Best of Denver

The Ten Best International Markets in Metro Denver

Writer Laura Bond just took us on a tour of King Soopers Store 124 in Glendale, one of the most diverse supermarkets in metro Denver. While it's encouraging to find small pockets of specialty goods at big-name grocery stores,  where do we turn to when we're looking for a fresh stack of Ethiopian injera bread, a bag of buckwheat for grandma's Russian soup recipe, or just the right cheese for stuffing gooey Salvadoran pupusas? Denver and the surrounding suburbs are packed with international markets ranging from mom-and-pop shops attached to cafes or delis to sprawling superstores that rival any Walmart. Here are the ten best in town, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Carniceria La Sierra
3170 West Alameda Avenue
Turn into the parking lot when you see the mural of the cow slicing itself into steaks; there you'll find one of the city's best Mexican butcher counters, packed full of thin-sliced beef, marinated pork and many other specialty cuts for grilling, braising and roasting. And if you hit the market on a Saturday, La Sierra also makes big slabs — sheets, really — of crackling-fresh chicharrones. In the back, there's a small cafeteria serving tacos, enchiladas, soups and other traditional Mexican dishes. Stop for a combo plate and then grab some tamales to go. Que rico!

2. East Side Kosher Deli
499 South Elm Street
For the determinedly kosher (or determinedly local), the East Side Kosher Deli is indispensable. This oasis just north of Mir Park stocks everything from candies and snacks to Hanukkah candles and kosher ramen. There's a bakery, a very busy deli counter, a fish department (specializing in lox, of course) and, in the back, a small restaurant offering the expected deli sandwiches, blintzes, knishes from the bakery, herring salad and chopped liver. What's unexpected are the kosher versions of everything from Korean short ribs to north African lamb stew to sesame stir-fry.

3. H Mart
2751 South Parker Road, Aurora

This cavernous international grocery store on the edge of Aurora and Denver is a wonderland of Asian goods, from live seafood to exotic produce to specialty kitchen equipment. If there's a restaurant dish you love but have never been able to replicate at home, H Mart has that missing ingredient you need to make it shine. Hundreds of noodle styles — fresh, frozen or dried — line the shelves and pack the refrigerated sections, and you'll reel at the myriad varieties of rice available to pull off Thai, Korean, Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese dishes. Korean at heart but international in scope, H Mart could easily stand in for King Soopers or Safeway for weekly shopping trips, only we'd just spend way too much money stocking up on sauces, spices and frozen dumplings once the necessities were in the cart.

4. Panaderia La Guatemalteca
10329 East Colfax Avenue
At the corner of East Colfax and Hanover Street, you’ll find the small and tidy La Guatemalteca well stocked with Central American groceries and other sundries. There's also a small bakery counter featuring sweet cookies, buns and breads and a lunch counter with a very short menu of daily offerings. There’s a sign on the building facing Colfax, but you’ll need to turn the corner at Hanover Street to find the parking-lot entrance and front door. Most impressive is the selection of different types of flours used as thickeners for soups and sauces and for traditional Guatemalan baked goods.

5. M & I International Market
909 South Oneida Street
M & I stocks primarily Russian groceries and specialties and boasts a fresh bakery (with both sweet and savory options) and an awe-inspiring deli counter packed with meats, sausages, fish and prepared foods. Stock up on buckwheat and barley or hit the deli on your way home from work for a tub of fresh-made borscht, kebabs and cabbage rolls. Kosher foods are also available, along with a small selection of products from around the world.

Keep reading for five more markets.

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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