It took me a few weeks to check out Scratch Burrito and Happy Tap after it opened this summer in Berkeley. North Denver wasn’t exactly clamoring for yet another place to grab some South-of-the-Border fare. But just minutes into my inaugural visit I realized this place was anything but a Mexican “me too.” While tortillas may be the meal-carrier of choice, the burritos at Scratch are inspired from around the globe. “We are just trying to recreate something that’s done the world over, and that’s bringing a delicious bite of food to your mouth with a piece of starch,” chef-owner Clay Markwell says of the menu, which lists kimchi, harissa, red beans and rice, tabbouleh, edamame, giardiniera, and adobo.

My favorite is No. 8 (pictured) with tandoori lamb, curried brown rice, dill pickle salad, and crispy onion. A bone-in shoulder of Colorado lamb cures for six hours in salt, dark brown sugar, Madras curry powder, and hand-pounded and toasted fenugreek, coriander, fennel, and black pepper. It is then set in a 300° oven to braise overnight. “The smell when we come in in the morning is intoxicating,” says Markwell, who cooked at TAG before going out on his own. The burrito’s curried rice is just as flavorful. Cooked brown rice is tossed with loads of minced ginger, garlic, onion, Madras curry powder, turmeric, and toasted fenugreek—a mixture that has been seared with dangerously hot canola oil. A salad of diced, vinegar-steeped cucumber tossed in yogurt-cilantro raita adds brightness and a cooling element, and crisp-fried onions lend some crunch.

It may have taken me awhile to get to Scratch, but I’ve tried countless burritos on the menu since, and this is the one that keeps me coming back.

Pairing: Barman Tyler Lewis pairs his tandoori lamb burrito with Avery Brewing Company’s Karma Pale Ale.

4262 Lowell Blvd., 303-477-3000

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