No. For the last time, the French did not invent the french fry. That was the Belgians. But as with so many things, the French took them, made them better and claimed all the credit. This means two things. One, it must suck to be Belgian, having your one great idea stolen like that. And two, when you're looking for great frites, your search should start and end in the French cafes. In Denver, that search inevitably leads to Le Central, which does pommes frites better than anyone else. The kitchen takes shoestring-cut potatoes, blanches them in oil, holds them, then sends them down again for a proper frying, with the result being hot, crisp frites, crunchy on the outside and soft within. They're the perfect accompaniment to sandwiches (in particular, Le Central's sandwich de lardons -- a bacon sandwich, again co-opted by the sneaky French), are classically paired with strip or hanger cuts of steak for steak frites, and come in an all-you-can-eat portion alongside the huge bowls of mussels that are Le Central's other spécialité de la maison.
Much has been done to the poor french fry in the name of progress, and most of it has been bad. But Max Burgerworks has finally managed to come up with an innovation that's a real improvement. The fries, hand-cut and nicely handled by the kitchen's fryer crews, are big, crisp, lightly salted and served in generous portions. They're fine on their own, but on request are served with a side of good, fresh guacamole and salsa. Chips and salsa, chips and guac -- those are good pairings, no doubt. But if there's one fusion novelty that deserves a prize, it's Max Burgerworks' notion of serving french fries and Mexican guacamole together in an American burger joint.
In terms of food, there are many ways to classify people. Are you a thin-crust-pizza person, or do you prefer thick? Hot meatloaf for dinner or cold meatloaf sandwiches for lunch? With french fries, the choice is between thin-cut or thick. And if you're a thick-cut, skins-on, boardwalk-style french- fry sort, then Santoro's Brick Oven Pizzeria is for you. The kitchen hand-cuts its spuds on the fat side, fries them brown and crisp, almost like home fries, then serves them up in huge, greasy portions, liberally sprinkled with coarse-grain salt for a little taste of the county fair, neighborhood carnivals and summers spent slumming it at Thrasher's on the Ocean City boardwalk.
A hot dog without chili is a pathetic pup indeed. So we went straight to the source: Sam's #3. There's an art to the chili dog that's been lost in most places west of Chicago, but in the kitchen at Sam's #3 on Havana, it's been kept alive, because it's still practiced every day. First you need a good bun. Not some sissy supermarket roll, but a big, solid, hot-dog bun dense enough to hold some weight. Next, you need a good dog, and Sam's uses nothing but the best all-beef wieners for its Coney Island classic. After that, you need chili -- strong, meaty, steam-table chili with a consistency thick enough to glue everything together. Thin chili will only turn the bread to mush; spicy chili will overpower the taste of the split and grilled dog. But at Sam's, the chili is just right -- dense, sloppy and mild, but capable of causing instant, fierce heartburn in those of weak disposition. And finally, the last thing a truly great chili dog needs is a fork -- because if you can pick the thing up and eat it with your hands, it ain't done right. The new Sam's #3 downtown (which occupies the site of the very first Sam's) is trying hard, but if you want a dog with real bite, head to Havana.
Le Central
No. For the last time, the French did not invent the french fry. That was the Belgians. But as with so many things, the French took them, made them better and claimed all the credit. This means two things. One, it must suck to be Belgian, having your one great idea stolen like that. And two, when you're looking for great frites, your search should start and end in the French cafes. In Denver, that search inevitably leads to Le Central, which does pommes frites better than anyone else. The kitchen takes shoestring-cut potatoes, blanches them in oil, holds them, then sends them down again for a proper frying, with the result being hot, crisp frites, crunchy on the outside and soft within. They're the perfect accompaniment to sandwiches (in particular, Le Central's sandwich de lardons -- a bacon sandwich, again co-opted by the sneaky French), are classically paired with strip or hanger cuts of steak for steak frites, and come in an all-you-can-eat portion alongside the huge bowls of mussels that are Le Central's other spécialité de la maison.
Short of chili, the next best thing for putting a cap on that dog is Mady's Olde Tyme Beer Mustard. This thick, spicy beer mustard is the pride and joy of Mady's Specialty Foods, a Highlands Ranch outfit that also does champagne and honey mustards, bread mix and peanut brittle. Made locally, out of nothing but quality ingredients and Killian's Irish Red lager, this mustard is a solid blend of flavors, bittersweet and powerful, textured like French whole-grain and perfect for boiled dogs fresh out of the water.
In terms of food, there are many ways to classify people. Are you a thin-crust-pizza person, or do you prefer thick? Hot meatloaf for dinner or cold meatloaf sandwiches for lunch? With french fries, the choice is between thin-cut or thick. And if you're a thick-cut, skins-on, boardwalk-style french- fry sort, then Santoro's Brick Oven Pizzeria is for you. The kitchen hand-cuts its spuds on the fat side, fries them brown and crisp, almost like home fries, then serves them up in huge, greasy portions, liberally sprinkled with coarse-grain salt for a little taste of the county fair, neighborhood carnivals and summers spent slumming it at Thrasher's on the Ocean City boardwalk.
Sam's No. 3
Courtesy of Sam's No. 3
A hot dog without chili is a pathetic pup indeed. So we went straight to the source: Sam's #3. There's an art to the chili dog that's been lost in most places west of Chicago, but in the kitchen at Sam's #3 on Havana, it's been kept alive, because it's still practiced every day. First you need a good bun. Not some sissy supermarket roll, but a big, solid, hot-dog bun dense enough to hold some weight. Next, you need a good dog, and Sam's uses nothing but the best all-beef wieners for its Coney Island classic. After that, you need chili -- strong, meaty, steam-table chili with a consistency thick enough to glue everything together. Thin chili will only turn the bread to mush; spicy chili will overpower the taste of the split and grilled dog. But at Sam's, the chili is just right -- dense, sloppy and mild, but capable of causing instant, fierce heartburn in those of weak disposition. And finally, the last thing a truly great chili dog needs is a fork -- because if you can pick the thing up and eat it with your hands, it ain't done right. The new Sam's #3 downtown (which occupies the site of the very first Sam's) is trying hard, but if you want a dog with real bite, head to Havana.
Smokey Serrano, a homegrown wonder bottled by the Boulder Hot Sauce Company, accomplishes the almost impossible: It matches a hit of heat with a blast of flavor. Made from smoked poblano peppers and fresh serranos, this gourmet condiment sports glorious amounts of woody smokiness, followed by a pleasing, not-too-heavy number of BTUs
One million dollars. That's what it cost to bring the new and improved M&D's Cafe back to the Denver dining scene. One million dollars, and what do we get for all that money? The best BBQ joint in town. But Mack and Daisy Shead's new spot is no hole-in-the-wall joint; it's a clean, well-lighted space with a large waiting area, a great sound system and plenty of room for loading up on terrific ribs, succulent catfish and wonderful sides that complement the flavors of good 'cue, balancing savory, sweet and sour against the smoky heat and heavy meatiness. Nothing makes a rack of baby-backs go down smoother than knowing there's something as good as M&D's gooey peach cobbler or a slice of perfectly spiced sweet-potato pie waiting on the other side. A million dollars might seem like a lot to spend for a barbecue restaurant, but one meal at M&D's, and we think you'll agree it was worth every cent.

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