When we talk about peasant cuisine these days, the conversations run toward comfort foods with a slightly musty past. No longer do we speak of such offal-centric dishes as French tête de veau or anything involving trotters or English lung pie. These days, peasant foods are more like a Disneyfied version of what we'd like to imagine our forebears having eaten, not so much what they actually did eat. But that's not the case at Taquería Patzcuaro, where the tacos de cabeza are a straight-from-el-rancho original, involving calf cheek meat (never the most attractive cut) that's lightly grilled, then set on fresh corn tortillas with a little pico de gallo, a little shredded lettuce, and nothing else. This is peasant food the way it's supposed to be: something wonderful out of what would normally be waste.

When you order oxtail at Caribbean Cuisine Plus, there's no question what you're eating. This is the southernmost edible portion of any animal, and with a little Tinker Toy ingenuity and some toothpicks, the big, rough-cut chunks sitting on your plate could probably be reassembled back into a semblance of a tail without too much difficulty. Served in a smoky, greasy, deeply flavorful black sauce powerful enough to dirty up a whole mountain of white rice, this oxtail is a wonderful example of the benefits of nose-to-tail eating. Spoiled Americans, we've become used to consuming nothing but the best of any animal used for food -- which means we've missed out on the culinary joys of peasant eating. But we'll let the culinary philosophers argue over the societal and spiritual payback of slumming it among the so-called peasant cuisines. If anyone wants our opinion on the matter, we'll be down at Caribbean Cuisine Plus having a couple of meat pies, maybe a little curried goat, and some oxtail over rice.


When you order oxtail at Caribbean Cuisine Plus, there's no question what you're eating. This is the southernmost edible portion of any animal, and with a little Tinker Toy ingenuity and some toothpicks, the big, rough-cut chunks sitting on your plate could probably be reassembled back into a semblance of a tail without too much difficulty. Served in a smoky, greasy, deeply flavorful black sauce powerful enough to dirty up a whole mountain of white rice, this oxtail is a wonderful example of the benefits of nose-to-tail eating. Spoiled Americans, we've become used to consuming nothing but the best of any animal used for food -- which means we've missed out on the culinary joys of peasant eating. But we'll let the culinary philosophers argue over the societal and spiritual payback of slumming it among the so-called peasant cuisines. If anyone wants our opinion on the matter, we'll be down at Caribbean Cuisine Plus having a couple of meat pies, maybe a little curried goat, and some oxtail over rice.


Burritos delivered to your door: Is Denver a great city or what? And there's no better burrito vendor than Marisela Acevedo. "The nice thing is that Marisela is here all the time," says Dan Hauser, who works in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building. "She knows who you are, she talks to you about your life. She's not just selling burritos." Although the city employees who queue up daily in anticipation of Acevedo's arrival would no doubt riot if she were to show up without chorizo, chicharrón, and potato, egg and cheese burritos from Milagro, Hauser is on to something. In an increasingly corporate cubicle world, buying your daily burrito from a regular vendor is like talking with the milkman on the front porch. It's reassuring. Life-affirming. And after you confirm your existence by conversing with Acevedo, her killer burritos will continue the discussion.

Burritos delivered to your door: Is Denver a great city or what? And there's no better burrito vendor than Marisela Acevedo. "The nice thing is that Marisela is here all the time," says Dan Hauser, who works in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building. "She knows who you are, she talks to you about your life. She's not just selling burritos." Although the city employees who queue up daily in anticipation of Acevedo's arrival would no doubt riot if she were to show up without chorizo, chicharrón, and potato, egg and cheese burritos from Milagro, Hauser is on to something. In an increasingly corporate cubicle world, buying your daily burrito from a regular vendor is like talking with the milkman on the front porch. It's reassuring. Life-affirming. And after you confirm your existence by conversing with Acevedo, her killer burritos will continue the discussion.


