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Pints of ice cream from Right Cream. Photo by Matt Nager
9 Reasons to Love Denver in 2021

Reasons to Love Denver 2021: Local Eats, Old and New

From the old haunts that held us together to the new, pandemic-born concepts that have us hooked, Denverites have some delicious options for eating our feelings.

1. Because so long as El Taco de México exists, we’re going to be all right.

How do I love thee, El Taco de México? Let me count the ways.

I love the excitement I feel approaching your fluorescent pueblo-style walls, the rush that comes over my taste buds when I open the door to the exquisite soundtrack of asada, carnitas, and pastor hissing on the griddle.

El Taco De Mexico’s smothered chile relleno burrito gives Colo-Mex cooking a good name. Food styling by Victoria Escalle, photo by Sarah Boyum

Your familiar aromas of lemony fresh cilantro and pungent onions.

I love thee freely, as one loves air and water and tamales. I love thee purely, as what could be so pure as long-simmered chiles or posole?

I love your maize counter, bright like the sun, and the goddesses who work behind it.

Crafting the cabeza tacos I hold so dear, pouring gastronomic mystique into giant bowls of menudo.

How I long to feel your chilaquiles and enchiladas yield to my gentle bite.

I love thy breakfast burritos most of all; layers of rice, beans, and eggs swaddled in warm, chewy tortillas and baptized in the late Maria Luisa Zanabria’s masterful green chile.

You remind me, El Taco, that good things still remain. That so long as I can buy comfort in the form of burritos and rellenos and chilaquiles, all will be OK.

I love thee because I know that time and tortas heal all wounds, and that I, El Taco, am ready to be healed. —Allyson Reedy

(Read More: A Taste of Colorado-Mex)

2. Because eating our feelings tastes so good.

We didn’t plan on picking up an addiction in the middle of a global pandemic, but there we were, driving to a Westminster H Mart parking lot on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. (sharp!) to score our next sweet fix. Our dealer, David Right, doesn’t mess around with grams or ounces—no, he loads us up with pints. Our vice of choice is Right Cream ice cream, crammed full of scratch-made mix-ins like butter cake, vanilla marshmallow fluff, and pistachio streusel. Right began whipping up his habit-forming treats out of his home kitchen in June 2020 as pick-me-ups for friends and family. But word spread that his small batches (even at $12 a pint) were the best in town. Soon, Front Range addicts were lining up in grocery store parking lots from Westminster to Greenwood Village to score the coveted creams out of Right’s trunk. In June, Right Cream opened a pint and sundae—sorry, no scoops—shop at 3047 Larimer Street in RiNo, but staying true to his roots, Right will still make parking lot drops (just choose which location in the online checkout) for junkies on the north and south sides. —AR

3. Because there’s been an explosion in home food delivery.

Photo courtesy of Joni Schrantz

The past 17 months have been brutal for the hospitality biz, but both brick-and-mortar spots and culinary pros have evolved their businesses to keep hungry Denverites happy—and fed. Here’s a taste of what you can now have delivered to your door that you couldn’t a year ago. Never say that COVID-19 didn’t do anything for you. —Denise Mickelsen

Entrées:
High-End Sandwiches  $15
Open, the sandwich shop inside American Bonded in RiNo, delivers stacked beauties created by local chefs, including a Sichuan brisket French dip by Uncle and Hop Alley owner Tommy Lee.

Korean Chicken Wings  $9 to $14
One-month-old WingWok in Centennial sells its fat, juicy, twice-fried Red Bird Farm chicken wings with rice and Korean sides. Takeout and delivery only.

On the Side:
Wood-Fired Sourdough  $10 to $18
Funky Flame’s loaves and biscuits are baked from whole-grain flours every week in a mobile wood-fueled oven situated in owner Allison Declercq’s backyard. Delivery on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Fresh Produce  $15 to $40
The LittleJohn Produce Box Project is a grocery subscription service that keeps you well stocked—and it donates food to Denverites in need.

Dessert:
Puerto Rican Doughnuts  $2.50 to $23
El Secreto Denver brings its pastelitos, quesitos, and Mallorcas to your door within 24 to 48 hours.

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