100 Favorite Dishes: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma

100 Favorite Dishes: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma
Lori Midson

No. 81: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma

Zoe Ma Ma is a weird little place, slightly ratty and tatty, definitely earthy, often chaotic and occasionally quiet, with the only audible hums coming from the kitchen of Anna Zoe, the slight, grandmotherly matriarch who presides over the homey floor show, where she does double duty as host and chef. "You like it hot?" she asks, pointing a tiny, crooked finger to the condiment tray stocked with sauces and various expressions of chile.

Not that the Sichuan beef noodle bowl needs a jolt. It's an impossibly huge amount of food, a seemingly bottomless reservoir of bouncy noodles with plenty of chew and ropes of tender, braised beef submerged in a strong, barnyard-y broth lightly scented with star anise and major chile power that gives it a determined bite that's best soothed by a bottle of Tsingtao. Zoe only serves the noodle bowl on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and those in the know line up early, lest they lose out.

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

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

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Zoe Ma Ma

2010 10th St.
Boulder, CO 80302


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