This week Gretchen Kurtz reviewed Mas Kaos, a Mexican-Italian mashup on Tennyson Street that defies the logic many restaurants focus on, to focus on one cuisine and execute it properly. Instead, at Mas Kaos, Kurtz found herself doing what everyone else was doing: "chasing a few chile-soaked tacos with a cheesy, San Marzano-slicked wedge" of pizza.
Good restaurant design and a kitchen crew capable of pulling off two dissimilar cuisines have translated to early success for Mas Kaos, but can a wacky idea thrive in a competitive restaurant scene? Yes, apparently: We found five other Denver eateries that have succeeded, some for decades, by serving exactly what the customer wants, as long as the customer wants either pizza and pasta or burritos and tacos — or both at the same meal.
Angie's Family Restaurant
6797 West Ottawa Avenue., Littleton
Angie's hit the half-century mark last year, and for the past five decades, it's served both Mexican and Italian cuisine. The restaurant has moved twice in those fifty years, but you can still head down to Littleton's western edge for the original Angie special (a pizza topped with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and black olives) or a plate of shredded-beef tacos. The restaurant's lone fusion offering? A taco pizza slathered in green chile instead of red sauce.
Bonnie Brae Tavern
740 South University Boulevard
Bonnie Brae is not only the oldest restaurant in the Denver city limits, making it work for more than eighty years on a block that also boasts the Saucy Noodle (at more than fifty years) and the soon-to-reopen Campus Lounge (another oldie, dating from 1946). With family in tow, you can settle into a tight booth (people must have been much smaller in 1934) and please the whole table with a range of pizzas, pasta dishes, eggroll-style chiles rellenos and smothered Mexican hamburgers. And it's entirely possible that the Bonnie Brae invented Taco Tuesday.
Mickey's Top Sirloin
In 2005, Mickey's replaced its decrepit, decades-old home with a shiny, family-friendly new building on the same lot. The atmosphere is still casual and diner-like, though, and the menu is basically unchanged — which guarantees that you'll get a whole lot of food for just a little bit of money. Most of the fare is solidly Italian (from "Mama's Italian Kitchen") and Mexican (look for "Jose's Mexican Fiesta"), but steaks are also a favorite for the always-low price.
3563 South Monaco Parkway
Over the years, this south Denver holdout has been the training ground for many a young dish-pit jockey, as well as a destination for solid pizzas, calzones and baked pasta dishes — unless, that is, you're indulging in chimichangas, enchiladas or the customer-favorite Ticorito burrito.
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Pizza & Grill
990 Lincoln Street
Traveling along northbound Lincoln Street near downtown, you might not even notice Pizza & Grill — whose name is basically a description of what you'll find inside. There's pizza, of course, but the "grill" side of the menu also hides a list of tacos (hard or soft shell!), burritos and chile rellenos beneath a long roster of burgers and Italian-style subs.