Under-the-Radar Gem of the Week: Cody’s Cafe and Bar

By Ruth Tobias  |  February 11, 2014
Credit: Ruth Tobias

Given its generic name and nondescript strip-mall location, you could easily pass by Cody's 100 times without giving it a second thought. After all, we did just that ourselves, until last weekend. Turns out this little cafe is the quirkiest of treasures: a cozy neighborhood eatery run by an adorable Vietnamese-born chef, Sue Smith, whose Italian menu is vibrantly laced with Asian and Latin influences.

In the art-lined dining room - whose centerpiece painting depicts Smith’s beloved late terrier (whose name was, yes, Cody) - we sampled a number of dishes, each tickling us more than the last. Here’s a look.

10253 E. Iliff Ave.; 303-750-1580

  • On the left, coconut shrimp kicked up with citrus-smoked paprika aioli and jicama-Asian pear slaw, served atop housemade root-vegetable chips. On the right, silken potstickers stuffed with portobellos and potatoes over sundried-tomato-dressed greens.

  • For her take on Vietnamese chao tom - deep-fried shrimp paste on sugarcane skewers - Smith uses crab and lobster meat to succulent effect, drizzling it all in a lightly spicy chili sauce.

  • Smith uses the same fried crab-and-lobster cakes in tacos with mango pico de gallo and guacamole.

  • Perhaps our favorite dish was this luscious penne in vodka sauce, chock-full of fried eggplant chunks and pine nuts. 

  • But this signature penne is delightful too, featuring housemade pork-lemongrass sausage and soy-ginger sauce.

  • Check the blackboard for daily specials, like this rich tostada accompanied by black-bean risotto pilaf. Wash it all down with a local craft beer from the bar - and finally, don't miss the chocolate-and-banana-filled wontons for dessert. Let's just say they were gone before we could capture them on camera.