Sunday, October 31, 2010

US Thai in Edgewater: Ped Mak Mak!

Authenticity. It is a vague and ever-changing term that in our global world, I would argue, is continually being re-defined. When do new variations on old dishes become authentic themselves? Why, when talking about "ethnic" foods (read this for a great explanation of what that word even means anymore), do we even feel like that is something necessary to strive for? And for that matter, how many of us even know what we are talking about?

What is authentic? Webster's online dictionary does indeed include one entry that defines it in the manner in which we are used to using the word with food: as something that is "done in the same way as the original". Another definition that I like is "not false or imitation", or in non-dictionary speak, "real".

I too get caught up in this idea of the true-to-the-original "authentic" at times when picking my favorite Mexican foods. Take my beloved pastor, for example: it needs to have pineapple and marinated pork roasted on a spit. But in the end I would argue that it is less important whether the food we enjoy is authentic in this way, but rather in the second definition I gave: that it is real, and not false or imitation.

I bring this up in this post because Thai food is one of those cuisines where authenticity always seems to enter into the debate. I've been to Thailand and spent my days there devouring any and everything that came near me. Much of it was so different and new that I can't to this day describe it all that well. And authentic? I take that much of it was made "in the same way as the original", but what made it so good is that much of it was cooked with such sincerity and honesty --or realness.

US Thai Cafe, across the street from Sloan's Lake in lovely Edgewater just beyond the glow of the entryway spanning 25th Ave, may or may not be authentic in the sense of being true to the original--I'm certainly not an authority to decide. But in this country, when Thai food is often dumbed-down, restrained and understated; US Thai is vibrant, bold and strong. It is also entirely real. Genuine. Heartfelt.

And the owners and kitchen staff all are of Thai descent, so they are also not afraid to throw in some real spice as well--something I clearly remember from my days in Bangkok and beyond. In fact spice is what they have become (in)famous for in the Denver Thai-food scene. Though don't let that fool you, the flavors are there as well-- and the care and depth of a real home cooked meal is present from start to finish.

Four of us sat down that night under the "Ped Mak Mak" chalkboard, one of several chalkboards placed in the west dining room with mini-lessons in the Thai tongue. How relevant this word would become in our meal was yet to be discovered. I had heard about the reputation of US Thai, but I am not one to shy away from spicy food, so I was prepared for anything.

Of course when we started to order our server kindly and routinely warned us non-Thai patrons that "spicy" really meant "Thai spicy". Our party got a little shy at that point and we only ended up with one spicy plate at my urging-- the final plea being "It's for the blog!" I couldn't rightly write this post if I hadn't eaten spicy at US Thai. The rest of the plates ended up being medium.

Our first plate out was Soom Tam, or a green papaya salad with peanut, tomatoes and green beans. And chiles. I took the first bite-- a big one-- and got a little worried, but also really excited: this was incredibly spicy. An instant burn followed by a gradual build of a truly intense pepper. And then a lingering, painful yet numbing, satisfying yet biting after-burn. It was still quite delicious, and the lemon juice cut into the spice some. Yet there was no mention of spicy on the menu for this salad. "Yikes," I thought, "We're in for a wild ride," and I smiled meekly at my table-mates trying to ignore their glares.

But really no one at our table was any kind of slouch when it comes to handling the spice. We polished off the salad and cooled off with some very good piping-hot steamed pork dumplings.

Toomyam soup was up next. It was delicious--and spicy. Toomyam soup is a lemongrass-based soup perfectly sour with fish sauce, and chock full of thick-cut mushrooms, onion, basil and cilantro.

Our mouths already felt a little scarred when the classic Pad Thai came out. This was the one dish that was supposed to be spicy. It did not disappoint, but by this time our palates were already so stimulated with spice (e.g. burning) that it didn't seem all that spicier than anything else. And the flavors were so bold that it was incredibly delicious nonetheless: simple, classic-- and spicy.

By now the sweat dripping down the nape of my neck was constant, and I slurped my ice water in vain. But I was happy. I enjoy this kind of spice. It is refreshing. And the food was not without substance. It was well-flavored and all had a homemade taste and feel. One example was the Jungle Curry: big chunks of meat, zucchini, carrots, bamboo shoots and green beans. Jungle curry is more of a broth than the coconut milk blended curries you might traditionally think of, and it was like a big bowl of Thai comfort.

