Five favorite stuffed-dough dishes in Denver

The menu at Bocadillo, Derek Dietz's casual restaurant in Sunnyside, is short, with only a dozen or so choices. And while the lineup frequently includes soups, a salad and a few entrees along with the snacks, you never know what form these dishes are going to take, given how often Dietz changes things up. That's why I didn't hesitate to order the buffalo empanadellas when I saw them on the menu one night. They sounded terrific, especially to a stuffed-dough loving girl like me, and I didn't want to save them for another time and risk missing out. While I liked much about Bocadillo, I wasn't wowed by those empanadellas, which could've used more pop in both the filling and the sauce. But that got me thinking about other stuffed dough I've loved along the way. Here are five of my favorites. See also: Bocadillo is back, cooking up plenty of simple pleasures 5) Rincon Argentino 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder At Rincon Argentino, Christian Saber and his crew wake up early to start on the flaky dough they'll tuck and fold over everything from ground beef to spinach and pine nuts. These days, it's the pollo empanada I can't stop thinking about, with chicken, green olives and a hint of paprika. 4) DiFranco's 955 Lincoln Street, Suite. D Like their cousin ravioli, agnolotti show off the Italian love affair with filled pasta, so it's no wonder that one of my favorite plates of these plump pockets came from DiFranco's. The dish I enjoyed featured a pea, ricotta and lemon filling tucked inside sheets of tender dough. It isn't on the current menu, but keep your fingers crossed: It might make a reappearance come spring. 3) Harman's eat + drink 2900 East Second Avenue While you can't get agnolotti at DiFranco's right now, you can always try a more seasonal, just as tasty version at Harman's eat + drink. Here, the housemade pasta shelters a smooth filling of butternut squash puree. The dish is hearty, accented with the kinds of flavors you crave in cooler weather: sautéed squash, fennel, apples and fried sage. 2) Comida Cantina 3350 Brighton Boulevard Comida Cantina does justice to stuffed dough -- just not with the obvious choice of gorditas, those lackluster masa pockets I've found to be all masa and no filling. But the griddled tacos? Those I could eat all day. Made with corn tortillas folded into half-moons and griddled until the cheese oozes out, they are proof that good doesn't need to be complicated. My favorite? The carnitas, with pork cooked in Stella Artois mixed with smoked gouda, cotija and asadero cheeses. 1) India's Restaurant 7400 East Hampden Avenue The key to success with any stuffed dough is the ratio of filling to shell, and no one nails it better than India's Restaurant. Even though I know I have bowls of perfumed curries and chewy naan and paratha heading my way, I can never resist starting off a meal with samosas, with plenty of peas and spiced potatoes encased inside the crisp pastry shell.

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz