You know how they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? Well, that’s undoubtedly true, but the same doesn’t go for hole-in-the-walls. You can rest assured that if the name, logo, and ambiance are slightly confusing and leave something to be desired, well then, they’re probably serving up some of the most unique and authentic food in town. My advice: Slam on brakes, pull into that strip mall, and order everything on the menu!
1. Jerusalem Restaurant, 1890 E. Evans Ave.
For over 35 years, this small family-owned operation has been providing the people of Denver with BIG bold flavors! They specialize in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, made with fresh local organic ingredients whenever possible, and they're even open until 4 or 5am! So next time you're craving hummus and falafel (in the wee hours) head over to Jerusalem and get your fill!
2. Tia Maria Mexican Restaurant, 7260 Pecos St.
If you're looking for delicious and gigantic portions of legit Mexican food, Tia Maria's is your new favorite haunt! They serve breakfast all day...and they should, considering how freaking phenomenal their steak and eggs, breakfast burritos, (and even pancakes) are. Tia Maria's is a neighborhood staple that'll have you hooked!
3. Erawan Thai Cafe, 3919 E. 8th Ave.
Open since 1979, Erawan is the oldest (and arguably best) Thai restaurant in Denver, where you'll still find Art, the original chef and founder, serving his beloved customers delicious dishes crafted from his family's recipes passed down through generations. For amazing authentic Thai and Chinese cuisine in a down-home, comforting atmosphere, go see Art!
4. Woody's Wings N Things, 6817 Lowell Blvd.
Don't let the name fool you...this little gem in Westminster is churning out WAY more than just mouthwateringly delicious wings. They've got a HUGE menu with some of the most authentic Thai/Laos/Cambodian/Chinese cuisine in the city! With everything from Szechuan wings to seafood hot pots to papaya salad, Woody's is legitimately the holy grail of Asian food!
5. CoraFaye's Cafe, 16251 E. Colfax Ave., #210 (Moving from Colorado Blvd. this month)
For over a decade, this family-owned joint on Colorado Blvd. has been comforting Denverites with soul food made from recipes passed down through four generations. This month the restaurant will relocate to East Colfax in Aurora, but they'll still be serving up the same scrumptious dishes that have gotten folks addicted. Southern fried chicken, frog legs, smothered pork chops, and BBQ rib tips with sides of cornbread, candied yams, and fried okra? Good gravy, that sounds glorious!
6. Billie's Cafe, 1830 E. Bridge St.
For some more down-home cookin' and soul-satisfyin' scrapples, check out Billie's in Brighton. Known for their hungry man skillets with gravy and green chile, plus their breakfast burritos and stuffed french toast, there's a reason there's a line out the door on the weekends. The early bird catches the corned beef hash!
7. Thai Pot Cafe, 1350 S. Colorado Blvd., Suite 900
Drunken noodles, anyone? Or any other traditional Thai dishes for that matter, including delectable crab rangoons, delightfully spicy pad see ew, and perfectly sweet and sour tom kha gai. It's a hot spot for a hot pot!
8. Little Dragon, 1305 Krameria St., Suite G
Want fresh, natural Chinese food without the MSG?! Let Little Dragon become your new neighborhood haunt. From Mongolian beef and Singapore noodles to vegetarian eel and sesame chicken, Little Dragon's authentic Asian fare is on point!
9. Pie Hole, 44 S. Broadway
Serving slices (and delivering) late into the wee hours, Pie Hole offers traditional, vegan, and speciality pizza options that will make your stomach rumble just thinking about 'em. Fancy a Drunk Candy with Canadian bacon, jalapeños, and pineapple or a BBQ Porker with barbecue sauce, pulled pork, jalapeño, and mango? Or what about a potato and bacon pie with alfredo sauce at 2 or 3am? It's a drunken pizza-lover's dream. Pie in the hole! (And, yes, that's a chicken and waffles pizza!!! What!?!?)
10. Yak & Yeti, 9755 East Hampden Ave., 8665 N. Sheridan Blvd., & 7803 Ralston Road
Looking for a fabulous Indian/Nepalese/Tibetan buffet where you can sample ALL the things you'd never have the guts to try!? Check out one of Yak & Yeti's three locations and sink your spoon into their sweet potato masala, lamb vindaloo, and mango custard. Supremely spiced, scrumptiously delicious surprises are the name of the game at Yak & Yeti!
11. Golden Pita Lebanese Restaurant, 1456 Champa St.
Delectable, authentic Mediterranean cuisine abounds at the Golden Pita Downtown. Tzatziki, tabouleh, and shawarma, oh my! Grape leaves and hummus and flaky meat pies! Now you know "Where Da Gold At!"
12. Olde Philly Towne, 5129 W. 120th Ave.
Olde Towne Philly's back again! Well, okay, they've been around since 1984, but you probably haven't been to this authentic Philly cheesesteak haven in Broomfield with perfectly seasoned, thinly sliced, rib-eye steak on a soft roll with melted cheese, peppers, and mushrooms. And that's not even the half of what this hoagie heaven has to offer! Go get down on some phillies at Olde Towne!
Okay, folks…give us more of your secretly scrumptious ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants in Denver, and you just might see your local favorites featured here. Hail, hail, our holy hole in the walls!!!