Yes, we're bringing it back...my name is Amber (but friends call me Ambs), and I'll be your new Veggie Girl.
Some background: I've been vegetarian -- not vegan; that's just plain crazy -- on and off for eight of my 29 years. I love food, despite the fact that I've voluntarily chosen to opt out from meat-eating; I know how to cook (and do, frequently). And, if you know how to do math, you'll see that I did eat meat -- and, for the record, I enjoyed it -- for 21 years or so. So, I promise: No bullshit when it comes to meatless versions of your favorite foods. If a meal advertises itself as just as good as the cholesterol-heavy version, and it's not, you'll hear about it from me.
On to the first order of business: food. Namely, the food at Tamale Kitchen #7, 5055 South Kipling Parkway in Littleton, where I've eaten many a vegetarian (and non-vegetarian) meal.
Those who have patronized TK before will know that not all Tamale Kitchens are created equal. I've tried the food at the original Tamale Kitchen, 5260 West Mississippi Avenue in Lakewood, and it's good, but I didn't think their chile or tamales measured up to #7's. (They do, however, have the most awesomely bad glitter painting on the back wall of the restaurant that I've ever seen -- a buff Native American man carrying a woman of indeterminate race in his arms, merrily sparkling away.)
I discovered TK a few years ago through a family member, and for a while, my go-to meal there was the $3.75 egg, potato and chorizo burrito, smothered. The burritos at TK come three different ways -- plain; special, which means they have TK's chile and cheese stuffed inside the tortilla; and smothered, which is how I always eat mine, completely covered in chile and cheese. When I gave up meat, I found that TK still had plenty of options for the carnivorously deficient -- like the huevos rancheros breakfast plate (pictured), in the top rankings of my all-time favorite breakfasts (which TK serves all day long, by the way).
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The $6 huevos plate comprises two eggs, cooked to order, laid atop a bed of white corn tortillas and smothered in chile and cheese. You get rice and refried beans on the side, plus two white flour tortillas in which to wrap your breakfast if you are so inclined. I like my eggs over-easy, but if the store is busy, I'll usually pick something else (they tend to overcook the eggs when they're slammed, and I prefer my yolks runny).
TK's refried beans are vegetarian -- no lard -- so other meatless options on the menu include an array of breakfast burritos (egg, egg and potato, or egg and bean; they will also make an egg, potato and bean burrito if you ask); for lunch, they can do a plain ol' bean burrito or a chile relleno burrito, which comes stuffed with refried beans and a chile relleno.
They also offer three combo meals that can be ordered vegetarian. The $5.50 #1 offers a smothered chile relleno (you can get it deep-fried for an additional 50 cents), a tamale (order yours vegetarian) and a cheese enchilada, plus rice and refried beans on the side. The #2, $5.25, is a smothered chile relleno and tamale (again, ask for the vegetarian version) with rice and refried beans on the side, and the $5.50 #3 is two smothered chile rellenos with rice and beans on the side. Their chile rellenos are awesome both crispy and soft, and the chile smothering them gives just the right amount of heat to the plate.
There are a lot more vegetarian menu items available -- cheese nachos, bean Mexican eggrolls, the aforementioned veggie tamales (which are tasty and available in a meal featuring two tamales, smothered with cheese, and served with rice and refried beans), bean tostadas, quesadillas, french fries and more -- plus, TK offers family packages for $19 to $35 that can feed two people for days. Most menu items are under $5, and full meals average under $7. You can get sides in cup, pint and quart amounts. Call my favorite TK at 303-972-4477 and see the full menu online at www.thetamalekitchen.com.