8 must-try places for BBQ, soul food, Korean, Indian and more


Aurora’s amazing dining scene is constantly invigorated by people on the move

“The Gateway to the Rockies,” as Denver’s neighboring city is called, became a landing spot for African-Americans who arrived from the American South due to “The Great Migration,” and continues to be called home by asylum-seekers, immigrants and refugees from more than 47 countries. Many have started businesses that give diners a chance to experience the flavors of their native lands. Here are eight sit-down, independent restaurants whose menus have been shaped by migration. They’re worth the trip from Denver!

Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post

Catfish, mac and cheese and greens from Cora Faye’s Soul Food Cafe in Aurora.

Cora Faye’s Soul Food Café

Priscilla Smith cultivated a following for her soulful Southern cooking while running a restaurant in Park Hill. Smith moved to Aurora several years ago, and her current location is near the bustling intersection of Colfax and Chambers. Stop by to savor crispy fried chicken, smothered pork chops, and other dishes from recipes that have been in Smith’s Alabama-based family for more than a century. For a dreamy finish to your meal, order a slice of coconut cream cheese frosted cake and two pillows for your inevitable after-meal nap.

15395 E. Colfax Ave., 303-333-5551. Open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. corafayescafe.com

Roast pork, Congri (arroz con habichuela negro), plantains at Cuba Bakery & Café in Aurora. (Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post)

Cuba Bakery & Café

People with Cuban heritage who live in the Denver area heavily endorse this place. Here, you’ll find a delightful blend of savory and sweet foods. Everything is served cafeteria-style, so diners can feast with their eyes before making a selection. We love the chicharron served here as a long strip of pork skin, meat and fat fried to crispy perfection. There’s also the traditional ropa vieja (translated as “old clothes”), which is shredded beef in a spicy tomato sauce. Whatever you choose for your entrée, an ideal finish is a guava-filled pastry. A word to the wise: If you want any chance of getting the Saturday oxtails special, you need to show up before noon.

15028 E. Mississippi Ave., 303-752-2822. Open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; 8 a.m-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday. cubabakeryandcafe.com

Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post

(Clockwise) Rice, green chutney dipping sauce, plantain bajji, okra fry, mango lassi, and carrot halwa from the Madras Cafe. (Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post)

The Madras Café

In the metro Denver area, Indian restaurants usually feature the country’s northern cuisines. Madras Café delightfully shines a spotlight on the vegetarian dishes made in southern India. Start your meal with bajji, a popular, deep-fried street snack with a chutney dipping sauce. The plantain version is the most traditional and reminds one of an orangish fritter. We recommend zooming in on the section of the menu dedicated to “South Special Curries.” The lightly sauced and well-seasoned okra fry is earthy and soul-satisfying. For dessert, you’ll love the halwa made with finely grated carrots, condensed milk and clarified butter.

5422 S. Parker Road, 720-541-7293. Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., then 5:30-9:30 p.m.  Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., then 5:30-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. themadrascafe.com

Plate by the Pound’s barbecue tray, from left: Baked potato loaded with chopped beef brisket, pork spareribs, hot link sausages, sliced beef brisket, and pulled pork.

Plates by the Pound BBQ

The only thing that has been on more of a roll than barbecue chef Aaron Gonerway is his generous serving of “O.G. Pulled Pork” that he serves up to folks lined up around the block on Saturday mornings. True to his Texas family roots, Gonerway makes excellent beef brisket, and that’s the move to make when ordering. Another standout is the baked potato that is truly “loaded” with barbecued meat. We were also pleasantly pleased with the potato salad, smoky baked beans, and banana pudding. Mercy!

11601 E. Montview Blvd., 720-697-0082. Open Saturday, 11 a.m. until sold out. platesbythepoundbbq.com

Silla Korean Restaurant BBQ

Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post

Beef bulgogi with various fresh and pickled vegetable side dishes and dipping sauces at Silla.

Silla proudly claims to be the “oldest Korean restaurant in Colorado,” and its owners should be proud. The standard Korean dishes are top-notch and possibly habit-forming. We suggest starting off with the hubcap-sized kimchi jeon pancakes and the fried, pork-filled delights called goon mandu dumplings. If you order the bulgogi — marinated, slightly sweet and thinly sliced strips of meat — you’ll get the option of cooking it yourself at the table, or having the kitchen take care of it. We left it up to the experts and devoured the sizzling, cast-iron plate of beef bulgogi accompanied by an array of fresh and pickled vegetable side dishes. For a change of pace, our bibimbap bowl was grilled calamari with a sauteed vegetable medley and a fried sunnyside-up egg over rice.

3005 S. Peoria St., 303-338-5070. Open 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday-Tuesday, Friday-Saturday. sillabbq.com

Sugar’s Caribbean Fast Food

Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post

Chef Sugar with a to-go lunch at Sugar’s Caribbean Fast Food. (Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post)

The first time you pull up to this place, you’ll probably curse whichever map application you used. Yes, you’re in a residential neighborhood and there aren’t any signs indicating an eating place is nearby. Not to worry. Just follow the inviting aroma and the pulsating music to the back of the house. This weekend-only, take-out Jamaican “restaurant” is actually run out of owner Sugar’s  (that’s the only name the owner goes by) converted back porch. His cooking adventures began long ago as a child when he watched his relatives cook. As an adult, Sugar would “run a boat” with friends (which means having a cookout). After months of rave reviews, he thought he should make some money by cooking. I’m grateful for that revelation. I don’t know why, but Jamaican cooks have a way with oxtails, and Sugar’s version doesn’t disappoint. Six meaty pieces bathed in a rich brown gravy are nestled in an ample portion of peas and rice. You’ll also love the slightly spicy jerk chicken, the fried red snapper slathered in a spicy sauce, and the flaky and meat-filled (beef or chicken) hand pies called “patties.” All of these pair nicely with a house made non-alcoholic hibiscus drink called “sorrel” or a chilled bottle of Red Stripe beer.

1140 Lansing St., 720-231-6460. Open Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ono Kao Sweh at Urban Burma ...

Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post

Ono Kao Sweh at Urban Burma in Aurora. (Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post)

Urban Burma

This restaurant is one of the star attractions at the Mango House, a complex that includes immigrant-related businesses, a food court and services. We were absolutely wowed by the fermented and lightly dressed tea leaf salad with a crunchy mix of cabbage, lentils and fried peanuts. We forgot about social graces while slurping up the “weh da nah,” a spicy pork curry punctuated with potatoes. Its ginger mint spritzer was fresh and delicious. An absolute must for dessert is the banana paratha of fried dough filled with banana with a Nutella drizzle.

10180 E. Colfax Ave., 626-628-5430. Open noon to 7 p.m., Thursday-Saturday. orderurbanburma.com

Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post

Grilled pompano, spicy tomato sauce, fragrant rice, and a salad at Yemen Grill in Aurora. (Adrian Miller, Special to The Denver Post)

Yemen Grill

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