We also ordered something called the "Pak US Thai Special". It was a delicious stir-fry vegetable medley that we got with succulent pork slices. Like everything else it was fresh, bold and (this is starting to get redundant) a bit spicy.

We cooled down for dessert with a so-so mango sticky rice. Only really because the mango itself was in pretty poor shape.

The best analogy of eating at US Thai when you order spicy is that it is like running a marathon, but without all the annoying exercise and movement. I've eaten single hotter items, but it has been a while since I've sat down to a continuous spread of spicy food like that. As we enter the winter months it is a good pick for clearing the sinuses and generally staying warm, both with the comfort of the cooking and the intense searing heat of chiles.

So how authentic is US Thai? I don't know. When using the definition that compares how much it is like the original, I would venture to say about as close as you can come in Colorado. But when does this definition begin to morph? How many generations later does it become authentic for being done the same way it always has been done out in Edgewater? But I digress. To sum it up, when referring to the definition of authentic as "not false", US Thai keeps it real like a Dave Chappelle skit. So take a trip out to Sloan's Lake and cross the street to historic Edgewater: I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Us Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 24, 2010

East Colfax Does It Again: Peruvian Roast Chicken at Pisco Sour Lounge

When you think of Peru you may think of the cloud-covered dramatic peaks of Machu Pichu, or the colorful woven garments of the indigenous Incans. Maybe it is the stunning summits of the Andes that pass through your head, or the lively and crowded old-meets-new capital of Lima. If you're a well-read type, then into your mind will likely pop its world literary contributions including 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winning author Mario Vargas Llosa.

Well, in my fleeting and superficial understanding of what is undoubtedly a diverse and complex Peruvian culture, what pops into my head when I think of Peru is a complete meal of pollo a las brasas: roasted chicken, French fries, shredded lettuce salad and a liter of neon-colored soda.

I must qualify what may seem like expert opinion to say that I have never once been to Peru. My impression comes from a trip to neighboring Chile, where my wife and I went to a Peruvian restaurant (that counted among the best food we had in Chile-- but that's another story). Of course the menu was full of many Peruvian delights, but what really left an impression on me was the large dining room full of Peruvian families most of whom were sharing a whole roasted chicken, an enormous plate of fries and a large bottle of Inca Cola.

Of course the ceviche and other fancier dinner items I tried that night were fantastic, but something about the comforting chicken dinner was nostalgic and irresistible. It is so often the simplest of foods that bond families and make the fondest memories. The pull of those feelings-- though I couldn't have described them at the time (I was already many Cusqueñas into the night)-- and the smell of that roasted chicken skin, had me bewitched; and I ordered my own half chicken with French fries. While my wife and friends indulged in more intricate plates of seafood, I was content with my chicken. It was delicious and one of my better food memories from that trip.

Now that I have likely somehow offended all my Chilean and Peruvian readers equally, let me proceed. Pisco Sour Lounge on East Colfax serves a nice variety of Peruvian cuisine and captures the home-cooked comfort that I remember so well from Chile. (To avoid further escalating the Peruvian-Chilean debate I will avoid any opinions on the drink pisco itself.)

As evidence of the family comfort feeling of Pisco Sour, the evening that my wife and I went they were hosting a child's birthday party, complete with an obnoxiously loud Emcee and a pesky professional clown that at least once led a party train full of eight year-olds around the entire bar and restaurant.

On the flipside of the family-centric atmosphere is the location on East Colfax and Wabash, amidst cheap motel after cheap motel and just down the street from Saturday's gentleman's club. And scattered everywhere in between are plenty of other ladies of the night that weren't good enough (or too good?) to work inside of East Denver's finest strip club. The bar at Pisco Sour is also a little too well-stocked for a place that caters to families much past dark, and once the daylight does stop pouring in the lone row of windows, it turns the already dimly-lit dining room into a cabaret-style lounge circa 1973, replete with red-vinyl booths, gold-trimmed chairs and dark mahogany woodwork.

If there were any doubt in our minds about what was going down after we left that night around 7pm, the sign looming over Colfax summed it up: It was "$aturday", or that is, "Fie$ta Night". Although given that the lucky kid's birthday party was still going strong (and loud), maybe it was the most tame Fiesta night spelled with a "$" in the history of Fie$ta nights.

Somehow I doubt it. Somehow I think you may have a wild time one way or the other if you rolled into the Pisco Sour Lounge after midnight this Saturday. Or Wednesday through Friday for that matter. If I weren't married, that Single$ night would be calling my name. But I am happily married and really all that I care about outside of my family life these days is eating good food. And the Pisco Sour Lounge has that in abundance.

