Cafe Society

Almost Famous: Denver's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

I recently got an e-mail from Page Productions, a Minneapolis company that produces the show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives:

“We are researching the Denver area for our Food Network show which will be filming 6 or 7 different establishments in Colorado in a couple of months. I keep stumbling across your reviews and I like your style of write ups. I'm very interested in knowing if you would have any suggestions for places that would be interesting to look into for the show. We try to find tiny, unknown restaurants that make great, home-made food.”

I was more than happy to help out, because I actually like DD&D. The host, Guy Fieri (at right), is quite plainly nuts (which I appreciate). He’s loud, he’s funny, he’s a real restaurant brat -- having done time in more restaurants than I can list here (including working in a meat-distributing plant) before striking out and opening a few joints of his own -- and he knows his way around a kitchen. What’s more, the guy really looks like he’s enjoying himself on camera -- stuffing his face with anything he can get his hands on and possibly standing as the only guy in America who puts away more cheeseburgers per year than I do.

So I put together a list of places on my beat that I thought Guy and his crew would dig, then put in a call to Page. Which was when I got the bad news: Due to logistical difficulties, Colorado had just been bumped off the shooting schedule, and the researcher who’d originally contacted me had no idea when this monumental oversight was going to be rectified. Even when I offered to let Guy and his crew crash in my living room, she told me it was a no-go.

“It certainly would help with the budget,” she said, “but no.”

Which sucks, because I totally would’ve been down with dragging the host and his shooters, fixers, producers and hangers-on out for some late nights in my neighborhood. I was thinking raw fish, sake bombs and karaoke in the ‘hood, then maybe a little Pho 79 for breakfast. I mean, cheeseburgers and corn dogs are great and all, but I’m thinking Guy could use a break from all the Americana for one day…

But while it looks as though Colorado ain’t gonna be getting its moment any time in the near future, I figure there’s no reason to let my research go to waste. Besides, all of you out there in Hotcakesland might have some ideas for where the DD&D gang ought to haul up once they do make it out our way. I’ve listed mine below; feel free to tack on your own in the comments section. Let’s see if we can make one definitive list of the area’s best diners, drive-Ins and dives for when Page Productions gets off its collective ass and finally sends its boy pinballing our way.

My list:

Rocky Mountain Diner/Castle Café (because they have the best fried chicken in the area, hands down, and use old saddles rather than seats at the bar).

Big Hoss Bar-B-Que (because watching Hoss Orwat and Guy Fieri face off on camera would be the kind of steel-cage foodie death match that would put Bobby “Throwdown” Flay to slinking, red-faced shame).

Bud’s Bar (Best. Cheeseburgers. Ever.).

Rosie’s Diner/Davies Chuck Wagon (because we do good diners out here -- provided those diners are painstaking, 1:1 copies of the diners on the East coast).

La Fiesta (because nothing screams Colorado like eggroll rellenos and green chile in a Mexican restaurant that used to be a grocery store).

Tin Star Café & Donuts (because what’s better than barbecue and donuts? Barbecue and donuts from the same restaurant, that’s what).

Grandpa’s Burger Haven (fast cars and cheap burgers, ‘nuff said).

El Taco de Mexico (because I heard Guy Fieri loves eating brain tacos. Especially on camera). -- Jason Sheehan

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun