Anthony Sarlo, owner and top pizza guy at Vita Bella, has a lot of history in the pie game. His father (owner of Armando's in Cherry Creek) and grandfather (who owned the Continental and the Oriental Manor in New York) have spent their lives in the business; his grandmother has spent her whole life cooking for the clan; his aunt owns Cafe Jordano. And all of this know-how comes together at a fine point: the double-crust fresh-leaf spinach pie with sliced black olives, garlic, romano and mozzarella for which the family restaurants are rightly famous. And how can we be sure that young Tony is sticking to his Sicilian roots? Because Grandma is right there just about every day, working the register and keeping a close eye on the kitchen to make sure he does.


Anthony Sarlo, owner and top pizza guy at Vita Bella, has a lot of history in the pie game. His father (owner of Armando's in Cherry Creek) and grandfather (who owned the Continental and the Oriental Manor in New York) have spent their lives in the business; his grandmother has spent her whole life cooking for the clan; his aunt owns Cafe Jordano. And all of this know-how comes together at a fine point: the double-crust fresh-leaf spinach pie with sliced black olives, garlic, romano and mozzarella for which the family restaurants are rightly famous. And how can we be sure that young Tony is sticking to his Sicilian roots? Because Grandma is right there just about every day, working the register and keeping a close eye on the kitchen to make sure he does.
The defining characteristic of peasant cooking is the creative use of those less attractive bits of an animal so that absolutely nothing goes to waste. And the big secret of peasant cooking is that a lot of these cuts, scorned by the casual carnivore, are actually the tastiest bits there are. Exhibit A: the tacos cabeza at Taquería Patzcuaro. The kitchen takes beef cheek meat -- as tender as filet mignon, but even tastier -- and gives it a quick burn on the grill, then lays it medium rare on a fresh corn tortilla with a little lettuce and pico de gallo.


The defining characteristic of peasant cooking is the creative use of those less attractive bits of an animal so that absolutely nothing goes to waste. And the big secret of peasant cooking is that a lot of these cuts, scorned by the casual carnivore, are actually the tastiest bits there are. Exhibit A: the tacos cabeza at Taquería Patzcuaro. The kitchen takes beef cheek meat -- as tender as filet mignon, but even tastier -- and gives it a quick burn on the grill, then lays it medium rare on a fresh corn tortilla with a little lettuce and pico de gallo.
For regulars at El Taco de México, the brain taco is nothing strange. It may not be something they eat every day, but it's no odder to them than it would be for someone else to see tongue in the cold case at a European deli, or escargot on the board at a French restaurant. The thinking goes like this: the cow is food; the brain is in the cow; therefore, the brain is food. Served hot and fresh off the flat-top, the ropy, grayish brains are slapped onto a double tortilla with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and cilantro; add a squeeze of lime and open wide. While we can't promise that El Taco de México's brain tacos will be pleasing to the average American palate, we can say that eating them will be an experience you won't soon forget.


For regulars at El Taco de México, the brain taco is nothing strange. It may not be something they eat every day, but it's no odder to them than it would be for someone else to see tongue in the cold case at a European deli, or escargot on the board at a French restaurant. The thinking goes like this: the cow is food; the brain is in the cow; therefore, the brain is food. Served hot and fresh off the flat-top, the ropy, grayish brains are slapped onto a double tortilla with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and cilantro; add a squeeze of lime and open wide. While we can't promise that El Taco de México's brain tacos will be pleasing to the average American palate, we can say that eating them will be an experience you won't soon forget.
Like sex or a good accountant, a breakfast burrito is one of those things you don't give much thought to until the first time you have it, and afterwards you wonder how you ever lived so long without it. Happily, there are about 17 million places in Denver where you can get a breakfast burrito. And while almost all of those breakfast burritos are the same -- eggs, potatoes, cheese and meat wrapped in a flour tortilla -- Sam's No. 3 offers a surprise variation. Its corned-beef-hash breakfast burrito is as big as a fat kid's forearm, stuffed dangerously full of scrambled eggs, sliced potatoes and chunky corned beef; and upon request, the whole thing will come smothered in Sam's tame green chile, which serves to keep everything soft and warm and gloppy no matter how long it takes you to work your way from one end to the other.


Sam's No. 3
Courtesy of Sam's No. 3
Like sex or a good accountant, a breakfast burrito is one of those things you don't give much thought to until the first time you have it, and afterwards you wonder how you ever lived so long without it. Happily, there are about 17 million places in Denver where you can get a breakfast burrito. And while almost all of those breakfast burritos are the same -- eggs, potatoes, cheese and meat wrapped in a flour tortilla -- Sam's No. 3 offers a surprise variation. Its corned-beef-hash breakfast burrito is as big as a fat kid's forearm, stuffed dangerously full of scrambled eggs, sliced potatoes and chunky corned beef; and upon request, the whole thing will come smothered in Sam's tame green chile, which serves to keep everything soft and warm and gloppy no matter how long it takes you to work your way from one end to the other.
Chipotle started out as one lone outpost on East Evans Avenue, then grew to stretch across metro Denver -- and now, with McDonald's as its partner, can world domination be far away? Frankly, Chipotle deserves to be a global power. The eateries offer good, fast service, which is always competent and sometimes downright cheerful. They all use high-quality ingredients, absolutely fresh on the assembly line. And then there's that killer guac. But most of all, we're wowed by Chipotle's consistency. We've never had a bad burrito from this place -- or any of this place's places. Add any meat to the fresh lettuce, loads of cheese and cold, thin sour cream over warm black (or pinto) beans and cilantro-lime rice, and Chipotle gets it right every time. While our favorite is the carnitas burrito made with tender shreds of Niman Ranch pork and chili-corn salsa, we've tried each of the half-dozen varieties available and have never found a single one lacking.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle started out as one lone outpost on East Evans Avenue, then grew to stretch across metro Denver -- and now, with McDonald's as its partner, can world domination be far away? Frankly, Chipotle deserves to be a global power. The eateries offer good, fast service, which is always competent and sometimes downright cheerful. They all use high-quality ingredients, absolutely fresh on the assembly line. And then there's that killer guac. But most of all, we're wowed by Chipotle's consistency. We've never had a bad burrito from this place -- or any of this place's places. Add any meat to the fresh lettuce, loads of cheese and cold, thin sour cream over warm black (or pinto) beans and cilantro-lime rice, and Chipotle gets it right every time. While our favorite is the carnitas burrito made with tender shreds of Niman Ranch pork and chili-corn salsa, we've tried each of the half-dozen varieties available and have never found a single one lacking.

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