We dove right in and ordered a whole roasted chicken. Our Peruvian host was taken aback that my slight-of-stature wife and I were planning on tackling a whole chicken. He seemed like he was going to caution us, but then simply said something to the effect of, "You can always take the rest home." We also ordered a plate of fried plantain. (I like when my servers encourage my gluttony rather than spoiling the fun.)

While we were waiting, he brought us a round of Chica Morada. Chica Morada, literally "purple corn", is made by boiling purple corn with things like cloves and cinnamon. It is a sweet and layered non-alcoholic beverage usually served cold. The Pisco Sour Lounge makes their own from scratch. It is delicious.

The chicken came out and we immediately dug in. The flavor on the skin was intense. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a healthy dose of MSG on this bird, but if MSG has any place in our increasingly health-conscious world it is in Chinese take-out and rotisserie chicken skin.

It is completely unfair of me to insinuate that Pisco Sour Lounge uses MSG on its roasted chicken. But my point is it doesn't matter and the other point is that this is one delicious roast chicken. The skin was lovely and crisp. Even the deepest breast meat was somehow still moist and the wings were not overcooked either. We were making good headway on our whole chicken but were being sidetracked by this enormous plate of fries and these perfectly done plantains.

Along with everything were some excellent chicken-and-fry dipping sauces. I'm not sure exactly what was in all three of the sauces but they all seemed to be variations of the ubiquitous aji sauce-- made with some combination of what tasted like jalapeños (aji chiles?), mayonaise, cilantro, garlic, lime, maybe some mustard here and there and some vinegar.

Pisco Sour Longue on East Colfax is worth your while. They have a full menu of other Peruvian delights including Anticuchos-- a traditional kabob full of marinated beef hearts. After I finish off all this leftover chicken, I plan to go back for that. Maybe if I'm feeling a little saucy, it'll be Wednesday, and you'll find me singing along with Marco Antonio Solis or belting out some other karaoke classics.

The same reader who urged me to go to Los Farolitos and engaged me in the discussion about Mexican restaurants without Mexicans suggested Pisco Sour. I feel like I have become his pawn in some larger scheme where I'm oblivious to the outcome. That is entirely OK by me, as the journey down this road has been so far entirely delectable. And with my hectic life as of late, if you want me to do your bidding and take me down your own auspicious path to good eating, suggest a great and under-appreciated eatery and I'll do my best to check it out.
Pisco Sour Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 18, 2010

Food for Films: Sneak Peek of the 33rd Starz Denver Film Festival

If you follow this blog with some regularity then you may remember that I went to this year's Telluride Film Festival (TFF). I had a great time, ate some decent spit-roasted meat and saw some films. Although the films I saw were generally quite good, and were often world-premieres, it made me realize that film-for-film we have a special film festival of our own right here in Denver.

I am, of course, referring to the Starz Denver Film Festival (DFF). It doesn't compare to Telluride in star power, budget or world premieres-- but it isn't trying. It is a workingman's film festival that every year brings an impressive number of incredible and important films to Denver; and spread out over almost two weeks, with the ability to buy individual tickets to every movie, it is easy to manage and afford.

This year the line-up is impressive again. There are at least six films that I saw or could have seen at the TFF and overall there are a couple-hundred choices from dozens of countries, including a focus on Iranian Cinema and a special group of Mexican cinema that has become another new tradition within the festival itself. (For some real movie insight, visit Denveater's site here and here.)

I should disclose that I am a Denver Film Society member, something that will get me the inside track in buying tickets to this year's showtimes. Member tickets go on sale Wednesday and the rest of you can start buying on Friday. There is still time to join and reap the member benefits which include discounted tickets and discounted concessions, the latter which should deter you from having to sneak food into the theater.

That being said I know economic times are tough. I also know that even when times aren't tough there are those of us that are still either too damn cheap or snobby (or somehow both) to buy food from the popcorn counter, so we sneak it in ourselves. That, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to the topic of this post:
My Favorite Foods To Sneak Into the Movies.

1) Burrito
My number one favorite food to sneak into the movies is a burrito. A burrito that is well-wrapped in foil might be the ultimate movie meal. It is here that I admit that when I do indulge in my movie burrito is more often than not from that place you all think of now when you imagine a foil-wrapped burrito. Call it non-traditional. Call it corporate food for the masses. Call it convenience. But whatever the case, it is especially good slouched down in a seat under the big screen.

