Antique shops. Dispensaries. Dive bars. South Broadway is well-known for all of the above, but if you look a bit closer, you’ll find that its roughly 1.3 miles between Arizona and East Jewell avenues are home to a vibrant array of Latin eateries—and that’s not even including romantic Pan-Latin Leña and fusion-fab BorraCho Tacos, both located a bit farther north. Consider this your insider’s guide to Denver’s unofficial Latin American enclave.
La Chiva Colombian Cuisine
This year-and-a-half-old brick-and-mortar, spawned from the popular food truck of the same name, gives Denverites a cozy, colorful place to enjoy the cuisine of chef-owner Jorge Aguirre’s native Colombia—and a full cocktail menu, including shots of bracing, sugar-cane-based “aguardiente,” the South American country’s de facto national spirit.
Top Find: The gut-busting bandeja montañera, a $14 platter of pinto beans, white rice, chorizo, sweet plantains, “patacones” (fried green plantains), chicharrones, pork ribs, avocado slices, an “arepa” (corn cake), and a fried egg.
A brisk wedding cake business (including free tastings on Sundays) takes place at this aggressively pink bakeshop, but the real draw is Peruvian-born Marjorie Silva’s fabulous desserts. Dulce-de-leche-filled Napoleons, three varieties of silky flan, and chocolate truffles called “chocotejas” in prune and pecan flavors share space with American-style cupcakes in the bright display case.
Top Find: Delicate “alfajores” (shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche), $2.50 each for the large versions or $9 for a one-pound box of minis.
Dos Luces Brewery
Judd Belstock (formerly of Boulder Beer) and Sam Alcaine focus on two types of pre-Columbian suds at their six-month-old brewery: the light-bodied, refreshing Peruvian drink called “chicha,” made with malted blue corn, cinnamon, and clove; and the more intense Mexican-style “pulque,” which gets its complexity, spiciness, and tang from maguey sap (the same stuff that’s used to make mezcal). Bonus: Both brews are 100 percent gluten-free.
Top Find: Tasty seasonal brews, including a coffee-chocolate pulque and Dos Luces’ tomato- and hot-sauce-infused take on a michelada, dubbed the “chichalada” ($5.50).
Lorena Cantarovici’s sweet and savory Argentine-style empanadas are Mile High City staples, thanks to four locations and a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives appearance. What most locals don’t realize is that South Broadway’s sunny four-year-old location has an expanded menu, including “facturas” (sweet croissantlike pastries stuffed with the likes of Bavarian cream) and a selection of Argentine wines meant for pairing with Cantarovici’s pastries.
Top Find: The $5.45 “rio tartita,” a savory egg tart flavored with spinach and feta cheese.
Adelita’s Cocina y Cantina and Palenque Mezcaleria
Brian Rossi commands a powerhouse of Mexican food and drink on the corner of East Louisiana Avenue, which began with Michoacán-inspired Adelita’s in 2013. There’s also Palenque, a dim (in a good way) subterranean bar that pours 100-plus mezcals—the largest collection in Denver—and serves Oaxacan fare such as a rich chicken mole.
Top Find: On Mondays at Palenque, five rotating mezcals are available at 50 percent off; pair your discounted hooch with the $9 chorizo-studded queso fundido dip.