Trend…For a long time, Denver only had two year-round spots in which to score the perfect hot dog: Mustard’s Last Stand near DU, and Chicago on Colfax Avenue. But times are a-changing with two more shops opening: Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs (3525 E. Colfax Ave., 303-912-6515) and The Denver Dawg & Deli (1510 Humboldt St., 303-830-7283). Why the bevy of choices all of the sudden? Steve Ballas, a native of Connecticut and owner of Snappin’ Dogs, doesn’t beat around the bush, “You can’t get a great dog in Denver—at least not in comparison to Chicago, the East Coast, and California.” In the first eight days of business (Snappin’ opened Feb. 20), Ballas sold 1,793 New Jersey-imported Thumman’s Brand Frankfurters to hungry crowds. Snappin’ serves beef-and-pork, veggie, and all-beef franks along with smash burgers, grilled turkey steaks, and fresh-squeezed limeade and lemonade. Another menu item of note: the deep-fried green bean. The Denver Dawg & Deli doesn’t do the bean thing but the shop does serve Chicago-style all-beef dogs, bratwurst, turkey dogs, and sausages, along with sandwiches and salads.

Gossip…Though you may occasionally see restaurateurs Mel and Janie Master working the room at Mel’s Restaurant & Bar (235 Fillmore St.), their 10-year-old restaurant, the couple hasn’t permanently resided in Denver for five years. But, as soon as the dynamic duo—credited with helping launch the careers of chefs Goose Sorensen, Frank Bonanno, Sean Kelly, Tyler Wiard, and so many more—sells their New York City house, they’re headed back to the Mile-High City. The two plan on spending time at the Cherry Creek eatery, and according to Mel, they’re flirting with the idea of doing an restaurant in South Denver. Stay tuned.

Recipe…Last week Marty Mietus from the Rocky Mountain News, Kristen Browning-Blas from The Denver Post, and I gathered to judge the first annual kugel cookoff as part of the 53rd-annual Cookarama (a bake sale and fundraiser for the Alliance Sisterhood of Congregation Hebrew Educational Alliance). A kugel (pronounced koo-gul), according to Food Lover’s Companion, is a baked pudding, usually made with potatoes or noodles, served on the Jewish Sabbath. With all eyes upon us, we sampled six versions that ranged from savory to sweet. All were entirely different and equally delicious. After many tastes and many discussions around the table, we settled on Jennifer Zucker’s recipe as the definitive winner for all-around goodness.

Bubbatita Schoen’s Famous Noodle Kugel From Miami

  • 1 package thin egg noodles
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • dash of vanilla
  • 12-ounce can Mandarin oranges
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 ounces butter
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Boil egg noodles and drain. Mix all other ingredients together until well blended. Grease a 9-inch x 13-inch pan and pour in noodles. Stir mandarin oranges and dried cranberries into pan. Sprinkle sugar on top before baking. Bake 50—70 minutes in a 375° oven, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Recipe can be made with light or reduced fat ingredients and also with sugar substitutes.

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.