Cafe Society

Tony Bourdain in Denver: Another convert of Biker Jim and his dogs

"Look, when I was here in 2002, I walked for what, eight hours, all over downtown and you know what I found? I found chicken wings -- chicken wings and fried fucking mozzarella sticks. I didn't see anything that looked like it was chef-driven, and Jim's cart sure as hell wasn't here." That's Tony Bourdain summing up his last trip to Denver, a stopover that commenced, he remembers, with dinner back in his hotel room. Which sucked.

Bourdain, as you already know, was in Denver yesterday to yap from the stage of the Buell, where he ripped on Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray, reinforced the fact that Julia Child changed the world, encouraged vegetarians to "fuck their clean colon," admitted that he had the best job in the world and announced, publicly, that he'd "been to the mountaintop and found enlightenment."

In a hot dog.

Before Bourdain took the microphone (and a fork to the city from Mayor John Hickenlooper) last night, he'd gone to Biker Jim's, Jim Pittenger's gourmet sausage cart at 16th and Arapahoe, to film Jim and his wieners for an upcoming spot on the hit show No Reservations, which currently airs on the Travel Channel. "Everyone who had any sense of what I like told me to go here," Bourdain said as he stood beside Biker Jim's cart yesterday afternoon. "And they were right. I'm so in the happy zone right now, it's a very good day at the office. This was far and away the number-one place on my list to come and eat."

And just like that, within two hours of stepping off the plane at DIA, Bourdain had become a Biker Jim groupie. "I ordered five dogs and wiped out a cumulative total of three-and-a-half," he joked. "The elk was excellent, the wild boar was really extraordinary and the reindeer was perfect, really awesome and probably my favorite."
That's not how he'd describe the frankfurters in New York, which are "standard dirty water dogs" and "completely forgettable," Bourdain said, a snub that he extended to New York street food in general. "The street food in New York is shameful, terrible and indefensible," he complained. "It's absolutely appalling."

In fact, he added, if you want something decent, you gotta go to Queens, maybe Brooklyn. "I recently found a taco truck that did tongue tacos -- I love tongue tacos -- and I nearly sobbed with gratitude," he admitted.

Which is what some kid nearly did yesterday when Bourdain signed an autograph. Looking up and down the 16th Street Mall, Bourdain nodded approvingly, grabbed his Biker Jim T-shirt (which he wore at last night's talk) and promised to never again get drunk with a photographer, unless you want the resulting snap to look like you've been boned.