Nibbles: A cheeseburger monument, a pineapple empanada and a Sudanese eatery

The Centennial-based Cattlemen’s Beef Board is naturally quite excited about celebrating National Cheeseburger Day on Sept. 18. The trade organization (which represents the nation’s ranchers) suggests throwing “a Cheeseburger in Paradise-themed party” and serving “a side of attitude with some Caprese Polenta Burgers.” However, true believers will eat their simple American cheeseburgers at noon on Sept. 18 at the spot in Denver where they may — or may not — have been invented. There’s a small granite monument at 2776 Speer Blvd. (now a Key Bank office) noting the location of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In where, in 1935, Louis Ballas first added a slice of cheese to a burger. That claim is put in serious doubt by other eateries but Ballas probably coined the contraction “cheeseburger.” Before the cheese, Ballast reportedly tried Hershey bars and peanut butter as burger toppings. The cheeseburger sold better.


The cake and raised doughnuts are tasty enough, but we make the pilgrimage to the independent Donut House, 746 Peoria St., in Aurora for the classic fritters. These super cinnamon-y fried dough wonders (in apple or blueberry) have enough density to be dunkable in coffee without dissolving. The surface of the fritter is infused with plenty of sugar glaze. They’re so tasty we had to give them a coveted staff pick in the Aurora Sentinel’s recent Grade A Awards. Also taking home an award (for their pineapple empanadas) was Las Princesas Bakery which opened recently at 15343 E. 6th Ave. in Aurora. The Mexican bakery dishes colorful cookies, cakes, doughnuts, cream-filled pastries and bolillos, the soft pointed buns used for tortas. You can see all the Grade A Food & Drink winners chosen by readers and staff at:

Sept. 11 they started auctioning off everything at Pagliacci’s, the iconic red sauce eatery now shuttered in Denver. (Photo by Kim Long/American Forecaster/Denver)


Swirk Supreme Food opened recently at 2205 S. Peoria St. in Aurora serving Sudanese fare including chicken masahap, beef sambousa, and mhallabia rice pudding. … Those of you who attended CU in Boulder will want to stop in for one last all-you-can-eat spaghetti plate at the Gondolier before Sept. 22 when the Boulder eatery closes. The café opened in 1960. This follows the recent closing of another Italian-American landmark. Pagliacci’s Italian Restaurant in North Denver serves minestrone no longer. … We thought we knew about every single comfort food-related festival in Colorado but somehow we missed the Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival Sept. 8 in the mountain town. Maybe next year. … Find new places to dine by downloading a free copy of the Colfax Local Flavor Guide: You can also view a guide to 400 ethnic eateries in Aurora at


When your garden or farmer’s market gifts you with a lot of eggplant, take advantage of the bounty, writes Peggy Markel, the Boulder-based culinary tour organizer:

“Make easy baba ganoush. Roast eggplant whole over high heat on the grill. Close the grill but keep turning eggplant so it doesn’t burn, and cook for about 15 minutes or so. Scoop the cooked eggplant out of its skin into a bowl. For two medium eggplants, add 3 tablespoons of tahini, 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt, and 4 large cloves of garlic crushed, plus salt and pepperoncini peppers to taste. Finally, add a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice and mix thoroughly.” Some folks will also want to add a splash of olive oil. Serve with pita or toast crisps.


“American food is polyglot and problematic, multivaried, confused, stained with a thousand national sins. But it is our own. And we should be proud of it. … Food, more than a vague and ambiguous democracy, may yet be the truest expression of who we are, and why we, as a country, matter.” – Josh Ozersky,

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