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Golden's Empanada Express Grill graduates from a trailer to a restaurant

You  no longer have to lug your own butt cushion to the Empanada Express Grill, which up until three weeks ago was a simple freestanding trailer peddling Venezuelan street snacks -- empanadas, arepas and cachapas -- from an asphalt landing strip in Golden. Its new location at 2600 East Street isn't exactly fancy, the narrow space sparse with just a few tables and seats and a glass case filled, quizzically, with folded men's shirts that sell for $15. Still, I can't think of another joint in town where you can dress a man and feed him corn cakes swollen with black beans, shredded beef, plantains and cheese.

True, the shirts weren't exactly flying off the shelves when I stopped in for lunch earlier this week, but the excellent arepas, empandas (impossibly puffy and lighter than air), and cachapas, irresistibly delicious corn pancakes with blackened surfaces paved with white cheese, commanded a posse of fans. There's no liquor license, but the fresh fruit juices -- cantaloupe, passion fruit, pineapple, coconut, papaya, guava and mango -- are vast improvements over the sodas in the fridge.

For those of you who frequented the Empanada Grill in its earlier incarnation, you'll be happy to know that the owners have expanded their hours from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and Monday. For more info, call 720-226-4701.

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