Govinda's Garden has been a staple for Denver's vegetarians for years. The eatery at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, (perhaps) better known as the Hare Krishna movement, has gone through various incarnations, but always returns with its vegetarian buffet on Friday and Saturday nights. After changing its name to Govinda's Garden Cafe in October, this version is already ridiculously popular -- especially now that it offers a vegan option with every meal.
Govinda's opens at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights -- and by 5:40 p.m. on a recent weekend, the dining room was already half-full of families and small groups of friends enjoying both the food and admosphere; but 6 p.m., it was tough to find an empty table. Govinda's now offers table service, so after you walk in, fill your plate and sit down, a server will come around with tea offerings and to talk you into some extras (which are well worth the minimal additional price -- especially since Govinda's finally takes credit cards).
Pictured above is a plate full of that evening's offerings: salad from the salad bar drenched in creamy almond dressing; Govinda's homemade wheat bread (which is remarkable); basmati rice (brown is also available) with potatoes, peas and tomatoes; and the entree for the evening, a quiche veggie pie. Other items on the buffet included broccoli and carrots with tahini sauce and crispy lentil papadam wafers.
The soup, a yellow mung dal, was hot and full of yellow lentils swimming in a savory broth with vegetables and herbs. That particular side dish comes with the buffet. One of the paid extras -- the always popular cauliflower pakora -- is $3 for a "small" plate, which is pictured above with a savory tamarind sauce; it's enough to give two people a taste, but you might just want to order your own. (And it's definitely worth the extra price to get this made-to-order, piping hot out of the fryer.)
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You can sign up for an e-mail list that will tell you what's on the menu for this next weekend -- but we're pretty sure it will be delicious. For more information, visit govindasdenver.com.