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1. Middle Eastern Mecca
Yahya’s Mediterranean Grill & Pastries | City Park West
Yahya Ameen’s journey to restaurant owner was long: Born in Turkey, he moved to Iraq when he was six, then to Texas when he was 14, where he began working as a dishwasher, server, manager, and eventually chef. In March, he opened his own place, which he runs with his wife, Sanjita, and his brother-in-law Pujan Shrestha. There, in a simple room that seats 40, the family treats customers to warm hospitality and bold Mediterranean fare. They personally deliver plates of crisp falafel patties, silky hummus, and citrusy chicken shawarma that Yahya carves from a vertical roasting spit. Juicy kebabs of all kinds come off the grill, but the beef “koobideh”—ground tenderloin seasoned with onions, cayenne, coriander, paprika, and red chile flakes—is the star. Don’t leave without trying one of Sanjita’s pastries (particularly the nutty baklava and buttery semolina cake).
2. Sandwiches, Venezuela-Style
Quiero Arepas | Platt Park
We can think of no better replacement for Makan Malaysian Cafe on South Pearl Street (which closed late last year) than Quiero Arepas’ first brick-and-mortar spot, which opened there in April. The Venezuelan corn flatbreads, or “arepas,” that co-owners Igor and Beckie Panasewicz have made in their food truck since 2011 and Avanti Food & Beverage stall since 2015 are, of course, on the menu, stuffed with everything from smoked salmon to shredded beef and fried plantains. But a new home called for new filling combinations. We especially love their La Havana, a Cuban sandwich riff that marries slow-roasted pork loin, ham, queso enchilado, and a creamy mayo-mustard-pickle sauce. Thirsty? Order fresh coconut water served straight from the shell.
3. Make It Grain
Dry Storage | Boulder
At first glance, Dry Storage appears to be a simple bakehouse and coffeeshop at the southeast corner of the Peloton condo complex on Boulder’s Arapahoe Avenue. But, as with most of Id Est Hospitality’s ventures (which include Basta on the same campus and the Wolf’s Tailor, BØH, and Brutø in Denver), you can’t always tell a cafe by its cover. Every fine-crumbed Pullman loaf and brown-butter masa cake baked at Dry Storage is made with one (or more) of the six to 10 varieties of grains milled on-site each day. It’s also a production hub, crafting noodles for the Wolf’s Tailor and pizza dough for Basta. Exquisite espresso drinks and Boulder-based Fortuna chocolates are available too, as are bags of fresh flour for your home baking projects. The entire endeavor crystallizes into a single grain of truth: Everything at this tucked-away cafe is delicious and purposeful.