Celebrating Fry Bread
I well remember my first taste of fry bread. Under a shady ramada in the middle of the historic Taos Pueblo a grandmotherly woman removed the golden puffed pastry from a cast iron skillet. Handing me the laden paper plate she pointed to a squeeze bottle of honey. Yum – every bite was quickly consumed, I’d found a new culinary treasure.
I soon learned fry bread also served as a base for Indian Taos, piled high with meat, beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and salsa. Over the decades I’ve consumed Indian Taos and fry bread dusted with powdered sugar or dripping with honey at pueblos, pow wows, festivals, and restaurants on the Navajo reservation. When I heard there was a restaurant featuring the Native American staple opening in North Denver I put Tocabe on my “Must Visit” list.
Like that first fry bread every bite at Tocabe disappears quickly. The menu is simple: American Indian Tacos, Stuffed Indian Tacos, Medicine Wheel Nachos, Little Osage Pizza – made with fry bread, of course. The soup choice changes daily – green chili clam chowder on Friday. And, for dessert, fry bread with honey, cinnamon or powder sugar and dessert tacos – fry bread topped with hot apples or cherries.
Located at 44th and Lowell in the Highlands Neighborhood, Tocabe welcomes hungry patrons to a clean, crisp, contemporary space. The rough stone wall with candle cradling niches reminds me of standing amidst the remains of earlier cultures at Mesa Verde or Chaco Canyon.
A friendly staff assists with choices for our made-to-order taco. Each piece of fry bread comes directly from the kitchen steaming hot. We begin by adding meat and beans: ground beef, shredded beef, chicken, ground buffalo, extra meat or vegetarian, black beans, pintos or chili beans. Followed by yea or nay to cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and purple onions. Choose two from the hominy or white corn salsas, mild or hot, red or green chili. Top everything off with sour cream, chipotle sauce – or both. On our most recent visit Bob and I attacked our plates as if a time clock were ticking, slowing consumption only for complimentary murmurings.
Who can leave without sharing a fry bread with honey for dessert? Not us. As Tocabe approaches their 1st anniversary in business we’re convinced Denver diners are extremely fortunate to have their very own American Indian Eatery. Celebrate fry bread.
When You Go: Tocabe, 3536 West 44th Avenue, Denver, CO, 720-524-8282, is open Monday through Saturday 11am to 9pm and Sunday noon to 8pm.