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While rice and curry combos make for satisfying dinners, those seeking late-night sustenance often gravitate toward hand-held, greasy-spoon-style eats. That demand inspired the culinary pros behind four-year-old Gaia Masala and Burger, which has outposts in Boulder and Capitol Hill and will open in LoDo this month, to inject pub fare with the flavors of a beloved Indian dish: tikka masala. The fast-casual restaurant and bar’s crave-worthy burgers, sandwiches, and calzones are ideal for soaking up boozy beverages, including Gaia’s mint gimlets, coconut grasshoppers, and other inventive cocktails. Our post-midnight go-to is the tikka masala cheese steak, composed of juicy nuggets of poultry shrouded in a tomato-based sauce seasoned with chile powder, ginger, and other aromatics and layered on a ghee-soaked bun with onions two ways (fresh and pickled), lettuce, cilantro, and a cooling yogurt sauce. Order the masterpiece with a basket of cheesy masala fries, Aleppo-pepper-spiced wings, or potato- and pea-stuffed samosas. Of course, you could also follow traditional Indian eating protocol by using your right fingertips and some naan to scoop up staples such as saag, biryani, and butter masala, which are also available daily on the extensive menu from 9 a.m. until 3 a.m. in Denver or 4 a.m. in Boulder.
(Read More: The Best Indian Food in Denver)