I go on devouring bite after savory bite of my pile of Fritos, green chile, beans, tomatoes and lettuce.
This was not a dream. Or some fatigue-induced airport mirage. On the contrary, this is a real and true airport oasis. La Casita--yes, that La Casita--has a counter in Terminal C at the Denver International Airport. I did not know this. Although, when I really think back, someone may have told me about this months or years ago and I have since forgotten. Well, blessed be my poor long term memory, because stumbling into Terminal C that morning with hunger pangs from rushing out of the house without eating, I was dreading a dry Einstein's bagel or $8 cup of fruit and yogurt, and was pleasantly surprised to see La Casita shining like a beacon of hope among the hopeless tragedy that is airport food.
The shining beacon of La CasitaI've actually probably walked by this La Casita a dozen times before and sadly, it is pretty easy to miss. Tucked in a corner, its counter obscured by the puzzling long lines at McDonald's, and its sign sort of blocked by a roof beam and some pillars, it waits patiently for discerning airport diners.
My wife ordered some of the renowned tamales, smothered, of course, in green chile. It was quality La Casita cooking, albeit dialed down on the spice quite a bit, I assume for the transient East Coaster who thinks food that causes sweating is a bad thing. My Frito Pie was excellent as well, and although also lacking in heat, I must say they still make a fine green chile. Anyway, I can't complain, condsidering that my belly was now full of Frito fun-time.
Now on the plane, I settled into my cramped coach chambers and started to doze off, pleasantly stuffed to well before the vomiting point, eyes closed and a grin on my face as if I'd discovered a great secret. And I did. And it will forever change my flying experience at DIA. Next stop: Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. More to come.
Visit La Casitas two North side locations, or start your next plane ride out right at the Airports best dining counter.