Friday, March 23, 2012

#3 The Bagel Deli - Denver, Colorado

When I began the Hunt family quest recently, I also decided that going on a business trip, could be another great opportunity to hit some Triple D joints. So, when I had to go to Denver for a 4 day meeting, I knew I could find a few spots. I went on and found 4 spots that it looked like I could get to from the Double Tree Hotel on Quebec Street.  I did my homework and was ready to go on the quest!

It started early Monday morning on March 19th. I was on the same flight from Baltimore Washington International airport as my boss, Gary.  After a bit of a turbulent entry into Denver International Airport, we arrived at the Double Tree Hotel on Quebec Street just a little after 12 noon and checked in. Gary was up for the adventure with me and we asked the Concierge to help us get to The Bagel Deli, which is about 8 miles south of the hotel.  We didn’t have a rental car, so asked the Concierge about a taxi. He said it would be about $30 one way to get there. That was out of the question. Strike One! He suggested renting a car from Avis and we asked, but they had nothing but SUVs and Minivans left. No thank you. Strike Two! After some discussion of various options, Gary and I decided to ask the Concierge about a bus. It turns out we could take a 30 minute ride on the #65 bus for only $2.50 one way. Bingo! What a bargain.

It was a beautiful partially sunny day with some scattered clouds and the temperature was pleasant 65 degrees, or so. We moseyed on down to the bus stop less than a block away and hopped on the first bus that stopped… After a few minutes Gary said “I didn’t check to see if this was the #65 bus.” Oops. Neither did I. Luckily we had only gone about 10 blocks on what we realized was the #43 bus, before we got off and walked, then ran to catch the next #65 bus. Whew! That was almost strike three.

This blog is called “Hunt’s Triple D Food ADVENTURES”, and you can tell that just getting to the Bagel Deli was turning out to be an “adventure”. We rode on the city bus, with all kinds of interesting “local” characters like the white-haired retired guy with the hearing aid, the group of young Hispanic students, a skinny college student with a chemistry text book, a bicycle dude, and assorted mix of people taking the bus from here to there. This provided us the chance to see the “real” Denver that most tourists probably never see. Besides the characters, the 8 mile trip down Monaco Street ended up being a tour of Denver homes. Some probably cost close to a million dollars and some were obviously were much more “working class” homes. This was where real people lived and worked. We drove past some parks, strip malls, schools, gas stations and various other sites all to find out way to our stop at the corner of Monaco and Hampden Ave.

We got off the bus and could smell the fresh mountain air, and could see the Rocky Mountains off in the distance. Just a short walk from the bus stop, and there it was! The Bagel Deli. Glowing like a choir of angels in the afternoon sun, and just sitting in the middle of a non-descript strip mall just behind a corner gas station. It would have been so easy to miss the place had we not know it was a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives destination (lest anyone miss that point, they have a big Triple D logo outside). Gary took my picture in front of the place and we proceed in.

We entered The Bagel Deli at just after 1pm. It was not overly crowded, and we sat ourselves in a booth. I immediately recognized the owner Joe from the show. He was sitting in a booth chatting with some customers (regular’s I assumed). We were quickly asked for our drink orders (I got Iced Tea and Gary got soda) and a menu. I didn’t even need to look in the menu, because there was a little placard on the table that said “What Guy Ate” sampler: Matzah ball soup, meat Knish and Kishke. We both ordered that, and in the quick 5 minutes it took for us to be served Gary read through the menu. He assured me that it was very traditional and like the food that he and his relatives would have eaten at a Jewish deli in New York or elsewhere.

The Matzah Ball Soup was excellent. Chock full of flavor and it became clear why this dish is considered to be good for the soul. The meat knish had a nice crispy, but light pastry and flavorful meat inside. The waiter suggested eating it with the red horseradish and some brown mustard. That, was "the bomb!" I liked it so much that I ordered a potato knish to go when we left (which I later ended up giving to my colleague Doug who is from Denver and has frequented the Bagel Deli before).  Now let me talk about the Kiscke... Guy said "I get a kick out of kishke" and I know why. It was like Thanksgiving stuffing shaped into a tube and served in an out of this world flavored au jous sauce. I could have easily ordered another one (or two) of those.
Instead, I looked at the desert menu. At Gary's suggestion, I ordered a couple of Rugulach (one chocolate and one appricot). Those were a very nice light little desert that Gary and I split. He said that Rugulach is something that would have been brought by one of his relatives when going to visit someone, with the idea of never visiting without bringing some food.

After we ate, I noticed that Bagel Joe was sitting at a table and reading a paper while he was having a little nosh. I introduced myself, told him I was doing a Triple D tour, came all the way from Baltimore and that he was my first stop in Denver. He engaged us in a very nice conversation and seemed genuinely interested in hearing where we were from. He talked about how appearing on Triple D has been such a fun experience for them. He really seemed to embrace the whole Triple D experience.  

Gary and I left the Bagel Deli quiet satisfied and walked to the bus stop. As we waited for the city bus back to the hotel, we had a conversation with an interesting local who was talking about Denver sports (this was the day that Payton Manning announced that he was going to sign with the Denver Broncos). He was drinking a can of beer out of a paper bag as he was waiting for the bus….

What an adventure! We made it back to the hotel safe and sound. I would definitely return to the Bagel Deli and recommend it to my friends who live in Denver. This was the perfect Triple D food adventure: great food and a great experience and great conversation with the owner.

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