After winning a James Beard Award in 2014 for his first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, Denver's Adrian Miller has become known as the Soul Food Scholar.
In 2021, he appeared in the Netflix series High on the Hog, and in 2022, he nabbed a second James Beard Award for his third book, Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue. He'll be busy this Juneteenth with speaking engagements around town.
But he took the time to share details on his favorite Black-owned soul-food restaurants in Denver. As he notes, it's "not a huge scene, but we’ve got joints that do a good job, and I hope people will support them."
Welton Street Cafe
Since opening in 1986, this family-owned spot has become a community anchor in Five Points — in March 2022, it closed its former location, and remains temporarily closed as it works to open in its new space at 2883 Welton Street later this year. In the meantime, make sure to follow it on Instagram for announcements about upcoming pop-ups so you can get a taste of its soul food. You can also still contribute to its GoFundMe, which will help with the cost of the major remodel that is underway at the new location.
Pork Chop King
It doesn't serve the Southern soul food that most people associate with that term, but Miller gives Pork Chop King his "soul food" nod of approval. With an owner from Chicago, the menu packs flavors from the Windy City along with a variety of burgers, dogs, brats and hot links. The pork chop should obviously be your first order, though: It's a bone-in chop with house spice rub, served on a Hawaiian bun with grilled onions.
CoraFaye’s Home Cook'n & Soul Food
15395 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora
Another longtime favorite for fried chicken, CoraFaye's closed in March 2020 and was MIA during much of the pandemic. But in April 2021, fans were relieved to see it reopen in a new, more visible Colfax location. The menu has been pared down to one page, but favorites like the fried chicken, smothered pork chops and daily selection of cake are all available.
Swirk Soul Food
2205 South Peoria Street, Aurora
The sign outside this small, takeout-only spot in an Aurora strip mall reads "Swirk Supreme Food," and what a supreme selection it has: barbecue, sandwiches, seafood and more. Not sure where to start? Go for the Southern King Platter Dinner, which includes a fried catfish fillet, two jumbo shrimp, one hot link and barbecue chicken, with your choice of two sides.
Blazing Chicken Shack II
5560 East 33rd Avenue
This soul-food eatery in Park Hill has all the standard items you'd expect, including fried okra, collards and catfish, but Blazing Chicken also has some options that are less common in Denver. Gizzards, pig ears, pork neck bone and gumbo are all on the menu, as is an oxtail dinner only available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.