6 Rib-Sticking Comfort Foods in Denver

By Ruth Tobias  |  November 27, 2013
Credit: Christopher Cina

The season’s first - and seemingly interminable - cold snap has us all rushing for the stuff that warms us head to toe, belly and soul; good thing the list of local dishes that fit the bill is just as endless. The following roundup highlights a few of our current faves, but we’d love to hear about your own in the comments.

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    “All the Fun Without the Family” at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

    It’s back and better (not to mention more comically named) than ever! In time for the holidays, the inimitable Jim Pittenger of this Ballpark destination has reintroduced his turducken dog, featuring a link made of, yes, chicken, duck and turkey topped with herbed-crouton stuffing, gravy and cranberry compote. In short, you get “all of those great Thankgiving flavors, only better, because it’s a hot dog,” as Pittenger puts it. Perhaps best of all, he’ll be offering the special through at least the first week of December. 

    2148 Larimer St.; 720-746-9355

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    Chowda’ Fries at Euclid Hall

    At Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch’s good-time tavern on the edge of Larimer Square, chef Jorel Pierce has made his name paying homage to the munchies of the world’s watering holes, be it German and Austrian sausages or Canadian poutine - or, as in this case, Cape Cod seafood shacks. “It’s just good french fries topped with hand-breaded clam strips and a well-made chowder; I love all of them individually, and together they made sense to us,” he explains. “There’s no bacon in the chowder - I really want the clams to be the star. We use so many, with their juice, that the dish doesn’t even need any salt. If you’re using enough clams to season something with them, you’re using a lot of clams!”

    1317 14th St.; 303-595-4255

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    Lamb Stroganoff at Lou’s Food Bar

    Chef-restaurateur Frank Bonanno built his easygoing Sunnsyide outpost on retro-toned gut-busters like French dips and biscuits with gravy, but the recent return of the lamb stroganoff has us especially misty-eyed: we’re talking tender chunks of shank tossed with egg noodles, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts in cream sauce. If only it came with a TV tray and an episode of All in the Family.

    1851 W. 38th Ave.; 303-458-0336

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Causa Rellena at Pisco Sour Restaurant & Lounge

    Since it looks like a cocktail bar straight out of a Cassavetes film circa 1973, this dark roadside haunt on the Aurora border would seem to suggest Scotch and sirloin rather than Peruvian cuisine - though the cries of “GOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!” coming from the soccer matches on the big screen might give it away. Beef-heart skewers, rich stews like aji de gallina and a variety of ceviches are some of the stars. And then there’s causa rellena. Though served as a classic appetizer, it definitely eats like a meal, with layers of shredded chicken and mayonnaise sandwiched between thick disks of mashed potatoes - all accompanied by a salsa to wickedly pique your palate and prime you for the next soothing bite.

    8501 E. Colfax Ave.; 303-322-7777

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Mushroom Polenta at DiFranco’s

    Never mind the cramped seating or the sometimes slow delivery: all anxieties melt away once the plates arrive at this quirky, farm-focused Italian deli on the edge of Capitol Hill. Cut into the fried egg atop an impossibly velvety seared cornmeal wedge, and the plump yolk instantly spills to form a funky gravy with the balsamic glaze from the shiitakes; the shaved parmesan begins to melt and the arugula to wilt. The result is an ovo-vegetarian dish that’s every bit as nourishing as DiFranco’s meatball sandwiches, with a little more food-group reach.

    955 Lincoln St., Unit D; 720-253-1244

  • Credit: Taryn Kapronica

    BBQ Mix Plate at Steuben’s

    Josh Wolkon’s beloved Uptown ode to the roadside hash houses of old is always rustling up a smoked-meat staple of some sort - but right now, it’s all sorts. Behold exec chef Brandon Biederman’s combo platter: a quarter-rack of Memphis-style ribs, beef brisket and pulled pork, complete with a trio of sauces, coleslaw and baked beans.

    523 E. 17th Ave.; 303-830-1001