When I was growing up near the Tech Center, the place was something close to a culinary wasteland -- there were few dining destinations worth seeking out, and most restaurant real estate was devoted to national chains.
More ethnic options would be welcomed -- as I noted in this week's review of Street Kitchen Asian Bistro -- but there's no denying that the gastronomic scene in the area is looking up. And for office workers in the Tech Center, there are more and more places where you can score a decent lunch. Here are the five best.
5. The Wooden Table When Frank Bonanno alum Brett Shaheen struck out on his own, he didn't nab an address in one of central Denver's hottest restaurant neighborhoods. Instead, he went south, establishing The Wooden Table in Greenwood Village and quickly finding favor with the area's discriminating palates, who flock to his Italian restaurant noon and night. His lunch menu -- Italian sandwiches, salads and house-made pastas -- do the trick when you're craving something beyond grab-and-go, and it's handy when you want to impress clients or bosses and don't want to rely on spendy chains.
4. India's Castle The facade of India's Castle is that of an unceremonious Greenwood Village strip mall spot, but billowing tapestries and paper lanterns inside set the stage for one of the best northern Indian feasts in the city. The menu features excellent versions of familiar items, including spice-laced vindaloos, masalas and curries; flaky samosas stuffed with potatoes and vegetables; and meats from the tandoor oven, imbued with smokiness and char. And at lunch, you can sample many of those offerings via a buffet.
3. Land of Sushi Back in 2000, Land of Sushi opened in a strip mall across from what was then Southglenn Mall -- now the Streets at SouthGlenn -- and quickly made a splash. Over the years, the spot has just gotten better. The restaurant itself doesn't look like much, but the bare-bones ambience just means there's nothing to distract your attention from the food -- and the food definitely deserves all your attention. Owner Steve Lin gets shipments every day, and he regularly posts specials like live scallops and uber-fresh uni. But even if you're ordering the usual suspects -- like salmon, tuna and yellowtail -- you're assured some of the freshest fish around, cut excellently and displayed beautifully. Need extra incentive to head there for lunch? How about a $1-per-piece 24/7 sushi happy hour?
2. Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria Mark Dym's pizzeria, which opened its first location downtown on Larimer, serves up some our favorite Napolitano pies -- with tangy marinara, sweet mozzarella and thin crusts blistered by the wood-fired oven -- in the city. So when Marco's expanded down into the 'burbs, grabbing one of the restaurant spots at the Vallagio at Inverness, it quickly became one of the best places in the surrounding neighborhoods for lunch. Don't have time for a trip? If you're located close enough, Marco's delivers.
1. Jabo's Bar-Be-Que Jabo Lawson barbecue fixings have been popular with Tech Center crowds since he was cooking them in a mobile pit. He moved indoors a few years back, using a custom-built smoker to fire tender brisket, piquant Louisiana-style hot links, pulled pork shoulder and, best of all, pork ribs, which are two inches thick, layered with opaque fat, deeply infused with throat-stinging smoke and so tender the meat practically melts into a puddle in your mouth. Everything that comes out of that smoker gets coated in a sauce based on a recipe from Shreveport, Louisiana, and made at varying levels of spiciness, every version delicious.
An honorable mention goes to Taste of Thailand, because we recognize that a fifteen minute drive may be a bit far for the cubicle warriors that have just an hour for lunch. If you can carve out the time, though, it's worth the trek.
Know of others? Tell us about them below.
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