2) Torta
Like the burrito, a torta is usually tightly wrapped in foil when ordered "to go". It is also usually sliced down the middle making for easy in-theater eating. Compared to the standard burrito, however, they can reek of fried meat, oil and butter. That is usually a good thing, but in a tightly-packed or small theater it is a little much, so save it for those big theater showings of second runs when you can isolate yourself from the rest of us. This photo is from the infamous Tortugas:

3) Popcorn
This might seem obvious. Or stupid. Or cheap. It's not just that movie popcorn is outrageously expensive, it's that I don't love the artificial butter taste or the excess salt. I know that might be sacrilegious to some, but it is just a little too much for me sometimes. I like to stove-pop popcorn at home and toss it with a healthy dose of cayenne pepper and a little salt. In the summer, when I have fresh-pesto coming out of my ears, I like to drizzle that over my popcorn and shake it up in a bag.

4) Booze
There is nothing more embarrassing then opening a can of beer in a movie theater while trying to cover it up with a cough. I'm not above that scenario, but in my more mature years (everything is relative) I can often be seen (hopefully I am never seen) sipping from a thermos filled with a mixture of Bailey's Irish cream and either hot cocoa or coffee. Plus, have too many beers and you'll be in the can when Matt Damon saves the world.

5) Chocolate Bar
I'm a little bit of a dark chocolate fiend, and not so much of a candy-type (except for an occasional box of Mike and Ike's), so I like to supply my own sweets for movie time. Lately I have been hooked on two different bars from Boulder's own Chocolove: one with sea salt and almonds, the other with crushed ancho chiles and cherries.

6) A Big Bag
None of this would be possible without the big-ass purse I bought my wife for Christmas a few years ago. Actually, to call it just a purse would be like calling Muhammad Ali just another good boxer. This is the hands-down king (or queen) of purses. My wife is rather petite, but she could easily lay down in it and take a nap. If I was strong enough I could carry her in and only have to buy one ticket. Suffice to say it is more than up to the task of even our most gluttonous of movie contraband experiences.

Now I don't know the Denver Film Society's stance on contraband food in its theaters, but I imagine it might be along the lines of "We will confiscate that." I also realize that I have quite possibly incriminated myself-- or at least all women carrying a big black purse. On the other hand, I have information from a credible source that the "theme" of this year's festival is along the lines of "Festival-Going Tips", so I'm really just doing my part.

The reality is that I save my food-smuggling for international travel and for theaters other than the DFS's lovely and intimate Tivoli showrooms. Seriously. Because there is something special in these intimate mini-theaters, and the film festival they play host to is my absolute favorite annual Denver event, so I would hate it to go away because they lost all that concession money. Plus, they do sell beer. And they should also have beer at their new location in the movie theaters on East Colfax next to Tattered Cover and Twist and Shout-- former home of Neighborhood Flix (RIP). I think I also get a free bag of popcorn (being a member). So at this year's film festival, if you hear someone coughing while obviously opening a beer, or awkwardly unwrapping the foil on a giant burrito, it probably won't be me. Probably.

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Perfect Saturday Morning: Kaladi Coffee and Trompeau Bakery

A few weeks ago on a Saturday was one of those days when I savor living in Denver. It was bright and sunny, with clear blue skies and a fresh, crisp morning breeze. The temperature was such that a light jacket was about right, and in the sun I felt a rich warmth without being hot in the least. I could honestly say that I would have not preferred any other weather in any place on earth. In fact, I said as much to my wife as I stepped out the door: "This is the perfect weather. I couldn't imagine anything better."

She, knowing my tendency to exaggerate (example 1, example 2, the list goes on...), shrugged her shoulders and smiled, but kept her sarcastic thoughts to herself. And while that is something in itself, it would only get better from there, because we were getting ready to partake in one of our favorite Saturday morning traditions: coffee and pastries on the 1700 East block of Evans Avenue, home to Kaladi Brothers coffee and  Trompeau French bakery.

While other aspects of my personal life and hygiene may be considered careless, haphazard, and generally below standard by some, coffee is something that I insist is done absolutely right. I hate to use the word "snob", because that implies that I care what other people do about their coffee, and I don't. But while many are just fine with their tin can of Folgers, my function and humor are markedly worse drinking this mass-produced and bland brew.

