There’s a new dish on Linger‘s menu that’s eliciting a lot of attention. The cricket tacos—made with locally raised insects—are as good for a dare as they are for lunch. Chef-owner Justin Cucci and culinary director Daniel Asher first put the dish on the menu as a special and it sold out each night. Now that it’s on the regular menu, the LoHi restaurant goes through at least 20 orders a day.
Whether you’re intrigued by the ick-factor or are generally interested in alternative proteins (crickets are 60 percent protein), you’ll find these tacos go down easily. In fact, aside from a few flash-fried critters as garnish, you likely won’t notice the buggers at all. That’s because they’re stuffed inside mini chile rellenos and are served with Cotija cheese, avocado, black beans, apple-tomatillo salsa, and mole. Fold up the tacos and dig in.
Cooking with crickets is in line with Linger’s global street food model (80 percent of the world eats insects) and it appeals to Cucci and Asher because of the sustainability factor. “We need to look at alternative proteins from an environmental standpoint,” Asher says. “Cows are great and all but they’re not sufficient for the amounts people want and what we can produce.” Linger, and all of Cucci’s Edible Beats restaurants (Root Down, Ophelia’s, and the forthcoming Vital Roots and L5), regularly serve responsible meats including yak, ostrich, goat, and rabbit. “We have a running dialog about always looking for the most intelligent way of feeding people,” Asher says.
When he learned about the locally raised crickets from Jon Emanuel, the executive chef of Project Angel Heart, it didn’t take Asher long to connect with Wendy Lu McGill, the CEO of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch. The company, which is working with Revision International in the Westwood neighborhood, raises crickets and mealworms in a 40-foot shipping container.
What’s next for Linger’s menu? Possibly ants (a popular Mexican street food) and cricket-flour waffles.
2020 W. 30th Ave., 303-993-3120