No. 80: Larb nua from Taste of Thailand. Taste of Thailand chef/owner Noy Farrell, who has been turning out Thai food since 1994 from the kitchen confines of her faithfully crowded restaurant across the street from Swedish Hospital, grows vegetables, berries, herbs and various varieties of garlic from her own garden; she teaches interactive Thai cooking classes on Sunday at the Thai Buddhist Temple; and she often flits around her dining room, stopping at tables to banter about her food, fielding questions about her garden, her legendary "flu shot soup" and her curries, larbs and stir-fries, which are plated with a finessed elegance that belies their cheap price tags.
There are better panang Thai curries in and around Denver and tom yum more pungent with lemongrass, but her larb nua, a minced beef salad sharply flavored with citrus and fish sauce, persistent with fiery Thai chiles that sear your nose hairs and bodied with sweet cucumbers, dices of raw red onion and the glisten of cilantro leaves, is intensely vibrant. It's a dish that beautifully embodies the quintessential Thai flavor profiles of spicy, sour, sweet and salty, and delicious enough to make a lizard hiss with hunger.
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Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:
No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro No. 93: Posole from The Porker No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo No. 85: Fried Brussels sprouts from Panzano No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco No. 83: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil No. 82: Chicken potpie from Devil's Food No. 81: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver 2010 issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com.