Kaladi Brothers has been house-roasting their own coffee in Denver since before much of the coffee craze hit Denver. And while I won't pretend to know anything about roasting coffee, they certainly seem to know exactly what they are doing and are always happy to educate you on the proper way to roast, brew and enjoy their coffee. They also have been dealing with fair-trade and organic products well before these noble causes were adopted by the hipster crowd and (happily) brought to the mainstream.

The Kaladi espresso is absolute perfection. It is rich, complex, a little sweet, strong and smooth. My wife likes sugar and milk in her coffee and she drinks a Kaladi Americano straight. Again, I tend to exaggerate and have a short memory, but I don't know if I've ever had a better sip of coffee as a Kaladi espresso pulled just right.

The hardest thing about Saturday mornings on East Evans for us is getting to Le Trompeau bakery before they are out of the good stuff. Everything is good mind you, but while their sign may say they stay open until 1:30pm, on a sunny morning like this, with the line stretching out the door, it is rare to have a good selection past noon. That, and the gaggle of French-speaking expatriates that walk smiling ear-to-ear out with grocery-sized bags full of breads and pastries.

The second hardest part about these mornings is deciding what to do first: wait in line at Le Trompeau, and then cross over to Kaladi's for coffee, or vice versa? I realize that it is one of those difficult decisions that plagues only the most fortunate, but it is difficult nonetheless. This morning we avoided any tough decisions and while my wife waited in line I went for coffee.

We got plain croissants and a baguette like we always do. Both are nearly as perfect as my double-shot of espresso. The former is light, flaky, buttery and rich; the latter is just the right amount of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. We also got some croissants filled with things like ham, cheese and mushrooms. They were warm with melted cheese and delicious as always.

The apex of our morning in the sun was this sublime pastry with sliced fresh strawberries. I don't likely even need to describe it, but I will: it was like a donut hamburger but with a light, fluffy cream patty and strawberries instead of cheese. OK, it was nothing like that. Just look at it and know that like everything else this fine morning, it was perfect.

Take out the speeding cars on Evans, replace them with cobblestones, and we could have been on some rue in Paris, or a strada in Roma--only with better coffee. Days like these are why I love living in Denver. Here's to many more.

Trompeau Bakery on Urbanspoon
Kaladi Brothers Coffee Company on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Los Farolitos of Aurora Part I: Barbacoa

What took me so long to eat at Los Farolitos? Way out on North Peoria in Aurora, it is not exactly the most central location, but that stretch of road is home to some of my favorite Denver-area restaurants and just a few weeks ago I sped right past Los Faorlitos on my way to one of them. My wife has always been intrigued by the "Estilo DF", or "Mexico City Style" that it touts. A reader urged me to make the trip long ago to check out its bountiful buffet and barbacoa. Whatever the reason, I never did go. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who procrastinate. And my procrastination ended the other night when I finally parked under the thin yellow glow of Los Farolito's storefront lights and opened the door to step inside.

Our first trip was around eight on a Friday night. There were two tables finishing up when we entered, and it looked like the staff was getting ready to lock up, but they greeted us with warm smiles and insisted that we sit down to eat. The man who first brought us menus immediately engaged us in friendly conversation. He and his family are not originally from Mexico City, but they lived many years there and he knew it well. While I scanned the extensive six pages of menu items he and my wife reminisced about the city known also as Chilangolandia. Satisfied after each triangulated the other's barrio and residencia, their conversation slowed and we ordered some drinks.

My wife was excited to find Tepache on the menu. Tepache is a drink made from fermented pineapples and is increasingly hard to find even in Mexico. She immediately got that far-way nostalgic glow in her eyes that only comes from recalling the best of childhood food memories-- so of course we ordered some. It is non-alcoholic and typically only fermented a few days with things like piloncillo and water. It is sweet, lightly fizzy, has the mildest hint of alcohol and is incredibly refreshing.

Being so late this Friday, the infamous Farolitos buffet was closed, and would have to wait until another day. Instead, in a moment of rare decisiveness and clarity, I made the easy choice of ordering the Barbacoa. My wife, on the other hand, struggled with her decision, overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of  menu items. She hemmed and hawed before finally ordering a huarache, that most giant, sandle-like fried piece of masa.

The Barbacoa at Los Farolitos is masterful. Barbacoa is traditionally a sheep cooked over coals in a pit dug into the ground. I didn't ask how it was prepared here, but it was so good that I wouldn't be surprised if they dug a secret hole back out in the alley behind Peoria. It was a moist, fatty, ample-sized leg of lamb; so tender it was falling off the bone.

