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Cafe Brazil
Cafe Brazil

Around the World in 10 Dishes: Funky Fruit Edition

Exploring the global food scene on the Front Range, dish by dish.

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Cafe Brazil

Having started the new year off on a healthy foot with a heaping helping of vegetables, we figured it was only logical to wrap our heads next around fruit—whose integral role on the global dinner table may seem strange and exotic until you think about it for more than five seconds. Americans incorporate sweet fruit into savory dishes all the time, whether serving cranberry sauce with the holiday turkey or squirting ketchup on a burger. Still, its use is more prominent in some cuisines than others, as illustrated by the repertoires of these 10 places.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Axios Greek Restaurant

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3901 Tennyson St
Denver, CO 80212
(720) 328-2225
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Figs
The honeyed, almost-musky sweetness of figs boldly complements the earthiness of braised lamb ribs in this modern Greek go-to’s take on arni psito—which is just the most obvious example of the topic at hand on the menu, which also features a chicken-pasta casserole with pears and a potato flatbread smeared in lemon yogurt (the tang of lemon being, of course, central to Greek cookery). Factor in the botanical definition of olives, tomatoes, and eggplant, and you could argue that Mediterranean cuisine is about as chock-full of fruit as it could possibly be.

2. Bagel Deli

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6439 E Hampden
Denver, CO
(303) 756-6667
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Apples
Matzoh brei, or eggs fried with matzoh, is a Jewish comfort classic drizzled in honey. But it’s even better when apples are added to the mixture, as they are at this south Denver fixture—and better still alongside yet another sweet-and-salty deli staple, latkes with sour cream and applesauce.

3. Cafe Brazil

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4408 Lowell Blvd
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 480-1877
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Cashews
Mango, banana, passion fruit, coconut (which, believe it or not, is technically a drupe): this beloved South American spot showcases it all in its vibrant stews. But the chicken- and shrimp-based xim xim stands out for being laced with cashews, which are a) native to Brazil and b) not the nuts they appear to be but actually the seeds of, you guessed it, a tree fruit.

4. Cafe Paprika

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13152 E Mississippi Ave
Aurora, CO 80012
(303) 755-4150
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Apricots
And preserved lemons, and prunes, and raisins: the combination of fruit and meat, particularly lamb, is a hallmark of Moroccan cuisine, as this Aurora longtimer has been illustrating for more than 20 years with its evocative tagines and other stews.

5. Chili Verde

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2311 Federal Blvd
Denver, CO 80211
(720) 287-2296
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Raisins
Essentially the state dish of Puebla in Mexico, chiles en nogada—or roasted, stuffed poblanos in walnut cream sauce—has naturally featured as a specialty at this Pueblan-run Jefferson Park charmer since day one. To be clear, its most visible fruit element is the garnish of pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top; but it’s the mixture of fruits in the ground-beef filling that gives the dish its hearty depth, including apples, peaches, and above all the raisins that hearken all the way back to the Moorish empire, whose culinary influence spread via the Spaniards.

6. Cuba Cuba

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1173 Delaware St
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 605-2822
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Plantains
A member of the banana family (obviously), the plantain is a staple starch throughout the tropics and subtropics. Whether green or ripe, it takes myriad forms with myriad functions—as illustrated by this longtime Cuban favorite, which serves either tostones (savory fried plantain chips) or sweet sautéed maduros with just about everything on the menu.

7. House Of Kabob

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2246 S Colorado Blvd
Denver, CO 80222
(303) 756-0744
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Pomegranate
Thrillingly juicy and beautifully hued, the pomegranate has been prized by cooks throughout the Middle East for a lot longer than it has by health-obsessed Americans. Take fesenjan as found at this somewhat underrated strip-mall café—it’s a fascinating Persian chicken stew flavored with walnuts as well as pomegranate syrup in characteristic sweet-and-sour style.

8. Li's Asian Bistro

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1355 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, CO 80204
(720) 382-1790
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Banana
In virtually every way, Li’s is your utterly average pan-Asian strip-mall joint, indistinguishable from any other—with one exception: it offers a Thai-style “tropical curry” the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else. The combination of creamy-sweet banana coins with tangy chunks of mango and pineapple, meaty mushrooms, and crisp baby corn in coconut milk may sound jarring, but it works—in fact, it’s the kind of delicious revelation you’ll find yourself recalling the next time takeout is in order, and the next.

9. Thai Flavor

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1014 S Peoria St
Aurora, CO 80012
(720) 859-7648
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Papaya
Som tum isn’t even the most interesting salad on this Aurora gem’s menu, let alone the most interesting dish. But if it’s Thailand’s famous, ultra-refreshing green-papaya salad you want, the kitchen will do it right, just as it does everything else.

10. Zaika Indian Cuisine

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300 Nickel St Ste 19
Broomfield, CO 80020
(720) 887-0400
Visit Website
Mango
Though it’s made its way across the tropical world, the mango is indigenous to India, where its culinary uses have developed over centuries. Aside from offering the obligatory chutney, this contemporary Indian kitchen highlights the fruit’s exhilaratingly tart side by flavoring an intriguing dish of okra and onions with dried mango powder, then shows off its sweet side in a gingery glaze for lamb.

