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Denver Loses Two Cuban Eateries: Buchi and Frijoles

You'll have to go to Leadville for Buchi Cafe's Aye Conyo Sandwich.EXPAND
You'll have to go to Leadville for Buchi Cafe's Aye Conyo Sandwich.
Mark Manger
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Denver just lost one of the best sandwiches in the entire city.

Buchi Cafe Cubano announced on its Facebook page that the cafe, at 2651 West 38th Avenue, is closing permanently, taking with it the Aye Conyo, a mouth-watering construction that looks like a typical Cubano — roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard — but piles turkey, pepperoni, onions, hot peppers and key lime mayo onto a distinctive Cuban roll.

Emmett Barr opened Buchi in the Sunnyside neighborhood in 2008, adding sandwiches, pastries and cafe con leche to Denver's sparse Cuban food scene. In 2019, Barr and his wife, Kim Hastings, expanded into Leadville with a second Buchi. But the two point out rising operating costs in the decision to close the Denver flagship. Here's their complete statement from Facebook:

Dear Friends of Buchi,

After 12 years of service we have decided to close the doors of our Denver location. This decision is based on rising costs and diminishing profits, and is one that we have considered for quite some time. In a perfect world we would have been able to purchase the building in which we've operated for over a decade. We don't live in that world, we live in a world where the great sometimes comes with the not so great...that is the balance that we call life. And it has been an amazing life for which we are humble and grateful. You have shared with us joys, triumphs, tragedies, dreams and laughter and for that we feel eternally blessed. Thank you all so much for your support and patronage over the years.

The good news is that the Leadville location is alive and well and we have moved Somer and Dalton up here to help us grow and expand and move forward. We invite you to visit and to continue to share in the magic that you have all helped to make, the magic that is Buchi Cafe Cubano.

With love,
The Buchi Gang

Frijoles is closed in Lakewood.
Frijoles is closed in Lakewood.
Mark Manger

At 12095 West Alameda Avenue in Lakewood, Frijoles Colorado Cuban Cafe was known for its deeper dive into Cuban cuisine, with a menu of picadillo, vaca frita and lechon with black beans, rice and yuca to go with traditional sandwiches, soups and empanadas. Sergio and Roxanne Negrin opened Frijoles in 2011, and expanded its dining room in 2016, but now the restaurant is vacant and the phone goes unanswered. Frijoles was offering takeout service through the coronavirus restaurant closings until May 1, but has been closed since then, when the restaurant stated on its Facebook page that it was temporarily closed for "an issue with our equipment."

Buchi Cafe Cubano in Leadville isn't exactly close, but sometimes a sandwich (especially one that makes you say Aye Conyo!) is worth the drive, and good ropa vieja, Cubano sandwiches and coffee can still be found around metro Denver.

Of the remaining Cuban restaurants, Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar reopened its dining room and patio at 1173 Delaware Street on May 28, and its new sibling, at 6375 Promenade Parkway in Castle Rock, and the five fast-casual Cuba Cuba Sandwicherias are also open. In Aurora, Cuba Bakery & Cafe, at 15028 East Mississippi Avenue, has resumed in-house service. And at 2080 Youngfield Street in Lakewood, El Bohio Criollo has added outdoor seating and is open for dine-in, takeout and delivery.

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