As you can see it was literally sitting in a pool of its own succulent juices. It was served with a traditional array of onion, cilantro, limes, tortillas, a creamy chipotle-ish salsa and, of course, the rich broth.

Under that foil is some of the best Barbacoa you will have in this town

The broth was deeply rich; thick with the taste of marrow and slowly stewing bones. The flavors were layered but incredible simple. Aside from a sprinkling of herbs, a few stray chunks of lamb and a handful of hominy, it was all about the broth, which is a meal in itself. It is best with the juice from at least one lime, which cuts through some of the fatty richness.

It is such a memorable and blissful experience to eat food that has been prepared with the care and culinary genius of this broth. Each slurp was special. And many slurps were accompanied with a bite of incredibly tender leg of lamb, that like the broth was rich, fatty and absolutely melt-in-the-mouth wonderful. Or a bite of a barbacoa taco with all the fixings.

The barbacoa really is that good. And with barbacoa this good the huarache (literally, the sandal), though huge and tasty itself was an afterthought I admit. In an earlier post I reported that the huarache at another restaurant approached the enormity of an actual sandal fit for basketball freak and legend Shaq Fu. Well clearly I exaggerated then, so to keep everything relative-- both in scale and level of exaggeration-- this huarache would be worthy of Sasquatch himself.

But of course, like in a spit of pastor, it isn't size that matters in the world of fried masa dough. It was a good huarache that would be reason enough to make the trip here. The carne deshebrada was moist and fresh-tasting, the chorizo was, well chorizo (that is always good), and the dough was crisp on the outside but soft on the topping surface. We did our best to finish it but the richness of the barbacoa made it tough. In the end it looked like this:

The barbacoa on the other hand, disappeared completely.

Los Farolitos (formally El Farolito--the more the better) has already made it on my growing list of favorites in this part of town. It was a wonderful trip that resulted in a return trip the very next morning for a ridiculous amount of buffet eating. Stay tuned as I continue to battle with my busy non-blogging life and I'll have that posted before too long. 

El Farolito on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Venezuelan Arepas at El Caribe

With the cool air of fall blowing through and only one short month of market season left for Denver, I thought I would re-visit the "farmer's" market scene one more time this year. As you may have also noticed, many of these so-called farmer's markets have been overrun with food vendors over the years. In spite of this the Sunday East High School market has managed to keep quite a few actual farmers around. That being said, I wanted to mention not so much the great organic fruit I buy weekly from Elea Farms, but rather the phenomenal Venezuelan food I get around the corner.

Apparently in Denver good Venezuelan food is only to be found in the most unexpected of places. Actually, it is only found in two places that I know of: Golden and at the Cherry Creek and East High/ City Park Farmer's Market. I am of course referring to one of the greatest little food stands around: El Caribe.

El Caribe serves Venezuelan-style arepas and nothing more. On Sunday they can be found on the East side of the half-circle East High market right across the street from Tattered Cover on Colfax (and under the blinding orange sheen of the Deluxe truck which I'm glad to see has found yet another place to park).

There are several options of handmade mostly organic (and all gluten-free) arepas to be had at El Caribe, but I always go with the classic: El Pabellon. Filled with shredded beef, beans, plantain and cheese--and squirted with a generous dose of their homemade guasacaca sauce--it is a sweet and savory, hearty and moist sandwich. It is a great Sunday morning breakfast, though really I would eat this all day if I had that kind of access.

Igor and Beckie make some mean arepas and are apparently planning a food truck (of course they are). And while the Denver food truck scene has been glamorized by so many established restaurants getting in the game, it will be good to see some more street-tested veterans that have paid their dues cooking on camp stoves out in the elements get some wheels. Hopefully we'll be seeing more and more of El Caribe in the months and years to come.

Follow them on their blog to watch the food truck evolve. Visit them on their website. Check them out on UrbanSpoon.