1. Axios Greek Restaurant

3901 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212
Figs
The honeyed, almost-musky sweetness of figs boldly complements the earthiness of braised lamb ribs in this modern Greek go-to’s take on arni psito—which is just the most obvious example of the topic at hand on the menu, which also features a chicken-pasta casserole with pears and a potato flatbread smeared in lemon yogurt (the tang of lemon being, of course, central to Greek cookery). Factor in the botanical definition of olives, tomatoes, and eggplant, and you could argue that Mediterranean cuisine is about as chock-full of fruit as it could possibly be.
3901 Tennyson St
Denver, CO 80212

2. Bagel Deli

6439 E Hampden, Denver, CO
Apples
Matzoh brei, or eggs fried with matzoh, is a Jewish comfort classic drizzled in honey. But it’s even better when apples are added to the mixture, as they are at this south Denver fixture—and better still alongside yet another sweet-and-salty deli staple, latkes with sour cream and applesauce.
6439 E Hampden
Denver, CO

3. Cafe Brazil

4408 Lowell Blvd, Denver, CO 80211
Cashews
Mango, banana, passion fruit, coconut (which, believe it or not, is technically a drupe): this beloved South American spot showcases it all in its vibrant stews. But the chicken- and shrimp-based xim xim stands out for being laced with cashews, which are a) native to Brazil and b) not the nuts they appear to be but actually the seeds of, you guessed it, a tree fruit.
4408 Lowell Blvd
Denver, CO 80211

4. Cafe Paprika

13152 E Mississippi Ave, Aurora, CO 80012
Apricots
And preserved lemons, and prunes, and raisins: the combination of fruit and meat, particularly lamb, is a hallmark of Moroccan cuisine, as this Aurora longtimer has been illustrating for more than 20 years with its evocative tagines and other stews.
13152 E Mississippi Ave
Aurora, CO 80012

5. Chili Verde

2311 Federal Blvd, Denver, CO 80211
Raisins
Essentially the state dish of Puebla in Mexico, chiles en nogada—or roasted, stuffed poblanos in walnut cream sauce—has naturally featured as a specialty at this Pueblan-run Jefferson Park charmer since day one. To be clear, its most visible fruit element is the garnish of pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top; but it’s the mixture of fruits in the ground-beef filling that gives the dish its hearty depth, including apples, peaches, and above all the raisins that hearken all the way back to the Moorish empire, whose culinary influence spread via the Spaniards.
2311 Federal Blvd
Denver, CO 80211

6. Cuba Cuba

1173 Delaware St, Denver, CO 80204
Plantains
A member of the banana family (obviously), the plantain is a staple starch throughout the tropics and subtropics. Whether green or ripe, it takes myriad forms with myriad functions—as illustrated by this longtime Cuban favorite, which serves either tostones (savory fried plantain chips) or sweet sautéed maduros with just about everything on the menu.
1173 Delaware St
Denver, CO 80204

7. House Of Kabob

2246 S Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80222
Pomegranate
Thrillingly juicy and beautifully hued, the pomegranate has been prized by cooks throughout the Middle East for a lot longer than it has by health-obsessed Americans. Take fesenjan as found at this somewhat underrated strip-mall café—it’s a fascinating Persian chicken stew flavored with walnuts as well as pomegranate syrup in characteristic sweet-and-sour style.
2246 S Colorado Blvd
Denver, CO 80222

8. Li's Asian Bistro

1355 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204
Banana
In virtually every way, Li’s is your utterly average pan-Asian strip-mall joint, indistinguishable from any other—with one exception: it offers a Thai-style “tropical curry” the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else. The combination of creamy-sweet banana coins with tangy chunks of mango and pineapple, meaty mushrooms, and crisp baby corn in coconut milk may sound jarring, but it works—in fact, it’s the kind of delicious revelation you’ll find yourself recalling the next time takeout is in order, and the next.
1355 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, CO 80204

9. Thai Flavor

1014 S Peoria St, Aurora, CO 80012
Papaya
Som tum isn’t even the most interesting salad on this Aurora gem’s menu, let alone the most interesting dish. But if it’s Thailand’s famous, ultra-refreshing green-papaya salad you want, the kitchen will do it right, just as it does everything else.
1014 S Peoria St
Aurora, CO 80012

10. Zaika Indian Cuisine

300 Nickel St Ste 19, Broomfield, CO 80020
Mango
Though it’s made its way across the tropical world, the mango is indigenous to India, where its culinary uses have developed over centuries. Aside from offering the obligatory chutney, this contemporary Indian kitchen highlights the fruit’s exhilaratingly tart side by flavoring an intriguing dish of okra and onions with dried mango powder, then shows off its sweet side in a gingery glaze for lamb.
300 Nickel St Ste 19
Broomfield, CO 80020

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