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100 Favorite Dishes: Gumbo from Bistro One

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No. 73: Gumbo from Bistro One

I was about to get fried chicken -- the best in Denver, ballyhooed the bartender at Bistro One -- but somehow, the subject switched to gumbo, and since the guy sitting next to me at the bar, who happened to be the owner of GB Fish & Chips, was in a fried chicken mood, and offered to share, I settled on the gumbo, which, you should know, is not on the menu, but often offered as a special. "It takes the chef five days to make it, and when he does, it goes like that," said the bartender, snapping his fingers to push the point forward. The chef, J. Michael Melton, had started with eight gallons; he was down to one.

Less than one, actually, since I didn't waste any time putting dibs on a bowl. It's an excellent gumbo, rich, ruddy and dark, thickened with fresh okra, a few nubs of which have been crusted in cornmeal and plopped on top of a molded mound of rice, and full of chicken, crawfish and cubed andouille sausage. It's earthy and soul-warming, enlivened with just enough heat to give it a noticeable jolt, and perfumed with smoke from the chicken and sausage tinged with garlic. Get it while the pot's hot, or else bring a bribe and hope that Melton isn't too high-principled to take it.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro No. 93: Posole from The Porker No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo No. 85: Fried Brussels sprouts from Panzano No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco No. 83: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil No. 82: Chicken potpie from Devil's Food No. 81: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma No. 80: Larb nua from Taste of Thailand No. 79: Pork shank from Argyll No. 78: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe No. 77: Pig-snout tacos from Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet No. 76: Speck and maple ice cream from Pizzeria Basta No. 75: Tom yum goong from Thai Flavor No. 74: South African black ruff from TAG

In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver 2010 issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

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