El Caribe a Venezuelan Arepera on Urbanspoon


11N (1) A Federal Case (1) A Taste of the Philippines (1) Acapulco Tacos (1) Ace Eat Serve (1) adobo (1) Adrian Miller (1) aguas frescas (2) Al Lado (1) Al's Beef (1) alambre (4) Ali Baba Grill (1) All-V's (1) Araujo's (1) arepas (4) Argentina (2) art (1) asada (2) Aurora (5) authentic (1) Award (1) Azul (1) bacon (1) bagel (1) Bailey (1) bakery (1) baklava (1) baleadas (2) Ban Thai (1) Bánh mì (2) barbacoa (4) baseball (6) Basil Doc's (1) BBQ (2) beer (3) bibimbob (2) Biker Jim (1) birria (1) biscuit (2) Bistro Vendome (1) Bonnie Brae Tavern (1) books (2) Boulder (3) Boulder International Film Festival (1) Bourdain (1) breakfast (3) breakfast for dinner (1) breakfast tacos (1) brunch (2) Brussels sprouts (1) Buffalo wings (2) buffet (2) Bun Hanoi (1) burger (3) burrito (8) cabeza (2) Cafe de Tacuba (1) Cafe La Habana (1) Cafe San Juan (1) camping (1) Canada (1) Carl Sandburg (1) carne en su jugo (2) carne seca (1) carnitas (2) Cava (1) cecina (1) ceviche (2) change (1) charal (1) chica morada (1) Chicago (10) Chicago Louie's (1) Chicago Style (1) chicarron (3) chicharron (4) chicken skin (1) chilaquiles (5) Chile (3) chiles en nogada (1) Chili Verde (1) chimbolo (1) Chinese (2) Chinese New Year (1) chorizo (4) chorrillana (1) Christmas (1) churros (2) cinco de mayo (2) CLOSED (6) coffee (4) Colorado Springs (1) Colt and Grey (1) Coney Island (1) contest (9) crab (1) crawfish (1) crispchon (1) Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria (1) Cuban sandwich (7) cupcakes (1) curry (1) Cypress Hill (1) Dae Gee (1) Dancing Noodle (1) deep dish (1) deli (1) Deluxe (4) Denveater (7) Denver Biscuit Company (1) Denver Botanic Garden (1) Denver County Fair (2) dessert (2) Dim Sum (1) diner (1) DINR (7) discada (1) dolmades (1) Domo (1) donuts (1) Dorilocos (1) dreams (1) duck curry (1) dumplings (2) durian (1) EatDenver (2) El Boricua (1) El Camaron Loco (1) El Costeno (1) El Diablo (2) El Divino (1) El Fogon (1) el guero tortero (1) El Olvido (2) El Paisa (3) El Pariaso (1) El Rico Dicho (1) El Salvador (2) El Taco Rey (1) El Tamarindo (1) El Tizoncito (1) El Trompito (1) elote (1) Emapanda Express Grill (1) Empanada Express Grill (1) empanadas (8) enchiladas (1) enchiladas mineras (1) Encore (1) epicurious (1) Ernie's Bar (1) Euclid Hall (1) event (1) Evergreen (1) falafel (1) Fantasy Island (1) Filipino (7) film (7) fire (1) First Friday (1) fish tacos (3) flan (1) flautas (1) flyfishing (1) food truck (7) food cart (6) football (2) French (2) fried chicken (2) fried tacos (1) frijoles charros (1) Frijoles Colorado (1) Fritangas (1) frito pie (5) fruit (1) frybread (1) G6 (1) gallo pinto (1) garnachas (1) Gastro Cart (1) Gaudalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet (1) Globeville (1) Golden (1) good Mexican food (10) good signs (5) gorditas (1) Grandma's Korean BBQ (2) Greek (1) Greek Town (1) green chile (12) Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet (1) gyro (4) Halo-Halo (1) Harvest Week (1) Hi Rise (1) Honduran food (1) hot dog (5) huarache (4) Huerfano Cafe (1) Hush (1) Hutch and Spoon (1) Ian Kleinman (3) ice cream (1) Indian taco (1) itacates (1) Italian beef (6) Italian-American (2) Jabo's (1) Jack-n-Grill (1) James Mazzio (2) Japanese (1) Jax (1) Jiutepec (1) Jollibee (1) Jonsey's Eat Bar (1) kabob (1) Kaladi (1) Kavkaz Bakery (1) kids (2) King's Land (1) Korean BBQ (4) La Cascada (1) La Chapina (1) La Flor de Michoacan (1) La Loncheria Mexicana (1) La Mexicana Taqueria (1) lamb (3) Lao Wang Noodle House (1) Las