Le Central
They don't look like snails when they come to the table. They look like something baked inside a pastry shell. And from the first bite, they don't taste like you'd expect snails to taste. They taste more like a forestire of mushrooms, more like some dark fowl's meat -- turkey or duck, or something equally gamey. But snails they are, with three competing sauces painted onto the plate. Le Central's escargots are an excellent introduction to the world of French cuisine, where everything that walks, crawls or slithers is fair game for the pot. And this plate -- listed as feuilleté d'escargots on the menu -- shows just how great snails can taste when a kitchen is operating straight out of the Michelin playbook of haute French cuisine.

They don't look like snails when they come to the table. They look like something baked inside a pastry shell. And from the first bite, they don't taste like you'd expect snails to taste. They taste more like a forestire of mushrooms, more like some dark fowl's meat -- turkey or duck, or something equally gamey. But snails they are, with three competing sauces painted onto the plate. Le Central's escargots are an excellent introduction to the world of French cuisine, where everything that walks, crawls or slithers is fair game for the pot. And this plate -- listed as feuilleté d'escargots on the menu -- shows just how great snails can taste when a kitchen is operating straight out of the Michelin playbook of haute French cuisine.

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 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.


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