Santiago's Mexican Restaurant
Without a doubt, the Mexican people's greatest gift to their neighbors up north is the breakfast burrito. Forget your pottery, your Octavio Paz and the dulcet tones of the Tijuana Brass. Forget everything you ever knew about Menudo (the boy band, not the breakfast stew). Where would any of us be without the breakfast burrito? How would any of us make it to work without grabbing a breakfast burrito on our way, or make it through a morning of work without knowing there was a breakfast burrito waiting at lunch? Short of splitting the atom and the creation of cable television, no other invention, contrivance or contraption wrought by human hands deserves greater praise. And no breakfast burrito is more praiseworthy than the two-dollar, foil-wrapped walk-away version offered until 11 a.m. at Santiago's, a homegrown Mexican chain that may soon conquer the world. And rightly so.

Santiago's Mexican Restaurant
Cassandra Kotnik
Without a doubt, the Mexican people's greatest gift to their neighbors up north is the breakfast burrito. Forget your pottery, your Octavio Paz and the dulcet tones of the Tijuana Brass. Forget everything you ever knew about Menudo (the boy band, not the breakfast stew). Where would any of us be without the breakfast burrito? How would any of us make it to work without grabbing a breakfast burrito on our way, or make it through a morning of work without knowing there was a breakfast burrito waiting at lunch? Short of splitting the atom and the creation of cable television, no other invention, contrivance or contraption wrought by human hands deserves greater praise. And no breakfast burrito is more praiseworthy than the two-dollar, foil-wrapped walk-away version offered until 11 a.m. at Santiago's, a homegrown Mexican chain that may soon conquer the world. And rightly so.


Breakfast is a very subjective thing. There are those who like to speed through the day's first meal, wolfing down something from the drive-thru on their way to the office, others who prefer to linger over well-brewed tea and fine pastries. Cold pizza makes a good breakfast, as do a pound of hash browns, six eggs and a steak served up by some greasy-spoon hash-slinger. And for some people, there's nothing finer than that rock-and-roll breakfast of champions: black coffee and cigarettes. But no one can quibble over breakfast at the Original Pancake House, which specializes in breakfast and nothing but. And what breakfasts! The kitchen uses sugar-cured, hickory-smoked ham steaks, 93-score high-fat sauté butter and real whipping cream. It turns out five-egg omelettes, huge mounds of homemade corned beef hash, and a dozen varieties of pancakes (including one studded with bacon). For those with a truly gargantuan appetite, there's the famous Dutch Baby; for those of more frail constitutions, wonderful Kijafa crepes sauced with bitter Montmorency cherries. No matter what you order, breakfast at the Original Pancake House is a great way to start the day.

Breakfast is a very subjective thing. There are those who like to speed through the day's first meal, wolfing down something from the drive-thru on their way to the office, others who prefer to linger over well-brewed tea and fine pastries. Cold pizza makes a good breakfast, as do a pound of hash browns, six eggs and a steak served up by some greasy-spoon hash-slinger. And for some people, there's nothing finer than that rock-and-roll breakfast of champions: black coffee and cigarettes. But no one can quibble over breakfast at the Original Pancake House, which specializes in breakfast and nothing but. And what breakfasts! The kitchen uses sugar-cured, hickory-smoked ham steaks, 93-score high-fat sauté butter and real whipping cream. It turns out five-egg omelettes, huge mounds of homemade corned beef hash, and a dozen varieties of pancakes (including one studded with bacon). For those with a truly gargantuan appetite, there's the famous Dutch Baby; for those of more frail constitutions, wonderful Kijafa crepes sauced with bitter Montmorency cherries. No matter what you order, breakfast at the Original Pancake House is a great way to start the day.


To qualify as a breakfast bar, a place must do one thing -- serve breakfast -- and do it within a limited time span. In the case of the 20th Street Cafe, that span runs from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. weekdays (7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays), and never a minute longer. But if the owners want to knock off just as the late rush is coming to an end, who are we to complain? At 20th Street has been dishing out working-class food for working-class people since 1946. The breakfasts are generous, the coffee always hot, and the chicken-fried steaks a real treat, but what sets this joint apart from all of the other early-morning contenders is the effect of history on this space. Over the years, everything about 20th Street has been worn in and streamlined toward a beautiful conservation of movement. It's small, so the kitchen is never more than a dozen steps away. The waitresses hang dishrags from the coat tree for ease of access. And there's nothing in the canon of American diner cuisine that this kitchen isn't ready to do -- and do better -- than anyone else in town.

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