Torgtugas (2) Las Tortas (1) Laughing Ladies (2) LDP (2) Le Trompeau (2) Leandro Cristobal (1) lechón (5) lengua (1) Leobardo's (1) LoHi (1) lonchera (7) longaniza (2) Los Angeles (1) Los Carboncitos (1) Los Farolitos (2) Los Gallitos (1) Los Pastes (1) Los Toritos (1) Lou Malnati's (1) lox (1) lumpia (2) lunch (2) machaca (1) Mama D's (1) Mama Tere (1) mango (1) Map (1) Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria (1) mariachi (1) Martin Rios (1) Masterpiece Deli (1) Maxwell Street (1) mayonnaise (1) Mexican Canoli (1) Mexican hot dog (1) Mexico City (9) Mexico City Restaurant and Lounge (1) michelada (2) Middle Eastern (6) Mile High Vienna Beef (1) molcajete (1) mole (8) Monte Vista (1) Motulenos (1) Mulli (1) Museo de las Americas (2) mushrooms (1) mussels (1) mystery meat (1) Navajo taco (1) New Mexican (3) New Siagon (1) Nicaragua (2) nitrogen (1) Nonna's (1) North County (1) NOT CLOSED (1) old school (1) Ondo's (1) Operation Front Line (2) Orange Crunch (1) Oscar's (1) Osteria Marco (1) oysters (1) paleta (1) pan dulce (5) Panaderia Rosales (1) pancit (2) Papas Locas (1) Parallel 17 (1) Park Burger (1) Paste (1) pastries (1) Pasty (1) Patricia Quintana (1) Patriotic Independence Gathering (1) pepper and egg (1) Peruvian (2) Philippines (3) pho (3) Pho 77 (1) Pho Duy II (1) Phoenician Kabob (2) Piccolo's (1) Pig Out (1) Pikka's (1) Pinche Tacos (2) Pinche Taqueria (1) pizza (9) Planet Barbecue (1) poblano (1) pollo a las brasas (2) Pomfreet (1) pork (3) poutine (2) pozole (1) pronunciation (1) Puebla (1) Puerto Rico (1) pupusa (5) quesillo (1) recipe (6) Recovery Room (1) Red Tango (1) rice and beans (3) Richard Sandoval (1) Riki Takaoka (1) Rise and Shine (1) roast pig (2) Rosca de Reyes (1) Route 40 (1) Russia (1) Sabor de Mexico (1) Salida (4) salty lemonade (1) Santa Fe (1) sausage (5) seafood (4) Seattle (1) shawarma (2) shrimp cocktail (1) Silla (1) Simpsons (1) smothered (7) sope (1) South American (1) southern colorado (8) Starz Denver Film Festival (3) Steven Raichlen (1) Stevo's (1) street food (9) strip malls (1) Studio F (2) stuffed (1) suadero (1) Sub sandwich (1) Sue of Siam (1) summer food truck boom (3) Sunburst Grill (1) sushi (1) Sustainable Food Film Series (1) sweets (2) Table 6 (3) taco al pastor list (2) taco arabe (1) taco truck (8) taco vampiro (1) Taco Veloz (2) TacoMex (1) tacos (2) tacos al pastor (37) tacos al vapor (4) Tacos Copacabana (2) tacos de canasta (1) tacos de trompa (1) tacos dorados (1) Tacos el Chorizo (1) Tacos El Gordo (2) Tacos El Sampa (1) Tacos Junior (2) Tacos Tijuana (1) Tacos y Salsas (2) Taiwanese (1) tamales (3) Tambien (3) tapas (2) Taqueria el Valle Aurora (1) Taqueria el Valle Denver (1) tarta (1) Taste of Chicago (1) Taste of the Nation (2) Teleras (1) Telluride (1) Tepotzlan (1) teriyaki (1) Thai (5) Thai Avenue (1) Thai Flavor (1) The Bagel Deli (1) The Berkshire (1) The Biscuit Bus (1) The Corner Office (1) The Inventing Room (1) The Pasty Republic (1) The Red Claw (1) Thornton (1) Ticorito (1) Tin Star Cafe Donut Haus (1) Tocabe (1) Toluca (1) Toluca Mexican Restaurant (3) tongue (1) torta (5) torta ahogada (2) torta Cubana (1) torta de tamal (1) Torta Grill (2) torta poblana (1) tortilla (1) Tortisimas (1) travel (15) Tres Pupusas (1) truffle fries (1) Turtux (1) Udi's (2) US Thai (1) Utah scones (1) Venezuelan (2) Victoria (1) Vietnamese (3) vietnamese sandwich (1) vigaron (1) Walsenburg (1) Westword Best Food Blog (1) whiskey (2) Willy's Buffalo Style Hot Wings (1) Work & Class (1) Xiao Long Bao (2) yuca (1) zombies (1) Zorbas (1)