This week's review of China Jade gave me another excuse to bounce around the cuisine and culture of a faraway land without having to worry about the attendant shots, jet-lag or passport issues. More important, it gave me yet more examples of the myriad ways in which pigs can be turned into delicious versions of bacon.
And it also got me thinking about some of the other places in Denver that exist either solely as a place of refuge for homesick immigrants looking for a taste of home, or as virtual whistle-stops for jittery restaurant critics looking for fu fu or chicken rice or bacalao, but who probably wouldn't survive the twelve-hour overseas airplane flight without going double-bonkers crazy from the lack of cigarette breaks.
Thus, we have this week's list: the best places to go for a taste of home when your home ain't where you are. As always, I encourage you all to add your own suggestions and comments below, but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorites.
1) Kaizoku nabe and maguro/hamachi donburi in the garden at Domo, 1365 Osage Street. On the best nights, Domo offers the most stirring, transporting environment of any restaurant in Denver. Plus, you get to eat eels and sit on tree stumps.
2) Placek and schabowy at Cracovia, 8121 West 94th, Westminster. Cracovia was built on the back of love and homesickness. You can still taste both in the food. And if that's all too much for you, you can wash it away with a half-dozen shots of Polish vodka, as smooth as drinking diesel fuel.
3) A hot dog with slivered onions and hot sauce at the Old Fashioned Italian Deli, 395 West Littleton Boulevard, Littleton. Because sometimes I get a little homesick for Buffalo, too.
4) Kitfo and gored gored at Arada, 750 Santa Fe Drive. I know there are a lot of Ethiopian restaurants in town, all here to serve a hungry population looking for a taste of home. But Arada has always been my favorite. And for the Ghanaians in Denver? Things have been tough since Mama T left town, but I'm curious if anything has replaced her secret house restaurant. Help a buddy out and let me know where I can go to get more Ghana food.
5) Papa a la huancaina and perihuela, sitting near the llama at Los Cabos, 1525 Curtis Street. Dammit, I want some of this stuff right now. I never would've figured myself for a Peruvian food fanatic, but I really am a shameless junkie.
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6) Anything on the menu at the Royal Peacock, 5290 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder. There are a lot of traditional Indian restaurants in the area. This one is my hands-down favorite, with a beautiful menu unlike anything you've ever tasted anywhere.
7) Momo and chana masala on a winter afternoon at Tibet's, 321 McCaslin Boulevard, Louisville. Or really, any time at all. It just seems to me that everything at Tibet's tastes better when the temperature starts dropping.
8) The cassoulet at Z Cuisine, 2239 West 30th Avenue. The cassoulet, baby. Always the cassoulet. Everything else might be great, but the cassoulet is often simply indescribable.