Eating Adventures

Nine Restaurant Mash-Ups for the Adventurous Denver Diner

Earlier this week, we explored two restaurants on South Parker Road that served food influenced by international culinary migrations: Kin Restaurant specializes in Somali cooking with touches of Italian, while the P & Y Cafe serves Chinese noodle dishes and stir-fries that have made their way to Aurora by way of Korea. But Denver has plenty of other eateries where the fusions and collisions are a little odder, bringing disparate traditions together on gloriously goofy menus where you might find Buffalo hot wings, Nepalese dumplings or Laotian sausage all sharing space. Here are eight restaurants in the Denver area with oddball menu combos.
1. The Asian Cajun
2400 West Alameda Avenue
Whether you're craving a Louisiana-style crawfish boil with mounds of steaming crustaceans caked with spices or a brimming basin of pho topped with fragrant Vietnamese basil, the Asian Cajun can satisfy your needs. The menu is fairly evenly distributed between straight-up Cajun dishes — like gumbo or étouffée — and Southeast Asian specialties (the lemongrass-heavy Lao sausage is a must), so you won't find any truly bizarre Creole/Vietnamese mash-ups, but you can still grab a plate of fried alligator as a starter before moving on to Korean barbecued short ribs.

2. Boba & Crepes
4085 East Mississippi Avenue
A sweet crepe snack accompanied by a fruity smoothie doesn't seem too strange, especially when considering the French influence on the culinary landscape of Vietnam, where boba teas are bountiful. But how about an Italian Supreme crepe stuffed with salami, bacon, ham and Swiss cheese chased with a red-bean milk tea? Your tongue will have jet lag after the transcontinental tastebud tour.

3. The British Bulldog
2052 Stout Street

Neighborhood pubs with Indian food are not unusual in London, where Brits have adopted chicken tikka masala as the national dish. In Denver, though, a bar pouring a full range of Fuller's and celebrating soccer (or footie, as its Anglophile punters call it) is a rarity, even without the additional confusion of messing with standard sports-bar snacks. But the British Bulldog melds American, English and Pakistani on one menu, with bangers and mash, aloo gosht and quesadillas all living in multicultural harmony. And for fanciful fusion, check out the Punjabi wings or the Greco-Indian sandwich: a steamy pita packed with Peshawari chicken, bacon and feta cheese.
4. Cherry Creek Harbor
13740 East Quincy Avenue, Aurora

Aurora has a reputation for diverse international cuisine, but most of the time you have to hit several restaurants to get the kind of sampling you'll find under one roof at Cherry Creek Harbor. On a Friday night, live jazz sets the mood for plates from the Bayou Cafe, the supper club's Cajun/Creole half, but that saxophone solo could then segue into saag paneer or shish kabobs from Kathmandu Kitchen, the Indian/Nepalese side of the house. Either way, Cherry Creek Harbor makes for one of Aurora's oddest nights out.
5. Cowbobas
940 South Federal Blvd

Cheap steaks and cheeseburgers on Federal Boulevard — we must be talking about the Columbine Steakhouse, right? Well, you can't get bubble tea at the Columbine. For that kind of combo, you'll need to head a few blocks south to Cowbobas, which just relocated from a tiny spot at the corner of Federal and East Evans Avenue, where it had been serving beef and bobas for nearly a decade.

Keep reading for more oddball culinary collisions ...

6. Piper Inn
2251 South Parker Road
Rows of Harleys pack the parking lot at the Piper on weekends, when bikers rally for cheap beers, billiards and Buffalo hot wings. That's a familiar theme at any number of roadhouses around the metro area, but at this time-honored tavern, you can also get your wings smothered in Chinese-style sauce. Or you can plunge headfirst into a menu of Cantonese specialties, fried rice or egg foo young. When you're done, just swap out your chopsticks for a pool cue to keep the night going. 

7. Vietnam Bay
472 South Federal Boulevard
Vietnam Bay comes from the same tradition as the Asian Cajun, with Gulf Coast cuisine picked up by Vietnamese immigrants and brought to Denver. But this Federal Boulevard stop melds the two disparate styles more completely than at the other joint, offering shrimp, crab and crawfish boils in a fiery pineapple sauce that's equal parts Bayou and Southeast Asian; a plate of "gumbling" that's nothing more than sausage gumbo ladled over Vietnamese dumplings; and sticky chicken wings bursting with the flavors of fish sauce, lemongrass, garlic and chiles. Vietnam Bay's fusion fare rates an "A" for adventure.

8. Woody's Wing's n' Things
6817 Lowell Boulevard, Westminster

This northern Woody's outpost isn't associated with other spots in town with the same name, but you can still land a great plate of hot wings. Choose from standard, American-style wings in hot, medium, mild or barbecue, or go for something a little more exotic, like Szechuan, crispy Thai style, or lemongrass with peanuts. What make this Woody's unique, though, is the selection of Cambodian and Laotian dishes in addition to a long list of Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai selections. The name above the door doesn't begin to hint at the wonders inside.
9. Yak and Yeti
7803 Ralston Road, Arvada 

Yak and Yeti now has three locations around the city, but the original, in Old Town Arvada, is our favorite, with a full craft brewery and an Indian/Nepalese lunch buffet wedged into a quaint Victorian mansion that's said to be haunted. Our tip for a great combo: Nepalese momo dumplings and a pint of the house chai milk stout. 

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation