High Plains Drifters

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buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 08:27:18 (permalink)
CTD-
Yes, it was cherry cordial.  You would have loved it!
 
ScreamingChicken-
Don't worry, the upset stomach doesn't last too long.  He has full appetite back by the time we return to Denver.
 
rumaki-
Too bad that Fenders is closed, it sounds like a really interesting place.  And thanks for mentioning saskatoon berries.  I had never heard of them before, will now seek them out.
 
wj-
Yeah, I was disappointed that we didn't see (and eat) more huckleberry foods.  I was under the assumption that it was popular throughout Montana.  At least we got a fine huckleberry shake at Stella's. 
 
Paul-
As always, thanks for the kind words! 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/07/15 08:28:58
Nancypalooza
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 10:02:28 (permalink)
I was struck by how inexpensive both of those places were, and the food looked absolutely amazing.
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 12:14:32 (permalink)
Friday June 17, 2011
 
We got another early start out of Scottsbluff, headed south back towards Denver.  The GPS had us jump on I-80W into Wyoming, then I-25S into Colorado.  When I realized we would be passing right past the lovely town of Fort Collins, we made a quick detour to the Colorado State University bookstore for a couple more t-shirts. 
 
Arriving in Denver, our first destination was M & D's Cafe

This restaurant last appeared in a Jane & Michael Stern book in the 1999 Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A.  On my last visit to Denver in 2004, the place had closed down and I also noted that the neighborhood around it wasn't the best.  They have since reopened and the area around it seemed fine.  Either the neighborhood improved or my definition of a bad area has changed in the last seven years.  Most likely a combination of the two.
 
We were one of the first people in the door after they opened at 11:00AM and we must of stood there for a good five minutes until someone came out of the kitchen to seat us.  That made us think that the service would most likely be poor throughout our meal, but we ended up having terrific service.
 
Back when the Sterns reviewed the place, it was known as M & D's Barbecue and Fish Palace, which is a much more entertaining name than M & D's Cafe.  Wanting to try both of the restaurant's specialties, Johnny went for what the menu calls Combo Half & Half, where you get to choose one fish and one bbq item.  His choices were fried catfish and bbq tips. 

There were two long, thin catfish filets, ultra-crispy, with a luscious cornmeal coating.  These were fantastic!  Johnny thought the rib tips were good, but the bbq sauce made them.  Speaking of the sauce, you get your choice between mild, medium or hot.  We both went with the medium, which was slightly sweet and still provided a tingly heat.  Neither one of us could get enough of the sauce and I wish I could have brought a bottle of it home.
 
Your meals come with two sides and we were both crestfallen to find out no macaroni and cheese on this day.  Johnny got the potato salad, loaded with plenty of mustard and egg and the mixed greens. 

We assumed the mixed greens meant that it was both collard greens and turnip greens.  This slightly bitter dish also met with our approval.
 
My lunch was strickly barbecue and is known as Half a Combo "Q" and I went with the ribs and the hot links. 

The ribs were big, with lots of meat that provided a nice chew.  The homemade hot links were fatty in a good way, with lots of porcine flavor.  Bathed in that wonderful bbq sauce, I loved this dish!  My two sides were the baked beans

(with a small amount of pork and plenty of the bbq sauce) and the yams,

both of which we enjoyed.
 
There was more than enough food on my plate, so I never touched the crumbly cornbread that came with the meals. 

Johnny was more than happy to step in and as a tribute to ChiTownDiner, even eating some of it with the baked beans on it.

To drink, we both ordered the lemonade and for an extra .99 cents, you can add a shot of fruit to it.  Johnny had the mango, while I drank the watermelon. 

Both came in big glasses and were super strong and sweet.
 
Even though we had eaten way too much food already, we both suspected this is the type of place with great desserts.  And it was.  Johnny's peach cobbler

wasn't a big portion size, but still had lots of fresh tasting peaches.  While we were dining, another table near us asked about the banana pudding and we heard the waitress say it was still being made, but should be done soon.  It was ready by the time I ordered it and it was one of the best versions I have ever had.  It comes in a tulip-shaped sundae glass and this was a really big portion size. 


Loaded with slices of bananas, still crunchy whole and small vanilla wafer bits, plus smooth and creamy banana filling, this is what every banana pudding aspires to be.
 
Another thing that made dining here such a pleasurable experience was the live music.  Very simple, just one man on the saxophone. 

He was so good, I got up while eating just to tip him.
 
After paying, Johnny hit the men's room, while I walked outside to take some photos of the building.  There were two African-American guys sitting in a car, waiting for their friend inside, picking up the carry out food.  The driver called out to me and asked how I liked my food and I told him we loved it.  He told me that not many people know how great the food is and a lot of people from Denver won't come here because of the bad neighborhood.  In all seriousness, I asked him, "Is this supposed to be a bad neighborhood?"  He said, "Yeah, this is the east side of Denver.  Hey, tell all your friends to come down and check this place out."  So that is exactly what I am doing!
 
Johnny liked the food at M & D Cafe so much, he said at this point, this was the best meal of the trip.
 
M & D's Cafe
2000 E. 28th Avenue
Denver, CO
303-296-1760
 
Much more to come.....
wanderingjew
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 13:12:27 (permalink)
The lone Sax Player brings back horrific traumatizing nightmares from my San Francisco trip in 2007, where a lone Asian Sax Player standing on the street corner across from my hotel near the Chinatown gate playing the theme from Sanford and Son  over and over and over again...." />
MiamiDon
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 13:41:43 (permalink)
Maybe it was like the strolling musicians in some restaurants.  You have to pay him to make him go away.
ChiTownDiner
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 13:47:36 (permalink)
WOW...2 favs, corn bread and beans and the BEST banana pudding ever...if only...nice pick!
eruby
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 14:06:06 (permalink)
buffetbuster, your reports always make me feel like I have been to the places you've seen, but this report is on a new level.  Kudos to you for your excellent writing and photos, and kudos to you both for truly remarkable appetites without ever seeming over-the-top or over indulgent.
mikeam
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 15:29:59 (permalink)
Great trip report!
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 22:55:19 (permalink)
Cliff, we visited M&D a couple of years ago.  We just never got around to writing about it, but we enjoyed it very much, especially the hot links with hot sauce, which were fiery.  The neighborhood at the time didn't strike me as bad.  Very Roadfood-worthy!
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 23:31:00 (permalink)
Bruce, thanks for chiming in.  M & D Cafe is one of those places that even though the Sterns have written about it, seems completely off the radar.  I don't know if I have ever seen them mentioned in the forums before.
 
I agree that it is definitely Roadfood worthy.  If you think the photos are good enough (I don't like the hot links photo at all), then I will get a review written and send it in.
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/15 23:55:31 (permalink)
Cliff, definitely, go ahead and write up a review.  I went back to look at my photos and, check this out.  My picture is almost identical to yours!  Years apart.
 

mr chips
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/16 00:00:27 (permalink)
I can't believe I had not seen this. The combination of food and scenery makes it one of your best reports ever. When I saw Crazy Horse in 1975, there was not a head visible so some progress has been made in 40 years. I was surprised at Mt. Rushmore because i found it so moving despite having seen it in photos my whole life.
 
post edited by mr chips - 2011/07/16 00:02:42
mr chips
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/16 00:08:00 (permalink)
Cliff, you seem to have fun on trips any which way you can.
TFitz
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/17 10:21:55 (permalink)
Great report, one of the best I've read. We were out in that area two years ago and I have to agree with some earlier posts that I could go back again and again. There is something magical about the open plains of the West. I just read "Undaunted Courage" about the Lewis and Clark expedition and I would love to go to the LoLo Trail where they crossed over the Rocky Mountains. Thanks again for the report and I think the pictures look great.
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/18 08:33:34 (permalink)
Bruce-
That is amazing how similar those photos are.  Thanks for posting it.  I will get a review written up and sent in after I finish this monstrosity!
 
Thanks again to everyone for the nice comments!
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/18 13:18:25 (permalink)
Friday June 17. 2011 cont.
 
Before we checked into the hotel, we made a quick detour to Enstrom's

They do sell all kinds of candy and even ice cream, but this place is best known for their toffee.  I have never been in one of their stores before, but have mail ordered it to my house, so I was very aware of this extraordanarily delicious toffee.
 
Since this is located in Cherry Creek, an upscale neighborhood with lots of upscale shops, it came as no surprise that the inside is nicer than the typical candy store. 

We could have spent a lot of time (and a lot of money) here, because everything looked so good.  But thanks to a limited amount of room in the suitcase, I bought just one box of the milk chocoate almond toffee and one of the dark chocolate.  Johnny did the same, along with a couple extra boxes of the milk chocolate, to give as gifts when he returned home.  And thanks to samples they had sitting out, he tasted some of the toffee popcorn and bought a bag for us to snack on as we drove around.  Sorry, it doesn't look like I took any photos of the candy itself and, at least mine, is long gone!
 
What seperates this toffee from others we have had is just how incredibly buttery it is.  It is a much too used cliche, but it really does just melt in your mouth, after that initial crunch.  All the toffee for sale is being stored in a refrigerated case.  We did ask and they said it would be fine for up to around a week without refrigeration.  Since we were so close to flying home, that wasn't going to be an issue. 
 
Interestingly, Bruce and Sue write in their review about how poor the service was in their visits to the store.  Our experience was the exact opposite as the two ladies (who were around our age) assisting us were both very friendly and accomodating.  But, I have noticed over the years, how often you do get people with bad attitudes at places that sell sweets and desserts.  Milwaukee has some of the nicest people you could ever meet, but I have never been to Leon's when the person taking my order wasn't cranky.  Why is this?
 
Enstrom's Candies
201 University Boulevard
Denver, CO
303-322-1005 
 
We checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech and took another nap.  Hey, we're on vacation!  We woke up in time for an early dinner and drove south to the tiny town of Sedalia to eat at a place called Bud's Bar

The inside is small

and all the booths and tables were occupied, so we sat at the end of the bar.  This turned out to be an ideal location, since I had a nice view into the kitchen to watch the burgers being made on the griddle.   Even though I have seen this sign

behind the bar before (G & R Tavern in Ohio definitely has it), it still amuses me.  Both of us were surprised to see several families dining here with kids.
 
The menu is about as small as they get.  If fact, this

is it.  Not even french fries are available.  Johnny chose the double hamburger, while I ordered the double cheeseburger.  When asked how we wanted them made, we both said medium.  The burgers


here really are beauties.  Johnny remarked several times how juicy they were and I had to agree.  Interestingly, the cheese on the cheeseburger wasn't gooey and mostly stayed in place.  You can't get lettuce or tomato, but each burger comes with a small bowl holding onion and pickle. 

And despite us both getting doubles, these burgers are still manageable in size

and neither one of us had any trouble downing them.
 
Bud's Bar
5453 Manhart Street
Sedalia, CO
303-688-9967
 
We drove back to the hotel and relaxed for a few hours before it was time for our late night dinner.
 
Much more to come.....  
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/07/18 13:28:40
ScreamingChicken
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/19 09:02:57 (permalink)
Those are some good-looking burgers and Bud's looks like my kind of place!
 
I've noticed that if I go into a candy store (which usually means Kathy needs me to pay for something) there's definitely something in the air that gets to me rather quickly and I can't stay too long or I'll get a headache.  Years ago Kathy worked in a fudge shop and she's told me that when she first started she would actually be physically sick to her stomach by the end of a shift.
 
Brad
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/19 15:18:55 (permalink)
Brad, that is interesting that you get headaches in candy stores and that Kathy would get sick at her old job.  I wonder if that could at least partially explain the cranky employees.
 
Even though the burgers don't have that much in common, if you liked the Plaza Tavern, then you would like Bud's Bar!
Nancypalooza
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/19 15:45:14 (permalink)
Oh, that burger made my tummy flip.  Might be time for some beef.  You did seem to hit some marvelous sights and meals on this trip!
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/20 15:22:16 (permalink)
Friday June 17, 2011 cont.
 
Our dinner reservations were for Buckhorn Exchange

at 9:00PM.  Since we got there a few minutes early, it gave me an opportunity to take some outside photos.  Both of the exterior side walls have faded signs and murals,




which I really liked and enforces just how old this restaurant is.
 
The restaurant goes all the way back to 1893.  In fact, behind the beautiful upstairs bar,

they display Colorado liquor license #1! 

Once inside, we had to wait a few minutes in the bar area until our table was ready.  This gave me a chance to see the upstairs dining room,

which has an outdoor garden feel.  This is in sharp contrast to the downstairs main dining room, which is dark and has practically every square inch covered with an animal head. 

This is the view

from my table, looking straight up.
 
The menu comes in the form of an old newspaper. 

Even though this place is well known for Rocky Mountain Oysters, Johnny showed no interest in ordering this.  And having had it before in Oklahoma, I felt no overwhelming need, either.  Both of us started our meals with soup and they were two very similar soups.  Johnny got the split pea and ham,

which had lots of small cubes of meat in it.  Unlike most navy bean and ham soups,

mine wasn't overly salty, but still lacked much in the way of flavor.  It did come in a very large portion size, so much so, that I gave up halfway through.
 
For entrees, Johnny had the lambchops,

which were some of the biggest and thickest lampchops we had ever seen.  He enjoyed these, with his only minor complaint being that it came out more medium rare and he asked for it medium.  I ordered one of the specials which was a 4 oz. elk steak

and a 4 oz. buffalo steak.   The elk came with a peppercorn rub and with a medeira wine sauce on the side.  This was my first experience with elk and I found it to be very lean and flavorful.  The buffao steak was a more simple preparation, with just garlic and butter and was also quite good.  Unfortunately, the sides were awful.  Both the potatoes and the vegetables were hard, as if they had been sitting around all day.  And neither one of us liked the iced tea, which was weak beyond belief.  Not that we could ever get a refill, since our waiter never checked on us again after delivering our food, until it was time to bring the check.  At the prices we were paying, we expected better service.
 
