Best Thai Eatery and Coffee Shop Combo 2023 | Esme Cafe | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Best Thai Eatery and Coffee Shop Combo

Esme Cafe

The quaint Esme Cafe debuted in Englewood in late 2022 and doubles as a low-key Thai restaurant. Stop by in the mornings for a cup of coffee, a cappuccino or a dirty chai paired with a pastry, then come back for lunch or dinner to dive into the rice and noodle dishes. Popular staples include boat noodle soup with a rich, deeply flavored broth, khao soi and salmon fried rice.

Molly Martin

Seoul K-BBQ & Hot Pot sports two delicious, quintessentially Korean dining experiences, with the left side of the restaurant dedicated to all-you-can-eat hot pot and the right devoted to Korean barbecue. On the hot pot side, diners select a base broth and meats before selecting ingredients from the vast buffet of options. From noodles to vegetables to spices and, of course, kimchi, the possibilities are endless. For barbecue, bring a group and go for one of the combinations that includes a smattering of banchan, along with soup and the choice of beer or soju.

Urban Village Grill

While chef Charles Mani doesn't claim to make the "traditional" Indian fare with which most Colorado diners are familiar, plenty of items on the menu at the three-year-old Urban Village Grill speak to the classic recipes. But thanks to Mani, the butter chicken, 24-hour dal and coconut curry come with a French culinary twist, too. Surprisingly, they also come with just one spice level; diners can up the heat quotient with the chef's special hot sauce — the better to impart the greatest flavor and health benefits, according to Mani. Another unique aspect of the Park Meadows restaurant: outdoor grilling stations where diners can order plates of marinated meats to cook al fresco.

Mark Manger

In the nearly three decades that it's been in business, not much has changed at Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant. Although Colfax has grown around it, the tiny strip-mall restaurant still boasts some of the city's best African food. What sets it apart from other Ethiopian eateries — and there are a lot within a stone's throw — is the homestyle cooking of proprietress Zodi Aboye, who acts as host, server and chef. The smell of rich, warm spices fills its cozy quarters, which are decorated with folk art and photos from the horn of Africa. Dishes are eaten by hand, using only the tangy unleavened injera as a vessel. Platters of flavorful stewed meats and vegetables offer a sampling of options, and the comfort foods, like lamb and lentils, are savored best with a cup of seasoned tea or honey wine. Because of Queen of Sheba's limited seating and popularity, reservations are recommended.

Joni Schrantz

French fare is having a moment in Denver, and while there are a variety of new additions to the scene, Bistro Vendôme's recent move to a new location has given it fresh energy. After shuttering the original locale in Larimer Square, chef and restaurateur Jennifer Jasinski and partner Beth Gruitch's restaurant is back in Park Hill and better than ever. With fresh and modern decor and an updated menu from chef Jeremy Wolgamot, this is the place to go for classic French, including steak frites and coq au vin alongside dishes like allium soup and bourride (fish stew).

Mark Antonation

Some of the best Turkish food around can be found at a strip mall in Englewood. The family-owned and -operated Bosphorus serves huge portions at extremely reasonable prices. Dig into tender lamb shish kebabs, juicy stuffed grape leaves and freshly sliced lamb and beef gyros on puffy pitas, and pair it all with strong Turkish coffee. There's limited seating for dine-in, so takeout is the safest bet, but if you do manage to snag one of the few tables, you'll get to enjoy the best feature of Bosphorus: its attentive and hospitable staff, which is willing to go to any lengths to make you feel like family.

Courtesy of Chef Zorba's

Chef Zorba's resides on a calm and tree-shaded block of Congress Park. Locals have been dining here since 1979, and when Karen LuKanic bought the spot in 2018, she kept many of Zorba's traditional dishes, while also making some modern updates to the space. One tried-and-true staple is the chicken-lemon-rice soup, also known as avgolemono, which has a refreshing lightness from the citrus while still being filling and hearty enough to battle even the most stubborn hangover.

Denver diners mourned the loss of the eight-year-old Beast + Bottle when it shuttered in Uptown after its building was sold in 2021. But the loss stung a lot less when Paul and Aileen Reilly — the brother-and-sister duo behind the now-closed eatery — moved a new concept with a similar mission into the Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver. Unlike their former space, this eatery is open all day, serving breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, but like Beast, Apple Blossom focuses on responsible sourcing. It takes inspiration from regions all over the country, serving dishes like housemade spam, Paul's Southern-style fried chicken, a French dip made with confit duck leg, and grilled swordfish from Santa Barbara.

Molly Martin

Capitol Hill neighbors who'd frequented Potager since it opened in 1997 were worried when founder Teri Rippeto sold it in early 2019. But their fears have been allayed by the restaurant's continued dedication to locally sourced, seasonally driven ingredients under current owners Paul and Eileen Warthen and Nik Brand. Potager was a bellwether for a style of cuisine that's become almost cliché, but few new restaurants are as good or as devoted to simple, honest cooking with premium ingredients, and the back garden may be the most peaceful place in Denver to enjoy a meal.

Molotov Kitschen

This small eatery, which opened in January 2023, is rooted in chef Bo Porytko's Ukrainian family culture while doubling as a rebellion concept in the lens of global conflict. Its Eastern European comfort food is akin to a warm hug, even if the dishes themselves may be unfamiliar to most of us in the West. The menu offerings at Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails are gorgeous platings of homestyle fare like braised-duck dumplings in a ruby-red borscht made from smoked sour cherries, glistening pork pâté pelmenis, and beet grits with pork shank, all served alongside frozen infused vodkas and Austrian Rieslings. Porytko has created a lively atmosphere in which to share his personal history through lovingly curated family recipes. All of it seems to carry a simple message in a flaming bottle: "From Ukraine with love."

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