Not  Your Ordinary Burger Joint

Diego Zhang's Exterior What in the world is a Diego Zhang’s? As stores and restaurants open in the redeveloped Streets at SouthGlenn we’re eager to discover our new neighborhood options. Seeing the sign “Diego Zhang’s” simply raised questions – even though it also said “Burger Cafe.” To find out we headed over for lunch.

Burgers are featured but not the typical American burger. A helpful employee explains that Diego Zhang’s burgers are, “Globally inspired mini burgers with the listed ingredients hand mixed with the meat. Each burger is 6 ounces, about half the size of a normal hamburger.” She gave us time to read through the list of a dozen choices: Centennial, Genoa, Shanghai, San Juan, Havana, Yellowstone – a world of flavors. There are also a half-dozen salad and five daily soup selections.

Diego Zhang's Pork Green Chili Bob chose a cup of pork green chili and a “Denver”  described as a simple blend of beef, bacon, sautéed mushrooms and onions. Wanting a variety of flavors I opted for a “Kansas City” – mesquite rubbed ground pork with caramelized barbeque sauce – and a Bangkok – Thai peanut shrimp with fresh vegetables. With each burger we had a choice of white or whole wheat bun.

We ordered at the counter, got our drinks and browsed the menu while we waited for the burgers to be delivered to the table hot off the grill. We learned that Diego Zhang’s mother came from southern climes and father from the east, hence the interesting name mix. The idea for globally-inspired mini-burgers came from a tapas cafe in Barcelona.

Diego Zhang's Burgers Bob gave a thumbs  up to the spicy green chili. I give a big nod of approval for both my burgers. Noted on the menu with two chile peppers meaning slightly more spicy, the Bangkok had a definite kick that lingered but didn’t overpower. The peanuts and fresh veggies lent a crunchy texture. Not spicy hot but packed with flavor, the Kansas City was equally enjoyed. I was impressed with how well matched and balanced the flavors were  in each burger. The whole wheat bun was fresh and grainy. I’ve heard people refer to these as sliders but found them to be larger than the majority of sliders. Two where plenty for a satisfying meal.

Families will appreciate the children’s menu including PB&J, mac & cheese, grilled cheese and noodles – buttered or with cheese/red sauce. Adults find  beer and wine available in addition to soft drinks. The breakfast menu offers a variety of egg sandwiches on English muffins and Arepas, South American corn cakes with cheese, red peppers and green chiles.

I’m already eager to return to further my world journey of mini-burgers.

When You Go: There are two locations for Diego Zhang’s in Centennial, 6851 S. Gaylord in The Streets at SouthGlenn and 12073 E. Arapahoe Road (Arapahoe and Peoria). Hours vary by location and day of the week, check their website for details.

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Revisiting Farro Italian Restaurant

Almost one year ago I wrote about the newly opened Farro Italian Restaurant in Centennial. Two recent visits stirred me to update readers.

A couple of weeks before Christmas Bob and I stopped into Farro’s for a quick dinner between shopping chores. WFarro Interiore hadn’t tried their pizza and decided to split the “Meat Lovers” and a romaine salad. Although we told the waitress we were okay eating off the same salad plate, the kitchen accommodated by splitting the romaine lettuce tossed with Ciabatta croutons, Parmesan and lemon garlic Dressing. We were highly impressed by the pizza topped with red sauce, sausage, prosicutto, salami, pancetta and cheese. The thin crust, light hand with the red sauce, flavorful meats and cheese came together in a 12-inch pizza we couldn’t stop eating until every crumb and crust was devoured.         [Photos courtesy Farro Restaurant]

Farra Zuppa

Last night I joined three women friends, none of whom had been there before, for a leisurely dinner at Farro. From the  satisfied sighs it’s safe to say they will return. Three of us started with cups of the Tuscan white bean zuppa with prosciutto and extra virgin olive oil – delish. With the basket of warm breads I could have eaten a quart of the soup.

Mary ordered lasagna, Gayle the meat pizza, and I returned to the Tuscan meatloaf. Carol chose orecchietTuscan Meatloafte pasta with sausage, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes in a Gorgonzola cream sauce. Our forks all made the tasting round of everyone’s entrees. I have to get back soon to order the orecchiette; I love Gorgonzola and this sauce was perfect without being overpowering nor too thick and heavy.                                              [Photo by Nancy Yackel]

This group never passes up desserts and last night was no exception. We shared double chocolate mousse and the pumpkin mascarpone cheesecake with a gingersnap cookie crust. Although I’m not as much of a chocolateholic as the others I have to admit the kahlua enhanced mousse was mighty good. The cheesecake was a nice alternative.

