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If you’re a serious snack lover (and haven’t received a stamp on your passport in awhile), that might mean you’re craving the treats sold by street vendors around the world and you miss ducking into stores to discover a country’s defining candy selection. One of the best parts of traveling, after all, is treating your tastebuds to new flavors.
But did you know that home sweet home actually has a phenomenal international snack scene? You just need to know where to look. Here, the best spots in and around Denver for stockpiling a stash to hold you over until your next trip—or to introduce you to your new favorite variety of potato chip.
It’s a Bodega
At any given time, It’s a Bodega is stocked with snacks from 15 or so countries—things like Garlic Bread Sun Chips from Korea, no-shell Skittles (they have a Starburst texture!) from the United Kingdom, and Chocolate Churro Cheetos from China. “This is my way of introducing the world to people—through snacks and beverages,” says owner KC Christian, who started by hosting pop-up snack shops before expanding into a retail space. Christian has a sweet tooth for Hi-Chews, and the massive selection of flavors available across the world introduced him to the cosmopolitan snack scene. “It’s about wanting what you didn’t know existed,” he says. In addition to stocking hard-to-find chips, cookies, and candy, It’s a Bodega also sells Fanta sodas in flavors like white peach and Chupa Chup, which tastes like cream soda. Note: You have to be buzzed in to enter this snack shop, which adds to the adventure. 1045 Lincoln St. Ste. 107
For a traditional Japanese street snack, head to Snowl Cafe in Aurora and order the taiyaki ice cream, a treat that is as delicious as it is Instagrammable. Taiyaki is a fish-shaped waffle cone that you can hold by the tail, with a mound of ice cream swirled into the open mouth. A waffle iron imparts an intricate fish design on the sea-bream-shaped cone, which is golden and crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Choose an optional filling (Nutella or sweetened red bean), pick an ice cream flavor (milk tea, matcha, or taro), then go crazy with toppings. The cafe itself is a delight, too. Light fixtures look like puffs of cotton candy and hot pink neon signs brighten the walls. 1930 S. Havana St., Ste. 5-6, Aurora
Ay Guey Mexican Snacks
Ay Guey puts a twist on traditional Mexican snacks, says Jazel Bailon, who runs this Thornton snack spot with her family. For instance, the classic elote that she remembers eating after mass while growing up in Chihuahua, Mexico, has been reimagined into an over-the-top dish like the Flamin’ Chorreado, in which the corn is drenched in nacho cheese and dusted with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. If your style is more sweet than savory, go with the best-selling Mangonada, a mango and chile ice cream treat made with real mango, chamoy (a sour, salted, and pickled fruit that’s spiked with chiles), and tamarind. The snack spot also serves churros, agua frescas, and homemade ice creams in flavors like pine nut, banana nutella, and gansito (a Mexican snack cake). 3947 E. 120th Ave., Thornton
M&I International Market
M&I International Market in Aurora has a particularly impressive sweet stash, with a case of pastries like Russian Kartoshkas (chocolate rolls) and Napoleon cakes (flaky puff pastries with custard) and generous slabs of Balkan baklava.. The Eastern European–inspired market also has a large selection of traditional Russian chocolates in pretty wrappers that you can buy individually, like praline and wafer candies with packages adorned with images of Little Red Riding Hood and other treats and cookies from Europe. 909 S. Oneida St.
Want snacks delivered from around the world to your doorstep? True armchair travelers can subscribe to Snack Voyage, an Aurora-based snack subscription service started by a globetrotting mother-daughter duo. Ome Enebeli says her daughter Daniella, 12, came up with the idea during the COVID-19 lockdowns, as a way to “help people feel like they’re traveling with snacks from different countries,” Enebeli says. The assorted box (starting at $30) comes with at least a dozen international snacks, including treats like wafers, chips, candy, chocolates, cookies, and more. Plus, each box comes with a “boarding pass” that lets recipients mark which snacks they like best to help curate future selections and destination guides and trivia so you can learn more about the snacks and countries they come from. “It’s more than eating snacks,” Enebeli says. “It’s a travel experience in a box.”