Soup, pizzas, cookies and the occasional chalkboard special: These things are the marks of a good cafe. The food here doesn't come with a price tag, unless you want it to. Pay a fair price, pay what you can afford, or exchange your meal for some manual labor in the kitchen; the crew just wants to make sure you get a square meal. SAME opened in as Denver's first nonprofit restaurant, and it continues to be a model around the country for places that want to serve people in need of healthy, locally grown food with a side of dignity.
Viet's has long been a staple in the Far East Center, but since moving one door down from its original home to spacious and well-appointed new digs, the Vietnamese restaurant has been elevated from a neighborhood joint to destination dining. Simple dishes such as pho and chao rice porridge with a choice of toppings still stand out, but the real draws are the group entrees, including hot pots loaded with fresh greens and savory meats, appetizer platters with make-your-own spring rolls, and the impressive bo bay mon seven-course beef , mounded platters of meaty greatest hits.
For a quick smoothie or banh mi, hit V Express, which sprang up in the space next door after Viet's moved. That's the site of Tacos Marlene, a spot that cooks up some of the best street food in town.
Take your place in line and peruse the display of bootleg DVDs for sale before placing your order; carne asada, lengua or pastor are good bets, but the adventurous shouldn't miss the tacos de tripa — not spongy tripe, but beef small intestine diced into manageable, delicate pieces cooked to order. You'll be asked if you want them crispy or soft; we recommend crispy for beginners and soft for a wonderful but more difficult texture that's almost like broad egg noodles.
Eat up as you enjoy the lowriders cruising the boulevard on a weekend night. Villagran opened last spring as the brick-and-mortar version of popular west-side food truck Villa Real, serving a more upscale version of its original street-food menu.
Thankfully, some of the food-truck favorites made the leap to dining-room status; one of those was the suegra, which takes its name from the Spanish word for mother-in-law. There are many explanations for how the quesadilla-like construction got its name; most involve descriptions that sound mean when applied to your spouse's mom, but delicious when applied to food.
At Villagran, two housemade corn tortillas are glued together with molten white cheese loaded with onion, cilantro and a choice of shredded beef, carne asada or carne al pastor. The lightly crisped handmade tortillas are what elevate the suegras above run-of-the-mill Mexican fare — and make you wonder why mothers-in-law have gotten such a bad rap for so long.
From the menu: Two readers request recipe for S & S Cafeteria’s mac n cheese
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