John Pinelli had lived across the country, but he always returned to one place: Philadelphia. Each year, no matter where he was, he would come back to that city like a boomerang. A very hungry boomerang. During his visits, he devoured cheese steaks, Italian hoagies, water ice, and Tastykakes snack pies. He just wished he could bring one of those restaurants back to his home in Denver. Instead, he opened South Philly Cheese Steaks in 2004.
Pinelli's decision to leave his corporate job perplexed his family, but he knew he was on to something. After all, he knew how to make italian hoagies and hot roast beef. He knew how to bake Philly-style pizza, and of course, he knew how to assemble an authentic Philadelphia cheese steak. It all proved successful, and South Philly Cheese Steaks now has several locations across Denver and its surrounding areas?with more likely to come.
At each restaurant, a simple dining room greets patrons with casual tables and a custom mural of Philadelphia's skyline. In the kitchen, cooks work with many ingredients sourced right from Philly. In addition to the classic cheese steak, they assemble special varieties, such as a pizza cheese steak with provolone and marinara.
According to lore that has been passed down through the Lucio clan, one of the family progenitors was kidnapped from her native Chihuahua after Pancho Villa tasted her food and decided he needed her as his chef. That distant matron’s culinary wizardry trickled down the family tree and currently informs the cooking of her great-great-grandchildren at Armadillo Restaurants. Chefs at the restaurants use those generations-old recipes while gently patting cornhusks into place around meal and shredded pork or simmering red-chili sauce for enchiladas. Since the Lucios converted the first Armadillo Restaurant from a tough-guy bar into a restaurant in 1972, they’ve opened six additional locations in the Front Range.
David "Red" Cohen knows it is an odd combination, but Red's Dogs & Donuts is all about serving his favorite two foods. Hebrew National hot dogs crackle warmly alongside andouille sausages and brats crafted from smoked elk, pheasant, bison, alligator, and other meats. Mole sauce, chili, jalapeños, pickled red onions, and other toppings turn the hot dogs into a feast for patrons or a nightmare for an actuary calculating napkin-insurance premiums. A frosted, sprinkled, filled, and powdered array of more than 60 donuts make use of Red's secret batter recipe, which substitutes in potato flour to add extra fluff and crunch to the house-made treats. The donuts don fixings including maple glaze and bacon, and belgian waffles sport cherries and whipped cream or a sausage-and-egg scramble drizzled in syrup.
Most of the offerings at George's Gyros And Burgers rest between pieces of bread, from gyros sandwiched between 7-inch pitas to burgers on top of sesame seed buns. The kitchen also cooks up deep fries pickles, and borrows from Greek cuisine when making the cheeseburgeropoluous?two grilled patties served with tzaziki and feta cheese.