Growing up in the suburbs of Denver, Adrian Miller didn't see a lot of soul food at nearby restaurants -- but he did see it on his family's table every holiday. His culinary obsession, though, was barbecue (he's a certified judge) until he stumbled across John Egerton's book Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History and learned from the author that "the comprehensive history of black achievement in American cookery still waits to be written." Now it has been -- at least when it comes to soul food, thanks to Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine: One Plate at a Time. Miller will be celebrating the publication of that book tomorrow at the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library and again at a signing on August 27 at the Tattered Cover on Colfax. In advance of those appearances, we asked him for a list of the five best places for soul food in Denver today. (The list is his, the descriptions ours.) See also: - Adrian Miller wrote the book on soul food -- one plate at a time - What's the difference between Southern and soul food? Ask Adrian Miller - Country Time BBQ is one of Adrian Miller's favorites 5. Coleman's Taste of Detroit 2622 Welton Street
Henry Coleman knows from Detroit soul food, Detroit comfort food, Detroit's streetside, slapdash, eat-while-walking cuisine. From behind the rail of his kitchen at Coleman's (in the former home of Ethel's House of Soul), he knocks up specials (roasted barbecued chicken breast with greens and rice and gravy, if you're lucky), bakes the cornbread, slow-cooks his brisket and hot links, and fries up an good fried chicken.
4. Flava! 15343 East Sixth Avenue, Aurora
The flavors are big at Flava!, a spacious, if bare-bones restaurant that opened in 2011 in Aurora. You'll find all the Southern classics here -- including fried chicken, collard greens and sweet potato pie -- but the best way to sample the fare may be the $8 soul-food plate.
3) Kirk's Soul Kitchen 14107 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora
Jay Berry opened Kirk's Soul Kitchen in 2012, adding another option in the area's slim soul-food scene. The restaurant is dedicated to his stepfather, Kirk, who told him, "Stay focused because you could do anything you put your mind to." What Berry does at Kirk's is serve great homemade food, including fried chicken, collard greens and an incredible banana pudding.
2) Welton Street Cafe 2736 Welton Street
The Welton Street Cafe serves authentic soul food with a Caribbean twist in Five Points, once the heart of African-American commerce and culture in the Rocky Mountain West. Chef Glen Dickerson has been in the business for thirty years; chicken is one of his specialities. Try the wings, fried chicken (made to order) or Jamaican jerk.
1. Cora Faye's Cafe 2861 Colorado Boulevard
Pressing right up against the sidewalk, the homey, family-run Cora Faye's Café has flowers in the window boxes and a sign promising the comforts of "home cook'n" and "soul food" -- code for "comfort food" long before the term was co-opted by restaurants serving up-from-frozen chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes out of a box. Here, comfort food has a definite Southern twist -- oxtails, collard greens, frog's legs, cornbread and lush, pink red velvet cake -- with many of the recipes for this good grub handed down through generations.