A large sign outside the door and a flier in the bill holder announced the beginning of Monday thru Friday lunch service starting January 4, 2010. I’ll report another update after a noon-time visit.

Our one negative – we spotted several errors on our bill. There were promptly corrected with apologies but I will watch closely on my next visit to make sure this was a one time occurrence.

The group lingered deep in conversation long after dessert . Until we left we had no idea we’d overstayed closing time, not done intentionally. The staff certainly gave no indication we should leave.

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When You Go: Farro Italian Restaurant, 8230 S. Holly, Centennial, CO 303-694-5432. Open Monday – Thursday 5-9pm, Friday & Saturday 4:30-9:30pm, Sunday 4:30-8pm. Now open for lunch Monday – Friday 11:30am-1:30pm.

Previous post on Farro Italian Restaurant

 

 

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 Tocabe Fry Bread 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.

Tocabe Neon Sign 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.

Tocabe Stuffed Fry Bread 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.

Tocabe Hands 

 

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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.

Divine Dinner

Culinary

  Ability                                       Creative

      Supreme,                                    Appetizing

         Presentation,                               Flavorful        

            Incredible                                      Excellence

              Ambience,                                  

                  Nuances          Caspian Cafe Halibut

 

Twelve hours after dinner at the Caspian Cafe in Colorado Springs I’m still sighing with satisfaction. Executive chef Daniel White choreographs a dining experience to be fully savored and long remembered.

I first heard of this Mediterranean bistro and bar on Warren Byrne’s Restaurant Show on Denver’s KEZW. A woman called in absolute ecstasy over the lunch she had just finished. She was standing in the parking lot eager to share news of the outstanding cuisine, service and ambience of the Caspian Cafe.

A week later we were in the Springs for an exhibit at the Fine Arts Center and decided on a late lunch at, “That restaurant the lady on Warren’s show raved about.” We soon discovered she didn’t exaggerate and have returned for lunch when in the area.

Last night we finally made it to the Caspian for dinner. WOW! Owner Moe Sharifi warmly welcomes guests. As our waitress, Tara, described the nightly specials we knew we didn’t need to read the menu; we simply had to make a choice between the meat, fish and pasta features. We wanted a sampler of all three.

Caspian Cafe Prime Rib There was no way I was passing up the Friday night prime rib rubbed with Mediterranean herbs and sundried tomatoes, served in a pomegranate au jus with a side of horseradish sauce. Bob decided on the Alaskan halibut and scallops. I can’t remember everything that was in the topping – tomatoes, mushrooms, capers, orange and lemon juices – but the blend of flavors was outstanding. Mashed potatoes seasoned with garlic, dill and Greek yogurt accompanied the prime rib; the halibut rested on a bed of rice. Both dinners came with baby carrots and sugar snap peas sautéed with beans and onions.

Caspian Cafe Dessert Having skipped lunch in anticipation of dinner indulgence, we devoured an appetizer of Baba Ghanouj, grilled pita and lavosh as we awaited our entrees. And, for dessert, we could not resist the orange and saffron flavored custard with caramel sauce attractively presented with a ring of sliced strawberries.

I couldn’t help but overhear the discussion at the table behind me as they tried to make their menu choices –lamb tagine with artichokes, gyros platter, Moroccan roast chicken, sambousek or the prime rib (which I, of course, recommended). We were tempted to linger until they were served just to hear their reactions.

It was a quiet Friday evening. I suspect most people were home with turkey sandwiches. Thankfully we dined divinely at the Caspian.

When You Go: Caspian Cafe, 4375 Sinton Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80907, 719-528-1155. Located east of I-25, just south of Garden of the Gods Road. Open for lunch Monday through Saturday, 11am-4pm. Open for dinner nightly from 4pm, until 10pm on Friday and Saturday, until 9pm Sunday through Thursday.

Closed

The Sunnyside Cafe in Highlands Ranch, Colorado bit the dust a few weeks ago while I was out of town. I will miss the whole-wheat cranberry almond pancakes, my favorite breakfast item on their menu. I believe the closure demonstrates how a restaurateur must successfully focus on many facets of their business – menu, food quality, preparation, location, ambiance, and SERVICE.

sunnyside-cafe1On my several visits to Sunnyside I never received quality service; even when they weren’t busy there was an element of inattention. On our last visit in September I influenced a party of eight to meet at Sunnyside. Before the morning was over I wanted to crawl under the table and could only apologize to family and friends for putting them through such an experience. The service was absolutely abominable. We just kept hearing, “We’re busy.” Isn’t that what a successful cafe wants to be? Apparently not!