As you can see, our experience on this night was a mixed bag.  We both liked our entrees, but disliked just about everything else.  On my first visit here, I found the atmosphere to be amazing and unique.  On this night, we both found it tired and creepy.  Maybe we were both just suffering from fatigue, but Buckhorn Exchange has been removed from my "must hit" list when in Denver.
 
Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage
Denver, CO
303-534-9505

It was back to the hotel for the night.
 
Much more to come....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/07/20 15:39:03
wanderingjew
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/20 15:44:52 (permalink)
Buffetbuster
 
I had better luck with the homemade potato chips and baked beans as my sides during both visits in 2008 and 2009 at the Buckhorn Exchange
 
No pie?
 
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/20 15:47:04 (permalink)
WJ-
It was getting late and with the service we had, my patience wouldn't have allowed it.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/07/20 15:52:31
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/21 13:24:30 (permalink)
Finally starting to see the finish line.....
 
Saturday June 18, 2011

Our breakfast destination for this morning was a place called Cherokee Dining on 12th.  Instead of the restaurant we wanted, the GPS led us to a place called Camp Bow Wow.  As fun as that name was, it wasn't what we were looking for in a breakfast restaurant.  Just a few doors down though in this neighborhood filled with warehouses, was a restaurant called The Breakfast King, that had a full parking lot.  We briefly considered eating our breakfast here, but pressed on to Cherokee Dining.  We quickly discovered the GPS took us to South Cherokee Avenue instead of Cherokee Avenue and made the correction.
 
Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue

is a nice looking place in a quiet, attractive neighborhood.  The only other ones out this morning were joggers and people walking their dogs.  The inside is equally attractive, 

with a big bar area

and lots of comfortable booths.  The walls were covered with drawings of patrons who had been chosen as customers of the month.

There was two ladies sitting in a booth not far from us and during our entire meal here, they were the only other customers.
 
The menu isn't particularly big and we had a bit of a hard time deciding what to order.  Johnny settled on something called the fox frittata.

This baked egg dish is on top of tomato, broccoli and cauliflower and covered with cheese, more vegetables and avacado.  I don't have much experience with frittatas, but are they usually that thin?  We were expecting something with more heft.  The potatoes in the home fries were also sliced thin and were very crispy on the outside.  My breakfast was a bowl of the apple raisin oatmeal,

which came with brown sugar and milk.  Satisfying and a more healthy than usual way for me to start my day.  We split sides of the grilled honey ham,

which was ordinary and the biscuits and honey. 

As you can see,

it says the biscuits are homemade and the honey is local Colorado honey.  Unfortunately, the biscuits were hard enough that they muct have been homemade the day before and the honey comes in little packets, which say they were made in Virginia.  Very disappointing!  Some of the items we ate here were fine, but I don't know if I would go back.  If we had it to do over again, we would have eaten at The Breakfast King. 
 
Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue
1201 Cherokee Avenue
Denver, CO
303-623-0346
 
We took some time to explore downtown Denver.  The state capitol building

was closed since it was a Saturday.  But what what makes this capitol building unique is that they have a marker on the steps where you are one mile above sea level.

 
We also tried to visit Molly Brown's mansion, but were unable to find a parking spot anywhere near there.  We ended up driving and walking around for a while until our lunch destination was ready to open.  Even though we had two straight clunkers, the next place would definitely make for it!
 
More to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/07/21 13:27:11
buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/21 15:47:38 (permalink)
Saturday June 18, 2011 cont.
 
We have been reading the glowing reviews for Biker Jim's food cart in Denver on Roadfood for years.  Two of my Roadfood friends, wanderingjew and Travelin Man,  have eaten at his cart and went out to dinner with Jim and both have told me he has excellent food and is also a great guy.  So going to Biker Jim's was a top priority on this trip.  Not too long ago, they have also opened a Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs restaurant

in Lower Downtown, just a short walk from Coors Field, so we made our way there.
 
The website says that they open at 11:00AM and we arrived a minute or two before.  Instead of the usual closed sign in the front window, their sign simply says NOPE. 

