Though we feature a wide-ranging spread of café fare to Korean in this week's D&D — got you Dungeons & Dragons fans going, didn't I? — the pièce de résistance has to be the almighty street hot dog.
Try though other cuisines might, nothing beats sitting down on a grungy curb and eating a steaming hot something that's dripping all over your shoes, while traffic — vehicle, foot or otherwise — races by.
Plus, have you smelled what's wafting off a food cart? Pure bliss, that's what. Pure bliss.
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
16th and Arapahoe streets, Denver, bikerjimsdogs.com
It's almost easier to find somebody who isn't talking about Biker Jim's. The hot dog stand has won mentions from Anthony Bourdain and magazines Food & Wine, Maxim and 5280, and the Food Network plans to feature it on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
With the bandwagon rolling right up I-25, we caught a ride to Denver's 16th Street Mall to sample Jim Pittenger's $5 elk sausage, made with Colorado elk — other options include reindeer, buffalo and wild boar — liquefied cheddar cheese, jalapeños and sweet grilled onions on a chewy roll.
The smoky sausage flavor hit first, while a mild heat burned in my throat. The creamy cheddar was a nice textural twist, and the distinct sugars in the onions provided needed balance. Not the best thing I've ever eaten, but it was pretty damn good. — Bryce Crawford
3504 N. Academy Blvd., 596-8122, wades-cafe.com
Wade's has been bouncing around Colorado Springs for 58 years, each time moving into bigger digs and taking its aging customers alongside. It serves only breakfast and lunch, often on a wait.
I recently got the Farmer's Three-Egg Omelet ($7.99) with bacon, ham, hash browns and cheese, made rich and spicy by the addition of daily-made pork green chili ($1.49). While it looked thrown together, the salty pork, creamy potatoes and eggs weren't overwhelmed by the green chili, and the flavors married well. Included in the omelet's price was a three-stack side of Wade's revered buttermilk pancakes, which were fluffy and not too dense. The food is good, not great, but the reasonable pricing keeps the bespectacled set ambling back. — Monika Mitchell Randall
Halla San Korean Barbecue
1231 N. Academy Blvd., 622-9595, hallasanbbq.com
After nine years running the spacious Halla San, Jeannie Henderson has moved into a silent partner's role, passing operations to incoming partner Ben Lee and his chef, Stephan Yin. An L.A. transplant, Yin brings 30 years' cooking experience, and his pricey new menu features expanded hours and the addition of sushi and Japanese entrées to the Korean staples.
I got a sizzling mound of thin-sliced, tender, bright orange pork bulgogi over cabbage on a cast-iron skillet, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds (was $14.99, now $17.95 at dinner). The flavor was great, with a touch of sweetness and mild spice, but the meat was on the dry side, with no extra sauce for accompanying rice. As always, the complimentary banchan (side condiments) make the meal. — Matthew Schniper
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