Celebrating Cultures of New Mexico

Native DancersNortheast of Old Town, the  Indian Pueblo Cultural Center entertains and educates with a hands-on children’s facility, museum, and guided tours. Drummers and dancers from New Mexico’s 19 Indian Pueblos give performances of traditional dances in the enclosed courtyard. Museum displays trace the development of each Pueblo’s culture and showcases arts and crafts distinctive to each group – a good primer before hitting the gift shops where a wide selection of authentic artwork, jewelry and pottery await selection. Breakfast and lunch menu items at the Pueblo Harvest Cafe reflect Native American and Southwestern influences. Highly recommended are the blue corn pancakes, Tiwa Taco or stone ground corn fries.

Special programming during the annual Balloon Fiesta include daily Native dance performances and demonstrations by noted Pueblo artists, Native film screenings and a frybread stand. More than 50 artists participate in the Indian Art Market October 3-4, 2009.

Flags at Nt. Hispanic Cener The National Hispanic Cultural Center celebrates the visual, literary, media and performing arts of the deep Hispanic roots and influences on the Southwest. The Art Museum exhibits works from the expanding permanent collection as well as themed temporary shows of traditional and contemporary art. Programming at the Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts features  dance, music, theatre, storytelling, puppet shows and film. Annual fiestas and festivals in the center’s Plaza Mayor honors Hispanic holidays and cultural traditions.

Alb - Nt. Hispanic Center

The center’s La Fonda del Bosque Restaurant has been  cited as one of the country’s 50 best Hispanic restaurants. Breakfast, lunch or Sunday Brunch with live music delights diners seeking authentic regional cuisine. Weather permitting, the tree-shaded courtyard provides the perfect setting to partake of the daily buffet or order traditional favorites from the full menu.

Third Times a Charm

On my third visit to Lazy Loggerhead Cafe I finally discovered why locals and tourists return to this beachside eatery in Jupiter’s Carlin Park. The rather non-descript cafe came highly recommended. My first visit, Sunday breakfast in January, left little impression or inspiration. There was nothing wrong with the food but also nothing memorable. The small space was inundated with those waiting for tables and the noise and clatter overpowered our attempted conversation.

Although the cafe is only a short distance from a popular public beach don’t expect water views. Foliage atop the dunes blocks the view but provides year-round greenery.

My sister Judy and I returned to Lazy Loggerhead for lunch in July. My reuben sandwich was tasty and generous – indeed, I took home enough for two late evening snacks. Again, nothing outstanding in my opinion. Judy ordered the caesar salad plus a Blog - Lazy Loggerhead Grilled Shrimp Salad side order of black beans and rice and loved both choices. The crisp romaine and croutons came topped with shaved parmesan; the beans and rice artfully topped with a lime cream and raspberry coulis, was accompanied by a mango fruit salsa. My fork found its way for samples of both dishes. A chat with our waitress brought the recommendation of the grilled shrimp caesar for a future lunch.

Blog - Lazy Loggerhead Black Bean Soup Yesterday we made our third visit to Lazy Loggerhead. Knowing the size of the portions we decided to split an Island grilled shrimp caesar tossed with the fruit salsa. Judy once again ordered black beans and rice while I opted for the black bean soup. The eight large shrimp (tails removed) proved to be plenty for us to share with almost more salad then the two of us could finish. I can only call the soup divine.

The gentleman at the next table raved about his blackened dolphin caesar while others praised the grilled dolphin sandwich. We noted that this time of year almost all the diners seem to be locals known to the staff. Two businessmen receive praise from their waitress for finishing their 1/2-pound hamburgers. I now know why they return. I’m glad we stuck with the Lazy Loggerhead until we found our piece de resistance. Third time was definitely a charm.

When You Go: Lazy Loggerhead Cafe is located just south of Indiantown Road on A1A in Carlin Park, Jupiter, Florida, 561-747-1134. The cafe is open daily for breakfast and lunch. A take-out window offers a limited menu to enjoy on the beach or at one of the park’s picnic shelters.

Carlin Park offers a range of activities and facilities including 3,000 feet of guarded beach frontage, restrooms, outside showers, free parking, baseball fields, sand court volleyball, tennis courts, exercise course, children’s playground, bocce courts, picnic shelters and group pavilions. Seabreeze amphitheatre in the park hosts musical and theatrical events including the annual summertime Shakespeare by the Sea production.