Of course, a dyslexic may look at that and think is says open!  11:00 came and went and the restaurant still hadn't opened, yet.  We waited patiently for the sign to change and at about ten after, I walked over and asked one of the guys setting up the patio and he told me it opened at 11:30.  This wouldn't have been an issue if we hadn't both needed to use the bathroom.  Okay, we can hang in there for a few more minutes.  About 25 after, the sign was switched over to YUP

and we were the first customers in the door.
 
The inside is big,

with high ceilings and a cool, industrial vibe.  The young lady who took our order was extremely friendly, helpful and patiently answered all the questions we had.  And did we have questions!  Neither one of us had ever seen a menu like this.  Johnny got us started with a Waatlander dog,


which came on an excellent pretzel roll.  This sausage is made of pork with white wine and sweet onions.  As if that wasn't enough, it is topped with dijon cream, beer battered onions and toasted sauerkraut.  Once again, if that wasn't enough, it all gets dusted with tomato bacon powder.  We thought the pork was mild, which is just fine, because everything else gives this dog a complex flavor, to say the least.  Somehow, everything pulls together and works extremely well.  We both absolutely loved it!  On the side there, we split the fried green tomatoes,

which were extra-thick cut and what we would describe as a wet breading, along with some kind of salsa on the side.  Excellent!
 
My lunch was the Alaskan reindeer sausage. 

The menu calls it juicy and smoky.  It was indeed juicy, but it was the smokiness of the meat that really shone through.  Topped with cream cheese and fried onions, this was another wonderful dog, but it almost seemed boring compared to what Johnny was eating!  The french fries on the side were hot, fresh and crispy and needed no condiments or salt.
 
To drink, a vanilla and chocolate milkshake. 

We thought there was too much whipped cream on top, but otherwise were very good shakes.
 
Johnny enjoyed his dog so much, he had to go up and try another one. This time, he chose the wild boar sausage. 

Once again, the meat was very smoky (although not as much as the reindeer) and was topped with diced apricots and cranberries, which really gave it a unique, sweet flavor.   Johnny said there was also cream cheese and fried onions on top.  He did like this very much (and had no trouble finishing it), but thought the Waatlander was better.  
 
As you can tell, we loved Biker Jim's.  All of the food we tasted was fresh and delicious.  Each employee we came into contact with was incredibly nice and it was obvious they enjoyed working there.  We even liked the Biker Jim's logo mural on the wall,

which reminds me of the Jim Carey movie The Mask.  The one disappointment was that I didn't get to meet Jim, himself.  When we first walked in and ordered, I asked if Jim was around.  The girl told us he had stepped out, but should be back shortly.  Johnny then told me that while we were waiting outside, he saw someone who looks like Jim, hop in a truck and drive away.  About a half hour later, Jim returned, but he was obviously very busy, so I thought I should wait for a quiet moment to introduce myself.  Next thing you know, I don't see Jim and they tell me he was going to be gone for the rest of the day.  Nuts!  Oh well, I had my chance and blew it.  There will always be a next time.  And with food this good, it will be at the top of my hit list on every trip to Denver.
 
Biker Jim's Gourmet Sausage
2148 Larimer Street
Denver, CO

We got back in the car and headed south towards Colorado Springs.
 
More to come.....
   
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/07/22 09:03:02
ann peeples
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/21 17:58:58 (permalink)
I am so happy you ate at Biker Jims, and that it was everything it has been reported to be. That is one place I would really like to try.
wanderingjew
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/22 08:09:59 (permalink)
Buffetbuster
 
I'm glad you finally made it to Biker Jim's
I visited his cart, but never had the opportunity to visit his new restaurant.
(I'm wondering if he took my advice and put Rocky Mountain Oysters on the menu?)
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
  • Total Posts : 10085
  • Joined: 2002/05/09 13:42:00
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/22 08:41:04 (permalink)
WJ-
It is possible Rocky Mountain oysters are on the menu, but I didn't see it.  Not that I was looking for it!
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
  • Total Posts : 3731
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  • Location: Central FL
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/22 08:52:09 (permalink)
I have two different friends in CO (that don't know one another) and I have directed them both to Biker Jim's.  If they both go, and tell Jim that I sent them there, he'll wonder what's up!
scovig
Junior Burger
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  • Location: Bristol, CT
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/22 11:54:12 (permalink)
buffetbuster



To drink, a vanilla and chocolate milkshake.  
We thought there was too much whipped cream on top, but otherwise were very good shakes.

   

I'm really enjoying your trip report however I am unfamiliar with the concept of too much whipped cream.
MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
  • Total Posts : 4306
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  • Location: Miami, FL
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Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/07/22 14:10:22 (permalink)
Were there other diners at Biker Jim's?
 
What is the big, tannish, sort of ovoid thing right in the center of your dog?
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