Best Tacos Served From a Shipping Container

TacoBlock

TacoBlock
Mark Antonation

Tacos are first and foremost street food, so carts, trucks and trailers are obvious candidates for where to seek out the amazing antojitos. But in the Athmar Park neighborhood, people are beginning to figure out that a brightly painted shipping container festooned with sparkling lights is home to some of the best tacos around. TacoBlock sits solidly in a warehouse parking lot, where owners Brenda and Adrian Bonilla cook up beef, pork and chicken tacos along with Mexican burgers and — surprisingly — Brazilian fare courtesy of a new chef/partner. When you go, be sure to ask for your tacos "mamalones style," which will land you a mountain of grilled onions, nopales, pineapple and corn.

Que Bueno Suerte!

At the massive Que Bueno Suerte!, tamales don't come by the dozen — and they don't come wrapped in corn husks. Instead, the tender pillows of corn masa are served Yucatán-style, swaddled and steamed in a banana leaf, which adds a unique vegetal flavor. Stuffed with shredded pork in warming adobo sauce and served with chile verde and epazote-infused black beans, this dish captures a more tropical side of tamales, making them worthy of starring on an entree-priced platter.

Readers' Choice: Tamale Kitchen

Tokio
Danielle Lirette

Entering this bi-level restaurant in the Ballpark neighborhood, you feel a little like you've stumbled upon a hip ramen joint in Japan, one that caters to younger people who like to drink booze as much as they like to slurp ramen. That's part of its charm. But if you want to avoid the crowd and simply enjoy a quiet Japanese meal of sushi, grilled meats and veggies and bowls of tasty ramen, come here early. No matter your preference, in time you'll want to get ramen: the spicy and creamy diablo ramen, a clean and hearty shio broth ramen, a broth-less ramen laden with cha syu pork and vegetables, or one of many more options.

Readers' Choice: Uncle

Sushi Cup
Lauren Monitz

Bright, fun and super-colorful, the poke bowls at this Capitol Hill spot not only look good, they taste good, too. Unlike the suddenly trendy spots that are all poke, all the time, Sushi Cup offers not just Hawaiian cuisine, but Japanese and Korean, too; the various influences prove a perfect match for poke. Sit at one of the tall wooden tables and dive into Off the Shore, a dish filled with tuna, pineapple, mango, Fuji apple, nori and a bright splash of ponzu. The shrimp tempura is an unusual but winning combination of shrimp tempura, crab salad, cream cheese and sweet-spicy sauce. And if you feel like eating your poke with one hand, any of the bowls can also be made into a sushi burrito.

Readers' Choice: Ohana Island Kitchen

Golden Pho & Grill
Summer Powell

The light broth filling the bowls at Golden Pho doesn't look like it could hold much flavor, but delicate and subtle tops strong and bold when it comes to Denver's best pho. The meats are always fresh-tasting and plentiful, and the springy meatballs are especially worthy of a detour into one of Federal Boulevard's most bustling Vietnamese shopping centers. Noodle soups are the house specialty, so if you're in the mood for something more potent, the pork-rich bun bo Hue is second to none.

Readers' Choice: Pho 95

Combination banh mi from New Saigon Bakery & Deli.
Linnea Covington
Combination banh mi from New Saigon Bakery & Deli.

Some Vietnamese restaurants offer phonebook-sized menus with every possible combo of protein, noodle, rice and sauce, while others are specialists. New Saigon Bakery, an offshoot of longtime favorite New Saigon, draws in the crowds with super-sized banh mi on house-baked French baguettes. Salty-sweet barbecued pork, luscious pâté and generous stacks of deli meats make for stellar sandwiches, but once you've eaten your way through the banh mi roster, there's plenty more to explore. Try the tightly wrapped spring rolls, fresh salads topped with grilled meats, refreshing beverages (our favorite is the pressed sugar-cane juice) and pandan waffles. And if you haven't had dessert here, you haven't experienced the bakery at its best. Multi-layered crepe cakes come in flavors like mocha and matcha green tea, both just the right sweetness. At this bakery, there's always a line and seldom an empty seat...with good reason.

Readers' Choice: New Saigon

Bangkok Thai Food
Courtesy Bangkok Thai Food Facebook page

You can test a restaurant by its simplest dishes to see how the kitchen respects ingredients. Bangkok Thai Food excels with well-executed satay, pungent larb and papaya salad zingy with tamarind. Or you can look for deep dives into a country's culinary landscape. Here, too, Bangkok Thai comes through with Isaan-style lemongrass sausage and lovely khow soi from the northern city of Chiang Mai. After exploring, though, you might want to return to old standbys, which is when this family-run restaurant delivers both comfort and pleasure with pad Thai, fried rice and colorful curries, among many other Thai favorites. Lakewood is lucky to have Bangkok — a bright, lively and welcoming slice of Thailand's finest offerings.

Readers' Choice: Taste of Thailand

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
Maureen Witten

Some Ethiopian restaurants in Denver are intimate and cozy — great for getting to know a cuisine without distraction. Then there's the Nile, which is so raucous on weekends, you almost feel like you stumbled into a family wedding. But with big sampler platters that arrive as a mosaic of colorful stews atop spongy injera bread (the deep color is a sign that Ethiopian teff flour is the main ingredient), you can explore the vegetarian choices made with lentils or soft-cooked vegetables while still getting your fill of beef, lamb and chicken dishes like spicy, buttery kitfo (similar to tartare); complex, brick-red doro wot complete with hard-boiled eggs; and fiery lamb awaze, with tender cubes of meat in chili-like sauce. The Nile is a celebration of Ethiopia you won't want to miss.

Readers' Choice: Axum Restaurant

Syrian food is served on Fridays at Comal.
Mark Antonation
Syrian food is served on Fridays at Comal.

Wait, Comal is a Mexican restaurant, right? It is — every day but Friday, when Syrian women from the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods take over the kitchen and serve the creamiest hummus and the most pillowy housemade pita in town, along with other hard-to-find dishes such as stuffed artichoke hearts, bulgur salad and roast chicken with basmati rice. Many of the main offerings change weekly, so there's always something new and wondrous to sample. If you can't make it down for Friday lunch, Comal also has a new space at Zeppelin Station (3501 Wazee Street), where the same great Syrian cuisine will be served every Saturday through Monday into June.

Readers' Choice: Jerusalem Restaurant

Zamzam Halal International Market

There's no place to sit and eat at Zamzam, an international market specializing in Iraqi and other Middle Eastern foods, but you can build a great meal with enormous, chewy rounds of fresh-baked Iraqi flatbread, sold in four-packs still warm from the oven, and a pan of chicken or lamb-and-beef kebabs (call ahead to ensure there's an order waiting for you). Add some pickled wild cucumbers from the pickle bar and you've got a picnic that will serve several friends.

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